Summer Bucket List: Yes Or No?

If your family is anything like my family then you’ve probably come to the realization by now that not everything in life goes as planned. In fact, typically things never seem to go as anticipated no matter how good your best laid plans are.

So how is your summer going so far? Is it meeting expectations? Are you crushing all of the goals you set? Are you and the kids firing on all cylinders? Do you feel like you’re dominating? If the answer to those questions is “yes!” then let me be the first to congratulate you. 

If the answer is no, then click here to be reminded about what a family that flourishes looks like. Also, click here if you are still trying to figure out how to even get off the starting blocks.


You see, it’s rather rudimentary, but summer comes down to one thing for the Christian family: God’s glory! 


With this as your aim, all of the pressure is off and everything else can be viewed not as an end, but as a means to THE end (ahem, God’s glory!). You can now hold anything you do this summer in an open hand.

Subsequently, this open-handed mindset really sets you up to find freedom for example in having a summer bucket list. Now, I realize that bucket lists get sort of a bad wrap. They tend to make people feel enslaved and are potentially yet another thing in people’s lives to make them feel inadequate. And for those of us that aren’t naturally creative, attempting to make this happen is akin to potty training (okay, maybe not that bad!). 

But what if this summer, with your newfound vision that summer isn’t about you or your kids (see the linked posts above), you were able to come up with a bucket list in which you felt total freedom and in which you felt was totally doable - with tons of items you could incorporate into your daily rhythms as a family that are cost-effective and loads of fun? Would you be into that sort of thing?

Years ago, our family decided that at the beginning of each summer, we would come up with a list of fun things we wanted to accomplish as a family. This would only work if everyone gave their input (a family affair through and through) and if the ideas were cheap and not too labor intensive. 

We would come up with a list of ideas, write the best ones down on colored note cards, and pin them on a board in our kitchen. The planning sessions are always fun. And over the years we’ve learned to lower the expectations on the results, feeling great if we only get to 5 of the fifty ideas we have because hey, there’s grace for that!  


Making a good bucket list doesn't have to be too complicated:

  1. Sit your family down and begin working through the things you love the most as a family.
  2. Begin to come up with a list of your favorite pastimes, activities, experiences, or dreams.
  3. Try to come up with ideas that involve serving others as well (family, neighbors, church family).
  4. If you struggle to come up with ideas, there are tons of resources out there, like the one we’re going to provide you. (There are even resources that show you how to display your bucket lists if you are looking to get a bit more creative. Check this out!).
  5. Remember to think super simple, super cheap, and super easy - surprisingly there are an infinite number of ideas!


As a quick reference, here are our summer bucket list items:

(caveat: This list will work well especially for children ages 4-11. We realize that the lists for children ages 0-2 or 12-17 will look completely different.).

  1. Go on a hike
  2. Go for a late night ice cream run
  3. Have a pirate dinner
  4. Go on a scavenger hunt
  5. Make a lemonade stand
  6. Go to the zoo
  7. Play tag in the back yard
  8. Have a water balloon fight
  9. Go canoeing
  10. Go to the beach
  11. Learn how to ride a bike
  12. Make s’mores
  13. Build a fort
  14. Make a tree swing
  15. Go to the library
  16. Go for frozen yogurt
  17. Have a neighborhood cookout
  18. Have dinner with close friends
  19. Tie-dye shirts
  20. Make banana splits
  21. Kids fun/fitness bootcamp
  22. Make chocolate covered frozen bananas
  23. Go to a matinee movie
  24. Have a sand castle building competition
  25. Paint a mural on the driveway with sidewalk chalk
  26. Go to a baseball game
  27. Blow bubbles
  28. Go to a late night movie
  29. Have a tea party with scones
  30. Go for a family bike ride
  31. Have a family work day
  32. Go for a neighborhood prayer walk
  33. Make a shaving or whipped cream slip-n-slide
  34. Do a family 5k
  35. Go to a local splash park
  36. Throw a neighborhood driveway 3-on-3 basketball tournament
  37. Go swimming (a lot)
  38. Build Legos (grab a handful and see what comes of it)
  39. Play pie smash
  40. Visit the local children’s hospital
  41. Ride go-karts
  42. Take a mini-road trip
  43. Have a water gun fight
  44. Throw a neighborhood pot luck
  45. Have a driveway happy hour with neighbors
  46. Watch fireworks
  47. Make ice cream (yeah, we love ice cream)
  48. Go bowling
  49. Watch a sunset at the beach
  50. Have a movie marathon