Summer is hands-down the most expensive season for our family. My stepsons are here for the summer, which not only means two more mouths to feed and clothe, but kids who want to be entertained. Concerts, movies, and water parks are all fun, but EXPENSIVE! We have gotten really creative with fun ways to spend time together as a family that don’t require the sale of any limbs or vital organs.
This summer we put up a small pool in the backyard (which was a DIY that didn’t end up being nearly as cheap as I planned). I could write an entire post on how NOT to put up a pool, but it’s up now and will save me from driving all over town to splash pads and pools. Before we had the pool a plain old sprinkler and slip and slide kept them entertained, too.
Since you can’t spend all day every day in the pool, my husband likes to take the kids to movies. He LOVES movies, and it’s one of his favorite ways to spend family time. However, at $11 a ticket it’s not exactly a budget-friendly activity. I’m just as content to watch a DVD at home, but I like to make it a little bit more special so the kids really feel like it is a treat. A fun, and inexpensive thing I have put together that my kids really enjoy is a popcorn bar for family movie night.
Family Movie Night Popcorn Bar
I start by popping a big batch of popcorn on the stovetop. This is WAY cheaper than microwave popcorn, and I can also control the amount of oil and salt. If you don’t know how to make it this way, check out my Stovetop Popcorn post! (Or just use microwave popcorn. No judgement here!) I put it in a big bucket and let the kids make their own containers of popcorn with whatever fun toppings they choose!
I picked up some small containers from the dollar store and fill them with things like Peanut M&M’s, gummy candy, mini marshmallows, or whatever candy they choose. My husband and I prefer salty/savory so we just add a little sea salt and nutritional yeast. I arrange the popcorn bar on a countertop or the table and add scoops and spoons so they can assemble their own. They love getting to choose whatever (and however much!) toppings they want to customize their popcorn! Setting up an actual popcorn bar makes it feel a little more special for them.
I spent just a few dollars on the basic setup, and additional toppings only cost a few dollars every time we repeat the family popcorn bar. The whole family can enjoy a movie night for the price of one ticket in the theater!
I Can Only Imagine
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
It can be a challenge to choose a movie for the family considering our kids range from 10 to 17. Finding something everyone is interested in that is appropriate for all ages can be a challenge. Recently I was sent the DVD I Can only Imagine, which is based on the true story behind Mercy Me’s hit song. We’ve ALL heard the song, and I have even seen Mercy Me in concert a couple of times. I’ll be honest, I was extremely skeptical about how they could make an entire movie about one song.
We picked a night this past weekend when my husband was working to set up our popcorn bar and watch I Can Only Imagine. I wasn’t sure if the boys (they are 10-year-old twins) would really care for the movie, but they said they wanted to watch it anyway. I’m just going to warn you right now, you will need a Kleenex for this one. And don’t just grab one, bring the entire box to the couch with you.
This movie was about so much more than just a song. It follows Bart Millard, the lead singer from Mercy Me, throughout his abusive childhood to the point where he wrote the song. While there were certainly sad parts to the movie, I think I would more accurately describe it as EMOTIONAL. I’m getting teary now just writing about it.
Dennis Quaid portrays Bart’s father who not only physically beat him, but emotionally abused him to the point of dysfunction in both his personal and professional life. Bart finds his escape in the church and music, but is still hampered by his emotional baggage. The story of the struggle to forgive and truly find freedom is something I think anyone can relate to. Especially if they had a difficult childhood as well. I was surprised at how affected my teenager was, even more so than I was. Let’s just say she needed her own box of Kleenex. My boys didn’t cry, but they were glued to the TV the entire time and have already re-watched the DVD. They also may or may not be saying rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub when they pray over our food now …
I was sent an extra copy of I Can Only Imagine, and I want to give it to one of you! To enter you just need to follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Make sure you enter via the widget below! Unfortunately I am mailing this out myself, so it is only open to my readers in the United States. Make sure your YouTube subs are public so I can see that you subscribed, or I may require a screenshot to verify your subscription.
Having fun together as a family doesn’t have to break the budget. Taking something simple like watching a DVD at home and making it special by incorporating things like a popcorn bar turn it into an extra fun experience.