With the stress of everyday life, ever-growing to-do lists, and hectic schedules, sometimes finding the fun in family time can be hard. Which is why author Donna Bozzo wrote a book dedicated to the subject. In What The Fun, the mother-of-three notes a plethora of research demonstrating how infusing your days with fun makes people happier, healthier, and helps them live longer, as she lists no less than 427 family fun ideas to inspire. Sure, some of these things are pretty simple. But it’s often the most simple things we need to be reminded of and that mean the most to our kids. So, without further ado, we’ve pulled 20 solid ideas from her book to put into your own family fun bucket list.
1. Sleep in the backyard as a family. Pitch a tent, throw down some sleeping bags (or an air mattress), and spend a night under the stars without wandering far.
2. Watch the sunrise together. A reminder that every day beginning is a beautiful gift. (Note: best paired with a long afternoon family nap).
3. Have dinner under the dining room table. Yep—placemats, plates, cups, and spoons. Ditch the chairs and set it all down under.
4. Start a hobby together. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it together.
5. Have breakfast at the park. Bagels, donuts, breakfast burritos, and OJ are just more fun when eaten on the grass, possibly with a jungle gym nearby.
6. Have an all-day pajama day. Spend the day together, from sun up to sun down, all in your jammies, relaxing, playing, reading, and watching movies.
7. Turn your house into a comedy club. Let your littles research jokes online or at the library, then have them throw a full-on show in front of the fam.
8. Declare it practical joke week at home. Whoopee cushions, bug ice cubes…(almost) nothing is off limits.
10. Put on a fashion show. Using live models or dolls, the dress-up box or original creations (a la Mayhem), create a lengthy fashion show with a soundtrack, old-school announcer, perhaps a diva designer, the works!
11. Make a family movie. Employ your smartphone—or something fancier if you have it—write a script or just let the script of everyday life be your guide. Then edit it in iMovie or Final Cut Express before making some popcorn and seeing your family hit the small screen.
12. Open a family restaurant—at home. Shake out the tablecloths, set up card tables, have your kid dream up and illustrate the menu, don a uniform (notepad and pen, included) and wait on you. Get as creative or involved as you want.
13. Wash your car. Together, as a family. If it’s warm enough, have your kids wear swimsuits to heighten the fun.
14. Hit the puddles after a rain. A little drizzle doesn’t mean you’re trapped indoors. Put on your slicker, grab your umbrellas, and go puddle hunting/jumping.
15. Create a little village. Save your grocery containers—milk jugs, orange juice containers, cereal boxes, etc. for a couple of weeks, along with paper bags and old receipts. Choose a spot in the house and help your kids make it over like it’s a supermarket, complete with shelves of food, shopping carts (if you have one), and a cash register and check-out line. If you have the time, space, and energy to expand your village with a pet store or post office, go for it!
16. Make (and eat) Sunday dinner. Start a tradition in which you occasionally plan, shop for, prepare, and eat Sunday dinner as a family. Invite friends over, set the table all fancy, and play games afterwards.
17. Surprise a neighbor or friend with a cake. Teach your kids the art of friendship by planning a surprise cake to be delivered to a friend or neighbor for a special occasion, or just because.
19. Have a masked ball. Stock up on voluminous dresses from thrift stores (trim the hems if need be), bow ties, and fancy masks (or DIY masks), crank the festive music up, and go.
20. Dine in character. Have your big kids pick one of their favorite book characters and come dressed like them (and acting like them) to your next meal. Up the ante by serving the characters food that makes sense—carrots for Alice in Wonderland‘s White Rabbit, gummy ants for Arthur, fancy tea for a princess, pizza for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, etc.
For 407 more ideas, scoop up What The Fun, $12.71, on Amazon.