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Top Thrifts to Keep Kids Busy this Summer

As the days get longer and the temperature continues to climb, it’s clear that summer is on the way! For many people, that means garden parties, trips to the beach, cookouts, and 4th of July celebrations. But for parents, summer means one thing and one thing only: the kids are out of school. Instead of worrying about kids being bored with nothing to do check out five creative ways below to spark their creativity while saving money at yours.

Kids having fun in costumes

We’ve got 5 summer fun ideas for the kids that come to life using items found right in your local thrift store. With a little imagination, some DIY know-how, and a bit of good old-fashioned elbow grease, you’ll have your kids off of that couch and make the most of each summer day.

Idea #1: Put on a Play for the Neighborhood Kids

Our first idea is one where you can really let your kids’ creativity shine.

This summer, take a dive into the dramatic by letting your kids put on a play for other children in the neighborhood. The play can be about anything! School, fantasy, bible stories—whatever they want to share with their friends.

Kids putting on a live play for the neighborhood

But as with most plays, the trick to keeping it entertaining is having the right set design and costumes. That’s where we come in. Here, you’ll find painting and drawing materials, set decorations like fake plants, stuffed animals, and much more. And don’t forget—there are so many different clothing options to choose from, perfect for any aspiring costume designer.

Best of all, everything is so affordable that you could get away with putting on a gorgeously designed play for under $25!

Idea #2: Go on a Fun Thrift Store Scavenger Hunt

This idea is a great activity to involve an entire group of older kids. With all the knickknacks you’re sure to find at a thrift store, it turns out to be one of the best places to hold a playfully competitive scavenger hunt. Here’s how it works:

First, split everyone into teams of 3-5. Then, give each team the same cash allotment—say $20 each (be sure to bring in other parents to help pay for this one).

Next, give each team the list of items they need to find within the timeframe. The team that finds and buys the most items on the list is the winner!

Kids playing in costume

Here are some ideas to get you started

A coffee mug with a quote about coffee

Tupperware in the shape of the food it holds (e.g., like a piece of pie).

Church cookbook

Scary porcelain figures (e.g., a clown meant to be cute but is actually terrifying)

Old TVs (no flatscreens)

Curling iron

Bridesmaid’s dress

Photo albums with pictures still in them

Floppy disks

Bowling trophy

A blue picture frame

Pants without buttons

A straw hat

Prescription glasses

Get creative with it!

Idea #3: DIY Tie-Dye Activity

Summer is the perfect time to connect with your groovy side by creating your own DIY tie-dye clothing. While this is an activity your kids will certainly love (what kid doesn’t like staining their clothes?), you’ll definitely want to supervise the process since the dyes can easily stain. Better yet, do it outside to get some fresh air!

The first step is getting some affordable clothes to dye from your local thrift store.

First, prep clothes

Mix 2 cups of white vinegar with two cups of water

Soak clothes for 1 hour (this helps the dye penetrate the fabrics)

Wring out clothes, crumple your fabric and wrap it up tight using rubber bands (the tighter the ball, the more shapes you’ll have)

Then, create your dyes

Fill a water bottle with 120ml of water and 8 drops of food coloring. Shake to mix and poke a hole in the cap of the bottle, and you’re ready to tye-dye!

Prep the dye area and GET CREATIVE

Be sure kids wear gloves and prepare for messes using trays or old newspapers underneath. Liberally apply the dye to every side of the fabric balls

Pop your dyed fabric balls in a plastic bag and let the set for at least 8 hours

Dip your unwrapped clothes in a saltwater solution and rinse with clean water

Let dry and you’re done!

Be sure to wash your new tie-dyed clothes by themselves the first few times to avoid any accidental staining.

Idea #4: Craft Coffee Mug Bird Feeders for Summertime

Summer is a great time to let your kids reconnect with nature. And if you want to keep your local birds fat, happy, and singing, this cost-effective idea is a great place to start.

Crafting a coffee mug or teacup bird feeder gives your children two activities: making the bird feeder and watching the birds eat!

For this project, you’re going to need a coffee mug, small plate, and dinnerware from your local thrift store, plus epoxy glue and tape.

After that, just follow these steps:

Glue the teacup to the saucer vertically (as seen above in the video)

Tape the teacup in place and let sit long enough for the epoxy to cure

Then, fill and hang your new bird feeder from a tree and watch your neighborhood birds fly in for a quick treat!

Idea #5: Have Your Kids build a Butterfly & Bee Bath

When it’s hot outside, you and your kids aren’t the only ones feeling the heat.

Our last summer project idea is the perfect place for local pollinators like butterflies and bees to cool down and have a refreshing sip of water.

To get started, find a pie dish at your local thrift store and give it a good cleaning.

Then, use a strong adhesive or glue gun to line the outer edges of the dish with colorful decorative rocks (you can probably find a bag on the shelves when you’re buying your pie dish). After the decorative stones have set, fill up your dish with more decorative rocks, aquarium glass, and other vibrant blue stones.

After that, all that’s left is to fill up your dish with water without submerging the stones. After all, your friendly pollinators are going to need a place to stand while they slurp up their refreshment.

You can place your new bath right on the ground or stack them higher on top of a stand like an overturned flower pot.

Then, just watch as bees and butterflies stop by for a drink. And don’t forget to keep refilling so it doesn’t go dry!

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