The trees are full, the sun is shining, and the kids are ready to play. Summer birthdays are perfect occasions to have all the classmates, cousins and neighborhood pals over for an outdoor backyard bash.
Let’s be honest, though, they can be a bit overwhelming.
The key to a successful kids’ birthday party is keeping everyone entertained (and well-fed!). Creating activities to last through the celebration is easiest when you have a specific theme in mind.
Here’s a list of our favorite outdoor birthday party theme ideas for the season, complete with tips to bring each to life.
Pool Party Ideas
Whether it’s in-ground or inflatable, your backyard pool is a summertime savior—and the perfect backdrop for a splashy summer birthday party.
A magical mermaid party
Send out your mystical mermaid party invites with specific instructions for kids and parents to pack swimsuits, beach towels and floaties (if necessary).
The day of, make sure the pool is ready to be the activity hub for the day—decorate the surrounding area with seafaring accessories such as rope fish nets, faux shells, seafoam green and sky blue banners, and mesh tulle.
Stock your pool toy storage with extra goggles, kickboards, inflatable rafts and beach balls. Offer guests the opportunity to wear fishy swim fins. Invite guests to snorkel and scavenge the bottom of the pool for little treasures.
A tropical trip to paradise
Transport your little guests to a tropical paradise with beachy decor and fruity treats, no matter how many miles you may be from the ocean. If your backyard space allows for it, bring the look and feel of the ocean to the area and surround the pool with plush piles of sand.
Provide leis, tropical flowers to put in guests’ hair, and faux flower crowns for kids. To invoke the Polynesian vibes of a Hawaiian cookout, pass out grass skirts (or even better, leaf skirts) for both kids and parents alike to put over their shorts.
Serve snacks like grilled pineapple, meatball sliders and fresh watermelon chunks. For fun outside of the water, set up a limbo station, a volleyball net or a badminton set.
Garden Party Ideas
Transform your flower or veggie patch into a quaint backdrop for a whimsical kids party. Make the most out of the natural landscape of your backyard with these easy garden party ideas.
A whimsical storybook tea party
Take a page out of a classic children’s fairy tale with a proper backyard tea party. Start with on-theme arts and crafts—set up a picnic table or two with all the materials to make homemade flower crowns.
Tape together strips of cardboard to give each little guests a headband. Let them go wild with glue, glitter, puffy paint, pipe cleaners and faux flowers, leaves and even real flowers.
Set up some kid-friendly garden party games such as bocce ball and badminton. You can even craft your own jumbo versions of games traditionally played on a table—jumbo dice, tumbling towers and even tic tac toe.
As for food, serve finger sandwiches (PB&J is fancier sans crust) and miniature cookies and cupcakes. To capitalize on the garden theme, try making your own flower pot cupcakes, serving each in a brown fondant icing holder and pastel icing resembling a floral bloom.
A scavenger hunt adventure
Turn all your available yard space into a treasure trove just waiting to be explored by creating your own scavenger hunt. Make the list totally nature-themed, like pinecones, acorns, or insects. Add special treasures to the list and hide them around the yard, like little silver teacups or play jewelry.
End with a backyard barbeque and a cake depicting all the woodland creatures and plants the little guests discovered during their hunt.
Whichever theme you choose, make the party comfortable with plenty of seating, shade and lighting to keep the celebration going into the twilight hours.
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Hannah Bollman writes inspirational and informational content around home design and entertaining for Crate and Barrel, where you can find outdoor furnishings fit for any summer celebration.