This time of year, as the weather begins to get colder and the evenings get darker, I always find myself wishing there was a way to make the summer last longer. With less sun to boost our vitamin D levels and the wetter, colder weather making it harder to plan family-friendly days out, the approach of autumn can be a total dampener on your mood - and pocket!
But with a bit of creativity, this year I’m determined to find some ways to bring the spirit of summer with me into the autumn months without it costing a fortune – and I hope some of these ideas inspire you and your family to do the same.
So, here are 7 easy ways you can make the summer last longer (that don’t cost the earth):
1. Pack a picnic
With the kids back to school and the forecast predicting rain followed by more rain, it probably isn’t the perfect time for a week away. Instead, why not make the summer last longer by turning that park trip into a picnic lunch, or packing some sandwiches and going for a drive to the countryside (there’s nothing like a car boot picnic with cosy blankets and hot chocolate)?
If you’re feeling super creative, you could even create a themed picnic lunch based on your kids’ favourite show, have a ‘mad hatter’s tea party’ with the craziest snacks you can find, or enjoy some ‘high tea’ with some scones and jam and finger sandwiches. By bringing some wellies and waterproofs, you might even be able to fit in a walk if you’re feeling adventurous.
2. Bring the BBQ indoors (not literally)
Nothing screams ‘summer’ quite like a barbecue, so why not have an ‘indoor barbecue’? Of course, you can’t bring the actual barbecue inside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook all your family’s favourites in the oven then pick someone brave to finish them off for five minutes outside to give it that authentic smokey taste. In fact, why not put your big coats on and eat al fresco under a gazebo or umbrella? We’re all used to sitting outside nowadays anyway!
3. Toast marshmallows over a bonfire
For an evening activity to make the summer last longer that doesn’t require sunshine, it’s time for an autumn bonfire! Set up a fire pit or mini bonfire (safely) and stock up on marshmallows, biscuits and chocolate for smores. Sometimes the simple things are the most special, and marshmallows are somehow ten times more delicious and exciting when toasted over a fire!
4. Camp in the garden
Why not take your marshmallow toasting to the next level and enjoy a night of camping? I remember camping in my garden as a child with some friends from school, watching a DVD on a laptop with some sweets in a much-too-snug sleeping bag and slightly uncomfortable air mattress that always deflated overnight. Believe it or not, these are some of my best memories (because, let’s be honest, nobody likes camping for the convenience or comfort!). Why not make the summer last longer with an overnight camping trip…. in your back garden?
You could let the kids invite their friends to stay and bag yourself a quiet night in, or you could camp outside as a whole family. If you don’t fancy sleeping outdoors, why not set up camp in the living room with a blanket fort and some fairy lights?
5. Spa at home
Get those cucumbers ready, and have a laugh as you try out mummy’s face masks, take it in turns to do massages, paint each other’s nails or open a hair salon (get those haircuts in before the school photos!). Put some relaxing music on, get some spa-snacks for each ‘customer’ and even make your own mocktails with some fizzy pop and fruit juices.
6. Chase the sun
If your kids get up at the crack of dawn, or are total night owls, why not take them to see the sun rise or set? Make the summer last longer by mimicking that holiday excitement of getting up early, just hopping in the car and driving to your chosen viewpoint. Pack up the car with some camping chairs and blankets, and head to your local moor, park or hill before sunset or sunrise.
7. Take photos to capture the memories
Purchase a disposable camera for each child and task them with taking photos of the memories you make, either over a particular weekend or just whenever they like between now and Christmas. You can join in too! By doing things the old-fashioned way, getting the photos developed can be another activity and you can look through the memories you’ve made at the end. You could even collate them into a family scrapbook. One way to make the summer last longer is to see all the fun things you’ve been able to do in the autumn months that actually didn’t need summer at all.
I hope some of these ideas will help you embrace the coming autumn and winter months with a new sense of fun and creativity, even if we all wish we could actually make the summer last longer!