My birthday is December 28. When I was a kid, it would crush me to know that every year for my birthday, my grade school friends would be out of town traveling during Christmas Break, or busy celebrating the holidays with their families. In other words, I didn’t get to have any successful birthday parties. That is, until my mom allowed me to “change” my birthday and celebrate on my half birthday, June 28. This ushered in a new era for me — sleepovers, campouts, pool parties. I finally got to celebrate, have fun, and spend time outside with my friends. Those were the most memorable birthday parties of my childhood, when the late June sun didn’t sink until way past bedtime and we were too busy running around barefoot in the grass to sit down and eat cake. To this day, I still think of June 28 as my birthday.
The moral of the story? Outdoor birthday parties are the best. That’s why we rounded up the 10 best outdoor activities you can organize for your kid’s next birthday party that will keep them happy, busy, and create memories that will last.
RELATED: How to Throw a Summer Birthday Party
Who hasn’t fantasized at some point about being a ninja, a spy, a superhero, or all three? Take a few yards of string and loop them between trees (a “laser field”), put together a balance beam with a few two-by-fours, put a small kiddie pool beneath a rope swing for a water jump, use a few old big cardboard boxes and tape them together to make a tunnel, and get out some spare tires to make a classic tire run. No fancy frills, just mud and fun. Racing through obstacles (and getting a medal after completing the course) is the stuff that competitive kid dreams are made of.
While no one will ever get tired of a water balloon fight, there are more ways than one to do it. We recommend using sponges (you can even cut them into strips and tie them together to make “water bombs”) they’re not only more convenient to clean up than a million tiny rubber balloon shreds, but they’re also reusable, so you won’t waste your summer days tying water balloons.
Obviously, most summer yard activities end in some sort of fun mess — water, dirt, or our dearly beloved mud. But it can be more fun to take the mess into your own hands. Enter flour bombs. Pour some regular white flour into tissues and tie the corners to create a little pouch of dusty mischief. Handle the “flour bombs” carefully when carrying them — they break pretty easily. When you’re ready for the game to begin, the same rules apply as a water balloon fight or dodge ball. Or use the flour bombs to elevate a game of Capture the Flag. Check out the rules for that here.
DIY “Drive-In” Movie
Creating an outdoor movie theater in your backyard really isn’t as difficult as it sounds. All you really need is a screen, a speaker, a projector, and snacks. When it comes to a screen, you have lots of options. Bed sheets, a white blackout cloth, a formal nylon projection screen, or even a white garage door or a plain outside wall of a house or garage can all work. Then, rent a projector from either your local library or tech store and grab the beefiest Bluetooth speaker you have. Queue the snacks, grab some comfortable pillows and blankets, and download your kids’ favorite movie. Movie-theater birthdays are a classic indoor go-to — and bringing it outside will bring on the magic. Here’s a complete guide on getting your backyard “drive-in” all set up.
The great thing about scavenger hunts is that you can make them whatever you want them to be: complex or simple, large or small scale. Regardless on if you make it a theme (where the clues and the prizes are all about superheroes, dinosaurs, spies, princesses, or astronauts), or you just do a classic ‘hide-and-seek’ with prizes, a scavenger hunts is always fun.
Take a BBQ to the next level and make a camp out party of it for a birthday. Kids love the idea of sleeping outside, and creating a camp-out birthday party is as easy as getting all of your camping gear out of the closet. There are plenty of ways to keep kids entertained — from having sleeping bag races and roasting s’mores to telling stories at the campfire. Bonus points if you hire a wilderness guide to come talk to the group about camping techniques, how to start a fire, how to navigate the wilderness, and what to do when you see a bear. Beats having a clown at the party.
Okay, okay, maybe some kids still like clowns. To each their own. But if you your kid is creeped out by clowns (I’m with you, kid), there’s plenty of other things to do when following a carnival theme, including ring toss, ping pong ball toss, the basketball hoop challenge, a dunk tank, and face painting. Cap it off by serving candy apples, funnel cake, and popcorn.
Have an artistic kid? Take the art outside and show them a whole new way to get creative. We love the idea of hanging a chalkboard on a fence, wrapping a tree trunk in canvas, and using chalk paint on the driveway and sidewalks. All you need to do is lay out some washable paint and markers for the canvas and some chalk for the canvas and sidewalks and see what kind of (washable) masterpieces come out of it.
The public pool can be a nightmare, but if you don’t have a backyard pool, don’t worry. Making a “water blob” is just as fun splashing around in a pool — plus, it’s safe for toddlers and doubles as a slip n’ slide for older kids. All you need to make your own water blob is a tarp, plastic sheeting, duct tape, and a water hose. Follow instructions here.
Have a little birthday musician on your hands? Build a music fence and let kids create tunes of all types in their own backyard. Either use a fence that you already have constructed in your backyard, or nail together a few planks of wood and make a small fence that you can put in your yard. Then, go to a thrift store and find as many strangely shaped, interesting oddities that make a cool sound and put those noisemakers on the fence. Give the kids some wooden spoons, drumsticks, forks and listen to the “music” they make.
What’s better than a classic picnic on a nice, sunny day? Invite kids to bring their favorite foods, spread out some blankets, and get out the yard games. Simple as that.