7 Budget-friendly Ways to Have Summer Fun

When your kids say, “Mum, I’m bored. What can we doooooooooo?” it’s always a good idea to have a list of fun things prepared.

We’ve got seven fun ideas to keep your kids entertained these summer holidays – and, best of all, they’re super-budget-conscious too.

Just remember when you head out with the kids to pack the essentials – water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat – and there really will be almost no reason to spend any money at all!

1. Throw a pool party

A summer essential is a pool party – but you don’t need a pool in your own backyard to throw one – you can just as easily throw a pool party in the local public pool. Simply round up some kids, pack a cooler with some food, bring plenty of sunscreen and hit the pool.

A simple snack menu is ideally suited for pool parties, with fruit platters a particular fave to hit the sweet spot and provide plenty of energy. Pack some water iceblocks in the chilly bin too. Combine free-swim time with a few water games and you’re set. Always ensure children are supervised around water.

2. Wacky water tournament

Outdoors and exercise seem to be a great mix. And, when you just-add-water, you up the fun factor. Here are some great soggy activities that your kids’ll love:

Spongy feet

Make two teams. Have kids lie nose to toes, with knees drawn up to their chest. The aim of this game is to pass a large, water-soaked sponge (the large figure eight ones you wash the car with) from person to person, from start to finish – using only their feet. Be careful – it’s too much soggy fun!

Water balloon catch

Make a scoop from a two-litre milk bottle for each player. Players have to catch and throw a water balloon without dropping it or allowing it to break. Yes, there will be soggy casualties. Yes, it will be fun.


You know dodge ball? Well, this is dodge sponge – simply replace the ball with a wet sponge – and make sure players only aim below the shoulders!

Bucket relay

Fill an ice cream container with water and place on each competitor’s head. The aim is to run from starting line to finishing line with as much water remaining in the container as possible, using only one hand to hold the container. At the end, pass the container on to the second person in line, and continue. The winning team has the most water in the container after each member has had a go.

3. Have a bake-off

Do you know what kids love better than decorating cupcakes? Decorating cupcakes that’ve been baked in ice cream cones! Set up a decorating station with lollies, sparkles, icing and sprinkles, bake up a batch of these cuties and decorate away.

4. Go on a bushwalk

With so much beautiful scenery to see, why not pick a bushwalk near you and take the family to explore? Dress the family in comfortable hiking shoes (good trainers will be fine), a hat and sun-sensible clothing. Take a map, pack a picnic lunch, slather on sunscreen, pack lots of water and explore the designated hiking trails. What natural wonders will you see? Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you set off and always keep within your limits for safety. See more here.

5. Have a drive-in movie in the living room!

Grab some big boxes, spend the day helping the kids decorate their ‘cars’. You’ll need paper plates for wheels and a steering wheel, paint, pipecleaners and other decorations to make for a really awesome ride. Don’t forget pillows for a comfy seat. Once evening rolls around, park yourselves in front of the TV for movie night – don’t forget the choc-tops and popcorn!

6. Go on an “Alphabet Tour” of the neighbourhood

Make a list from A- Z on each line of a piece of paper. Now, get the kids ready, pencils in hand, and go for a wander around your neighbourhood. The aim of this game is to find something in your neighbourhood that starts with every letter in the alphabet (you might need to get creative – say, X is for Xroads!). When you get home each child can help draw up an alphabetised neighbourhood map!

7. Have an opposite day

Have breakfast for dinner, walk in the back door instead of the front, say goodbye instead of hello! Have dessert BEFORE your main meal. Wear PJs during the day, and get changed into daytime clothes after the nightly bath. Ask the kids for ideas the day before – they’ll come up with some doozies!

This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot Australia and has been adapted for Kidspot NZ.

What is your favourite family activity in summer?

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  1. SarahBlair 08/03/2020 at 3:59 pm

    These sound like a lot of fun, I love the ‘Alphabet Tour’ of the neighbourhood idea, we will have to give that a try!

  2. Alezandra 06/03/2020 at 10:38 pm

    The Water Olympics are such a cool one and the drive in movie is something we should definitely try. This summer was a good one as my son and I tried to explore a lot of bush walks and go on bike rides. I am so impressed with my son’s resiliency as he pushed himself to walk or bike further each time. He’s only 4 but going on 14 it seems with his energy.

  3. MuddledUpMolly 01/03/2020 at 1:18 pm

    I love these ideas! We only come from a relatively small town but we have loads of options available to us locally for the kids to visit and experience. I know the kids would love to have a lounge sleepover so might have to look into doing that for the next school holidays.

  4. Jen_Wiig 27/02/2020 at 1:39 pm

    Wow more great ideas on a budget… Yay. Love these ideas and all really do able with my 3 boys.
    Our fav summer activity is going to a beach… Doesn’t matter really which one as there’s always heaps to do not just swim… Rock pool climbing and discovering various creatures and shells etc, building anything but a sand castle competition, she’ll collecting all sorts.

  5. MuddledUpMolly 26/02/2020 at 10:28 pm

    I love all of these ideas, in particular the opposite day! I reckon our kids would love this one and would have loads of great ideas for it. I also like the olympics idea, lots of fun ideas to suit a range of ages.

  6. Shorrty4life1 25/02/2020 at 11:15 am

    How cool are these ideas for family summer fun. Gosh I love that water balloon catch game why have we not done this sooner the children always buy water balloons but now we can make a game of it as a family. Awesome as. Best summer activity would be camping. We as a family live in a caravan and love to go away places camping. It’s the best fun.

  7. Bevik1971 14/02/2020 at 10:02 am

    Love these ideas! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too kind where I live so more of the indoor sports had to be done haha. We often have a camp out in the lounge with our daughter on a Friday night. She loves it – we watch a family movie and maybe have some snacks

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