This summer is going to look a little different than others. You’ve been staring at the same walls—and the same faces—for months now. You aren’t taking any far-flung vacations. Friends and family feel a billion miles away, even if they’re next door. But it is still summer, and with a little creativity and a few assorted props, you can swap old summer traditions in for some promising new ones.
1. Host a DIY Olympics.
The Tokyo Summer Olympics has been canceled. So why not make your own Olympic Games? Stage an opening ceremony with three key ingredients: costume changes, a rousing song, and a torch. Choose a song that feels like a great blast from your family or friend group’s collective past, make your “co-quarantiners” parade around the house with a candle or a flashlight to the soundtrack of your choosing. If quarantining solo, get some friends together on video, coordinate outfits, nominate someone as the torchbearer, blast your chosen song, and dance around.
Many Olympic games can safely be shrunk down to apartment- or backyard-size ambitions. Hurdle jumping by jumping box stacks, fencing with pool noodles, or archery with rubber bands attached to popsicle sticks. You can even try synchronized swimming in your own bath tub! Each event must be followed by the obligatory athlete interview. Questions should include: “How are you feeling?” “What did you eat for breakfast today?” “What was it like out there?” Answers must be given in some combination of: “I’ve worked really hard for this,” “All my training paid off,” and “This really is a dream come true.”
Remember: the point of the games is and always has been the pageantry. So lean into the celebration. Hold medal ceremonies for everything, all summer. Who wore pants for the most hours today? Who can manage to avoid face-touching for an entire day? This year, everybody wins gold.
2. Have a “kids are parents” night.
Nothing important scheduled in the morning? Take advantage. Here are the rules: Kids make dinner, put their parents to bed, and stay up as late as they want. Teach the kids how to shut down the house—double-check the doors are locked, turn out the lights, turn on the alarm. They could serve any dinner of their choosing, but let them know it’s their responsibility to do the dishes and clean everything up. Here’s your chance to turn in early and for the kids to paint the town…er…house red.
3. Stage your own “Quarchella” festival.
Music festivals are done this summer. What’s a summer festival enthusiast to do? The only option is to make your own. Call it Quarchella. Turn off your air conditioning, strip down (or dress up) to your barest clothes, maybe cut up and dye an old tablecloth or curtain and wrap it around you like a sundress. Make “set lists” on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube from the lists of artists that had been booked to perform at the canceled festivals, or build your own festival lineup. Go nuts. Finally, and maybe most importantly: Instagram everything. Remember: If you don’t Instagram Quarchella, Quarchella never really happened.
4. If you have a backyard, set up an outdoor movie.
With movie theaters likely to stay closed at least until July, this summer is the perfect time to master the art of showing movies outside. After a long hot day, the Summer nights can be quite enjoyable, and there is no better way to spend them than watching a good movie. Set up this easy DIY Backyard theater, get the drinks and popcorn ready, and settle in with the family.
5. And go yard camping like a pro.
Sleeping outdoors can be magical and gritty, even if you’re just pitching a tent in your own backyard. Look for a tent that’s advertised to sleep twice as many people as you actually plan to use it for, otherwise you are going to be very cozy. If you have kids who sleep in their own rooms, consider getting a second small tent to be the “kids tent.” Since you don’t need to pack a car, go all out for comfort. This is a good time to break out the guest air mattresses, but cheap foam camping pads will work, too. You’re not likely to get into a warm sleeping bag in July (try sleeping under top sheets), but if you’ve got a sleeping bag, it can add some further cushioning. Assuming you don’t have a backyard fire pit on hand (click HERE for your DIY fire pit), you can make to-go s’mores with marshmallow fluff and Nutella. Take the opportunity to explore your patch of nature: sleep with the tent fly off so you can stargaze, forgo camping chairs in favor of a blanket on the grass.
Take this time to enjoy something you love.
We know these times can be trying on us all, mentally and physically, so why not take advantage of this little bit of extra time and use it for something you enjoy?