Looking for some fun and surprising ways to celebrate the first day of summer break with your kids? Here are 5 really great ideas!

Our family is huge on tradition. We sometimes joke that if we do something twice, it automatically becomes a tradition – and it’s not far from the truth! My oldest son loves nothing more than starting up a new tradition, and if I plan a fun event one year you’d better believe I’ve gotta do something similar the next!

So, last year when I planned a quick overnight “kick off to summer break” trip, I knew that this was going to become a thing for us. Summer vacation is so fun and special. It’s one of those things that will feel exciting for your kids no matter what you do (because it’s SUMMER!), but it’s always fun to try to make it a little extra special.

Graphic of pool with text overlay that says how to celebrate the first day of summer

So, why not take the time to do a little something to mark the beginning of summer break? It doesn’t have to be anything big, but taking the time to do something to acknowledge the start of summer is fun for everyone!

So today, I’m going to share 5 ideas (both big and small) for how to celebrate the beginning of summer with your kids!

Ideas for Celebrating the Beginning of Summer Break

Take an Overnight Trip

two young boys standing in front of sign for Kalahari water park

This is what we did last year, and it was so much fun! While our oldest was at his last day of school, we packed up the car and his suitcase. When he got out of school, we met him in the parking lot loaded up and ready to go! We headed to a nearby indoor waterpark and resort and spent one night celebrating the beginning of summer as a family. We also had another family that came with us, so he got to celebrate with friends! It was a really fun trip and created some super special memories.

I think a couple of key things that made this one feel particularly special was that we went somewhere brand new that is super focused on the kids. Also? Having it be a huge surprise was a blast for everyone! He was so thrilled to go straight from school to a big adventure!

Other ideas along this line would include a quick camping trip, or even just an overnight stay at a hotel room in your city!

Plan a Big Day of Fun

Dad and young son bowling

This is what we’re doing this year, and I’m really excited about it. We decided to skip the overnight portion of things and just spend the first day of summer doing lots of fun things we don’t do often!

A few ideas for this include:

  • Go bowling
  • Go to an arcade
  • See a movie
  • Have a picnic
  • Go to the mall (our kids think it’s the most magical place!)
  • Visit a waterpark
  • Try a new pool
  • Camp in your backyard

Just try to think outside the box and plan a full day full of things you know your kids will love!

Here’s what is on our agenda for the first day of summer:

  • Donuts for breakfast
  • Spend the morning at a local place with bowling, putt putt, and an arcade
  • Lunch at the eat-in movie theater
  • Head to the mall to wander around, go to Build-a-Bear, and have dinner in the food court
  • And, if the kids are up for it, we’ll let them camp out together in our game room that night!

It’ll be a full day of fun, and it sure to create some special memories!

Surprise them With Summer Gear!

via Cotton Stem

This is something Erin from Cotton Stem always did for her girls, and I always loved watching it! Instead of planning a full day, how about just surprising them with some new summer gear when they come home from their last day of school? You can set it up in a mudroom if you have one, or just pile it all in their rooms. You can grab things like beach balls, a new bathing suit, beach towels, a new float, and sidewalk chalk.

Basically, just take all those things we all have to gather at the beginning of summer anyways and turn it into a surprise gift for the kids! It feels way more special that way, and is sure to be a surprise they’ll love.

This would be such a fun tradition to do year after year, and would be something your kids eagerly look forward to each summer. And the best part is, you can just add things you were already planning on buying anyways!

Make a Bucket List

Two young boys playing with a rainbow sprinkler

If you haven’t already planned your summer bucket list, the first day of summer is a perfect time! Sit down with the kids and spend some time asking what everyone wants to do this summer. You can make your list big or small, but either way it’s really fun to have a list of things you know you all want to do over the summer. And, it helps make sure no one feels like they’re missing out on any fun!

If you really want to make a thing of it, grab some poster board or a roll of butcher paper for your list. Let the kids decorate it and make it as elaborate as they want. Then, hang it up somewhere prominent in your home where you can all see it all the time and remember to work on crossing things off! Encourage them to add both big and small items to the list, and plenty of items they can do by themselves. That way, if they come to you saying they’re bored, you can point them to the list and tell them to cross a few things off!

Click here to see our summer bucket list.

Have Ice Cream for Breakfast

toddler eating ice cream

Because why the heck not?!

A perfect way to mark the beginning of summer is to do something that you’d normally never say yes to. Gather up a big ice cream buffet, complete with whipped cream and chocolate sauce and all the toppings you can imagine. Have it all set up when the kids come out for breakfast, and let them go to town. It’s sure to feel silly and special and wonderful, and they’ll never forget it!

Other surprising and silly ways you can shock and delight your kids include:

  • Clean their rooms for them while they’re at the last day of school
  • Start a water balloon fight
  • Surprise them with Nerf guns and start the first fight
  • Buy a new video game and offer to play with them
  • Kick off a game of hide and seek inside
  • Start a summer-long prank war
  • Serve them breakfast in bed

You get the idea – anything that feels out of the ordinary and a little bit shocking would be the perfect way to kick off summer. And it doesn’t have to cost you a cent!

It’s always worth taking the time to plan a fun surprise or special day for your kids. And, you only have so many summers with them at home – so make the most of it!

What are your favorite ways to mark the beginning of summer with your kids?

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