Unlike summers past, many of us may be staying home this summer, rather than heading out on the open road, going to a cottage or jumping on a plane destined to exotic lands! But that’s OK. Sometimes the best memories are created at home, from simple activities. What matters is family and that you are together. This summer, turn these easy tips into long lasting traditions!
The best way to do that is to plan ahead to give the summer some shape and structure that the kids and you can get excited about.
For example, make every Friday night barbecue night, every Saturday morning gardening or hiking time, or every Tuesday is “Around the Globe” theme night.
Check out these fresh ideas that you can plan and bring to life as a family. Come fall, summer will have passed by in a flash and you will have built some lasting memories.
1. “Around the Globe” theme nights
Select one night of the week as an international night. On a rotating basis, one family member can choose a country and be in charge of gathering some facts about the far-off land, so everyone can learn while they feast! Others can get involved by making some place cards and creating decorations.
Each family member can be in charge of one part of the meal. The famiglia that cooks together stays together right?!
Or, need it to be fast and easy for a weeknight? There’s no shame in calling delivery! Order in from your favourite restaurant—or for a more exotic country (think Morocco or Indonesia or Peru), try a new takeout place.
To make it easy and accessible, kick off your “Around the Globe” series with an Italian theme dinner. Dress up your table with a red and white tablecloth and grapes, lemons and sunflowers as a centre piece. Take it outside and imagine you are under the hot Tuscan sun. Or, pretend you are in Rome and eat by candlelight. Create some Italian-inspired meals, and don't forget to include Italian-style bread like D'Italiano Garlic Baguette, Thick Sliced Garlic Parmesan Toast or Bake at Home Garlic Bread with Cheese. Have a selection of Italian sodas on hand, and for dessert, keep it simple with gelato—or indulge in some pastries and tiramisu, too!
Virtual option: You can share your “Around the Globe” nights with another family or far-away relatives via Zoom.
2. Get in touch with Nature, Part 1
As an ongoing project, get the whole family involved in making the backyard beautiful and functional—by planting flowers and some vegetables to cook up later for some of your feasts. Not only is this relaxing for both the kids and adults but maybe you can get Nonna involved too!
Everyone will enjoy watching seeds or small plants grow and transform over the weeks and months of the summer. Along the way, you can water and weed as a team.
Next, invite some wildlife into your backyard or patio by creating a bird feeder. Make a DIY bird feeder with the family. Or purchase one or two plain, unpainted ones at your local hardware or craft store or order one online. If the kids are more competitive why not set up a kids versus adults competition or have each of the kids create their own and see which gets the most birds to visit throughout the summer.
3. Get in touch with nature Part 2
Plan regular half-day hikes on the weekend. If you want to make sure no one gets “hangry,” pack a lunch of delicious sandwiches, like Tuscan Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich with Arugula.
Every week, walk or drive to a different local spot—a park, forest, ravine, lake or beach and give the kids something fun to add to their next Tik Tok post!
Depending on how old the kids are, you can make a game of it by writing out 10 items you might see where you are going. Whoever sees the most items first wins. So if you are going to the beach, your list might include driftwood, a pink shell, a fossil, a seagull, a duck, a purple flower, seaweed, a snail, a pine cone and a boat. Get the kids involved or plan to meet friends there. If they’re older create more of a challenge and have them create short videos of their adventures. Lastly, don’t forget to snap a few family pics to look back on in the coming years!
No matter what time you go, make it a tradition to have a barbecue afterwards. Check out some great Canadian barbecue ideas here.
5. Camping out in the backyard
If you aren’t able to go on a camping trip, why not do it in the backyard! The kitchen is close at hand and no scary midnight treks to the washroom! Set up tents (or get older kids to do it) and get out the sleeping bags and flashlights. If the kids are older, let them Don’t forget the bug spray!
Before heading to bed, have some D’Italiano Grilled Cheese Bites and then toast up some marshmallows over the barbecue or firepit.
Get everyone in the family to come to the tent with either a scary ghost story or a funny story to share!
After a night “roughing it,” everyone will be hungry in the morning. Get the entire famiglia at the table with something special with French Toast with Mascarpone Maple Cream made with slices of D’Italiano Thick Slice Bread Original or 100% Whole Wheat. Get ready to be asked for seconds.
6. Paint nights
Paint nights (or days) can be a lifesaver when the weather turns rainy. It is also a good way to get family together who are far apart. Get acrylic paint, brushes and canvasses at the dollar store or order online. Google “Easy Family Paint Night Tutorials,” and choose among many video tutorials. Watch as a group and find out who the true family Picasso is. You can invite kids’ friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles to join via Zoom. Share your computer screen so everyone sees the video—instant family bonding time. See how creative the family really is when there’s less screen time and more time to express their artistic sides!
Since you have paint on hand, you can create a later activity for younger kids. When you go to the forest of the beach, pick up some large rocks, bring them home and then paint them to create artful paperweights or doorstops.
7. Dance away
Kids, from the very young to teenagers, are getting into TikTok dances, often enlisting a parent to partake. Learn a dance together—with one child, or the whole family. You can ask the kids to track down some popular group dances online or follow the latest TikTok craze. It’s good exercise and good for some laughs.
If the family is up for it, why not hold a talent night where you can show off your skills!
Virtual option: You can share your Talent Night with another family or far-away relatives via Zoom.