Take Family Fun Night Outdoors

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By Jennifer Halter

Warm weather is upon us and for many families, that means finding more ways to enjoy time
outdoors. Here are some ways to take your next family fun night outside under the stars — and do it
on a budget!

Backyard Camping Adventure

Camping is a favorite activity for many families, but it can take a lot of time to pack, prepare, and travel,
especially if it’s a last-minute decision. But you can have your own backyard camping night at home whenever the urge strikes. If you have a tent, set it up, or, if not, you can do all the other camping activities and just plan to sleep inside. This is a great option for those who are new to camping and may not quite be ready to brave the outdoors for a full night.

If you can safely start a campfire (fire pits would be a great option for this), use it for cooking and added light and warmth. Grab your sticks or skewers to roast hot dogs or marshmallows for s’mores. Not able to cook outside? No problem! You can always prepare your food inside and take it out for a dinnertime picnic. For entertainment, sing your favorite songs, tell stories, or play yard games. You can easily make this a night to be screen-free and unplugged, which we all need from time to time.

Glow Party

Glow sticks are inexpensive and can provide hours of fun on warm spring and summer nights. Check your local dollar store for sticks, bracelets, necklaces, wands, and headbands. Dress in dark-colored clothing to maximize the awesome glowing effect from the items your family chooses to wear, carry, or even attach to their outfits. Bring out the music for a fun glow dance party, or play a game of tag or hide and seek. You can also have a glow stick hunt (similar to an Easter egg hunt).

Want to take it up a notch? Try your hand at your own glow bubbles! You will need standard size bottles of
bubbles, glowsticks (approximately five to six per bottle of bubbles), scissors and protective gloves. To begin, open your bottle of bubbles. Select five to six glowsticks of the same color. If you want a brighter, more vibrant color, use more glow sticks. While wearing protective gloves, snip the end of each stick and squeeze the liquid into the bottle of bubbles. (Please note that since the glowsticks do contain chemicals, only adults should be handling them once they have been snipped open.) Replace the lid on the bubble bottle and shake gently to combine the liquids.

Blow bubbles just as you normally would and watch them glow! The bubbles will glow for approximately 10
to 15 minutes, so you may want to have several extra glowsticks on hand to extend the fun. You can also add a small amount of glow-in-the-dark paint to the bubbles for an added effect.

Starry Night

Sometimes, the simplest activity can bring hours of enjoyment for your family. Star gazing is an activity that
involves no money and minimal planning. On a clear night, head outdoors to your favorite spot and just
look up. Make your experience more comfortable by bringing out blankets to lay on or use lounge chairs or
a hammock if available. Another idea you can try is to use an inflatable kiddie pool and fill it with your favorite pillows and stuffed animals to create a cozy spot for your little ones.

See who can find the brightest stars or even constellations. For older kids, try a stargazing app like
SkySafari or SkyView. Depending on the time of the month, you may be able to catch the full moon. Use this
time to talk, tell stories, or just relax as you get ready for bedtime.

Outdoor Movie Night

Everyone loves family movie night and taking it outdoors can make it even more memorable! Setting up your space can be simple, or you can make it more elaborate depending on your budget. Use outdoor chairs or bring out the sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets. You can string lights or set out candles (keeping safety in mind around younger children) to give your space more of a movie theater feel. When choosing how to watch your movie(s), try a projector if you have one or keep it simple by using a laptop or portable DVD player.

Prior to your movie night, decide what you want to watch. You can use your movie to create a themed snack menu or even dress in costume like the characters to make things more fun. Please your whole crowd with a bar where each person can create their own special bowl of popcorn by adding their preferred toppings. Some ideas for add-ins include chocolate candy pieces, sprinkles, ranch seasoning, or flavored butter. The possibilities are endless!

Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas,
free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round.

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