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Keep the Kids Busy This Summer with These 5 Budget-Friendly Activities


With the official start of summer just around the corner, we would like to provide you with some engaging, but wallet- friendly activities to keep the kiddos busy. Three long months of summer vacation can be costly, but Gift Card Granny is here to help you get the most out of your summer budget.  Here are a few ideas to keep the kids entertained and your bank account smiling:


1. Movies – Movies are always a hit with children whether they are snuggled on the couch watching “Frozen” for the 100th time or seeing a new hit movie in a packed theater. Luckily, this summer you can save on both. 

Cinemark Gift Card

15% off

Regal Cinemas Gift Card

25% off


Redbox offers the luxury of pajama movie night in your living room.  They are currently running a “Pop-A-Deal” campaign that offers you promo codes for certain surprising this month.  When you sign up for the text deals, you can get up to 9 codes per mobile number in June. There’s nothing like watching a good movie from the comfort of your own couch…or pillow fort.  


If you’re heading for a night out with the kids, check out your local theaters for any ongoing deals or specials. Cinemark has a Summer Movie Clubhouse for all films rated G or PG. You can get a 10-week punch card for only $5 or pay $1/movie.  Regal Cinemas is also offering  a Summer Movie Express with weekly $1 movies for kids. 


2. Bowling – Does your kid love to bowl? Bowling will get the kids out of the house for a few hours while giving them moderate exercise. Plus, you could probably brush up on your teenage day skills. Pig out on some pizza and put up the safety bumpers and you’ve created the perfect night.


Get 2 Free games of bowling every day at select local alleys by signing up on  If you want to get in on the action, you can also purchase a Family Pass.  Beat the lines and hit the alley in the middle of the afternoon and watch the kids’ faces when they get their first strike!


AMF, Bowlero, Brunswick Zone, BowlMor Lanes and Brunswick’s are also offer Summer Games Passes that will get you 3 games of bowling per day all summer long. They also offer daily specials like Sunday Fundays and Dollar Manias on Monday. For more information on your local alleys, please visit 


3. Crafts – Crafts are a great way to combat the rainy day blues. We recommend stockpiling some craft supplies and projects for these days. If you have young children, look for paints, markers, and crayons and let them create beautiful masterpieces for the fridge. For older children, pick up a few crafty projects like paint by numbers, loom kits, sand art and more.

Michaels Gift Card

19% off


Many local craft stores will also offer classes for both adults and children. For example, Michaels has a Kid’s Club and only charges $2 per activity. This gives you time to shop in store, plus all supplies are included with the $2 cover. Their schedules varies by store, but you can find a list of classes at your local store or online.  JoAnn Fabrics also offers a Little Makers program with classes for older children (Mostly 8+). These classes vary in length and price but are very instructive.  Again, a list for your local store can be found online.



4. Cooking – If there’s one thing kids love, it’s playing with their food! Invite your children into the kitchen for hands on lessons from mom. Allow them to help create fun lunches and summer dinners. We recommend checking out Pinterest for some fun, but healthy snacks to create.


Keep an eye out for flyers for your local grocery stores, too. Some may offer special cooking and baking classes for teens and kids this summer. For example, Whole Foods offers daily events some of which children can participate ( Kid Club activities, Garden Planting,  Smoothie Bars, etc).  Other stores that offer cooking classes include Publix, ShopRite, Sur La Table and Wegmans.  While most of these are not free, the prices are affordable and cover all necessary ingredients and products.

Whole Foods Gift Card

2% off

Sur La Table Gift Card

12% off


5. Parks & Museums – Summer vacation is not always about play time, but also about growing our children’s minds. To keep your child engaged in learning look for activities that promote both a new experience and a lesson to be learned.


Explore all of your local parks and trails for free but exciting fun. Engage with the wilderness while teaching the youngins about trees, plants, insects and animals.  You can also tie in some fun exercise by hiking, playing Frisbee, racing and more. Plus, the park is always a great place to meet new friends and have a picnic!


A trip to the museum can also be a fun, stimulating day.  Many children’s museums are hands on and encourage children to learn through experience.  Check out your local museums for art classes, concerts, history lessons, science exhibits and more.  Some may even offer summer camps for the kids to attend while you’re at work. - bonus!


Before you walk out the door with a day of activities planned, make sure you search for any specials online. One of our most favorite ways to save extra money on summer activities is purchasing discount gift cards. The average savings from our partners is from 5-30% on all popular brands. These cards can be used to cover the costs of lunch, art supplies, movie tickets and more. Because gift cards spend like cash, you can always combine them with store coupons to get the biggest bang for your buck!

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These are great ideas! And you can't beat a good ol' sprinkler and water balloons on a hot day. Cheap and fun.