Jason Wright: Eight summertime ideas under $8

Jason Wright

Ah, summer. The season of sunburns, wet pool towels on the floor and every parent’s favorite question, “Are we there yet?”

With some creative thinking and a little prep, your summer can be as memorable as the neighbors who seem to disappear July 1 and reappear the Saturday before school starts.

Here are eight easy-to-tackle summer activities under $8 that might turn a quiet summer into something the family will never forget.

• The midnight snack run. In our home, we call them “late nights.” With the kids — and sometimes Mom and Dad — already in pajamas, we load up in the car and hit our favorite all-night convenience store or Wal-Mart. Everyone gets an inexpensive treat, a few funny looks and more laughs than you can count.

• Not your father’s movie night. There’s watching a movie, and then there’s turning your home into a movie theater. Hit the store and buy $1 boxes of popular candy like Milk Duds, Junior Mints, etc. Invite a child to create tickets, kill the lights and cover the windows with blankets or towels to make it even darker. Have someone make an announcement about cellphones and then stream or pop in your favorite movie. If Dad falls asleep, stop the movie, change your clothes, hit the lights and tell him he slept through the night.

• A bike ride on Mars. If you don’t have enough bikes for everyone, ask a friend or neighbor, or use social media to borrow some for the evening. As you ride along, challenge the kids to use their imaginations to see things with their creative eyes. That dog you passed? He’s really an alien named Norm. The pickup truck parked in the church parking lot? It’s a spaceship finally coming back for Dad.

• The sidewalk chalk art show. If you don’t already own it, a bucket of chalk can be found almost anywhere for less than $8. Draw a family portrait, recreate the front of your house on the driveway, draw the skyline. You can add spice to your show by asking permission to create something special for elderly friends or neighbors who would love to see some colorful creativity on their sidewalk until the next rain.

• Learn-it-together game night. Your closet is full of games, right? And it’s rare to find consensus on which one to play, right? Gather up the gang and hit Wal-Mart or Target and browse the game aisle. You’ll find a selection of cards or other games you’ve never heard of priced at $8 or less. Buy it, learn it and play until everyone has tasted victory.

• Shoot a cellphone commercial. It’s likely someone in the family owns a smartphone with a camera. Write a short script and create a funny 30-second parody commercial for something strange in your home. Make an ad for dirty socks, a garden hoe or your mother’s high school yearbook. When you’re done, share it on social media and send it to television shows like “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” or “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” If your ad hits the spot, it could catch the eye of a celeb who shares it, too.

• The family skit night. Every family has favorite stories that are guaranteed to bring the giggles. With everyone changing roles, act them out in the living room Broadway style. The day Dad snorted milk? The morning Mom went to church with two different shoes on? The night the dog jumped over the couch chasing a mouse? Make fun costumes, use silly accents and capture them on video for future use — or bribery.

• Camp in the backyard. Set up a tent and create a campground in the backyard. Have the kids name it, make a sign and write some rules for campers. Buy supplies for s’mores and make them using a fire pit, microwave or stovetop. Tell stories and make everyone pinky promise not to bail out for their bed at 2 a.m. But if they do, let them sleep and eat an extra s’more in their honor.

(My favorite reader of the week is Jennifer Funk. Thanks for reading!)

Jason F. Wright is a New York Times bestselling author, columnist and speaker. His newest book, “Apple-style-span”>A Letter to Mary: The Savior’s Loving Letter to His Mother,” is now available for preorder on Amazon. He can be reached at feedback@jasonfwright.com or http://www.jasonfwright.com.