Adventure Ideas Parenting

Outdoor Kids Party Ideas for Children’s Birthdays

Childrens Party Plastic Rubbish
Written by Kirstie Pelling

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… 

Pontoon party, Västra Silen, Sweden

Pontoon party, Västra Silen, Sweden

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…

Eating cupcakes in rain Morecambe Prom

Royal themed party. Eating cupcakes outdoors in the rain is much more fun. Isn’t it?

1 The Nature Detectives Party

Themes: NatureTracking, 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.

Expenses: A Tracking Guide, Detective Magnifying Glass and notebooks.

Planting Onions

What will your nature detectives spot at their green themed outdoor children’s party?

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.

One of our outdoor kids party ideas

Playing DS in nature? No, he’s taking photographs! One of our more tech friendly outdoor kids party ideas.

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.

Geocache Cumbria kids outdoor Party

Geocaching is great fun, but still plastic presents in many of those caches, I’m afraid!

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

4 Comments

  • What great ideas! We’ve done a camping party before and it was a big hit! We also did a garden party before where we planted small plants and then gave out seeds and small shovels instead of goodie bags. I hate goodie bags! It all ends up in the garbage. I think we may try the Olympic one next! That sounds really fun.

  • I think our society has become very materialistic. We seem to think we have to buy our kids stuff to be good parents. I love your ideas. My son is just getting to the age for birthday parties and we will keep these in mind. Thanks.

  • It may sound a bit worrying offering activities such as lighting fires without matches, but we have done these things for years now without incident. We are extremely

    safety conscious, but we recognise that kids want to do some activities which just aren’t done these days. I can still point out trees in the local park which I built

    camps in as a young boy, but I know I wouldn’t let my own kids go off at the age of 8 to build camps by themselves in the woods. That’s where we come in to offer those

    experiences that aren’t so common these days.

  • Love the originality behind these party games, what’s even better is that they can be adapted and applied to all children’s favourite hobbies and interests. It’s always great when you’re able to create a bespoke children party.

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