70 top tips for affordable summer fun with children

The Summer holidays are upon us and parents around the country are being inventive, trying to come up with affordable and imaginative ways to keep the little darlings entertained. At our #SaversSummer Twitter party, tweeters shared their best tips for having affordable fun, and feeding the kids without emptying your wallet. Here, 70 of their very best tips. Try them out, blog about it and enjoy!

This party was held in association with Morrisons M Savers range, which provides some of the best ways to save over the summer with money-saving recipes and ideas for feeding the family. Check out their tips and ideas too!

Tips to use out and about

1. We go on a bear hunt a lot, kids love it and have so much fun, end with a nice cheap picnic @TiredMummyofTwo

2. Find a local woodland, build dens, decorate sticks & make fairy house! @MotherScuffer

3. Go on a nature hunt.  Draw up a list of animals, plants and trees to spot and get out into the countryside or the park. @sazcullen

4. A country park has so much, feeding ducks, squirrels, hunting butterflies, bird spotting and collecting for collages. @TiredMummyofTwo

5. Create easy themed activities based on your child’s favourite books, TV.  Make the food they eat, the games they play etc. @suburban1mummy


Sand pit fun

6. A sand pit is a great investment for a summer of fun! @goriami

7. Treasure hunts in the garden or bury treasure in the sand pit J hours of fun for younger ones! @Over_A_Cuppa

8. Create your own sandpit with a washing up bowl and play sand from the supermarket @suburban1mummy


Water play ideas

9. Just cleaned out the no-sand-left-in-it sand box and filled with w/water.  Instant paddling pool for free! @cafebebe

10. A big inflatable pool in the garden with “Olympic games “ activities keeps them happy for hours! @fairyblue62

11. A cheap fishing net and a jam jar on a string gave hours of fun paddling in the local brook. @missielizzieb

12. Make boats & race them on the paddling pool.  We did that when the flotilla was on. J @nb_bubbles

13. Can’t beat a good old water fight in the garden.  Great fun as long as it’s sunny. @emmajones84

14. Take a trip to the beach and throw stones in the sea, hours of fun all free of charge! @NorthEssexMummy

15. After washing windows, rinse with a supersoaker type water gun.  Get the kids involved.  They’ll think cleaning is fun! @lexiemac84


Free fun in the Garden

16. Plant flowers.  Mow the lawn.  Make a picnic. Get a paddling pool.  Your garden can be as much fun as going out. @crazywithtwins

17. Camping out in the garden, simple, cheap and lots of fun J @Over_A_Cuppa

18. My 4 love going out in the garden with a camera and taking their own pics, then we put them on the pc to look at J @emmajones84

19. Make a den in the garden with sheets and pegs.  Have lunch and read a book out there with the children. @PrincessofKarma

Kids cooking ideas

20. It is obvious I suppose but get them baking, double bonus point, keeps them busy and feeds them. @dadcooking2nite

21. Summer family movies, pop your own popcorn for that cinema smell, a pack lasts ages, add cinnamon instead of sugar @stalisemiai

22. Make your own ice lollies with fruit, healthier, cheaper than shop bought lollies; saves wasting excess fruit. @fabfortymum

23. Decorate plain biscuits with icing, melted chocolate, sprinkles & sweeties.  Cheaper than fancy biscuits & kids love it! @PrincessofKarma


Budget family meals

24. Cook a big batch of food that you can freeze and use over a couple of days.  Saves money and time! @NorthEssexMummy

25. Plan your meals for the week and cook in bulk! @tubbs

26. Big pan full of pasta and meatballs, cheap meal and all 4 of them love it J @emmajones84

27. Go for a supermarket create your own pizza instead of ordering takeaway – saves a fortune! @knackeredwife


Arts and crafts ideas

28. Make covers for books and other fun things with potato printing.  Hours of fun @CathPrisk

29. Buy cheap, plain masks and decorate (or cut out from cereal packet).  Add stickers, glitter and feathers for extra wow! @SusannahPearce

30. Fill a craft box full of buttons, scraps of old material, cardboard, paints, ribbons and glue for rainy days. @7hippopotamus

31. Have a go a quilling.  Just cut paper into thin strips and make paper quills to create art. @_NaomiK

32. My 2 are happy with paper and crayons.  Gets their creativity flowing and gives me some peace!  Make nice fridge decs 2. @V82CHRIS

33. Make summer scrapbooks by saving tickets, leaves, dried flowers. Lovely project. @BlondeNautiGirl

34. Collecting precious stones, washing, drying, varnishing them and then adding goggly eyes kept my little ones very happy. @nb_bubbles

35. Get some old poster paint and let them run wild on the patio, all washes off in the rain. @MsMummyTwo

36. If the weather’s rubbish, make some salt dough!  Great stuff, keeps my 4 entertained for hours. @emmajones84

37. When I was little I used to get together with local kids, make a magazine, we’d then try & sell it to our parents!! @nb_bubbles


Get sporty

38. Sports days are fun, races, games & challenges.  All free, bonding fun. @V82CHRIS

39. Cucumber sarnies and a multipack of value crisps and head to the park for a game of rounders with the family!! @carsonsmummy

40. Create your own sports day or obstacle course in the garden!! @ChelseaMamma

41. Swing  ball, boules, tennis and football are all great for them to play in the garden with their friends. @ali991


Grow your own

42. Start a vegetable patch, free food and kids love to see the produce grow.  @Prawny2004

43. We have an allotment and the girls LOVE “helping”.  Trying to sort them a patch of their own now. @pipersky1


Community/Who can help?

44. Get together with other mums to plan days out and split the costs.  You can take it in turns to cook too. @Lindylulu47

45. We once hired a bouncy castle between a group of us.  Great idea to club together. @PippaD

46. Do a rota with your friendly neighbours that you all take turns to entertain the children. @gettogirl09

47. Set up a toy swap scheme with friends so that everyone has new toys to play with over summer. @Miss_Thrifty

48. Spend some time with Granny and ask her about when she was little, the games she played etc. @PrincessofKarma

49. Check out Freecycle as often people are giving away toys etc @ChelseaMamma

50. When it’s nice we have bbqs.  Invite everyone round but get everyone to bring something with them, great socialising. @emmajones84

51. Put on a show and invite neighbours and family to see it at the end of the week with a bring your own bbq. @Daisybeebee

52. Take it in turns with friends to have sleepovers/playdates etc –  that way you get peace too J

53. If you get a group together to go to theme parks, prices are cheaper for larger groups. @ali991


Tap into local organisations

54. Local wildlife trusts often put on activity days costing v. little to attend. @staffstechgirl

55. Some national trust places are free to visit, worth looking up local places to go and taking a picnic with you. @gettogirl109

56. Check your local library, they have loads of free activities planned for the kids! @MumsandMe

57. Go to your local district council website.  It’s AMAZING!  They have a full list of local activities. @S_Willingham

58. Be a tourist in your own town, surprising the new things you find. @Over_A_Cuppa

59. If it’s a rainy day, check your local library for cheap game and DVD rental. @ChelseaMamma

60. Don’t forget to look in your local paper for any free events or discount entry vouchers – we found loads the other day. @FrugalFamily


Top tips

61. Planning in advance can stop you from spending too much purely because you don’t know what else to do. @knackeredhwife

62. Always take a picnic with you wherever you are going with your kids it will save a fortune I promise you. @misskatietweet

63. If you can shop when the kids are in bed, it’s quiet, the reductions are good and no pesterpower! @TiredMummyofTwo

64. Collect coupons like two for one on theme parks, the savings can work out to an astonishing amount. @ClaireLouise82

65. If you’re on a short trip out, take a flask of tea/coffee.  You can spend a fortune in coffee shops. @missielizzieb

66. In nice weather, walk the short trips instead of taking the car.  You’ll save fuel,money and the environment. J @lexiemac_89

67. Plenty of visitor attractions offer a FREE annual upgrade for year long savings. @topdogdays

68. Always take drinks of water out with you so you don’t end up paying a premium for drinks out. @knackeredhwife

69. I make sure we spread treats out evenly over the six weeks so that we always have something to look forward to. @SonyaCisco


The last word

70. “Providing them with lashings of love and attention instead of being too busy to play …  Doesn’t cost a penny.  I love playing. @ClaireLouise82


Well, what are you waiting for?  Whatever the weather, you can have fun this summer!

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About Jennifer Howze

Jennifer Howze is the Creative Director and co-founder of BritMums. She blogs about family travel at Jenography.net, tweets at @JHowze and Instagrams at @JHowze. Previously, she wrote the Alpha Mummy blog at The Times and as a journalist has contributed to The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, CNN.com, Allure, SELF and Premiere, among others. She won The Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for a health article in Seventeen magazine.


  1. 31 July 2012 / 03:12

    Loving all these suggestions!

  2. alice
    31 July 2012 / 13:17

    I love summer picnics! I can mix two of my favorite things: food and nature, and of course, my family! As a mother of three children I always choose picnic spots where they can enjoy their favorite activities and that’s why Toronto’s High Park is the most popular place in our family when it comes to picnicking.

  3. 02 August 2012 / 09:31

    So strange, I don’t know how I managed to win a £50 voucher when my tweets aren’t here at all.
    Liska x