Less-Than-a-Dollar Moments: 7 Ideas for Everyday Memories


The most precious memories are often the everyday memories of simple traditions that we do with our children. It’s not about the money that we spend so much as it is about the time that we spend.


I have a confession: I am not good at balancing the business of being a mom with the fun of being a mom. There is always So Much To Do that it’s easy for me to forget to make special time with my kids on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. I know I’m awesome, but I envy moms who pull off feats like covering their children’s doors with streamers and balloons for their birthdays or 14 days of hearts with sweet messages for Valentine’s Day.  Moms who plan outings and adventures to show their children all the wonders of the world–those are not mom goals I’ve been able to achieve. It’s lovely to see others post these great mom moments, but for me, creativity and planning often get overshadowed by all of the to-dos on my list.

But I think all moms would agree with something I know to be true: it’s not always about the big things we do for our kids that give them good memories. Sometimes it’s the little, less-than-a-dollar moments that bring us together the most. 

So as we create our spreadsheets of summer camps and care, buy all of the spring sports equipment, and wait (not so patiently) for summer swimming adventures, here are our family’s activities that make everyday memories to make those weeks, days, and sometimes hours seem special, without too much planning or spending:

  1. Mini ice cream cones from Lion’s Choice: At 25¢ for plain vanilla and 35¢ for a dip cone, I could get these every day and not feel like I’m breaking the bank. As we pull away, my kids thank me over and over, and I bask in their gratitude as I enjoy my own dip cone. 
  2. Hostess Sno Balls: Growing up my mom used to put green Sno Balls in our lunch every St. Patrick’s Day. Later, when Hostess added new colors, she started sneaking in pink ones for Valentine’s Day. We didn’t so much love to eat them as much as we loved playing with the marshmallowy outside and seeing how far it would stretch. It is one of my fondest everyday memories from childhood. Now they also have orange, turquoise, and purple- you can find a color for every occasion! We can play with them on a regular old Tuesday if we want!.
  3. Celebration socks: This is my version of Sno Balls. This is for all you moms who like matching pajamas at Christmas; you can have matching socks all year round! I get these from the dollar section at Target or the seasonal aisle at Aldi for nearly every occasion. Penguins for Christmas, Shamrocks for St. Pat’s Day, Flags for The Fourth, you get my drift. And there are socks for in between with flamingoes or flowers, which means you can give them to your kids any time! My kids get so excited to have something to celebrate the day or the season, and I’ve only spent three dollars. 
  4. Tie-dye pancakes: I was looking for a way to be a fun mom when my kids had sleepovers (they think I’m too strict; I think I’m winning). Enter this food dye and cheap pancake mix. I can make flowers, spirals, kids’ initials, and everyone thinks I’m super-cool.

 Brightly colored butterfly and spiral shaped multicolor pancakes

Looking for other ideas for weekly/monthly/sporadic fun? Here are a few more recommendations from my mom tribe:

  1. Sensory table and bins filled with dollar store products: You can get the  Flisat table from IKEA and a couple of tubs that fit inside. Then go to Dollar Tree and buy things like pom-pons and ice cube trays for sorting; small plastic animals that can be frozen in water for under the sea exploration; beads and string for fine motor practice; or rice, beans, marbles, and cotton balls for sensory play. Simple, cheap, and fun!
  2. Secret stash of science experiments and creative activities: Kids get tired of their toys more quickly than we’d like, but we can’t rush out to buy new ones every day. To make the kids feel like they’re winning, we can surprise them with a little controlled messy play every once in a while. Ideas include volcanoes from baking soda and vinegar, colored rice/spaghetti, ice paint, and dare I say it. . . . slime, glitter slime. 
  3. Glow stick bath time. The dollar store or dollar section at Target (do you sense a theme yet?) sells the glow sticks. Crack them. Shake them. Toss into the bath. Turn off the lights and let the fun begin! Add music, and you’ve got quite the toddler party. Actually, my 8-year-old loves it too! 

I always need more ideas, so what are your favorite less-than-a-dollar but oh-so-special activities you do with your kids to create everyday memories??