Well summer is here and so are fun family festivals. There are tons in our region all summer long and luckily, most are free to get in. It's the once you are in part that is difficult when it comes to keeping the budget. This morning I made a plan to take my five year old to the big craft festival going on this weekend. I think the planning is key, especially when you have a small child with you. First we talked about where we were going, what kinds of things we might see and do and what we might like to buy. I had my son determine how much of his allowance he was going to bring to spend. He decided on ten dollars. I decided on twenty for me. So we were set, but wait...I also packed a backpack, sunscreen, water, hats, two apples and our wallets. When we got there we were both very excited to see and do everything! There were food stalls, and three (!) buildings full of tables of every different kind of vendor you can think of. There was jewellery, clothing, candy, fudge, toys, organic pet food, hand crafted soap, you name it they had it. The event is aptly named Creative Chaos. It was chaos, too, with all the people milling about... First we got the lay of the land, listening to the old time swing music in the courtyard and deciding what we wanted to do while we ate our apples and drank some water. The admission was free but they suggested a donation to the food bank, so we decided our first stop should be to drop off our cans off at the front. That's when we spied the handcrafted wooden toys by a little company called Diamond Island Treasures. This mom and pop couple had a booth set up right by the entrance of the rec centre. I like simple toys for kids, they promote the use of a little thing called imagination. Well, there were a lot of choices, cars, trucks, trains, flying whizzers and a spinning top, just to name a few. We were lucky enough to have gone early in the day so the vendors had time to demonstrate a few of the toys for us. My son was delighted; of course, I knew then, we would have to buy something. I made a choice in my mind that I wanted either a car of a top for him. The whizzer thing would be lost in about three minutes, it flew thirty feet in the air, the guy said. As apartment dwellers, this option was not for us. I cleared away the other options, too many choices for a young child anyway, and said, "Do you want the car or the spinning top?" Since he would be spending some of his money on it, I felt he was making an informed choice. He chose the top. It was more expensive than the car, but also a more interesting toy, which will present a challenge for some time to come, so I was pleased as well. He wanted to spend his other five dollars on face painting, but he also wanted a hot dog and an old fashioned lemonade. Note to self: Duh, lemonade. So frugal to make at home! I bought lunch and after we ate, we talked about how face paint, while fun and lovely, would be washed off in about an hour at the most, especially if he was going to eat anything else. He decided he might like to buy another toy instead, or save his money for another day. It started to get really hot, and after listening to music for a while, we decided to walk home. I did make a wide circle around the face painting booth, hoping to bypass it altogether, I will admit :) All in all, we had a great time and we both came home with a few dollars left in our pockets. I hope that my son might grow up to be wise with money. At least he is starting to understand that spending money is more fun when you can bring something home with you.