Our Family's LAST DAY OF SCHOOL Traditions... 2021 and still going strong

This school year has been a bit different because of Covid, but our last day of school traditions are still going strong. The pandemic has definitely taught us to be adaptable and resilient. Here's a peak at our THREE favourite last day of school traditions... 2021 edition.

1) First, we always get ice cream on the last day of school. I don't have a picture for 2019, but here's a look at our ice cream trips from 2014 to 2021. Pretty cute, right? It's amazing how much my boys have grown up.



2) The boys always get a little gift. In the past it has been a book, but this year I thought I'd change it up a little. We always have a "gift card" day as part of our summer checklist (where we gather up all our gift cards, and venture out to spend them... all in one day). So this year, I purchased a few gift cards for my boys to take with them on our "gift card adventure" day. I think it's an inexpensive, practical and fun grading gift idea.

3) And, of course, my boys always run through a "finish line" on the last day of school. We started this tradition in 2012, and we've done it every year since. He's a peak at our first year... 

And here's how it looked this year...

I think I'm going to need a bigger doorway soon! lol

How are you celebrating the end of the school year? Happy summer!!!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Summer Decor... made from inexpensive supplies

What is better than fun and festive summer decor? Answer: fun and festive summer decor ON A BUDGET. Over the years, I have created some fantastic items using dollar store supplies and inexpensive finds, and today, I am sharing a few of my favourites.

Placemat Wreath - This is one of my favourite summer DIYs. It's a simple idea, but the result is super-cute. All you need is a dollar store pizza pan, a placemat, some nautical rope, and the instructions you can find here.

You can also try this cheery version. Find the full instructions for the HELLO SUNSHINE wreath here.

DIY Planter - I was inspired to make this planter when I saw a similar one selling online for $140. I gathered up some dollar store supplies and make this one for only $10. Check out both versions and the step-by-step instructions here.

Turquoise Grapevine Wreath - I made this wreath several years ago, but it's still one of my favourites. I love the bright colours and the simple design. You can find out how to make your own version here.

YELLOW Summer Decor (made mostly from dollar store supplies) - Yellow is the perfect colour for summer, so lemons and yellow flowers are a great source for decor inspiration. You can check out FOUR fantastic YELLOW summer decor DIYs here.

I hope I've inspired you to gather up some inexpensive supplies and create your own, unique Summer decor. I love all these DIYs, don't you?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

And check out my Summer survival hacks post here.

Simple Patio Update... a huge transformation for just a few dollars

Don't we all have a list of things in our home that need attention? I've been looking at my dreary and faded back door patio door and light fixture for years, but it's never made it to the top of my "to do" list... until now. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I decided to tackle this little project, and I couldn't be happier with the result! Today, I'm sharing how I transformed my patio door and light fixture for just a few dollars, and I'm sharing my tips and tricks for doing it in your own space.

As you can see from this before picture, my light fixture was faded (and had turned a weird "pinkish" colour), and my doors were boring and dingy.

I started by tackling my light fixutre. I didn't want to get into removing my light fixture, dealing with wires, and worrying about getting spray paint on the glass... so, I decided to use exterior paint and an artist brush.

I used black exterior paint I had leftover from painting my front door a few years ago. Then, after a good cleaning and a quick sanding, I used an artist brush from the dollar store to paint the fixture.

I used a little painter's tape to protect my house, but I did everything else freehand (without tape).

Didn't it turn out great?

Then, I decided to tackle my door.  I removed the hardware, and I taped all the areas I wanted to protect.

I used a combination of a brush and a foam roller. (FYI... I started with a dollar store roller, and didn't love the texture it was leaving on the door, so my husband went to the hardware store and got a higher quality version.)

I used a brush to do the edges, and smoothed it out with the roller. It worked really well. I ended up doing two coats to make sure I had good coverage.

After the paint on the door was dry, I removed the tape and replaced the hardware.

Doesn't it look great? In case you are wondering, we used was called Flirtatious.

I think paint is a wonderful, budget-friendly way to transform a space. Since I completed this project, I also painted 4 more exterior lights and the door going into my garage. 

I'm in love with cheerful yellow colour. What do you think?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

You might also be interested in my interior door painting tips and tricks here.

Summer Checklist for Older Kids

Every year my family puts together a summer checklist of 50 of our favourite summer activities, and we spend our vacation checking items off the list. When my kids were small, we had a lot of simple crafts and low effort activities on our list... but as my boys got older, we started adding more sophisticated adventures. Below, you will find a FREE printable version of our 2021 summer checklist, as well as some really helpful links.

To download our 2021 checklist: click on the picture below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8x10 photo.

Then, check out the links below for more helpful hints, tutorials, recipes, and ideas.

1) Celebrate Canada Day - Don't forget to plan a BBQ and a red and white dessert buffet. Full bellies make for happy tweens and teens!

2) Watch fireworks or play with sparklers - You're never too old for sparklers!

3) Have an outdoor picnic or BBQ - I highly recommend trying grilled donuts too. You can find the recipe here.

4) Swim in a pool, at a lake, or in the ocean - Try visiting a new location (or bringing along a paddle board or snorkeling gear) for added fun.

5) Buy a meal from a food truck or local restaurant - A take out picnic is a lot of fun... and there are no dishes to clean up. Win... win!

6) Paint a rock and leave it on a trail for someone to find - Painting rocks is fun for all ages. Search online for simple designs or check out the ones we made here.

7) Read a book outside - Reading outside is a wonderful (mom-approved) activity. You can find some great recommendations for older kids here.

8) Have a water fight or NERF gun battle - You are never too old for a good water fight on a hot day!

9) Have a movie night outside or go to a drive in

10) Do an “at home” escape room or play a boardgame outside - You can use store-bought games, or you can make your own inexpensive outdoor games like we did here.

11) Eat donuts from a string (with no hands) - My boys have been enjoying this activity since they were little, and they still think it's hilarious. I don't think they'll ever let me leave this activity off our summer list!

12) Have a “one on one” date with mom (kid’s choice… under $20 and 2 hours) - It doesn't need to be fancy. It's really about the time spent together. A lunch date and a walk is a fantastic option.

13) Have a “one on one” date with dad (kid’s choice… under $20 and 2 hours) - Again... it doesn't need to be fancy... it's about the time spent together. My boys enjoy a trip to the driving range or a round of mini golf with their dad.

14) Make a craft (design a t-shirt, personalize a water bottle, or have a "paint night" - Crafts aren't just for young kids. The key is to provide older kids with more sophisticated craft materials. If you need inspiration, check out my top craft ideas for tweens and teens here.

15) Plant something and watch it grow - My boys and I planted a garden all there favourite fruit and vegetable snacks... but planting flowers is fun too. You can even make this adorable planter using the tutorial you can find here.

16) Get ice cream in PJs - Drive throughs are OK!

17) Play catch, basketball or street hockey

18) Make homemade ice cream or make milkshakes - This is a fun way to get older kids into the kitchen. They'll love all the recipes here.

19) Go for a bike ride - My boys learned to ride bikes at an early age, and it's still one of their favourite activities. Older kids will enjoy packing a lunch and going on a long ride... or experimenting with riding on rougher terrain.

20) Decorate a cake or bake cookies - Allowing older kids to experiment in the kitchen is fun... but it also helps teach them an important life skill. Check out some of my family's favourite recipes for sweet treats here.

21) Spend time at a cottage, beach or park

22) Do a science experiment - Science experiments are fun and educational... the perfect way to spend a rainy summer afternoon. Find OVER 15 science experiments here.

23) Sing around a campfire 

24) Go geo-caching

25) Have a "kids pick the meals" day - We make the rule that everyone needs to agree on each meal, so I don't go crazy in the kitchen. I also let the kids pick one meal out. Fun, right?

26) Play chocolate bar BINGO (like regular BINGO, but with chocolate bar prizes) - You can do it for your family, or you can invite some friends to join in the fun.

27) Play golf or mini golf

28) Learn a “trick shot” or magic trick - You should check out a few examples below.

29) Try a new food or a new recipe

30) Have a theme day ("spend our gift cards" day is a fun one)

31) Camp at a campground, in the backyard or in the living room

32) Have a PJ day - We started PJ days whem my kids were small, but there really is no age limit. Who doesn't want to spend a rainy summer day in their PJs, watching movies, and eating popcorn?

33) Build a large puzzle

34) Make a video and post it on YouTube or Tic Tok

35) Fly a kite

36) Have a dance party or sing karaoke

37) Go on a scavenger hunt - A simple scavenger hunt is a great way to get the kids outside and running around. Check out the one I put together for my boys here.

38) Organize a drawer, closet or room - Kids can learn the joy of being able to find their favourite shirt... and what could be better than that? lol

39) Play with water balloons - Everyone loves a water balloon on a hot day. There really is no age limit on water balloon fun.

40) Do a good deed or raise money for charity - A good deed is it's own reward, and kids will love the feeling they get from doing something to help others. Yard sales and lemonade stands are great options, but kids can use whatever talents they have.

41) Go on a road trip to another city or town

42) Go on a hike or go for a walk in the rain - Try a new trail or try to find a waterfall.

43) Roast marshmallows, make s'mores or cook a different campfire treat - You can find some of our favourite treats here.

44) Write and mail a letter or postcard - Writing old fashioned letters is becoming a lost art, so it's a great activity for kids.

45) Visit at least 5 different ice cream stands - The last couple of years, we have done an "ice cream stand challenge", and it's been a lot of fun. Summer and ice cream are the perfect match.

46) Go stargazing - Lay a blanket on the ground, stare up at the sky, and try and find constellations and shooting stars. It's a simple activity... and the perfect way to spend a quiet summer evening.

47) Pick your own

48) Pick your own

49) Pick your own

50) HAVE ICE CREAM FOR SUPPER! - This is the way we celebrate the completion of our checklist every year... and it is always a lot of fun. You can find some of our favourite ice cream recipes here.

Creating and completing a summer checklist really is one of my favourite family traditions. 

Does your family have a summer checklist? Are you planning to print mine? If you feel like 50 items is a lot, you can just choose your 10 or 20 of your favourites. Have fun!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

You might also be interested in the summer DIY decor ideas here.

Don't miss any of the fun....