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Playdate Place is Kmart’s go-to resource for planning fun playdates.

Five Fun, Frugal Outdoor Family “Playdates”

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When you’re a parent, it can be expensive to hire a babysitter for an evening out.  Instead, invite another family over for some old-fashioned fun.  Outdoor entertaining is less stressful because you’re keeping the mess outside, and no extensive cleaning is required to get ready.  Not only will everyone have a blast, you’ll save money while you’re at it.  Here are some frugal ideas guaranteed to please people of all ages:

Campout –If you have a fire pit, make use of it!  Have friends or neighbors bring their lawn chairs, and pitch a tent in the back yard for an instant “hideout” for the kids.  Make sure you have graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows on hand to make s’mores.

Beach Party –Bring the ocean to you by throwing a beach-themed get-together.   Set up the pool and sprinklers for the kids.  Bury some seashells in the sandbox as a fun treasure-hunt activity.  Place umbrellas in some fruity, tropical drinks for the grown-ups and the stage will be set.

Ice Cream Bar – Ice cream socials have always been popular, and for good reason.  Everyone loves it!  The kids can make homemade ice cream in a bag as a fun activity.  Instruct guests to bring the most interesting ice cream topping they can find to share, and you provide the rest.

Mexican Fiesta – Start a few days in advance by having the kids make a piñata to break open on the big night.  Include chips and salsa, tacos or other Mexican favorites as part of your get-together.

  • To make your piñata: Cut newspaper in strips about one inch by six inches long. Make paper mache paste using one part flour and two parts water.  Dip newspaper strips in paste and apply in layers to balloon. Allow balloon to dry several hours or overnight. Apply a second coat of newspaper and dry again.  To decorate the piñata, use acrylic paint or tissue paper cut in one-inch strips, creating a fringe at the end.  Cut a small hole in the top of the piñata to insert candy and close with masking tape. Cut holes to thread twine through the top to string piñata.

Dance Fever– This one is ideal for inclement weather, since you can easily turn your garage into a disco with some music and a homemade disco ball (simply cover a balloon with aluminum foil).   If you have a karaoke machine, let the kids provide the entertainment.  Buy some inexpensive glow-bracelets to add to the fun.

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