Summer Must Haves for the Whole Family

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Summer is almost upon us, so it’s time to gather all the outdoor furniture and fun. A northern Michigan summer is fantastic, especially on the lake. We are lucky to live walking distance from 2 lakes, and we spend a lot of our weekends outdoors and on the lakes. This list of summer must-haves will be divided up into categories to help you find what you’re looking for.

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Our summers are filled with spending any possible free time outside. We go for walks, bbq, eat, have bonfires, and play. This is something we miss immensely during those long, cold Michigan winters. Once the weather warms up, we are rarely indoors. These summer must-haves are the things that my family cannot live without.

Outdoor furniture & decor

Outdoor Patio Set
This is the most important part of our outdoor furniture. We spend so much time gathered around our patio table. We eat meals here, play with bubbles, work, play games, and enjoy the company of friends.

I love my set like this one because it is easy to store for the winter, and the chairs aren’t too heavy for Little Miss to be able to move.

A big patio umbrella
I know the patio set above comes with an umbrella, but I prefer a bigger one than what came with my table. I’m a pale girl, who burns easily, which means, if I’m outside I need to be in the shade more than the sun. Having an umbrella that covers the chairs as well as the table is a key.

A porch swing
I love that my house has a large front porch, the one thing that I miss most from it is our porch swing. Sitting out on the deck, enjoying a sunset, or reading a good book. Getting a new one is on our list of things to buy because we really miss having one.

Zero Gravity Chairs
If you are looking for a comfortable chair to lounge in by the pool, or just as you’re watching the kids, this is it. I am so in love with my zero gravity chair. I keep one in the back yard so I can be comfortable as Little Miss plays. They’re perfect for by the bonfire as well.

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Bonfire Basics

Pie Irons
These are summertime staples in our family. Our weekend bonfires usually include food, and if we are cooking dinner over the fire, we usually break out the pie irons. These are so versatile- from grilled cheese, to pizza pockets, to pies there are so many possibilities. Want some good ideas for things to make in your pie irons? Here’s a cookbook filled with ideas.

Marshmallow/ roasting sticks
A bonfire isn’t complete without S’Mores. These telescoping sticks are perfect for the family. They help keep little ones back far enough and are color-coded so there are no fights. The storage pouch is perfect for keeping them all together when they’re not in use. Have you tried using a Reese’s cup instead of a chocolate bar for your S’Mores? It’s a game changer.

Kids camp chairs
Having a chair fit for your child saves so much hassle when it comes to them climbing up and down. We skipped over the toddler size chair because it seemed impractical and went for a bigger chair that she could grow into and use for many years. I prefer one of these more traditional camp chairs because they hold up well and are affordable.

An outdoor speaker
We are a family that enjoys music, so having an outdoor speaker means we don’t have to open a window and play music from the house stereo. For us, having something that is waterproof is key, because when we get carrying everything inside in the dark it’s easy to forget something. Better safe than sorry here.

Drink Stakes
Most camp chairs will come with drink holders, but the convenience of a drink stake makes them a worthwhile addition. These will hold more weight than the flimsy drink holders in the arm of a camp chair. They even have ones built specifically for wine glasses if you prefer to use stemware for your wine.

Campfire Cooking Grates
If you want a more stable cooking surface than a roasting stick, these cooking grates are perfect. I love this set for the griddle option so then you don’t even need a pan. We have used one similar to the bottom rack for years and cook everything on it. We have even set a cast iron dutch oven on it to cook other things.

Outdoor Play

As I’ve said, we spend a lot of time outdoors, so outdoor play for our preschooler (aaahhhh! How did she become a preschooler already???) is very important. We have gone through so many options finding our favorite toys to pull out each summer. This list will be geared towards preschoolers and toddlers.

Water Table-
A water table is such a fun activity on a warm day. You can bring it indoors and use rice or water beads for winter too. Our water table has gotten so much use, we can’t go without it at this point. It is one of Little Miss’ favorite outdoor toys.

A slide-
Another of Little Miss’ favorite things is her slide. We have one similar to this one and she cannot get enough of it. She begged all winter to get her slide out of the shed and play with it. We probably could have left it outside for her to play with, but didn’t want it damaged in the snow.

A Swing Set
The all time kid favorite is the swing set. Finding one that has plenty of options, is sturdy and doesn’t break the bank is never easy. This one has plenty to do for a decent price. The A-frame metal ones are prone to lifting if your kids swing too high, so I want to stay away from that. A good wooden one will last for years without issues like that.

Water fun

There are a few things to do in the water that cannot be overlooked. Things like life jackets or puddle jumpers are of course needed. To see my water & boating essentials you can check out this post about boating with your toddler.

What are the things I missed that you cannot live without? I know I missed a bunch, but for our essential items, this is pretty comprehensive.

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