Hosting kids’ parties outdoors during summer has loads of advantages, from plenty of room to chase around to not using your bed as a trampoline. It can also be more budget friendly and save time on clearing up afterwards.
Even the smallest parties take some organising. There’s the guest list, the invitations and the venue to consider, before you even get round to the small-detail planning of menu and entertainment.
- Rope in some help. If it’s a birthday party strictly for kids, ask other parents to stay over and do some volunteer supervising, and don’t be afraid to work from lists, delegating tasks as they crop up.
- Factor in the weather, and figure out what you’ll do if it rains on the day. Having contingency plans prevents disappointment and stress.
- Phone round the local entertainers and make sure they’re available on your chosen date. There’s more chance you’ll need to compromise on date or choice of entertainer if you leave it too late.
Organise some Games
From arts and crafts to competitions where everyone can be a winner, party activities are more or less expected.
- Have a bug hunt, with small prizes for everyone who finds something. Ask an adult volunteer to show small groups of little children where bugs might hide, and make sure they all get chance to win. Parties aren’t the time or place for learning about how to lose gracefully.
- Set up a bubble station with a variety of bubble wands in different shapes and sizes.
- Organise traditional games like sack races, pass the parcel, or musical statues.
- Can you do face painting? Practise some simple designs, set up a ‘stall’ and let kids choose which design they like.
- Bring in professional kid’s entertainment. Hiring a stage will turn it into a magical event, and while hiring is more expensive than DIY, you’ll have the comfort of knowing it won’t collapse and hurt someone.
The kinds of games and activities you choose obviously depends on the numbers and ages of children. Try and make sure very little or slightly older children don’t feel left out.
Catering For Kids
Keeping food as simple as possible is key to not giving yourself too much prep or clearing up work. You can keep the budget down by shopping in discount stores if you’re having a barbecue, and keep the workload down on the day by preparing as much as possible ahead of time.
- Make party food packages instead of serving on plates if you’re having a cold, finger food menu. Sandwiches, sausage rolls and crisps are fun and colourful when they’re wrapped up in squares of cheerful cotton fabric you can make yourself, or bandanas you can buy.
- Ask parents to bring along a dish if you’re hosting a bigger party, making sure everyone brings something different.
- Serve drinks in recycled jam jars or small juice bottles. Personalise each one with the child’s name either through tying on a tag or painting a dash of chalkboard paint on each container. If you’re recycling, save the lids to keep insects out of fruity drinks.
Cut down on the need for tables and chairs by creating a picnic area. All that’s needed are a few blankets spread on the ground with plenty of cushions scattered around. If you can locate this beneath a tree, then hang a few fabric panels from low branches, you can create a very bohemian place that kids will love. Even in summer grass can feel a bit damp, but a plastic dust sheet under the blankets will keep them dry.
Keep an eye on safety if you’re cooking outdoors for large numbers. It’s a good idea to fence off the barbecue area, and you can hire metal barriers from staging companies which are purpose made and sturdy.
With outdoor parties, you can relax and let the kids run round to their heart’s content. And the extra bonus? They’ll sleep well after all that fresh air.
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