John and I bought some patio furniture about 9 years ago that we loved. It was wood and it was inexpensive, but looked nice. It has been very weathered and splintery for a few years now and it made it hard to eat outside. We finally decided to buy some new furniture with some of our tax refund. The chairs that we bought came in a HUGE box. As soon as we unloaded the chairs and put the girls to bed last night, John made the box into a fort with a door and windows. I am not exaggerating the fact that Em and B have played in it for at least 3 hours today. They love it. I checked on Em after I put B down for her nap and found her in there with a few animals having tea.
Our other cheap and fun idea that the girls did this week was paint outside with water. I had seen it on a friend's blog and decided to give it a try. I figured it would be something different that would entertain them for 10-15 minutes. Again, NOT exaggerating. Emma painted with water outside for an hour straight. B was entertained for about 15 minutes (a long time for a 2 1/2 year old), then played around and came back to it for another 10 minutes. Emma could not get over the fact that I was letting her use a paintbrush on our house, the fence, Belle's dog house, the Cozy Coupe, etc......So fill up some cups of water and grab some brushes for your kids! Big fun was had by all.