It’s officially summer. Although many places started to get hot a few weeks ago, the season officially kicks off today at 4:59 PM Pacific Time, the exact moment of the solstice. In honor of the season of sun, sand, and surf, here are 13 frugal ways to celebrate the summer.
I love lemonade in all its forms – pink, yellow, mixed with lavender, sweet, tart, pulpy, smooth. You can make the lemonade yourself with lemons from the farmer’s market, grocery store, or, if you’re lucky, your backyard. You could also use one of the plethora of lemonade coupons to buy it already made in a carton or can. No matter how you do it, get yourself some lemonade and drink up.
Got leftover lemonade or fruit juice? Make popsicles. My mom had popsicle molds when I was growing up, but you can also use paper or plastic cups. Fill them 2/3s full with juice, then set them in the freezer. Once they start to set, insert popsicle sticks. Freeze until hard. Now you’ve got a cheap, easy treat.
Host a Lazy BBQ
Most people host barbecues on the 4th of July, but I prefer to host one some other random weekend. That makes it more relaxing, and less theme-oriented. Use my tips for throwing a party on a budget to avoid overspending on your shindig.
Make Ice Cream
I have an ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer. When I was growing up, my mom had a rock-salt ice cream maker. These days you can pick up an electric ice cream maker for $20-50. If you go join Bed, Bath, and Beyond’s mailing list, they’ll send you 20% off coupons. Use one to get yourself an ice cream machine. Although it takes a bit of advanced planning, you’ll be able to make much tastier ice cream for less than the brands in the store cost (and without all the additives.)
Summer is the season of cherries. Sure, you can probably get imported cherries at the grocery store already, but fresh, US-grown cherries are at their peak in June and July. The wait is definitely worth it. Stop by a farmer’s market or produce stand to pick some up.
Hit the Beach
If you live anywhere near an ocean or lake, pack up your lunch, snacks, water, sunscreen, towels, and beach toys. Make sure you leave early to score a good spot, and then spend your day lazing in the warm sun and playing in the water. Bonus points for building a sand castle.
Attend Free Cultural Events
You’ll find all sorts of free or cheap cultural events during the summer. Make plans to visit at least two or three. Not only will you get free entertainment, you’ll experience the arts. Sure it sounds high falutin’, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
Attend a Street Fair
Nearly every town hosts a street fair during the warmer months. Although they’re usually filled with vendors hawking food and crafts, it’s usually not ridiculously over-priced. Buy a gyro or a funnel cake, then sit on the curb and enjoy the free street musicians. You can also get your face painted or do some early Christmas shopping with unique vendors.
Host a Block Party
My street never had a block party when I was growing up, but I heard about them. If you live on a smaller street, contact the city to ask how you can block it off. Pick a date, and then recruit your neighbors to join in the fun. Set up multiple BBQ stations, organize volleyball games, and let the kids cover the street in chalk drawings. The goal is to relax and get to know your neighbors better. If New York City can close their streets for a day, certainly you can.
Hang Out by the Pool
My neighborhood pool was a must for every family. Even people who had backyard pools joined the club. The club hosted a few evening events for the adults, and kids rode their bikes over during the day. Although it isn’t free, you only have to pay membership for a few months and it’s usually affordable, especially compared to the cost of maintaining your own pool. If you don’t have access to a neighborhood pool, check your local city’s department of parks and rec for a list of community pools.
Join a Summer Sports League
Now that it’s still light in the evenings, there’s ample time to play sports. Whatever your sport: softball, basketball, or soccer, you can find a community league in your area to join. You’ll need to buy equipment, but the membership fees are usually less than $50 for the season.
The Vodka Watermelon
This one’s strictly for the adults, but what summer is complete without a vodka-injected watermelon?
Eat Dinner Outside
If you’ve got a backyard, or a nice balcony, eat dinner outside. Not only do you get to enjoy the sunset and the fresh air, you’ll also save money on air conditioning. You get bonus points for grilling your food outside, which further reduces the need for air conditioning inside. My goal for July, August, and September is to use the oven less and to grill more. It just feels more summery.
Summer will be gone in a flash, so get out there and enjoy it while you can. Do you have any more ways to celebrate the summer? Share them in the comments.