Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Fun For Less

We're at the end of July and it's H.O.T! We're all looking for ways to stay cool but that can get expensive for families. Water and amusement parks are a lot of fun and it's true that there are discounts, but they can still be pretty pricey for larger families. For example, King's Dominion's website lists their ticket prices at $58.99 per person over 48 inches and $36.99 for those under 48 inches. For my family of five, assuming they do not charge for the baby, that's a cost of $191.96 before tax. If you purchase the tickets online there's a $10 discount on the $58.99, makng the cost $171.96. Season passes do offer a little discount but you have to factor in how many times you'll actually use it, the cost of gas to get there etc. Like I said, it gets expensive.

So, what can you do to stay cool and not spend a fortune? Below are some fun and inexpensive solutions.

  • Buy a backyard pool. No, not one of those big, expensive ones. Walmart sells a large inflatable pool for $25. No, you can't do laps and canon balls but it's large enough and deep enough to have a cooling soak. And honestly my kids are just as happy in their backyard pool as they are at the water park.
  • If you can't or don't want to buy a pool, look into some sort of fun sprinkler system or a slip and slide type thing. They can be just as fun.
  • Two words: water fight. Get some water balloons, water guns, heck get some cups, buckets, a hose anything that can hold, squirt or otherwise drench a person.
If you don't want to pursue water activities, or prefer to stay indoors there are lots of other things you can do as well.

  • Spread out a blanket and have an indoor picnic.
  • Set up a kids tent or build one and have a camp out in your living room. You can still make hot dogs, smores and other camp favorites too.
  • Game day. Pull out your favorite board games, turn on the Wii, whatever you prefer and play together. Just make sure it's something everyone can enjoy.
  • Do an art project or craft. Michaels has inexpensive craft kits that even young kids can do. For around a dollar you get a wooden figure or picture frame and markers to color it. Or make a photo album or scrapbook of your summer adventures.
  • Make some treats without turning on the oven. You can make fruit kabobs with yogurt dip, fresh veggie kabobs with hummus, homemade popsicles and more.
  • Visit a museum. There are many that are free or low cost. If you're around DC, the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space museum are a big hit with kids.
  • Chuck E Cheese or similar places. Hear me out on this one because I know a lot of parents are cringing right now. You can sign up to receive coupons via email or you can often find them in the coupon section of the paper. I recently received a coupon for a large cheese pizza and 75 tokens for $25 which isn't bad. Go during the week to avoid the crazy loud crowds on the weekend. Frequent hand washing will take care of any germ fears. And honestly if you relax and play WITH your kids, it can be a lot of fun for parents too.

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