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NOW CLOSED: Share your top ideas and tips for keeping the summer holidays fun filled on the cheap with Mu cheese - you could win an annual Merlin pass or a months supply of cheese

(136 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 02-Jul-12 08:16:00

We've been asked by Mu (the funky new Cheddar brand) to find out your top ideas/tips for keeping the summer holidays fun filled without breaking the bank. This could include arts and crafts, games, things to do at home, places to visit etc - we would love to know your favourite family activity.

Mu say "Mu believes in fuelling more family fun everyday; be this through our range of delicious, natural cheddars or through giving families the tools to make every day as enjoyable as it can be. The summer holidays are a perfect excuse to have fun with the family but sometimes it?s difficult to think of ideas to fill the whole holidays. Mu would like to create a free downloadable booklet which includes a list of activities that Mums can use for a bit of inspiration when needed"

This is where you come in! Please share your top tips on this thread.

The best ideas will feature in the Mu "Make everyday a Mu Fun day" free booklet which will be free to download from the Mu website and Facebook site from the 23rd of July

All entries will be put into a prize draw to win a family Merlin annual pass (worth over £400) which offers a family of four free entry into 28 top attractions including Alton Towers, Chessington and Sea Life Centre plus many more.

PLUS all entries chosen to feature in the booklet will win a months supply of Mu Cheddar. If your tip is used MN will be in touch for your address details.

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

jennywren123 Mon 02-Jul-12 14:20:10

Craft activities here, and bike rides, and geocaching. Plan something small to do each day. I will also look for museum activities and special events at National Trust properties. We will use our family railcard to go and visit friends.

costumequeen Mon 02-Jul-12 14:32:15

We have pizza night! Make your own pizza from scratch - lots of messy fun kneading the dough and watching the 'magic' of the dough rising. Make your own tomato base with tinned tomatoes, herbs and garlic, and put together a 'selection plate' of toppings so everyone gets to choose their own customised pizza. We just raid the fridge and cupboard so it can be anything from left over cold meats, to frozen spinach or sweetcorn, olives, sliced veg, fresh herbs from the garden and of course whatever cheese is in the fridge! Roll out the dough as thin or as thick as you like, load it up with toppings (you could even design patterns or faces) and pop it in the oven. Watch it bubble and brown, then enjoy as a carpet picnic - don't forget the taste test to see who's was the best! A fun, cheap and healthy (depending on your toppings) way to learn how to cook a tasty meal and practice the art of being creative with food and sharing at the same time!

Thevelveteenrabbit Mon 02-Jul-12 14:40:45

Lots of craft - Hama beads, card making, and then write and send the cards.
Activities that you need a bit longer to finish so don't happen during term time - washing dolls clothes by hand in the garden, planning days out - eg writing scavenger hunt lists for each other before a trip to the park.

sallymonella Mon 02-Jul-12 14:43:05

When they were younger I used to let them loose with the paints outside. They used to paint themselves and then I'd bring them in for a bath. This would waste at least an hour or so!

CoronationWigeon Mon 02-Jul-12 14:48:40

Making a race track: get the cheapest kind of masking tape, and mark out a race track on the floor (not carpet) with two parallel lines of the tape. You can create sections which are "garages" and "car parks" too. Make some really good bends / straight runs etc. Get out toy cars and race them! DD loved this.

Also: making bread - DD loved kneeding it (pretty much like playing with playdough).

flubba Mon 02-Jul-12 14:49:12

Paintbrushes, a bucket of water and a wooden fence. Set them to painting it! smile smile

I made an advent calendar of activities last winter for my family. You could just as easily do a summer holidays one? The kinds of activities we had were all decided by us as a family, and then each day the kids took the card out of the numbered pocket and we did that activity together as a family. Every single activity was either free or very purse-friendly; you can take a look at the full list here, but an example of some of them were;

Make peppermint creams for Christmas tree decorations
Decorate the kids' rooms
Go for a walk in the dark with torches
Make Christmas spiced biscuits with cinnamon
Make some glittery Christmas playdough
Make paper chains
Make Christmas cupcakes
Make a Christmas picture

You could add things like
Scavenger Hunt
Creating a 'laser' burglar alarm system with crepe paper down the hallway
Going for a picnic
Creating a new meal with five ingredients

etc etc

HannahLI Mon 02-Jul-12 14:57:29

The garden and outside is a great place for activities:
- Plant and grow things such as sunflowers, tomato and strawberry plants. They wil need watering nearly every day in the summer months and they will have great fun checking them and helping to care for them.
- Garden tents are great fun to make and you can recreate day after day using anything you can find. Clothes horses and chairs are great for the structure and old blankets and bed sheets or painting sheets are perfect for the canvas!
- I love pavement chalk. Great stuff and very cheap to buy and you can get the whole streets kids making pictures outside and it washes away easily then you can start again.
- nothing wrong with balls, skipping ropes, boules and all those fun outside games as they also encourage team playing
- The park locally is fun or a good walk where you can take bikes and a picnic is always fun too

Inside stuff:
- bin bag clothes for the fashionistas amongst our children. You can be creative with what you have making different outfits using bags or even if you kids are older create outfits out of recycled rubbish such as newspaper, bottletops etc. perfect for a project or to get young minds thinking creatively.
- cooking is a great activity to do so why not challenge your kids to cook you dinner one night. There are some great recipes for children to use on the Internet.

overtherooftops Mon 02-Jul-12 15:11:35

Cornflour in a huge tray is fantastic, soft and runny in one instance, hard in the other depending how it is handled, does not matter if they eat it and they will get a science lesson thrown in wink

Lots of treasure hunts in the garden/park/beach

Outdoor chalks.

cherryjellow Mon 02-Jul-12 15:29:12

rounders in the park
Picnics
national trust places
merlin attractions wink
beach - make sandcastles, merpeople, dig, play in the waves, go crabbing
get them to decorate a small part of their bedroom, to make it 'theirs' on rainy days (eg door plaque or actual flowers on the door)
make dens
invent new cake recipes with lots of sprinkles, food colouring and fruit
Pick fruit in the garden
playdough
get the chalk out and decorate the patio
hide and seek around the house and garden
visit relatives
sleep overs

ShatnersBassoon Mon 02-Jul-12 15:56:23

There's the classic indoor camping for a rainy day. Flat sheet + chairs/table/clothes airer = a tent. Give them a torch, some blankets to put inside, put what they'll need to make 'camp food' in a rucksack ie bread, cheese, fruit etc., flasks of drink, and plastic plates and a blunt knife. I've done this a few times and it's passed an afternoon. It seems a bit more wholesome than putting a DVD on, and I get to look like Fun Mum for a little while grin

pleasestoparguing Mon 02-Jul-12 16:23:35

It all depends on how many DC you have - if you only have one or very small ones entry to a lot of places is good value - also look out for free child's place with paying adult vouchers- and many places are free for under fives so you can go out and about quite cheaply.

But if you have 3 DC all over 5 (like I do ) you have to be more innovative.

I scour the Primary Times we get from school towards the holidays- one year it had a whole list of free places to go - I made a list on the calendar and we did one a week for a month.

National Trust and English Heritage don't cost extra if you have more DC so they are both a great investment if you have a lot of DC and consider only getting the one parent family option if your DH isn't often around to join in.

The other option is to recreate your own days out -
rivers, seaside, large lakes are generally free to go to and a picnic is alwas better than what you can buy at most places - you can get the DC to hel plan and pack the picnic too. the advantage of going to free places are that there a fewer shops and cafes to distract children.
A lot of the English heritage castles that are really ruined are free to and again no cafes ( or loos either mind you!) - so you can have a great day ot totally free as there's often no proper car park too. If your DC areinterested you can do the history thing or dress up do crafts before you leave - think what they do in the paying places and then just do it yourself for free.

The weather might put you off but my DC love going for a walk in the rain if there's the promise of hot chocolate on their return - after all if you were on holiday somewhere would you sit in your tent every day if it was raining? Rememeber most cities and even some towns have free museums and they might not be first choice but go and see you may be surprised - art galleries are brilliant there is always a picture for everyone then you can go home and make it yourself.

And if your're not too precious about your sofa cushions and pillows you can fill the sitting room with all things foam filled and have your own soft play.

gazzalw Mon 02-Jul-12 16:25:54

Making a fun holiday diary to include tickets/photos/pics/artefacts collected over the course of the hols - it tends to gather momentum so it almost becomes a competition to see who can do the best diary with the most interesting pics/writing/recollections

pleasestoparguing Mon 02-Jul-12 16:30:03

Best free playparks -
Bath Victoria Park, Weston-super-Mare water playground or to be honest anywhere thet is a different playpark form the one you normally go to.

Not really afer those Merlin Tickets I've got loads to do hmmblush

goingtoofast Mon 02-Jul-12 17:11:38

Camping in the back garden - always a hit, get some of the kids friends over for even more fun.

Bike riding.

Our local council has a free play day at the local park with plenty of free activities.

Baking, not free but cheap and the kids love it. We have cake competitions, the kids bake and decorate cakes. They spend ages loooking through cook books choosing which ckae to bake.

glitch Mon 02-Jul-12 17:37:36

One of my DS's favourite days out is a trip to the garden centre that has an aquatic centre and pet shop inside. We spend ages looking at all the fish, go and have a look at the pet shop rabbits and the dog biscuits (?), we have an ice-cream in the cafe, occasionally I get to look at the plants, and sometimes we buy a cheap bag of bird food so we can spend time filling up the feeders when we get home.
Much cheaper than going to an aquarium.

1stMrsF Mon 02-Jul-12 18:39:16

I have only preschoolers so these ideas are pitched at that level, but I still find the holidays s bigger effort than term time especially as we used to going out when things are cheaper and less busy so we try to do home based things then.

We go to a different park each time, all of which have different things to offer e.g. A sand pit, duck feeding etc. always take a picnic, which doesn't have to be lavish - sandwiches, fruit and crisps plus a juice carton always goes down well here. National Trust properties are also great for this type of day out and often have children's trails or other events in holidays.

We have an annual pass to a children's farm nearby and find that terrific value, although initially a large outlay, as we go so often and can go just for the playground sometimes or just for the soft play on a rainy day.

Two friends and I take it in turns to host lunch - cooking pasta for 6 kids instead of 2 is not much more effort or much more expensive and you are rewarded with 2 future days when you get fed by someone else! Usually we eat the same as the children plus salad. Each visiting mummy brings something to add e.g. Berries for dessert or cake for morning snacks leaving the host to concentrate on the main dish and you bring whatever you have at home rather than buying something new. Another friend and I do a similar thing at tea time and then the girls share a bath and have their bedtime stories together, just needing to be popped into bed when you get home.

Subscribe to the moneysavingexpert email - I have picked up several great offers on there for free swim vouchers for local pools, cheap restaurant deals and cinema tickets. The children are free for the swims and cheap for other things so if you can save significant amounts on the adult costs it makes for a cheap day out.

Use freecycle or eBay to get cheap or free garden toys to provide the entertainment in the garden on dry days instead of going to busy playgrounds or soft plays. For this age group a sand pit, water table and tent are hours of fun and often being handed down by families with older kids. A baby bath can stand in for water or sand play and you can build a tent with old sheets and the washing line. Hopscotch on the patio I am just introducing and painting and play dough can also be move outdoors making them easier to supervise and clean up.

Last year our rural sure start bus parked on various local green spaces each week offering messy play for under 5s for free.

Shouldacouldawoulda Mon 02-Jul-12 18:52:30

The children get lots of crafty gifts for their birthdays. I always stash a few away so that they forget about them and get them out in the summer holidays for a craft day when it's raining (often then).

The school gives out Primary Times which has lists of local events which are often cheap or free. I put the ones we want to go to on the calender so we don't miss them.

I take turns to host movie nights/sleepovers with other mums. It's worth the hassle for the reciprocated break.

The local cinema does a kids club and don't care if we take our own sweets and drinks in so we manage a few cinema trips too.

Can't believe nobody else does mad science shock
I set the DCs a challenge at the start of the day e.g. drop a raw egg out of the upstairs window without breaking it, points for speed, style and ingenuity. Then the planning phase begins. Up until lunchtime, only pen and paper theoretical experimentation is allowed, the Internet may be used to investigate options.
After lunch, the messy phase begins, with a large sheet of lining paper to record the "scores".
Hours of fun, costs barely anything, the DCs develop analytical problem solving skills.
Everyone's a winner.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 02-Jul-12 18:56:20

DIY nature trails. So go for a walk and collect leaves, bird spot, flower spot, look at tracks in the mud and try to work out what animal made them.

MumOfAPickle Mon 02-Jul-12 19:06:06

On wet days we play musical statues with a music channel on the tv, taking turns to be the 'pauser'. Keeps all ages happy for about an hour!

woodchuck Mon 02-Jul-12 20:10:54

I am a big fam of picnics and eating al fresco in the summer hols. If we are feeling adventurous we go somewhere interestinng, if not we stay in the garden, sometimes putting up a tent for the kids to eat/camp in. I get the kid sinvolved in deciding what we are going to have and helping to make the goodies.

NorbertDentressangle Mon 02-Jul-12 20:43:12

-get the children to make a Miniature Garden
give them a seed tray (or plastic tray that you get with food purchases) with soil in and get them to add leaves, flowers, stones, twigs etc to create a garden eg. a path made with small stones,a 'pond' made with a bottle lid sunk into the soil, rows of plants made with leaves etc
(this sort of thing)

-make Cress Heads -grow cress in empty, decorated egg shells like this. Children love checking and watering them every day. They also then get the 'reward' of giving the heads a haircut and eating the cress!

-go to your local library
borrow books to read and books of 'things to do'. Look out for activity sessions (usually free) and events such as the Big Read

oldgreyknickertest Mon 02-Jul-12 20:52:58

If fine, anything with water. Eg local park paddling pool with picnic, bubbles, water fights with balloons or guns, hose or watering cans, poohsticks in stream at end of suburban garden, creating a mini pond.

Picnics whatever the weather. Carpet picnics on rug indoors if wet.

Tents and camping, real in country side it back garden, make your own for littlies inside with rug and chairs or outside with washing line and chairs.

Buried treasure. Go on a country walk and bury the treasure. Next day go and discover it.

Cardboard boxes. Huge fridge ones from curries, smaller ones. Cut a few holes in to look through. A tardis, a tortoise, a rocket, a castle.

Reading and story telling for wet days. And kim's game for memory training. Jacks, marbles, hoola hoops, quoits, pea shooting and petanque as they get older.

Card games, pairs (pelmanism) and snap,then beggar my neighbour, then racing demon and whist, dummy and ending up with black jack and poker for the teens. Pit for all the family.

Making telephones out of tin cans and string.

Teaching them to whittle.

Cooking. Not just biscuits but making pasta and pizza and potato salad and scrambled eggs.

Tree climbing if decent trees around

Plant a garden. Radishes and lettuce.

Hold a table sale outside the house sharing proceeds with fave charity.

Writing postcards to granny.

Duvet day. Cinema as above, ie dvd closed curtains and popcorn, making pizza.

Going fishing or to local pond with fishing nets and jam jars. Take picnic.

English heritage membership, children free.

Discover if your local area has free deals. Eg the local library or swimming pool. In London children are free on buses. So go on the top of the no 11 bus from Liverpool st station down the kings road and you see all the sights of London, or nearly, for the cost of one adult bus ride.

primalsteam Mon 02-Jul-12 21:11:50

Trawl local charity shops for good books to read or things we can use in crafts.

Get those big chunky pieces of chalk and draw funny faces, outline round your body lying down, trails to follow in garden and also on pavement outside we have done, strange messages to passing pedestrians, a route to follow on scooter and helpful lines for ants to find their way home!

Get old mags and newspapers and cut out pics to make ideal home or an ideal person.

Goto nearest airport and go plane spottng, also good to get ready for/or instead of actually going abroad on holiday. make pretend passorts, pack a bag of essentials and learn hello in couple of foreign languages.

Draw maps of local area. then get kids to mark a route on it and pick an 'x' marks the spot on map, then go out and use their map to see if you can find it atually.

Give kids a budget for a meal, lunch picnic or tea. Then let them try and work out what to buy or make for that meal, then if reasonable ie not just 10 packs of harribo's- then actually do that for next trip to shops and meal.

Give everyone a new silly name or nickname, which must be used for the whole rest of the day!! if you forget have to do a forfit.

Go out to park or garden and collect different leaf shapes. put paper over them at home and rub crayon on its side on paper to get a leaf-rubbing or print. then mix them all up. then try and match leaves to prints. works better the more differnt leaves you find.

Hopezibah Mon 02-Jul-12 21:14:19

Make the most of the beautiful countryside and nature all around us: pond dipping, bug hunting, scavenger hunts for leaves, seeds, feathers etc, rockpooling at the beach. On a really hot day, get the kids to lie on the patio and mist spray with water to leave fantastic silouettes. On a wet day, go puddle jumping. If you have been mega organised in winter and saved a container of snow - get it out on the hottest day and see the childrens faces as they play with snow in JULY! above all have fun and enjoy all these free activities. x

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