Have I mentioned before that we live in Iraq? There’s a lot I love about it, but I’m going to complain for a moment about something I don’t like: the HEAT! Don’t get me wrong – I love summer just as much as the next person (especially because I work at a school, so summer means time off!!!). But this year (every year?) it’s gotten way too hot, way too soon.
We’ll leave to cooler lands for a family vacation in about a month, but first we’ll have a few weeks with no school to have some fun family time. We get the kids out to the local park pretty frequently, but given the heat and the size of our (virtually non-existent) yard, I’ve been thinking up different fun indoor staycation ideas, and thought I’d share!
1. Let them pack suitcases even if you aren’t going anywhere. My kids LOVE packing pretty much anything – plastic bags, backpacks, suitcases and whatever else they come across that has room to be filled with their stuff. Packing makes your vacations seem more authentic even if you aren’t actually going anywhere.
2. Turn your dining room into an international restaurant! Pick a country you would enjoy visiting, and learn about traditional foods and decorations from that country. Then decorate your dining room to look like an authentic restaurant from that country and cook a traditional meal. If you’re really daring, include traditional drinks and dessert! You can even print out a menu to put on the table(s) showing the different courses in both English and the language of the foreign country. One or two of you could prepare it for the rest of your family, or you can all get involved and invite friends or relatives over to your restaurant!
3. Make a family photo album. Uploading pictures to Facebook may be convenient and fun, but doesn’t capture memories the same way as a traditional family photo album. Take some time together to select pictures and make your photo album. Include decorations and captions to make it more fun and memorable.
4. Have a game night tournament. Pull out your favorite family games and play them one after another. You could just play for fun, or keep score along the way and have some sort of prize for the ultimate winner.
5. Create your own popcorn recipes. Make fun twists to an old favorite. Set out a bunch of spices, candies, nuts, syrups and other ingredients you think might taste good on popcorn. Each family member can come up with their own sweet, salty or tangy popcorn recipe and then have a popcorn tasting session! For added fun, create popcorn awards and vote on the tastiest recipe, most creative recipe, most surprising recipe and whatever else you come up with.
6. Movie Night! An oldie, but goodie. Spice this activity up a bit by rearranging your living room to actually look like a movie theater if possible, and/or by setting up movie theater snack stands with popcorn, candy and drinks at the back of the room. As an alternative, you can create your own drive in theater if you have a driveway and projector. You can hang a white sheet on a wall of the house in place of a projector screen.
7. Write, produce and direct a family movie! Assign different roles (casting, costumes, stage directions, etc.) to different family members. Think of a topic that means a lot to you as a family and make a short film about it. If you’re promoting something meaningful, you might be able to spread your film around, but even if you’re just doing something fun and silly, it will be special to your family for years to come.
8. Create your own indoor exercise routine, and do it all together, with music in the background!
9. Make your own ice cream bar. Set out several flavors of ice cream and tons of toppings. For a fun twist, instead of making your own ice cream sundaes, have everyone make an ice cream sundae for someone else in the family.
10. Make your staycation menu all together. This way, everyone’s favorite meals will be included, and you can decide together who wants to cook what and when. If you don’t like cooking much, make freezer meals in advance so you don’t spend a lot of time cooking during vacation.
11. Indoor carnival. Set up carnival stations inside. Suggestions: face painting, tossing rings around cups, throwing ping pong balls into bowls with water (and a fish), chubby bunny, and a shaving cream toss.
- Shaving cream toss instructions: Ask a volunteer to put shaving cream all over their head. Have everyone else stand a certain distance away. Give everyone a few handfuls of popcorn, and have them try to throw the popcorn at the person’s head to see how much popcorn can get stuck in the shaving cream!
- Chubby bunny: See who can put the most marshmallows in their mouth and still say “chubby bunny” intelligibly.
12. Craft day! Each family members has to think of a craft and prepare a craft station. All of you can go from one station to another doing each of the crafts, OR each of you stay behind one of the stations and invite over friends, relatives or neighbors to participate as well.
13. Make your own pizza night. See what crazy topping combos your kids come up with!
14. Make a time capsule. Toward the end of your staycation, put pictures and other small memorabilia you have into a glass jar, fasten it shut and bury it in the yard (or just put it away somewhere). Several years later, recover the capsule and remember all the fun you had!
15. Recreate “dinosaur fossils”. This is a great DIY project for kids!
16. Put all your activity ideas for your vacation into a “staycation jar”. Each day, let your kids randomly draw a slip of paper from the jar to see what you’re going to do that day!