top of page

Summer Family Activities: 4 Fun and Frugal Ideas

Summer is the perfect time to create lasting memories with your family without breaking the bank. With warm weather and long days, there are endless opportunities for fun and frugal activities that everyone can enjoy.

Here are four budget-friendly ideas to make the most of your summer together.

1. Outdoor Movie Night

Outdoor Movie Night

Turn your backyard into an open-air movie theater. This is a perfect way to enjoy a summer early night with your family and perhaps some of the families from the neighborhood. Here are the step-by-step instructions for making it happen.

Materials Needed

  • White sheet or a portable projector screen

  • Rope, bungee cords, or strong tape

  • Two sturdy poles (e.g., PVC pipes, wooden stakes, or tall tripods)

  • Projector

  • Laptop or DVD player

  • Speakers

  • Extension cords

  • Blankets, lawn chairs, or inflatable mattresses

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Choose a Location

Select a flat area in your backyard with enough space for seating and a good viewing angle for your screen. Ensure there’s access to power for your projector and other equipment.

Step 2: Set Up the Screen

Using a White Sheet

Find a Flat Surface: Locate a fence, wall, or between two trees to hang your sheet.

Attach the Sheet: Use rope, bungee cords, or strong tape to secure the top corners of the sheet to your chosen surface. Make sure the sheet is taut to avoid wrinkles.

Secure the Bottom: If possible, attach the bottom corners to keep the sheet steady, especially if there’s a breeze.

Using Poles

Prepare the Poles: Position the two poles vertically and firmly in the ground at a distance that matches the width of your sheet or screen.

Hang the Sheet: Drape the sheet over the top of the poles and secure it using rope or bungee cords. Tie the rope or bungee cords to the top corners of the sheet and the poles.

Tighten the Screen: Ensure the sheet is stretched tight by securing the bottom corners to the poles or the ground.

Step 3: Set Up the Projector

Position the Projector: Place the projector on a stable surface, like a table or stand, facing the center of your screen.

Connect the Projector: Use an HDMI cable to connect your laptop or DVD player to the projector.

Adjust the Focus: Turn on the projector and adjust the focus and alignment until the image is clear and fits well on the screen.

Step 4: Arrange the Sound

Connect Speakers: Connect external speakers to your laptop or DVD player for better sound quality.

Position the Speakers: Place the speakers on either side of the screen, ensuring the sound reaches all your seating area.

Step 5: Set Up Seating

Lay Out Blankets and Chairs: Arrange blankets, lawn chairs, or inflatable mattresses in front of the screen, ensuring everyone has a good view.

Add Comfort Items: Provide pillows, cushions, and bug spray for added comfort.

2. Nature Scavenger Hunt

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are the perfect way to get kids outside. This activity is free, educational, and fun, and most importantly, it breaks the kids away from their screens.

Basic Materials

Scavenger Hunt List: A printed or written list of items to find. Customize the list based on the local environment and the age of participants.

Bags or Baskets: Small bags or baskets for participants to collect their items. Reusable grocery bags, small backpacks, or baskets work well.

Pencils or Pens: For participants to check off items as they find them. Clipboards or sturdy notebooks can be handy for writing.

Optional Enhancements

Magnifying Glasses: To help kids examine small items like insects or leaves more closely.

Binoculars: For spotting birds or distant objects.

Field Guides or Identification Books: Guides on local flora and fauna to help identify items on the list.

Cameras or Smartphones: For taking pictures of items instead of collecting them, promoting a leave-no-trace approach.

Sunscreen and Hats: To protect from sun exposure during the hunt.

Bug Spray: To keep insects at bay and make the experience more comfortable.

First Aid Kit: Always useful to have on hand for minor injuries or issues.

Water Bottles: To keep everyone hydrated, especially if the hunt lasts a while or takes place on a hot day.

Small Prizes or Certificates: To reward participants for their efforts and make the hunt more competitive and exciting.

Example Scavenger Hunt List

Here’s a sample list to get you started. Customize it based on your location and the season.

Scavenger Hunt Items

  • A pinecone

  • A feather

  • A smooth rock

  • A leaf with a unique shape

  • A flower of any color

  • An insect

  • A bird

  • A piece of litter (to clean up the area)

  • A stick shaped like a letter

  • Something fuzzy (e.g., moss, caterpillar)

  • A piece of bark

  • Animal tracks

  • Something with a strong smell (e.g., pine needles, flower)

  • A seed or acorn

  • A mushroom or fungus


Explain the Rules: Clearly explain the rules to all participants. For example, avoid picking live plants or disturbing wildlife.

Safety Briefing: Highlight the importance of staying together, being aware of the surroundings, and watching out for hazards like poison ivy or uneven terrain.

Set Boundaries and Time Limits: Define the area for the hunt and set a time limit to keep the activity manageable.

Review Items: Go over the scavenger hunt list and show examples if possible.

3. DIY Water Park

DIY Water Park

Beat the heat by setting up a mini water park in your backyard. With a few inexpensive items, you can create a splash-tastic day for your family.

Materials Needed

  • Garden hose

  • Sprinklers

  • Plastic tarp or slip 'n slide

  • Pool noodles

  • Inflatable kiddie pools

  • Water balloons

  • Buckets and sponges

  • Soap or baby shampoo (optional, for slip 'n slide)

  • Towels and sunscreen

  • Outdoor toys (e.g., water guns, splash balls)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Choose a Location

Select a flat area in your backyard with enough space for all the water activities. Make sure the ground is free of sharp objects and any hazards.

Step 2: Set Up the Sprinklers

Connect Sprinklers to the Hose: Attach the sprinklers to your garden hose and place them in various locations around the yard.

Turn On the Water: Test the sprinklers to ensure they are working properly and adjust the water pressure as needed.

Step 3: Create a Slip 'n Slide

Lay Out the Tarp: Spread a plastic tarp on a grassy area. Make sure the tarp is smooth and free of wrinkles.

Secure the Tarp: Use stakes or heavy objects to secure the corners of the tarp to the ground.

Add Water: Place a sprinkler or set up a garden hose at the top of the tarp to keep it continuously wet.

Optional: Add a bit of soap or baby shampoo to the tarp to make it extra slippery.

Step 4: Set Up Kiddie Pools

Inflate Pools: Inflate the kiddie pools and place them in shaded areas to keep the water cool.

Fill with Water: Fill the pools with water from the garden hose. Ensure the water is shallow enough for safe play.

Step 5: Prepare Water Balloons and Toys

Fill Water Balloons: Use a water balloon filler or the garden hose to fill water balloons. Store them in buckets or containers.

Gather Outdoor Toys: Collect water guns, splash balls, and other outdoor water toys. Place them in a central location for easy access.

Step 6: Create Additional Water Activities

Pool Noodle Sprinkler: Poke holes in a pool noodle and connect it to the end of a garden hose for a simple, fun sprinkler.

Water Obstacle Course: Set up an obstacle course using pool noodles, buckets, and sponges. Include activities like jumping over hurdles and sponge tosses.

Water Relay Race: Organize a relay race where participants carry water in cups or sponges from one point to another.

Step 7: Safety and Comfort

Apply Sunscreen: Ensure everyone applies sunscreen to protect against sunburn.

Have Towels Ready: Place towels nearby for drying off and staying warm.

Supervise Play: Always supervise children during water play to ensure safety.

4. Outdoor Park Games

Outdoor Park Games

Enjoy a day in the park with a family picnic and some classic outdoor games. Pack a lunch with sandwiches, fruits, and snacks, and bring along a blanket to relax on.

Fun and Frugal Games


A classic and simple game that can be played casually or with more structure like Ultimate Frisbee. All you need is a frisbee and some open space.


A timeless game with many variations:

  • Freeze Tag: When tagged, players must freeze in place until another player unfreezes them.

  • Shadow Tag: Players are tagged by stepping on each other's shadows.

Hide and Seek

A great game for parks with lots of trees and hiding spots. One person counts while the others hide, and then the seeker tries to find everyone.


A combination of soccer and baseball, kickball is easy to set up with just a rubber ball. Use landmarks for bases.

Relay Races

Set up simple races with various challenges:

  • Three-Legged Race: Pairs of players tie one leg together and race.

  • Sack Race: Players hop to the finish line in burlap sacks.

  • Egg and Spoon Race: Players race while balancing an egg on a spoon.

Capture the Flag

Divide into two teams and try to capture the opposing team’s flag while protecting your own. Use bandanas or cloths for flags.

Scavenger Hunt

Create a list of items or features to find in the park, like a specific type of leaf, a feather, or a certain rock. The first to find all the items wins.


Use a sturdy rope for a classic game of strength and teamwork. Mark a line on the ground and see which team can pull the other across it.

Ring Toss

Use bottles and rings (homemade or store-bought) to set up a simple ring toss game. Use varying distances for different difficulty levels.

Water Balloon Toss

Perfect for a hot day, pairs of players toss a water balloon back and forth, taking a step back after each successful catch. The last pair with an unbroken balloon wins.

Bean Bag Toss (Cornhole)

Set up cornhole boards or simply use containers as targets and toss bean bags. Assign points for different distances.

Tips for Success

  • Choose a park with plenty of shade and space.

  • Bring along a cooler with drinks to stay hydrated.

  • Consider portable speakers for some background music.

Follow Modern Husbands

Start, Strengthen, or Rebuild Marriages. For couples who want to manage money and the home as a team. 

Winning ideas from experts to manage money and the home as a team. 2023 Plutus Award Finalist: Best Couples or Family Content

Winning ideas to manage money and the home as a team delivered to your inbox every two weeks. You'll even receive a few free gifts!


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page