Entertaining the Kidlets on a Budget

Article by Hannah Davey,


So, we’ve hardly had chance to recover from the Easter holidays, and already we’re dreading the imminent summer holidays in which our darlings are able to accompany us for six whole weeks. As much as we love them, by the end of each break we can’t help but feel slightly relieved that school has taken them back, and while we’re still finding all sorts of muck around the house and fixing ornaments that were once on the wall, we’re left wondering what on earth will happen during the eternal summer holiday, if this could have happened in the space of 2 weeks.

Some of us are lucky enough to have some time off with our little ones during the summer, but by the time it comes around each year, most of us are wishing we were back at work. Of course we feel slightly guilty at this thought, but while the kids are busy bouncing off the walls and pulling each other’s hair out, any place other than home sounds like heaven.

Most of us can usually think of a few activities to begin with, though, and they seem brilliant, and the kids think they’re brilliant too… By the third week of the holidays, however, they’re happier jumping on each other and breaking each other’s toys, and these original ideas are apparently no longer fun.

However, thinking of new ways to keep the children entertained often ends up in spending more money than we would like to, because finding activities to do at home is difficult and the scenery starts to feel a bit samey.

This is why we’ve asked various fabulous mums to tell us what works for them, so that we can borrow their ideas and start to feel more positive about the impending holidays. These mums are close friends of mine, who all seem to have many more calm and collected holidays than I do. Their light bulb moments are explained below;

Arts and Crafts in the Garden: Laying out a blanket in the garden, with a few make-your-own kits, keeps them occupied and deep in concentration for a very long time. If you’re lucky enough to have some sunshine, the garden is best for this activity as the mess isn’t as threatening! It only costs a few pounds for the kits, and many of them are reusable, providing lots of long-lasting fun. It gives the children chance to play together and develop socially, while feeling proud of something they’ve made all on their own.

Cosying Up and Watching a Film: Kids quite often watch TV and play with their toys at the same time, but usually get bored because they’re not really focusing on either. Actually getting comfy on the sofa all together with some popcorn and finger foods, while watching a family-friendly film, keeps everyone happy and relaxed. (You can even persuade them to eat healthy snacks; cut some carrots and cucumber into little sticks with some tasty dip on the side. It’s surprising how the shape of fruit and veggies makes a difference to whether they love or hate it.)  Renting the film costs a couple of pounds, the snacks are just a little extra, and it’s lovely spending time as a family without using lots of energy!

Tea Parties: Although this one does require a bit of effort, it’s well worth it. If the kidlets have a few friends they’d like to invite over, suggesting a small tea party goes down a treat! Put out a blanket, a table with a few nibbles, fun tea-party cups and plates, their favourite dolls and doll accessories, and even the arty crafts from earlier. They’ll love feeling all grown up using the tea-party set and having fun with their friends; playing with their dolls and other creative toys in a social atmosphere encourages their imaginations and helps their social development. Again, it costs just a few pounds, but the fun can last as long as you like, and when it’s over they’ll be so tired from all the excitement that they won’t need any more entertainment until the next day!

Cooking: It doesn’t need much culinary expertise, in fact the simpler the better. Every little one, however old they are, can’t deny the fun involved in rice crispy and corn flake cake making. It’s a great chance for them to get their hands stuck in, literally, and is great fun for you as well. The simplicity means there’s hardly any washing up and it takes long enough for it to feel like a big activity. As well as licking the bowl, they’ll be looking forward to munching on the finished masterpieces later- an additional bit of fun for the evening!

A Trip to the Park: This doesn’t cost a thing, but can provide hours of fun. Whether they’re playing on the adventure equipment or playing games with balls and Frisbees that you’ve taken with you, it’s brilliant exercise and the fresh air will make the whole family feel energised and refreshed. If the weather’s lovely and hot, take a scrumptious picnic and make a day of it. The children can be keeping each other occupied while the adults can be relaxing and sunbathing! A handy tip; take all the food and drink that you think you’ll need in a cool bag – it’ll save you from having to buy lots of overpriced versions from the snack huts.

This of course doesn’t mean we should be worried about occupying the children every second of every day, but the more activities we organise, the less time it gives them to decide they’re bored. As well as keeping them entertained, it’ll give us some good quality time as a family and we’ll all hopefully be looking forward to the next school break!


Hannah Davey is an advisor, creator and author specialising in children’s Dolls Houses. Dolls houses, dolls house furniture and dolls house accessories encourage children to develop their social skills through imaginative play.

Dolls House

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  1. I save up my tesco clubcard vouchers so I can redeem them for free days out. There are loads around the country that you can choose from and you can always bring a packed lunch and snacks with you to keep costs down.