4 ways to hold on to summer fun

Play with your pals

You’ve probably spent the last six weeks organizing fun activities for your summer-breakin’ kiddos. Now it’s time for a playdate for you and your own best mates. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “every artist was first an amateur,” and at Bottle and Bottega, you and your pals can unleash your inner Monet or Gauguin. Sign up for a scheduled event or host a private party and a professional painter will guide you and your girlfriends through the creation of a true masterpiece. They provide all of the art supplies, aprons and instruction, and you provide your own bottles of bubbly or vino to help uncork your creativity. Check out bottleandbottega.com for event schedules at seven Chicagoland locations.

Play outside!

Our Chicago summer is short but very sweet. So it’s vital we all get as much outside playtime as humanly possible before the cold winds blow in again. My favorite new whole-family outdoor game is Spikeball. I discovered it at my local Marbles the Brain Store, brought it home and we were all hooked. It’s like a mash-up of beach volleyball and handball that’s portable enough to take just about anywhere. You’ll be playing it all the way into autumn. $63.99, marblesthebrainstore.com

Play with your hydration

I don’t normally share food and beverage products, but this month I’m making an exception. I tend to push tons of water on my family during these hot and sticky summer months, but now and again they want a “fun” drink. Instead of soda, we’ve discovered Jimmy Buffett’s Island Tea by Tradewinds. They sent us a batch to test and we all went nutty for them. Naturally flavored and sweetened, and with varieties like Paradise Punch Hibiscus Tea and Strawberry Lime Black Tea, they’re a sweet alternative to carbonated beverages. Yum on the run. Available where Tradewinds Tea is sold. Find more info at tradewindstea.com.

Play with your back to school shopping

School supply shopping can be slightly overwhelming. Book bags, and notebooks and lunchboxes, oh MY! So I say add a pop of playfulness and give-back gusto with the new line of gear from PBS Kids in partnership with Whole Foods Market. From backpacks to lunch totes and basic supplies too, kids will love bringing some of their favorite educational characters along when that big yellow bus appears. Plus, 100 percent of PBS KIDS’ net proceeds will support PBS KIDS educational programming, while Whole Foods Market will donate one percent of total sales, up to $25,000, to Whole Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving children’s nutrition and wellness. Win-win-win!

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