Nothing can ruin a family gathering or get-together with friends like kids. Now before you jump to the conclusion that I hate kids, I will tell you that is just not true. I love them.
So let me explain myself.
How many times have you been to a party or event where there was a swimming pool or it took place at a park with a small playground? Something fun outside to keep the kids busy and active.
And how many times have you been a family gathering where it took place at a house with a small yard, no pool, no toys, no basketball hoop, etc. Nothing for the kids to do other than to constantly remind their parents that there is nothing for the kids to do. The phrases you will hear most often throughout the day are:
“What time is it?”
“When are we leaving?”
This cuts an otherwise enjoyable time together with friends and loved ones short. One group of parents will decide they have had enough and need to get the kids home. That starts the exodus of anyone else who brought kids, and will often bring what was supposed to be an all-day fun event to a grinding halt as more and more people exit.
It has become a running joke in my family and circle of friends that it is my job to come up with entertainment for the youngsters at any event we have.
With the summer upon us and 4th of July barbeques, family reunions, and other summertime activities in the immediate future, I thought this would be a great time to put together a small list of fun and relatively inexpensive ideas for the youngsters. Your kids will be crying when it is time to leave instead of crying that they want to leave.
Rent a Bounce House
Have you ever been to a local street fair or a fair in a local park with inflatable toys? You know what those inflatable toys almost always have in common? A line of kids waiting their turn.
Whether you opt for the standard bounce house for everyone to jump in or the upgraded models that you can find now with attached sliding boards (like the one pictured) or even pools, these things are always a huge hit with both the kids and the adults.
They even come in different themes now. There is the standard castle, but you can also find things like Batman, princess, and tropical themed bounce houses.
For me, this is my go to option.
The popularity of renting these things has grown tremendously. Even in small towns you might be surprised to find that there is a company nearby renting out bounce houses.
All you need is a roughly flat area of grass, dirt, or even asphalt to set one up on. As this Dallas bounce house rental company notes on their FAQ page, there is a compressor that needs to run with them all day to keep them inflated. It will be a bit noisy, but nothing too obnoxious. However, you probably don’t want it right beside where the majority of your guests are likely to congregate or blowing all over your food.
Have you ever taken the kids to one of those indoor laser tag facilities? They form teams and run around in an area working together to “shoot” the other team.
It’s a ton of fun and kids love it.
Companies are now springing up all over the country that will bring the fun of laser tag right to your house. That’s right. They bring all the equipment right to you and the kids can play outside. They will even setup some obstacles. The whole thing looks almost like a small paintball field when they are done.
At a recent family gathering, parents versus kids was a huge hit.
Slip and Slide
This old hit from the 80’s still has legs today. If you have a larger yard with at least a slight incline but no pool, this might be the solution you are looking for.
Slip and Slide’s are basically big water slides on the ground. Kids run, dive, and slide all the way to the end. These are typically 75 feet or longer.
They have come a long way from the long, thin yellow slide of my youth. Now you can find ones that are 10+ feet wide, like this one, just adding to the fun.
Like laser tag services that bring the fun to your house, this is a relatively new line of business cropping up all over. Companies will bring a collection of old arcade games right to you that the kids can play all day.
Forget the Xbox and Playstation. These are the classics. To your kids, games like Pacman and Asteroids are like historical fossils full of wonder and intrigue.
This can be a lot of fun for everyone. We did this last summer. Some of my nephews are still upset over the beatings I handed out in NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat.
If you have a suitable enough sized area for it, you can try a scavenger hunt for the kids. Make it age appropriate for the majority of the kids that will be present. In other words, more challenging if it is mostly young teenagers, less so if you are dealing with a bunch of 8 year-olds.
Provide clues that lead them from one spot to the next and make it as long as you like.
This may seem simple, but it was a huge hit when we did it. I bought a bunch of squirt guns and about 500 small water balloons. We filled up the first 100 or so ourselves and then let the kids do it from there.
They were given strict rules to stay away from the food and eating areas and that they could not throw water balloons at any adults without permission. Punishment would be that all the water toys go away for the rest of the day.
They had a blast running around all day throwing water balloons at eachother. Many of the adults got in on the fun too.
If you want your summer party to be a hit and there are going to be kids there, consider one of these ideas to keep the kids from driving their parents nuts.