2021 Summer Freebies For Families! (Frugal Summer Guide!)

May 21, 2021

First off, can I ask if you enjoy this post you come give me a follow on Instagram?

Wow, my apologies for my recent blog hiatus. Quite frankly, as a content creator, I’ve struggled since the start of the pandemic to create content. I have had a lot of time to think about and deeply assess what I’m putting into the world. Is it fun? Does it enrich the lives of others? Does it honor my family? Does it use my gifts well? These are the types of questions I’ve gone back and forth on, and in many ways, it has been a blessing to have this time to step back and look at my schedule and priorities. The sudden shift has allowed me the space to get back into the heart of blogging, my original why, to serve families with a balance of humor and tangible suggestions. So, what better to launch back into that goal than by sharing my annual free and frugal summer planning guide. Let’s go! Share with friends, please! Below you’ll find some suggestions for maximizing summer fun, keeping your budget in check, and enjoying more time together as a family!

Summer is a magical time, perfect for memory making. Bake, order take out, go to the movies, watch movies on the couch all day, swim, read, play board games. Take your time.

First tip: prepare a summer bucket for the last day of school. My friend is making me a monogrammed piece of vinyl for a sand bucket for each child. Inside, I’ve added a Brain Quest summer workbook, any of these printables, a shirt for each child that says “Summer Vibes” (yes, including a onesie!) A new to them book from the thrift store, an ice cream gift card, and I printed off the items from this list that needed printing and added into their buckets. Check Instagram stories highlights to see what I’m describing!

Print off (or if you’re like me and have terrible handwriting, type out!) a calendar for June, July, August. Obviously, leave plenty of marginal room but add in the dates that are only one day. For example, doughnut day is a great day to knock off “get doughnuts” from your summer bucket list. Add any camps or vacations and then fill it with activities or scheduled days of rest at home.

Make a list of always free activities like splash pads, lakes, hikes, etc that you’d really like to do so you can find good days for those things.

Pro Tip– Make or purchase a bunch of “Uncrustable” style sandwiches and freeze to make picnic packing for the summer quicker. I made a very simple daily lunch and breakfast menu plan at the very bottom, don’t miss that for simplifying summer meals.

I don’t do any of those “theme days” like Water Wednesday, but we have set a goal for everyone to read 30 books this summer. This includes audiobooks during LEGO time. There are some amazing free printables and activities on my summer Pinterest board.

Please note, I will be updating this list as more companies share their summer plans.

Barnes and Noble summer reading program— We love to do this every year. We put the first day you can redeem your journals on the calendar and go first thing so we can read the rest of the day! The free titles this year are amazing!

Books-A-Million Summer Reading Adventure– So, this year, we are a little extra excited for this one, because the author they are highlighting is Kate DiCamillio and we have read so many of her books this year. Kids have to read four books and write in their journals about them to get a “Because Of Winn-Dixie” Notepad!

Regal Movies is back this year with their 1.00 summer movies for kids! Yay! I’m so excited for this one, because Florida gets hot in the summer months and we haven’t been in a movie theater in probably two years. Honestly, probably longer, the movies get so expensive. These 1.00 second run films are in my price point, though. You can print the full schedule here so you can see which movies you’d like to see with friends!

Along those same lines, Cinemark announced yesterday they will be bringing back their Kid’s Summer Club with 1.50 movies from June 16, 2021-August 4, 2021. I like this one, because they also offer discounts on kid snack packs. This is particularly exciting for us this year, because a fancy new theater opened up right down from us and they are participating!

Kids Bowl Free- This one is always so helpful to us, living in Florida, the summer gets scorching so we rely on occasional indoor activities.

Pizza Hut’s Summer BookIt Program– My kids read a LOT and I love that with Pizza Hut now offering a summer reading edition of their Bookit Program, they can earn free pizzas for lunches or family movie nights.

If you’ve ever been curious to try fishing, check out this list of days in 2021 you don’t need a license. (or free fishing days!)

See if you’re local water park offers discounted days before school gets out or after school is back in session. We’ve had success with this, because our kids get out of school a little early. So, we’ve been able to say nearly 50.00 going on these reduced admission days.

State & National Parks & their junior ranger programs– This is such a good one! State park passes are so affordable and can provide so much variety! If you’re looking to become more adventurous this summer, starting with the beauty of your local state and national parks is a great starting point. Junior ranger programs add a free, interactive spin on a state park day! (and make for great, free souvenirs when kids earn their badges at each one.
Utilize your library! This will look for everyone, I know. However, the library usually offers incredible summer reading program or craft/stem/story times.

Check out vacation bible school options– These are typically half day, week long programs filled with bible stories and crafts. Most churches offer them at an amazing price, so totally worth doing one over the course of the summer if you can find one you’re interested in.

Top Golf has 50% Tuesdays– going on Tuesday mornings is an incredible value, so we usually slot in a few Tuesdays over the summer to head there! I’m not sure if they always offer this, but in 2019, Tuesdays was also Kids Eat Free Day! So, we’d golf from open to noon and then have lunch!

Free Slurpee Day- I haven’t seen a 2021 update for this, but it happens on 7/11 so keep an eye out to see if they will be hosting this year!

National Doughnut Day is Friday June 4, 2021 this year! Most places will offer a free donut or some sort of promotion.

One thing we like to do for summer dinners is Papa Murphy’s does 10.00 large pizzas usually! Sign up for their text alerts for that.

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Monday- French toast casserole
Tuesday- Biscuits and gravy (save half sausage to prep a casserole for the next day!)
Wednesday- you guessed it! Egg & Sausage casserole
Thursday- Pancake muffins
Friday- Cereal

Lunch rotation:
Monday- Sandwiches
Tuesday- Ramen
Wednesday- Mac n cheese with side salads
Thursday- Pasta salad
Friday- Bookit Free Pizzas!

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More about This Messy Season

This Messy Season is a blog serving families through practical tips for nurturing their families, emphasizing quality time and adventure. Helping young families bloom where they're planted, embrace their mess, and thrive through a series of honest, blog posts highlighting realistic travel tips, favorite products that simplify the work load of families, and family entertainment.