Holiday season might not be here yet, but it’s coming, faster than you think. And, in case your dreams of flying away for the entire summer don’t come true, it’s always useful to have a backup plan. This year we like the idea of making the garden take a bit more responsibility. It’s free, it’s there and it’s entertaining even when the weather’s less than fantastic. Here are some easy ways to make your outdoor space holiday friendly and very entertaining, so you can take a break from full-time-fun-duty now and again.
Fuss-free Camping Holiday
If the words ‘camping’ and ‘holiday’ aren’t ones you can hear in the same sentence without shuddering, we feel your pain. But the thing is, children love camping (mainly because they aren’t the ones trying to de-pop the pop-up tents or stuff 25m of sleeping bag into a 3cm² pouch). Camping in the garden is a win-win: kids have an adventure and you have the house. So they’re happy. And you aren’t on a campsite, in the rain, at 2 in the morning, trying to convince a five-year old that Cornwall is a grizzly bear-free zone. Small tents are inexpensive, quick to put up and – as long as it isn’t pouring – can be pretty much left outside for days. If you don’t have sleeping bags, quilts and blankets work just as well if a sleep-over becomes part of the holiday. And apart from that, anything goes. Invent a treasure hunt and you’ve got an instant ‘pirate encampment’. Introduce soft toys for small kids and turn it into a safari. Invite a few young explorers and make a base camp. Add music and it’s a mini-festival. Once you get the hang of things, garden camping has its own legs. Just be available with snacks and juice. Or ask friends and their kids round for a camping cook-out: kids can camp, you can barbecue and it’s just like being on holiday, only a lot less work.
Welcome to Water World
You don’t need massive flumes, slides or a full-size swimming pool to create a water park this summer. A hose, bit of space and some inexpensive equipment do the job fine. But think of this one as the ‘garden short break’ – you don’t want water everywhere for weeks. Super-soakers, paddling pools, water slides, sprinklers, sandboxes and beach toys are all easy to find and cost next to nothing – look in your local classifieds for outgrown stuff from last year. A patio is perfect to set up a pool-bar with sun umbrellas, juice, snacks, towels and sunscreen. Keep external bifolds open, so overexcited kids don’t run into them. Make a beach-mat path from the garden to the toilet – keeps your floors (sort of) dry and cuts down on the chance of slipping. Introducing a ‘no running’ rule is a good idea. And this one needs supervision. But it’s the Memory Maker so capture every second on film. It’s also a great theme for a wild summer birthday party.
Seriously Fun Science Park
Remember the Mentos & Diet Coke experiment that went viral in 2007? It’s still messy but brilliant and just one of dozens of fun activities for a ‘Garden Science Park’. Most of the equipment you need, you’ll find round the house – especially in the kitchen. Home-made giant bubbles are easy and almost endlessly entertaining. Collect sticks and branches to build mini-dens and see whose survives longest or lets in least rain. Set up a paddling pool and find out what floats and what doesn’t – expect some surprises. Make flower petal perfume. Get kids interested in how their bodies move with simple stick and string puppets – putting on a show is an added bonus. The ideas for this one go on and on. And don’t forget to record your big successes – we challenge you to get at least one kid inside a giant bubble, it can be done.
Garden Sport’s Camp
There’s no end to the incredibly expensive garden games, from giant snakes and ladders to handcrafted noughts & crosses. But this year we’re putting our smart-money on ball games, racket skills and a bit of healthy competition instead. Go for tried and tested favourites like croquet, rounders, quoits and boules – you can buy traditional sets really cheaply. Badminton and tennis tournaments are exciting. And, again, sets are cheap. Or you can just get hold of the basics and make a net out of some rope and a sheet. Younger kids stay interested in easy to win games like garden quoits and parental participation is a must. But older kids can play for days by themselves if you get them started and invite a few friends round. Having score-sheets, strawberries and ice-cream, a juice stand and mini-prize giving are extras you can add for authenticity, if you want. Or keep it simple and the competitive spirit will do the rest.
Let the games begin!
Thanks for reading!xx