When traveling for spring break is out of the question, plan a staycation with a theme that transforms your home into a hub of activity. Bring that beach vacation, camping trip or other favorite jaunt into the house or backyard with some creative decorations, novel treats and drinks, and fun and games for the whole family. Here are three staycation theme ideas to inspire you to set the scene. With a little creativity, spending spring break together at home will be every bit as memorable as any trip — all without the expense or hassle of travel
Setting up Camp
Bring the great outdoors inside your living room or the kids’ playroom by setting up an at-home campsite for the week of spring break. If weather permits, use your backyard as the campsite. Pitch tents inside or on the lawn in the manner of a campsite — in a circle with the entrances all-facing toward the middle. A fun alternative is an indoor fort improvised from sheets and other bedding. Check out our Guide to Building an Indoor Fort for Kids for more on how to construct one.
Arrange cushions or folding chairs in the middle of the tent ring for seating, along with a lantern or two to set the scene after you turn out the lights. A night light that projects stars onto the ceiling is a nice touch, as are strings of white lights to represent a starry night. Have the kids each fill a backpack with a water bottle, flashlight and pajamas. Bring sleeping bags, pillows and some extra blankets, and you’re all set to spend the night at camp.
Even though a genuine campfire isn’t feasible inside your house, you can still serve camp food favorites for dinner and snacks. Bake hobo packets in the oven — foil packages containing full meals like sliced potatoes, sausage, onions and peppers — and serve them with baked beans from a can. Grill hot dogs and hamburgers to eat with slices of bread directly from the bag.
And of course, no camping staycation is complete without copious amounts of s’mores.
Stumped on s’mores? Check out these five recipes.
Set up a beverage tub full of drinks in a corner of your campsite and keep all your condiments in there, too. Bring in a vacuum flask of hot water and packages of instant hot chocolate.
Paper or tin plates, cups, plastic forks and knives and a roll of paper towels are also essential for a genuine campsite meal.
Your home campsite is the perfect place to tell ghost stories, play card games and eat camp food in the evening, but during the day you’ll want to get out into the real outdoors. Plan a family bike ride or a hike in your area but choose a route you’ve never taken before so that the excursion feels like a new adventure.
Bring along binoculars and a book about birds and trees in your state and spend some time spotting wildlife and learning about the natural habitats that surround your home. Send the children on a scavenger hunt for leaves, flowers, acorns and pine cones or offer a prize to whomever spies the most squirrels.
If you don’t want to venture far, do some camping-themed arts and crafts at home, such as making leaf rubbings, friendship bracelets and DIY bird feeders.
Meet You at the Movies
Re-create the glitz and glamour of a film festival in your living room. With a little imagination and some props, your television can be a movie screen, your sofa a row of theater seats and a side table set with snacks a concession stand. Drape or tack pieces of red fabric over the TV screen to dramatically draw open as the movie begins. String white twinkle lights around the room for ambiance. Hang a home theater sign over the door and lay out another piece of red fabric to make a red carpet entrance for the first night of your film festival staycation — or premiere night.
Dressing up in your fanciest clothes to strut down the red carpet is a fun option. Let Dad play red carpet interviewer and ask “Who are you wearing?” when the kids make their grand entrance.
Buckets of popcorn are the go-to treat for movie viewing, but your film festival staycation warrants some special preparations. Prepare various popcorn recipes, with salty and savory options alongside sweet ones like caramel popcorn with chocolate and nuts.
Homemade trail mix and other snack mixes are easy to make by combining crackers, nuts, pretzels, raisins and little chocolate candies. Boxed candies are also a classic movie treat. If your family enjoys baking, stir up cookies, cupcakes or brownies to serve during an intermission break. One night, eat dinner from festive trays while watching the movie. Serve typical theater fare like nachos, chili dogs and soft pretzels.
Fun at the Film Fest
Choose one or two movies to screen each night during your week-long staycation. Let everyone in the family choose favorites, pick some new releases or decide on a theme. Spring break movies are the obvious choice but also think about musicals, Disney movies, golden oldies or films starring a favorite actor.
Print out a screening schedule, as well as “critics’ cards,” with spaces for judging each movie’s plot, actors and overall entertainment value. Use star stickers to award the movies a star rating from zero to five. At the end of the week, tally up the stars to see which movie was the best of the festival.
For more fun movie night ideas, check out our How to Make Family Movie Night Special post.
Transform your living room or backyard into a relaxing beach resort, complete with lounge chairs, beach towels, tropical flowers and potted palms. Put your regular decor items aside and replace them with seashells, driftwood or beachy signs, nautical accents, and hurricane vases filled with sand and tea lights.
Find a CD or radio station that plays ocean sounds and make a playlist of summer hits.
Create a DIY cabana inside by mounting a four-sided arrangement of clothesline in a corner and draping white bedsheets over three sides. Set up your seating inside, add plenty of cushions for comfort and bring in a cooler full of ice-cold drinks.
Let the whole family know that you’ll be spending spring break relaxing at your home beach, which means sunglasses, straw hats and flip flops are in, but cellphones and other distractions are out.
Inside the Cooler
Light, summery foods are the best fit for your beach-themed staycation. Serve cold salads and seafood, such as boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce or an iced platter of shellfish. Fresh fruit skewers, saltwater taffy and frozen yogurt are ideal sweet treats.
Drinks should take on a tropical theme, so fill a drink dispenser with colorful punch and set some plastic cups or tumblers beside it. Paper umbrellas and frozen fruit chunks turn any cold drink into a beach-worthy beverage — mocktails for the kids and maybe the real thing for Mom and Dad.
Fun in the Sun
Your home beach resort is set up for relaxation, so gather a stack of books and magazines, lie back and spend as many hours as you want just reading quietly.
If you have enough room at your beach — and can move all breakable objects out of the way — tie a string across the room for a net and host a badminton tournament. If the sun’s shining and your beach resort extends outdoors, play volleyball, paddle tennis, ring toss, frisbee and other typical beach activities. Inflate some beach balls for the kids to throw and kick around. In the evening, watch a summertime or beach-themed movie or play charades with beach-themed clues.
Share Your Itinerary
Do you have plans (either staycation or travel) for spring break with your family? Share your ideas so we can get inspired.