1 Build a Backyard Bijou. Creating a backyard theater for shows under the stars is actually quite simple. All you need is a white sheet strung from a couple of trees or hung on a garage door, a slew of blankets and a movie projector. Having your guests chip in for the projector rental keeps your cost down. You’ll just need to pop plenty of popcorn.
2 Hike all the way home. Set up camp on your own plot of land this summer. Pitch the tent early in the day, grill up some dogs for dinner, teach your kids a few campfire songs, take a night hike around your hood, then curl up in your sleeping bags for story time and a slumber under the street lights.
3 Make it a family "a-Fair." Backyard carnivals are fabulous but can also be a ton of work. This summer, ask your guests to invent a simple fair-type game out of recycled materials, set them up around the yard, throw in some simple snacks and let the games begin.
4 Think inside the box. Call a local appliance store and ask for a batch of cardboard boxes. Pick a sunny day and cut and tape the boxes to create a giant backyard maze, castle, cave or clubhouse. Your kids will think you’re a rock star.
5 Host a grown-up game night. Throw a parents-only backyard bash that’s more than another night of small talk. Set up card tables for some active board games, alongside rounds of corn hole, horseshoes or croquet. Keep it recession proof by borrowing what you don’t already own and making it a potluck.