Shhhh! Don't Tell! We're Planning a Surprise Family Play Day July 13!

Join Macaroni Kid for a Surprise Family Play Day July 13! Use #MKPlayDay to show us your fun!

By Joyce Shulman June 10, 2019

Yesterday went something like this: Alarm at 6 a.m. Check email. Coffee and smoothie for me, scrambled eggs for the kids. Pack two lunches. Walk the dog. Marinate chicken for dinner. Drive my son to his summer job and my daughter to her camp clear across town. Head to work. Answer 100-plus emails. Throw a “birthday lunch” for a colleague. Participate in three conference calls. Draft one proposal and one contract. Race to pick the kids up from camp, drop son at home and run daughter to music lessons. Slice zucchini and potatoes for the grill. Toss a load of laundry in. Feed family. Do dishes. Check email. Collapse into bed.

And I bet your day was similar. We all have different errands and schedules, but we’re all cramming as much as possible in from sun up to sun down. 

Wait! Stop the clock! The days are flying by! Where are the sense of adventure, the long lazy days, and the hours spent staring at the clouds? Where’s summer? 

August is right around the corner. If we aren’t careful, we will miss the chance to create Summer 2019 memories. What better way to do that than with a Surprise Family Play Day?

A surprise what?

A Surprise Family Play Day!


Because kids love surprises!


Saturday, July 13, 2019


Plan a day of fun and surprise the kids with the plan in a creative, fun way first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Disney -- the surprise itself will make it feel larger than life for them!

Who should we include?

There are no rules! Invite the grandparents, or not. Mom and dad, or just mom. Or just dad. All the kids, or plan a super-special day for each one separately. Aunt Susie and Uncle Joe. Or get a partner in crime … one of your best friends whose kid is friends with your kid, ‘cause two planning mama bears are better than one!

What should we do?

Anything you and your kids love to do can make for a great surprise play day. But the best things are experiences you haven’t yet had the chance to try, or something they’ve been begging to do.

What are the rules?

We're glad you asked! While there are no real rules per se, we actually do have three caveats when planning a Surprise Family Play Day: 

1. You might be tempted to tell your kiddos in advance. Don’t do it! You'll ruin the fun of the surprise!

2. This is a day to leave digital devices behind as much as you can (though we can never resist taking our camera!) Just try it. A great family surprise with all of your attention focused on the moment. Try it. I bet it will do you good.

3.  We want to hear about your family fun! Post on social media (once you've returned to your digital devices!) and use #MKPlayDay so we can see what fun you've had!

Now, let the planning begin! But wait! What will you do for your Surprise Play Day? There are so many possibilities! Need help getting your creative juices flowing? Here are 13 awesome ideas for the perfect Surprise Family Play Day:

1. Bike day

Does your town have plenty of parks with bike trails? Surprise the kids with a fun new water bottle, then hit the trails! Stop along the way to grab lunch or an ice cream cone at a food truck or local restaurant. 

2. Hit the water! 

Canoe, kayak, stand up paddleboard, or tube! Pack a picnic lunch and head out to a nearby river or lake. Check ahead to see if they have rental options available, and enjoy a relaxing day on the water. Wake the kids up with new ball caps or visors to keep the sun off their faces.

Or wake the kids up with a fishbowl and a goldfish, and announce a Surprise Family Playdate to the aquarium. (A live goldfish too much of a commitment? Fill the bowl with goldfish crackers or Swedish fish!)

3. Go picking

Find a pick-your-own farm near you and head out for a day at a farm! Then come home and cook something fabulous with whatever you picked. Wake your kids up with a basket (tied with a beautiful ribbon, of course!) for them to fill. Include a list of four or five recipes for them to choose from. 

4. Jump for joy 

Spend a few hours at an indoor trampoline play space. Socks are required, so wake your kids with a new pair of socks (though keep in mind that some places require that you purchase and wear their own special socks).

5. Beach day! 

Greet your little one with a new sand pail and fill it with a few beach toys for a lazy day at the beach. Bring everything you need for an unstructured long day. Don’t forget the umbrella and sunblock.

6. Picture this: An A to Z of your town

Grab the camera and head out to shoot something around town that starts with each letter of the alphabet … A for an apple orchard, B for a basketball hoop ... you get the idea. And, just to make it a little more interesting, grab those old-fashioned, disposable film cameras to give to the kids. At the end of the day, take them in to be developed. A lesson in history and patience, all in one. 

7. Hit the water park

There are more than 1,200 water parks in the United States. Chances are pretty good there is one within an hour or two of you. Print a map of the park to present to your children first thing in the morning.

8. Backyard campout

How ‘bout a nighttime surprise playdate? Build a bonfire in the backyard, roast s’mores, and stargaze. Bring as many crazy s’mores fixings as you can think of (Peppermint Patties anyone?) and a star map.

9. City day! 

Do you live within an hour or two of a big city? Plan a full day with a museum stop, a zoo stop, and a great restaurant or two. Most cities offer some kind of boat ride -- another great summer adventure. End the day with ice cream cones! Share the plan with the kids in the morning by giving them a map of the city and showing them each of the stops you will be making.

10. Ride the rails

Younger kids especially love trains. Board one in your town, ride just a few stops, then disembark at a station from which you can walk to a park and an ice cream shop. Give your child a conductor hat and train tickets to kick off the day.

11. Princess spa day

Many day spas offer special packages (and pricing) for little fingers and toes. Plan a ladies day … lunch or afternoon tea and a spa visit for you and your little princess. If you dare, present her with pretty nail polish in the morning.

12. Outdoor movie night

Find an outdoor movie at a drive-in or park, or show your own on the side of the garage! Pop a huge bucket of popcorn, load up blankets and pillows and enjoy a classic film under the stars. Print oversized movie tickets and give the kids a theater-sized box of candy -- but no opening until the movie starts!

13. A teddy bear picnic

Kids always love a teddy bear picnic! Wake your little one with a new stuffed bear, pack a basket with everyone’s favorite treats, bring a camera, and enjoy a summertime picnic with your child's favorite stuffed friends.

Of course, there are likely to be other awesome ideas within an hour of you … perhaps there are caves to explore, waterfalls to visit, roller coasters to ride, puppet shows to see ... and so much more!

We want to share in your fun on July 13! Use the hashtag #MKPlayDay to show us your family fun! Want to know more? Get even more details on Macaroni Kid's Surprise Family Play Day website.