Amy’s Free Ideas

Seasons > Special Days > “School is Out for the Summer” Party

Do you remember that fantastic feeling you had when you were a kid, and headed home on that last day of school? Did you feel like setting off fireworks?  Join in that joyful celebration with your children by throwing a mini party. It can be for family only, or let them invite their friends along, and you will be voted “Coolest Mom of the Year!” If you do throw an end of the year party, it can become an annual tradition, which is not necessarily a bad thing--just keep it low key. If you make each year more amazing than the last, it will be hard to step it up to do something really special when they graduate.

Decorations: These instantly make it feel like a party, but they are not essential--so skip them, or at least keep them simple, cheap, and quick. The balloons cost $2 and the streamers were free since they were left over from another party.  Buying them would only add another $2 to the total.

Food: Serve all your kids’ favorites, and they will be so excited! There will be no need do anything else to make it a great party! If your kids have a half day of school that last day, why not put out a lunch and snack buffet that they can nibble on all afternoon. If the food is their favorite, especially things you don’t serve very often, it will be a huge hit.

Entertainment: Choose one of the 15 ideas below to make your party memorable, or come up with your own wild and wacky idea.

Water Fight

Provide water balloons, water guns, or just buckets of water and sponges. you may want to make sure to make a rule that once they come in, the water fight is over, or you may end up with water everywhere!

Slip ‘n Slide

Here is an inexpensive way to play with water in your own yard. If you have a hill, that is best, but flat ground works, too.  If stores don’t have this kind of thing, you can make your own by staking strips of plastic into the grass. Spray with a hose, and take a running dive on your stomach.

Bathtub Battle

Make paper boats and airplanes. Each team can have their own color. Then float the boats in the bathtub and try to sink them with the paper airplanes.  The winner is the person with the most boats  still afloat after all the planes have been thrown.

Celebrate! Surprise them with a fun activity that they don’t get to do very often.


Go to a pool, lake, or ocean to go swimming. They get totally worn out, but the mess stays at the pool (mostly!)

Biking or Hiking

Go to a nearby park and hike or bike till they drop. Use a map and let them do the navigating. If there are no trails, bring balls or frisbees to encourage running around.

Roller skating, Bowling, Put-put Golf

It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it is something special, and that will get some of their pent-up energy released.

Order a Pizza and Rent a Movie

Sometimes mom and dad can be worn out by the end of the school year. You can still make a special night the easy way--order a pizza and download a movie.

Make supper together

Whether it is homemade pizza, sushi, or curry, making food together can be a lot of fun. Yes, it will be messier, and take longer, but it is all worth it when your kids have fun learning all sorts of life lessons. If it’s one of their favorite foods, they will be happy to join in.

Game Marathon

Dig out all the boardgames in your closet and play one game after another. If everyone is a little bored with the same old games, change some of the rules just for fun--you might invent a new game! If anyone starts bickering move on to the next game--it’s supposed to be fun, after all!

Balloon Stomp

Tie a balloon around each person’s ankle, and try to stomp on each other’s balloons while keeping your own safe. Last one with a balloon is the winner. If any of your children don’t like loud noises, skip this idea.

Balloon Volleyball

Use a rope or tension rod to string up a “net” in the house. Tape newspapers or throw a towel over the tension rod to represent the net. Divide into teams and play volleyball with the balloons. You might be able to find a net of some sort at a dollar store.

Prize Balloons

Push a piece of candy or coupon into each balloon before you blow them up. During the party, give each kid a needle and let them pop the balloons to find a prize. The coupons can be anything, but if they are for times to play with mom or dad over the summer, they will be like gold!

Fun with Water

Fun Outings: Sometimes it is easier to bundle the kids in the car and let them run off their energy outdoors

Fun at Home: If you are too tired to go out, plan something a little special at home

Fun with Balloons--Use them for decorations AND for games

Scavenger Hunt

For elementary aged children, make a list of things that they can find around the house and yard. Give them bags to put the items in as they collect them. Include objects that are a challenge to find or figure out, and, of course, food items for even more fun. First team to get all the items wins.

Middle schoolers might enjoy finding items on a list that would be ingredients for making a meal with their friends. Some items could be gotten from neighbors or friends’ houses (arranged beforehand, of course!) If you have a garden, the list could include vegetables, or  kids could bike to a nearby store for items not found at home.

Teenagers might enjoy being dropped off at a nearby mall to team up with friends to take photos of crazy things on their cell phones rather than collecting actual objects. Some ideas for items to look for might be the biggest shoe, the most expensive menu item, the ugliest mannequin, the wildest outfit, etc. If the description is not quantifiable, you need a judge to determine which team found the “wildest” item.

Treasure Hunt

Candy or dollar store toys make an excellent treasure hunt for elementary aged children. Put them in a box or treasure chest and bury the yard or in the attic or garage. Then write the clue that will help them find the treasure, and hide the clue. Next, write the clue to find that clue, and hide it. Continue writing and hiding clues until you think it is a good number of clues to make a challenge, but not so long that they give up in frustration. Instead of hiding the last clue, give it to your children to start them on their hunt.

Teenagers may enjoy a treasure hunt in the community called geocache. People hide a cache of trinkets, then post GPS coordinates and hints for how to find it on the internet. When you find the “hidden treasure,” you take one of the items, and leave something in it’s place. Go on line to find geocaches in your city. If you have a smartphone, it may be all you need. If not, you will need to buy or borrow a GPS device.

Start a Pillow fight

Shock your kids by starting a pillow fight! It doesn’t cost a thing, and it can be a lot of fun. You may want to remove breakable objects from the play area (and glasses if anyone wears them), and agree to some rules, such as limiting the room or area where you play, and allowing anyone to call for the game to stop.

Seasons > Special Days > “School is Out for the Summer” Party

Summers--kids delight in the thought of freedom with 3 months stretching out in front of them, with no one telling them what to do. But truth be told, after a few weeks they start getting bored, and waste a lot of time doing things that won’t benefit them in the long term. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are so many things you need to teach them before they leave home, and summer is a great time to do that. If you love the idea of seeing your kids spend a little less time watching T.V., and a little more time learning life skills, check out my page “Getting the most out of your kids’ summer.”