Summer in the UAE needn’t mean spending a fortune keeping yourselves and the children entertained.
With a bit of prep and planning, you can organise a daily or weekly activity that’s a fun alternative to screen time and will unleash creativity and perhaps a little healthy competition.
From hosting your own version of The Great British Bake Off to customising old clothes, here are 12 fun and creative things to do this summer for children and adults.
1. Design a home scavenger hunt
Unlike treasure hunts, a scavenger hunt requires everyone in the house to go off and find different things.
Make a separate list for each member of the family featuring 10 items they have to find and bring back within a certain time frame.
Anything is up for grabs, from kitchen whisks and pencils, to a teddy bear or a bar of soap. Be sure to have prizes to hand out to your little hunters.
2. Host your own version of The Great British Bake Off
Don your apron, gather the ingredients and get competitive in the kitchen with your little ones by recreating the competition from the popular baking show.
Set a time limit and have everyone attempt the same cake for a baking trial. Be sure to enlist someone to do the tasting, or simply scoff the cakes yourselves once they’re out of the oven. You've earned it!
3. Make a mobile hanger
As far as arts and crafts go, making a mobile hanger is one of the easiest for children of all ages.
Simply dig out some old wire coat hangers and tie some thread or wool of varying lengths from it. Then, let your little ones' imaginations run wild as they decide what they want to hang.
Make an array of creative things to hang – drawings, photos, pompoms – or simply choose small things from around the house. Either way, this project will keep children entertained for a while (especially if there are prizes on offer for most effort or most creative).
4. Build an indoor fort (and keep it up)
Construct a fort at home using everything from food delivery boxes to spare blankets. Then keep it up for as long as you can, adding to it when you wish, until it resembles the famous blanket fort from Community.
5. Grow an indoor herb garden
Make going to the supermarket to buy your cooking herbs a thing of the past by planting your own herb garden this summer.
Watch as your rosemary, basil, parsley and mint add delightful greenery to the kitchen windowsill. There’s no need to buy planters, just use whatever is you have at hand – old plant pots, mugs, mason jars – and get planting.
6. Organise a documentary/podcast/film club
There are plenty of book clubs around, so why not try something different this summer?
Get your friends together and create a club for which you all watch a documentary or film, or listen to a podcast that someone in the group recommends, then gather on a weekly basis to discuss it over nibbles.
7. Make ice lollies
Definitely among the easiest recipes for even the youngest children to make, creating your own ice lollies at home can require as few or as many ingredients as you like.
For a simple version, just freeze some juice or mashed melon in a paper cup. Or get more creative and add freezer-friendly treats such as blueberries or gummy bears, as well as different flavour cordials, then pour into suitable moulds and freeze.
8. Unleash children’s design skills
If you’re in the mood for a summer wardrobe clear out, keep some pieces for the little ones to either play dress-up or to customise and show off their creative skills.
Save old T-shirts or shorts for children to decorate with drawings, beads, glitter and fabric. Host a fashion show when they're done, complete with catwalk and music so they can show off their designer skills.
9. Recreate Come Dine With Me
Organise your own version of the popular UK show in which a group of people take turns hosting a dinner party, which is then scored out of 10 by the guests.
If you have a group of friends who are all staying in the UAE for summer, organise one dinner party a week at each other's houses, writing down your scores at the end of the night.
Have a big winner reveal in the final week, with a prize for the best chefs, dishes and hosts.
10. Create an origami zoo
While special origami paper is recommended for all the folding and bending, you can practise the Japanese art using any paper you have at home.
Go online for step-by-step guides or watch instructional videos on YouTube, then create as many different animals as you can for your own origami zoo.
If your children are too small to fold the shapes, they can have fun colouring and decorating the paper animals.
11. Host a talent show
One for children and adults alike, host a talent show at your home and insist everyone who comes has to showcase a special skill.
You might just be amazed at the secret abilities you discover among your friendship group, and at the end, everyone can vote on the most talented.
12. Make a wall mural and add to it every day
Stick a long line of paper along a wall at home and have the children create their own in-house mural.
They can depict what they have done each day or draw their favourite thing that happened.
Encourage them to add to it each day, and at the end of the summer they’ll have an artistic diary that showcases how they spent the hot months.