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Cheap Summer Fun For Kids

Updated on June 16, 2009

Summer is here, the kids are out of school and it won't be long before you hear, "Mom, I'm bored." With money tight, the family vacation may be pared down or skipped altogether, so having a few inexpensive and fun activities to keep your little ones happy can be a lifesaver this summer. In general, kids are easy to please, so it just takes a little bit of ingenuity to keep them occupied and out of mischief.

Throw a Fancy Hat Tea Party

Little girls still love to play dress up.  A tea party is a great and inexpensive way to let them be creative and feel grown up. 

Have the hostess of the party send out invitations to her friends.  These can be hand-made or made on the computer.  In either case, the girls will love getting an invitation in the mail and this will give the parents the opportunity to reserve the time for the event.

Specify on the invitation that the girls should dress up.  This could be in their Sunday best or in that princess outfit they love to wear.  Just let the moms know that they will be working with glue and be cooking in the kitchen.

You also have the option of letting each child bring their favorite teddy bear or baby doll.


Visit your local dollar store or wholesale craft outlet and purchase wide brimmed straw hats for each child.  If the girls are bring a stuffed friend, you can also buy mini hats.
To decorate the hats, gather a selection of ribbons, artificial flowers, lace, small stuffed animals, really the variety is endless.  These items can be purchased or just collected from what you have around the house.

To attached the decorations to the hats you will need glue.  You can use white household glue, but it does take a while to dry, so requires patience on the part of the little ones.  The easiest and quickest way to attach decorations is with a hot glue gun, but because of the obvious danger involved, they should only be used with adult supervision.

When the girls arrive, set them up at a table with the hats and the decorations.  Just let them go at it and be creative.

While the hats are drying (if you are using white glue), gather the girls in the kitchen to make cookies.

Bake cookies for the tea party

If you're ambitious you can make cookies from scratch. Otherwise, packaged cookie mix or refrigerated cookie dough is a great choice. Give the girls just enough instruction to keep them safe, but let them do as much as they can.

While the cookies are baking, get the tables ready. You can purchase inexpensive paper table clothes that will make the table look special. Use fresh flowers as a center piece and set the table with pretty paper plates and cups. You can of course use china if you have it and cloth napkins.

Time for tea

You can serve real tea, or really anything you would like.  Along with the tea, serve the fresh baked cookies.  You could also serve finger sandwiches or fresh vegetables if you are feeling ambitious.

The fancy hat tea party is a fun experience for all involved and will be a day they will remember.

Recipe suggestions for your tea party

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375

Cream butter then slowly add brown sugar and white sugar.  Beat until creamy.  Beat in the egg and the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Stir into butter mixture.  Add walnuts and chocolate chips.

Drop batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp double-acting baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375

Combine sugar and vegetable oil then add eggs and vanilla.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Add to mixture and beat well.  Shape the dough into 1/2 inch balls and dip into granulated sugar.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Spiced Tea Punch

This is a spice mixture to add to your tea.

Bring 12 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar to a boil.  Remove from heat and add 14 cup stained orange juice, 12 cup strained lemon juice, 6 gloves and 1 stick of cinnamon.

Mix 6 cups of seeped tea with spiced mixture in a punch bowl.  Serve. Makes approximately 8 servings.

Easy Tie Dye T-shirts

Purchase plain white t-shirts. These can be over sized and used to sleep in after they are made.

Purchase or gather from around the house several plastic spray bottles. Buy powdered tempura paints or fabric paints that won't wash out of the fabric. Mix the paint with water in the spray bottles.

Hang the t-shirts outside from a clothes line.

Kids use the watered down paint in the spray bottles to decorate their own shirts. Some supervision is require to avoid spray paint wars. Allow the shirts to air dry. The finished pastel dyed shirts are washable and dry-able.

Keep the kids cool

More hot summer fun use for spray bottles. Filled with water, they last a lot longer than squirt guns and spray a lot further. If you're not near a pool and don't want to run the sprinklers, it's a great way for the kids to cool down.

Water balloons are another way to cool the kids off.  They make a bit of a mess, but they are cheap and loads of fun.

Carve a watermelon

Watermelons can be carved just like pumpkins.  In fact they're easier to carve and you can eat the insides.

Carving watermelons can be a bit messy, so either remove the flesh of the watermelon yourself or make sure the kids and the carving surface are well covered.  In either case, the yummy insides of the watermelons should be cleaned out and saved in the refrigerator.  To do this, cut off the top of a smaller round watermelon.  Or cut a slit in the back of a larger watermelon and remove the insides.

Watermelons can then be carved using pumpkin carving tools or paring knifes.  Children should of course be supervised during the carving process.

The carved watermelons can then be displayed.  You can even put a candle inside to light it up at night.

Watermelon treats

Deep Fried Watermelon

Cut watermelon into 1 inch squares

Heat vegetable or canola oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees

Whisk together 2 Tbsp of water, 2 egg whites and 1/2 cup of corn starch

Coat watermelon pieces in flour and then the cornstarch mixture

Fry in deep fryer until golden brown. Drain and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Watermelon Pie

Make pie filling by combining 12 ounces of thawed Cool Whip, 3 ounces of watermelon jello and 1/4 cup of water. Fold in 2 cups of watermelon balls.

Spoon into a grahmn cracker crust and chill for 2 hours.

Little Performers

Children love to be the center of attention.  So why not let them shine at center stage. 

You can find plays for children online or at your local library.  You can also let the kids write their own. 

Costumes can be made from things you have around the house.  Kids love to dress up and take on the character of someone else.  Let their imaginations run wild.

An older child can be put in charge as stage manager.  This may keep things running a little smoother.  The stage manager can hold auditions, gather props and help with costume choices. 

If you're handy, you can rig a stage for the performance with a curtain.  The old style clotheslines work well for this.

The kids can make fliers and pass them out in the neighborhood or post them on local bulletin boards.

On show day, you can serve lemonade and cookies for refreshments.

Community Theater

Many communities have community theater groups that put on productions for children in the summer.  If you have a budding actor at home, community theater is a great way to occupy their time during the summer.

Back to nature

Planting a summer garden is a great way to give your kids something to do while giving them some responsibility.

Give each child a small plot of their own.  Let them be in on it from the beginnign, starting with clearing the ground to planting the seeds, to watering and weeding.  They will be thrilled at the sight of the first green leaves peeking out of the ground.

The child's garden can be flowers or vegetables.  There are many varieties of either that are easy to grow and care for. 


Submit a Comment
  • cgull8m profile image


    9 years ago from North Carolina

    The cookie recipes sounds delicious even for adults :)

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    charming hub, I've done some of these and I wish I had thought of some of the others when my kids were small, but then I have growing grandkids too now so I appreciate the ideas. :D

  • lafenty profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from California

    faemom, I tie died with a group of 4H students and they all came out clean! Had lots of fun, too.

  • faemom profile image


    9 years ago

    I really like the tie-dye idea. I've been wanting to do it with my boys for a while but have worried about dying the boys as well. Thanks for the idea!

  • lafenty profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from California

    Thanks for your comments wordscribe41. Carving watermelon is a great activity for the 4th of July.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Great idea about watermelon carving! I've never thought of that one, I will try that this summer with my kiddos. Great hub, my 7 year old twins would enjoy many of these activities. Now, if I could get my 10 year-old to stop acting "too cool" for such things, it would really help. Great hub, from one fellow Oregonian to another!

  • lafenty profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from California

    Thanks for commenting, Lgali.

  • Lgali profile image


    9 years ago

    very nice ideas.

  • lafenty profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from California

    Thanks for commenting, alittlebitcrazy, watermelon carving is a really fun thing for the kids to do and the pie is delicious.

  • lafenty profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from California

    Thanks Jim for your comments. Having three granddaughtes has influenced this hub a bit.

  • alittlebitcrazy profile image


    9 years ago

    Great ideas! Tea parties are fun at any age. And I carving a watermelon! Never thought of that. thanks for the tips!

  • jim10 profile image


    9 years ago from ma

    My boys and I will skip the tea party and go right to the cookies. Oh and the watermelon pie looks delicious. I will have to give that a try. I am intrigued by the watermelon balls. A cheap wiffle ball set goes a long way. Thanks for the recipes.


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