Kids LOVE their summer holidays. Parents and carers can be less enthusiastic! Generally, you’ve still got work to go to and if you haven’t got a holiday booked this year, it’s a long six weeks.

Last year, Compare the Market worked out that it cost the average UK family £1,400 to entertain the kids over the summer.

This year, families with 2 children are at the sharp end of the crisis, paying out £400 extra a month on their regular bills. And their costs have gone up by 13% - 4% more than the rate of inflation.

There’s childcare to think about. And entertaining them the rest of the time, especially if they’re younger. There are expenses you just can’t cut back on, and with the essentials pricier than ever, lots of people have to think twice about treats and toys.

Find out if you can get help with things like childcare, food or school uniforms.

Never fear! RIFT is here. We’ve put together a long list of things you can do that are cheap or free.

With a little planning, you can still save summer without breaking the bank.

CHEAP OR FREE STUFF TO DO THIS SUMMER – OUR TOP TEN

  1. GLAMP OUT IN THE GARDEN

If you have a tent, get it pitched! The kids will love the extra space and making it their own. Join your little ones on a very exciting adventure in the night garden. Older kids will love the freedom of camping out overnight with their mates. If you haven’t got a tent, use some sheets and poles to make an outdoor awning that the kids will love to play in all day.

  1. JOIN YOUR LIBRARY

Yes, we know kids are more interested in screens but books are still brilliant for their imagination. Introduce them to your local library, hang out for a bit, and they’re bound to find something that catches their interest. Libraries across the country also take part in the Summer Reading Challenge. Kids can create a profile, get rewards, play games, and earn badges. Or visit your local library to find out what they have planned for over the summer.  AND most libraries offer e-books and digital audiobooks to borrow too.

  1. PAINT PEBBLES FOR FUN

Why leave the rock snakes in lockdown? They’re so much fun to do – and they make a lovely present for friends and family. So go pebble hunting, get the newspaper down to protect your kitchen table and get the paints out. Acrylics are best but any poster paints with do. Sharpies and markers are also good. Finish with PVA glue to make them a little more weatherproof. Smooth, round stones are perfect and ideas we love are creating cartoony bug characters or using them as veg labels to remember what you’ve planted, where.

  1. PRINT SOME QUIET TIME

If you have a printer at home, put it to work. There are many, many websites of colouring pages online. From mindfulness mandala-style colouring-in, that also encourages creativity, helps nurture focus and frees kids from anything they might be worrying about, to pictures of their favourite characters. Just google the character’s name and ‘colouring page’. Crayola is a great place to start, but look around and you’ll find lots of other kinds of printables too, from word searches and maze puzzles, to ideas for comic books and dress-up paper dolls.

  1. CREATE A TREASURE HUNT

You can go easy and low-tech and create your own treasure hunt in the garden. Keep the clues clever but uncomplicated – and leave a new one in each spot. You don’t have to spend lots on the ‘treasure’ but use your imagination – make it something they won’t expect.

 Or you can sign up to go Geocaching for FREE! It’s fun and there are geocaches across the UK. It’s a great family activity, will get them outdoors in the fresh air and teaches them lots of new skills like perseverance. If you’re a newbie, find out what it’s all about here.

  1. GO WILD

If your kids are animal lovers and passionate about the planet, check out WildLife Watch for lots of things to do, from making a bird feeder to a luxury hedgehog hideout! Your family can also join your nearest Wildlife Trust for just a couple of pounds each month and the benefits start with a Wildlife Watch starter pack that includes a handbook, posters, magazine and stickers.

  1. HAVE A DRESS UP DAY

Most young families have a stash of costumes they’ve collected from Halloween and World Book Days. You can customise and add to these with any old clothes that won’t make it to eBay or the charity shop: think old shoes – heels are popular! – hats and sparkly things. If you’re clearing out your old make up, let the kids have some fun with it first. And a half hour spent in the charity shop is a really fun way to add to your dress up box for just a few pounds.

  1. WRITE A LETTER

You can have a lot of fun with a pen and paper! Kids can rediscover the joy of getting in touch with family and friends in a new way – and oh the excitement of waiting for a reply! It also of course helps with their reading and writing but don’t tell them that. Writing a quick letter to someone they love – perhaps with a drawing or two – is a fun way to fill an afternoon. Plus there’s the fun of getting a stamp and posting it. If they have a favourite celebrity, they could write to them too. There’s a very good chance they’ll get a reply.

  1. GIVE THEM GREEN FINGERS

If you have a garden, it’s your best friend this summer. If you don’t, there are fun things you can grow indoors and in window boxes that they’ll love. Cress is perhaps the best thing to get kids interested in growing seeds; it’s quick to grow and they can harvest it for salads and sandwiches. Plus, gardens aren’t just for growing stuff: they can make art out of things they find, take their soft toys on an epic adventure into the unknown, or make mud pies! Give them old plates, cutlery and takeaway boxes and they can make their own outdoor kitchen.

  1. MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIE

Smartphones have opened up a whole world of creativity for kids and adults. And as you already have the phone, the only other thing you need are ideas. Some kids love watching those unboxing videos on YouTube – so why not let them make one of their own? Other kids might like to make their own ‘animations’. There’s a great FREE stop motion app that lets them bring their toys to life by shooting a few frames at a time. 

We’d love to hear your ideas for keeping the kids happy over the holidays too!

We know that 90% of people with young children are worried about bills. We also know that two out of three people owed a tax refund don’t know they entitled to it. So, it’s really worth checking if you qualify. Start your claim, give us a ring or request a call back today… it could change your summer!