photo by mar mar
homemade granola

Many parents have plans for their younger kids during summer break, but don't feel bad if you can't afford summer camp, community centers or sports. There are tons of frugal options. Get organized now so you have a game plan. It can be fun going to the public pool, local library, beach and parks, but that's only a few days out of several weeks. You can have a summer packed with memories of plain old "hands on" fun at home. No, not sidewalk chalk, sandboxes, water toys, Frisbee or my personal favorite, playing statues. You have plenty of time to do something different this summer by celebrating wacky holidays. The themes are actual monthly, weekly or daily holidays. You simply fill in with a little creativity.

Here are few ideas to get you started.

National Donut Day, June 6: According to Holiday Insights (, this day serves as a Salvation Army fund-raising event. It started during WWI and honors women who volunteered to make donuts to boost the soldiers' morale. For fun, see whether there's a local fund-raiser and buy donuts. Or you can make them yourself by using refrigerated biscuit dough and using a skillet with heated oil in it to simply fry the dough. Once they're fried, place them into a paper bag with cinnamon and sugar, and shake. Borrow library books about donuts or charity and kindness, too. It's a teachable moment to share what your local Salvation Army does for your community. You can talk about thrift stores and go through the house gathering items for a donation box. Then you can take the kids to your local Salvation Army thrift store to drop the box off and shop, too.

Eat Your Vegetables Day, June 17: Plant some seeds or visit a local pick-your-own farm or farmer's market. You can make a vegetable tray with dip or vegetable soup. Grow a potato in water by cutting it in half and using toothpicks to support it and root it in a glass of water. Use vegetable greens or peels as paintbrushes, or use cream cheese as "glue" and make a face with cut-up vegetables on tomatoes, cucumbers or bell peppers.

Teddy Bear Picnic Day, July 10: It's the perfect reason to have lunch outside. Break out the blankets and stuffed animals. Read about bears. You can broaden the topic to camping and the outdoors, and build tents with your patio chairs and blankets. Draw a bear face on a small paper plate and attach it to a craft stick. You can bake cupcakes and add teddy-shaped graham crackers on top.

National Trail Mix Day, Aug. 31: Make some homemade granola, then head out to a nature center and walk the trails.


3-1/2 cups regular oats
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chopped mixed dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a baking pan, combine all ingredients except fruit. Mix well. Spread evenly in pan. Bake 15 minutes and stir, and then continue baking an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Stir in fruit. -- submitted by Arlene, New York