The Life of a Home Mom

The Family Summer Bucket List that Won’t Break the Bank

Summer bucket List and End of Summer Bucket List

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my family has put together a family summer bucket list. But we don’t just want to go have fun in the sun and be lazy; we also like to make sure that our budget is taken care of at the same time, especially after the past year everyone went through. That’s why this year’s bucket list includes not only free activities but ways to save money while still having a great time! This blog post is about Family Summer Bucket list ideas and activities that won’t break your bank account, including scavenger hunts, Backyard camp-outs and more! These are great for the beginning of summer or the end!

Have you ever heard of a Family Summer Bucket List? Basically, you gather everyone in a room before summer and ask them a few things they’d like to do during the summer. Create a list and tackle it!

Family Summer Ultimate Bucket List

Family Summer Bucket Lists are a great way to get everyone involved in summer planning while saving some money. Everyone gets a voice, compiles their list, and the most popular gets jotted down on the main one. If they are all reasonable, I’d suggest at least doing two from everyone. The Family Summer Ultimate Bucket List includes fun and some free activities as well as a few ways to save money.

Start by asking family members what they would like to do this summer and compile their responses into a list. This year, we’ve also included ideas for things that won’t break the bank so you can have more time and cash for other things on your list! Here’s my top three: 1.) go to the fair (a little pricey but fine if planned and done with deals) 2.) go skating 3.) ride bikes and explore the town we live in.

Tip: The ultimate list is your main one because everyone had a say in it. This should be kept where everyone gathers as a constant reminder of what ya’ll are doing for the summer. I would make this colorful and put it in a dollar tree picture frame with an expo marker attached to it so ya’ll can mark items off as they are done. What are some big bucket list ideas you want to do with your family?

FREE summer family bucket list

Family Bucket List Water Ideas

For those that follow us on social media or the blog you know by now, my family always does water fights. So of course we had to make a bucket list with water ideas. Plus, it is a GREAT way to cool off. Grab things at the store when they are on sale or off-season. We always have a package of water balloons.

Go to the waterpark – I suggest going to your local waterpark as it is normally a little cheaper, especially if you already have a membership. Kids love hanging with their friends or just having fun in the water during the summer.

Build your own sandcastle – this one can be really cheap if you have some basic tools like buckets and shovels around the house. If not, they’re pretty inexpensive to buy as well (think Dollar store). Plus, it will make memories that last longer than the time spent building them together! (If you have no beach or lake nearby you can purchase your own beach-like sand at places like Walmart and Lowe’s for under $10). Grab a plastic bag and layer the ground with them. Or get one of those turtle sandboxes or $5-10 inflatable pools and fill it with the sand.

water wars bucket list with the family

Water Wars or balloon fight – you can get 100 balloons for under $10 at most retail stores. We even found them in our local Krogers/Walmart. Water guns can be cheap or expensive we just grab the small packs for 3-5 for under $5. Fill them up and go outside, make some rules up and have fun. (Oh and yes we have to make rules like no throwing in the road because we are right off the main road in our downtown area.) Plus, it’s a great way to exercise too.

Go fishing – this is free and you can make a fun day out of it by going to the lake, buying ice cream on a cone (and other snacks), and walking around while fishing. A favorite memory I have is my grandfather use to hand me mini marshmallows to put on the hook and a few for me. Make sure to find out the fishing laws in your state, you might need a fishing license but there are also free days in certain states.

Other ultimate family summer bucket list examples: Go to the beach/lake/river, go camping, hiking, go camping for a weekend, or a backyard camp-out with games. Maybe catch a movie with the whole family or a picnic in the park. Any of these can be done cheap, or you can get more extravagant. Let your budget decide.

Free Family Bucket List Activities

There are many ways to save money and have a great time during the summer. One way is to plan an ultimate family bucket list. Family Bucket lists should be colorful, creative, and always visible so that they can be tracked with each item checked off as it is completed. (Print off the Bucket list above and make your own)

Family Budget Tips

Family Summer Ultimate Bucket lists are made by asking people for ideas and then ranking them as a family. Only you know your budget, what could be expensive to you could be cheap for someone else. Once you have the list you can start looking for deals. Deals will help keep your family fun time an affordable one.

Some family budget tips can involve saving money during the summer by making a list of free activities to do, as opposed to those that cost money. A lot of places in town are offering kids and families discounts or even completely FREE on certain days/nights throughout the summer where them lots of places you could get your children checked out for free- whether it be libraries (many have reading programs with what appears to be weekly prizes), childcare centers, museums, movies (sometimes will offer cheaper prices or free screenings).

Family Camping– Family camping is a great way to save money. Involve all the relatives and book it in advance, pooling the money together so it is more cost-effective. It’s also nice to be able to spend time with each other and have fun outdoors! This can involve going for a few days up north, taking an RV out west, or just packing up the car and sleeping in it overnight. The length of the camping trip will depend on how much you want to spend! Everyone can pitch in with food and other items to make this a cheap but fun family weekend.

Go thrift shopping for summer and school clothes – Check out your local thrift store. You’ll find large, obscure items (and small things) at rock bottom prices. It’s always good to check for stains and wear and tear before purchase, but you won’t have the same hands-on experience as when you go straight to the source. This can be fun if the kids want to put on a fashion show, let them grab a few items they normally wouldn’t, and have a backyard fashion show.

Have a garage sale or auction at your home – these are inexpensive ways to get rid of stuff you don’t need anymore and make money without taking up space, all while getting cash in the process. The extra money can now go towards some of those bucket list ideas (our fair prices) you weren’t sure could be complete.

Check for deals on the things you want to do – We found out the county fair was coming to town and looked to see if there were any days that were special (half days, family days, etc), if there were deals on tickets, etc. Bracelets made the rides cheaper because they were $25 for unlimited, but on Tuesdays, the bracelets are only $15. With 3 kids and some rides having 4 tickets per this would actually be our best option. Tickets were 20 for $25.

Family Vacation Ideas

A family vacation can be a great way to spend time with each other while taking in the sights of different places. The best way to plan this is knowing the budget on hand and going from there. If you were already visiting family, check out the stops along the way you know you will be at. See if there are any museums opened, events going on, amusement parks nearby etc.

Amazingly my kids loved finding information at the rest stops that offer a whole slew of ideas on things to do in town. If you are just going to a town you’ve been to before I recommend getting a hotel that has a pool or spa. Kids love this because it is something new and fun for them. Did you know some National Parks will have activities for younger kids at their campgrounds? Check ahead of time to see if yours does.

Family Fun in the Sun Ideas

Walk up to your local ice cream shop and let the kids have a scoop of ice cream or two before heading to the park or walk home. This is always a fun treat and nice to do on a sunny afternoon.

Sidewalk Chalk is a blast– Last year, my family made an obstacle course outline on the sidewalk and left a message section with a few pieces of chalk. We left encouraging messages to those that would pass by and to our delight they left messages back to us. This can be purchased at Walmart for under $10 and kids have fun with it.

Bubbles and Music– Playing music with everyone as kids blow bubbles outdoors is always a blast. We love buying the premade bubbles for only $10 at the store and sometimes we like making our own. Kids love this activity, and we’ve found it fascinates all ages!

Make homemade popsicles – make your own popsicle bars with just a few ingredients. This one can be done for less than $11 if you already have some of the ingredients at home or buy them in bulk (like buying oranges, sugar, and lemons in bags). It’s also a great summer activity to do as a family because it will keep everyone cool!

Grab up some tennis rackets/balls or bats/balls and head to your local park and play with your kids. Trust me this will be a memory they remember for a long time. But keep your phone out of sight. Let them have fun with YOU!

Family Camping Ideas

Visit somewhere awesome! Take pictures to document when you can but make memories first.

Summer is the perfect time for camping. One thing I want to do next time we go camping is try a little birdwatching. I read this guide about birdwatching while camping and am excited to see which birds we find next time we head out into the woods. Don’t forget to make your own bug spray before you head out to camp. This stuff smells great and will keep the bugs away, so you don’t look like a road map!

DIY Bug Spray

* Family Camping – Family camping is a great way to save money. Involve all the relatives and book it in advance, pooling the money together so it is more cost-effective. It’s also nice to be able to spend time with each other and have fun outdoors! This can involve going for a few days up north, taking an RV out west, or just going to a new state.

If eating in restaurants isn’t for you, pack a cooler with lunch. Throw away trash securely to avoid nosy animals roaming the campgrounds at night. Trust me it is not fun to find out a bear went through our camp in the middle or the night. It is also not fun to have one come into your screen because he smells food while you are still in your tent. Yes, that happened.

Bring cereal, oatmeal, and pancake mix for breakfast. For lunch bring tuna fish and mayo with bread or peanut butter crackers if packing a light snack. You can also pack all the ingredients necessary to make hot dogs on sticks over an open fire or marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate for s’mores if your kids enjoy sweets while out on adventures! If you are fishing I’d recommend any seasonings for it and aluminum foil.

No matter where you’re traveling to, check out these summer travel tips from Fun Country Life. Packing a first aid kit is important, but there are many others on the list as well! If you are staying home this summer, we have a summer sick kit for you as well.

sick box

Not everyone is going to get to leave their towns this summer, that’s okay we have you covered too. If you got stuck doing a Staycation that’s okay, there are tons of fun there too. We have been known to set up our own tents in the backyard and invite kids over. (Try making indoor tents using the furniture and blankets. Have the kids do the living room and have a movie night on those rainy nights. For the perfect summer days, make up a smores station, heat up some hot chocolate, cook hot dogs, and a pot of chili. Whatever you do, make it fun for everyone!

Family Hiking Ideas

Hiking with the family has always been fun growing up and luckily there are a few things you can do to make the trip safer. Get a map of the area, plan the route ahead of time, and remember that walking along a river could be just as exciting. You never know what you’ll find! One time my family found natural water slides down by a river and we had a blast!

Free or cheap summer bucket list ideas

Explore nature at the nearby state park. We make it a point to visit our local parks regularly with our kids for free! This gives us the opportunity to hike trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, waterfalls… all are great places for family time outdoors. I recommend bringing water and snacks such as trail mix for everyone.

Go on an adventure in your backyard or neighborhood – This is where you can meet new friends, find out about local block parties/events going on or even come across someone giving something away for free. (We once found a child’s kitchen that we were given for $2) This could be fun to have the parents do first and then make a scavenger hunt for the kids.

Family board game night – You know if you follow me online my family rents out one of the rooms at our local gamer’s cave once a month just to do a family board game day. Yes, we do spend more for it but it gives everyone the feeling of being somewhere else and doing what we normally do. Family time with a twist! This can be as cheap or expensive as you want depending on what games you play, but it’s always fun watching the kids’ faces when they beat us at their favorite game of Catan. You can purchase new board games or just play some old ones that have been stored away since last year.

-Glow in the dark bowling – is a fun way to spend time with your family. All you need is some glow sticks and some water bottles, and you’re ready for some good clean fun! This game can be played indoors or outdoors, so get creative with where you play. You can even set up an obstacle course that will make it more challenging and exciting for everyone involved.

Summer family bike night – I love to follow the trails, but I remember growing up we played tag on bikes, whether it was with racing or tricks. We would always ride our bikes around in circles and flash as we raced up and down the street for whoever was tagged first. We had a lot of fun and it was FREE fun when everyone had a bike. Make sure there are no flat tires and everyone’s helmet fits properly.

Try making new meals together – Family time and cooking with your kids! There are tons of recipes online for free that you can print out to make with your family.

Make your own ice cream or popsicles in the comfort of home – After eating popsicles we made earlier this week, I wanted to try my hands at making my own. I knew the kids would love it too. First, we tried super simple, pudding pops. Next up, making some fruit popsicles (tons of FREE recipes online) and then some 3 ingredient ice cream we stuck in the freezer and enjoyed later on.

Have a cookout in your backyard (or park) – Instead of hitting up a fancy restaurant keep it simple and fun. Do a family meal that is both healthy and inexpensive to make at home. Consider buying meat when it goes on sale for $0.99 per pound like we did with our chicken breasts and do a backyard grill night with games. This would be a great time to pull out the water slide and get wet. I recommend that being on the other side of the yard.

Family movie night – Rent a Redbox movie and have a Family movie night. Decide if it’ll be indoor or outdoor and make it fun. We typically have BBQ items already in the house and just need to purchase a bag of marshmallows and bamboo skewers (sticks) to roast them. Or we do ice cream sundaes and popcorn for the indoor movie night.

Go skating/bowling with the family – This can be a ton of fun or an accident waiting to happen for someone like me. Luckily, I prefer more simple things like bowling which, if you sign up for the Kids Bowl Free (KBF) participating bowling centers are providing access to two free games per day of our KBF Camp. Wait, there’s even a Family Pass where you Get 2 free games (for up to 3 adults), each day of the KBF program all summer long for only $40. Our local skating rink also offers Kids Skate Free program, contact your centers to see if they have these programs in your area.

Family scavenger hunt – A family scavenger hunt is a fun activity for families to do together. Family scavenger hunts can entertain the whole family and are a fun way to spend time together when you don’t have much money. Clues are given out, we like to put ours on a paper to print out, each person or team is printed a paper to go find. This can be done in the house, out in the backyard or on the neighborhood street. There are two versions we like to do.

  1. Scavenger Hunt with Clues: they have to follow the clues to go to the next one.

2. They are given a list of everything needed to be found and the first that meets back with everything on the list wins.

– Family cookout on the grill – Family dinner with healthy options like grilled chicken breasts, grilled veggies. All of which were bought when I went to the Farmer’s Market!”

Summer is here and the kids are already talking about how “bored” they are. So here are some of my favorite bucket list ideas for this year, that isn’t all about doing chores or summer workbooks.

Science Experiment Bucket List

Science experiment Bucket List – Mixing science and family time is one of the best things our family does! Make a Bucket list of science experiments you want to make and grab up the supplies so when the perfect day comes ya’ll can become scientists together. The cost of this activity depends on the experiments you choose, but it can be as inexpensive or expensive as desired.

  • Making an original rainbow: all you need is a sheet of white paper and colored pencils. Or get even more inventive and take your kids out to make rainbows with a sprinkler, bubbles or with a paper towel.
  • Make your own lava lamp at home: With alka seltzer tablets, water and food coloring. So easy to make and fun to watch your kids expressions. We actually used empty water bottles and taped them shut once we had it going.
  • Make a volcano out of vinegar, baking soda and dish soap for the eruption demonstration. This means quality family time. This activity is both cheap in terms of cost but also inexpensive because we already had all these materials around our house, or at least we do.
  • Film canister rockets cost less than a dollar to make. They are not the most dangerous thing you can launch, (I know many kids are saying but we want explosions!) but they are fun for kids and adults alike! The best part is that this activity will keep your family entertained for hours (or at least long enough to get through dinner)!

Crafty Bucket List

My kids have always loved putting together a summer recipe bucket list, one year we decided to make all types of meals from croissants. We made them for a month with different recipes from a chicken wreath, breakfast ham croissant to a chocolate dessert croissant. Another year we discovered French toast casseroles and the kids love experimenting with new recipes for that.

Get the whole family involved in these fun crafts and activities. The first thing I’m going to suggest is making amazing summer memories. Make it fun and everyone will have memories to last a lifetime!

Do you have a child who loves playing outside? Make beautiful flower-painted rocks that will be sure to brighten up any day! All it takes is some paint, water, and rocks. You can use different colors depending on the look or theme of the rock or just one color if simplicity is what you’re after. If you don’t want to paint flowers leave positive sayings on them and drop them around town as part of the Kindness Rocks campaigns many towns are doing. We love walking around and finding them blended into the town.

Flower painted rocks

Paint a picture – Buy some paints and canvas and have a painting session at home. Or if ya want to spend a bit of money head on over to an art store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby- to buy inexpensive kits which include all supplies necessary plus sometimes they have free classes.

-Pottery painting at Pottery Barn Kids – pottery painting is always a fun activity to do with kids. There’s usually something for everyone, and it doesn’t cost much at all! Plus everything is provided!

We plan for summer weather but as everyone knows sometimes it is too hot or we get the occasional rain shower. I love hands-on activities like making playdough without flour, painting seashells, and of course making sidewalk chalk. My kids love to create things for the holidays, here is a Patriotic Star Craft they can make to hang on the front door for July 4th or Memorial Day!

Homemade Playdough

Make jewelry with beads or scrabble words together – Family time that’s also educational and can be as cheap or expensive as you want. Have the kids make words out of Scrabble pieces (names, verbs, etc) and glue them together on a ribbon and create word ornaments for the holidays. You can get these pieces in your old board games, Goodwill or amazon.

Eat something awesome this summer!

Yes, I’m telling you to make a Food bucket list of the summer. For a quick, healthy breakfast or snack on the go, try this simple and refreshing blue smoothie bowl recipe. The kids will enjoy making their own, adding fruits and granola, and of course, everyone loves the fact that it’s blue! 🙂

We kicked off summer with some healthy treats, but you know after a week or two, we’re all craving something sweet or salty. Here are some fun summer desserts to add to your “must try” list!

Do your kids love blueberries? Mine do! This delicious cast iron blueberry crisp is perfect for summer. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries to create that sweet and tart taste we crave so much during these warmer months.

I’m always up for ice cream and there are a ton of homemade recipes to try, pair those up with your favorite toppings and you have a perfect summer ice cream split. If your stomach is sensitive to ice cream in the heat, try creating cookies or brownies with the kids, give them random ingredients they can throw in. Nuts, chocolate chips, M&Ms, Andes mints, peanut chips, etc. We have a local ice cream shop so one of our other bucket list items is to try something new there, we tend to find the one we like and not change it up so this makes us try something different.

Summer Bucket list: Homemade Donuts

We all love donuts, but they can get expensive, so why not make them at home? This is a great donut recipe that your kids will enjoy making and eating. They’re inexpensive to make and you can customize them with different toppings (chocolate chips, sprinkles). You’ll be able to get creative while satisfying those sweet cravings!

Time for BBQ! Bringing a dish? These crowd-pleasers are sure to get you invited again and again. We absolutely love potato salad. Umm who doesn’t? This dish is the perfect side for any summer cookout, picnic or gathering. Not only is it easy to make, but it tastes great! Make this simple red potato salad that will be sure to impress your friends and family.

Have you ever tried the smores cone? Grab some waffle cones, fill them with marshmallows, chocolate pieces, M&Ms, etc. Wrap them in aluminum foil and place them on the BBQ for about 5-7 minutes. My kids love creating their own and then seeing how they look as soon as they open them up.

Did you know a few years ago we did an entire summer trying to make something out of croissants? Dinner, breakfast, snacks, desserts. This one was inspired by a few movies but the kids loved experimenting in the kitchen with me and we still have our favorites. I mean who doesn’t love chocolate croissants or ham and cheese? Course I think my favorite was a chicken wreath croissant, it was so delicious.

No matter what we have done, we were determined to make the summer of 2021 the best one yet! Not to mention we have one that will be a Senior in High School this Fall so we want to make it memorable. Currently this summer we have been doing board game nights/days, reading through the bible and early morning walks around town. Yes, I convinced them to do 2-7 mile walks with me and they didn’t realize it because of the scenery and the chats! All it takes is time with family.

Hope these fabulous ideas help to make your family summer even more enjoyable without breaking the bank too much! What are some of your favorite family memories during the summer? Share them below in the comments section on our blog post about Family Summer Bucket Lists That Won’t Break The Bank. Have a memorable summer!!

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