Outdoor Kids Party Ideas
Are your children’s parties more chore than cheer? Are they costing you a fortune? Peer pressure from other parents and a desire to please our little birthday girls and boys means we can’t quite go back to how it used to be with a few sausage rolls, a game of pin on the tail on the donkey and a run around the garden. But we could be more creative, explore nature’s big backyard, and still show the kids a good time. In this post we offer ideas for outdoor kids parties which we’ve tried and tested to great success…
Why should I have an outdoor birthday party?
In his Man about the House column in Saturday’s Family Guardian, journalist Tim Lott argued children’s parties have now expanded to epic proportions, while the the only ones getting any benefit are the ‘the marketeers of happiness.’ And he has a point. How often have you looked at those plastic toys in the party bags, that you’ve also been guilty of sourcing, and felt vaguely nauseous? How often have you wondered if the bouncy castle and magician is really necessary? And what about that confectionery monstrosity that’s bigger than the average wedding cake? Is it time to go back to basics,connect with nature and organize cool outdoor games and activities with the kids?
But can you go back to basics, and still keep up with the Jones’s? Well we think you can. Here’s a few outdoor children’s party ideas that are cheap, sometimes high tech, and fun for everyone…
1 The Nature Detectives Party
Themes: Nature, Tracking, Wildlife
Benefits: The children have fun in the outdoors while learning about the natural world. And you learn something too.
Preparation: Buy a copy of the Animals Tracks, Trails and Signs Pocket Tracking Guide or something similar. Then choose a small patch of land or public footpath and familiarize yourself with what’s there in advance of the party. Identify the trees. Note what animals hang out there. Look for tracks. See what’s in the hedges. Source some cheap reporter’s notebooks and magnifying glasses and give everyone a pen.
How it works: The children get points working as a team or in small groups to identify everything on their walk. Is that an oak, a silver birch or a redwood? Are there any dead things or animal poop to examine? Encourage them to collect things as they go (but nothing that’s still growing or poop!) and make collages on your return. Give everyone their collage and a magnifying glass to take home.
2 Paparazzi Party
Themes: Technology, creativity, photography
Benefits: This party develops the children’s creativity but has an element of competition with a prize at the end.
Preparation: Beg, borrow or steal some digital cameras, phones with cameras or ask the kids to bring their phone or iPod with them. Choose a location and do a bit of research into what’s there.
How it works: The children are split into two groups and given a camera and an adult between them. They are also provided with a list of landmarks to find and photograph. They must take a picture of themselves with the landmark. The activity is timed and the team with the most points wins. You can host this party anywhere, but it works best in pedestrian spaces like the park where the children can tear around looking for benches or mole-holes. We did it on the prom in Morecambe where they had two miles to run around without encountering cars. Then retire to a green spot for a picnic, while you calculate which team has collected the most landmark pictures. If you set up a drop-box for all the photos then children can print off pictures during the party or afterwards as souvenirs.
Expenses: A small prize for winners. A picnic.
3 Geocaching Treasure Trail Party
Themes: Technology, GPS, geography, map-reading
Benefits: One of the best and easiest of our outside birthday party ideas. The party bag prizes are built in to the ground and wall! Kids love geocaching; some of them will be new to it and might pick up a new interest. If you live in the city it’s a great way to show the kids some history or unusual locations. Geocaching can be done on foot, by bike or even public transport. If you choose sites close together you won’t need a party bus and will fret less about losing other people’s kids, or even your own.
Preparation: Source two or three phones with GPS. Identify some geocaches close together by going to geocaching.com. Check out their suitability for visiting with kids!
How it works: Choose from your geocaches according to location and difficulty level. Plug in the coordinates and off you go; checking to see if there’s a clue. If you prefer you can use the geocaching app to help with locating caches. Go as a whole group or split into teams. When you’ve found the cache, add your name to the list, collect a treasure and put in a small token of your own in return.
Expenses: A few small gifts to go in the geocache boxes. Picnic.