Written by Spotloan

Summer activities can get expensive fast. There are parties and picnics and weekends away to plan and budget for. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t fill the time in between those parties, picnics, and weekend getaways without emptying your pockets. Though as of 2018, American parents planned to spend an average of $471 per child on summer activities, there are plenty of fun summer projects that you can dig into while you give your bank account a rest, and we’ve got some suggestions. 

1. DIY Crafts and Projects

The list of potential DIY projects and crafts is truly endless. To make the most of the warm weather, choose seasonal projects, like putting up birdhouses or turning empty wine bottles into flower displays. Some other suggestions: 

  • Create a picture out of different colored rocks
  • Make an all-natural wreath for the front door 
  • Collect a wildflower bouquet for your table 
  • Use scrapbook paper to dress up your pen holders or photo boxes

One quick search for summer projects on Pinterest yields hundreds of results.

2. Build Skills with a Visit to Your Local Library 

With longer days and more sunlight to burn, now is the best time to explore some new hobbies. Whether you’ve been daydreaming about perfecting a mouth-watering bread recipe, tackling a reading challenge, or growing your own vegetables, why not dedicate some time to it now?

Each of these ideas above are easy summer projects on a budget, and most libraries offer both in-person and virtual guidance for common hobbies like cooking, baking, and gardening. Many libraries, craft stores, and home improvement stores also tend to host arts and crafts events at no charge (or a nominal fee), which makes it easy to get the family involved.

3. Set Up Homemade Yard Games

There are plenty of summer projects and homemade yard games that are both fun and affordable. And there are options for every age group, too. 

For the younger kids, paint a few rocks and use them to set up a tic-tac-toe board. Or, if you haven’t already, paint rocks and then place them along a walking trail in your community for others to enjoy. This was a popular activity earlier in the pandemic, and is still fun for youngsters today. For older kids, teenagers, and adults whose inner child is alive and well, homemade yard games are easy to model after your favorites. 

Our suggestions for some do-it-yourself yard games: 

  • Turn wooden blocks into a giant Jenga tower
  • Gather bottles from the recycling bucket and grab a ball for a fun afternoon of backyard bowling 
  • Use gardening buckets as the key components of your DIY ring toss game
  • Pin inflated balloons to a corkboard and practice your aim with darts
  • Break out the wiffle bats and play water balloon baseball

Search your basement and garage for things that you can tweak into a homemade game. While the ideas listed above are all great options, this category of summer project will allow you to get creative, and putting the game together is half the fun!

4. Have an At-Home Paint Night

When you’re looking for a summer project that’s a bit more laidback, you can’t go wrong with a sip and paint night at home. You can find affordable acrylic paint sets at local craft stores and either keep it lowkey in the living room with just the folks at home or invite a few friends to turn it into a backyard picnic paint night. 

You can find tutorials on YouTube or Pinterest for just about anything you could think of. Some great options for summer paint sessions include tropical sunsets, vibrant flower bouquets, soothing beach scenes, and overflowing fruit bowls. 

5. Go on a Backyard Camping Trip

We’ve saved the best for last. When you’re looking for summer projects on a budget, it’s hard to beat a backyard camping trip, especially when we’re still working through the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Camping itself is generally a budget-friendly activity, but campsites tend to book up quickly through the summer months. And as both the temperature and number of campers increase, prices often start to climb, too.  

Instead, break out the tent and sleeping bags, gather up everything you need for smores, and get the firepit roaring right in your backyard. Bring out books and lanterns for an authentic camping experience and snacks and music to round out the night. Backyard camping is a fun and budget-friendly summer activity that can easily turn into a beloved family tradition.