New York in June… there’s nothing like it. And, although Frank was definitely not referring to children’s birthday parties in the ‘burbs of NYC, it is still applicable. After months of rotating indoor parties at the same venues, the warmer months offer a reprieve from the norm and the chance to get a bit more creative.
Booked Parties own Claire Gilvar, whose son has a summer birthday, has become intimately familiar with the outdoor bash. Offering advice, she says, “We host annual summer splash-down events in our garden. Favorite activities include a giant water slide, fun games such as bobbing for apples, twister, and races such as egg and spoon and beanbag races.” When planning an outdoor party, you need to ask yourself what your threshold for mess and DIY are. That will help guide the direction of your party. Remember to set a rain date or line up a back-up venue and get to planning. Gilvar adds, “Keep as much of the party outside as possible including the party table with food, drinks, etc. and make sure to have sunscreen on hand, while checking with parents in advance before applying to children!”
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of warm weather party options to satisfy any child!
- Messy Art. “I want to host a messy art party in my home,” said no parent ever. Hosting this type of party outdoors, however, is a game changer. Buy a few cheap white tarps or canvases, paint, stampers and other supplies and set-up three to four stations. Activities can include finger and foot painting, using outdoor objects such as leaves and rocks as painting tools and splatter paint. Have the children splatter paint shoes or shirts as birthday favors! If you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, consider contacting the following vendors to run the event: Art Truck, Picasso Parties or Pizzazzles.
- Water and Mud Play. There is no child who doesn’t like water or mud and the combination of both can be mind-blowing. Recent research actually shows that the bacterium in soil stimulates serotonin and brain activity. Furthermore, playing with mud is a positive sensory experience, builds creativity and may actually strengthen the immune system. So, consider hosting this party your personal community service contribution! All you need are sprinklers, a water table, water guns, a garden hose and a supply of mud. Make mud hand and footprints, mud castles featuring moats and mud fights are of course encouraged! Use those muddy hands to plant some flowers in decorative flower pots as favors. Warn guests in advance not to wear their finery and be prepared with a little wading pool to clean off all of those little hands and feet before returning them to their parents.
- Backyard Fun. Are you man or mom enough to handle a backyard full of outdoor toys and kids on the loose? Not for the faint of heart, this type of party involves digging deep and recalling the birthday parties of your youth. Dust off your swing-set, hook up the sprinklers, toss out some balls and prepare yourself to let the children take over. If the party becomes more “Lord of the Flies” or “Children of the Corn,” get ready to run some games of “Simon Says,” “Red Light, Green Light,” “Freeze Dance,” and obviously, “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” Cap it all off with a piñata and you’re good to go! Remember, great risk reaps great rewards.
- Movie Night. There’s something magical about watching a movie on the big screen outdoors. Throughout the summer, hundreds of adults flock to venues around NYC and Westchester to sit outside and watch old, nostalgic films in the company of strangers. Recreate these events in your own backyards. All you need is a white sheet, a projector, picnic blankets, snacks and candy to create the perfect ambience or rent a screen from Funflicks. Fireflies invited.
- Call in an Expert. You don’t have to be proficient in DIY or a Pinterest-worthy parent to host an outdoor bash. There are many vendors who can come in to host the perfect party. Whether it’s a zoo, sports or magic theme, there are a plethora of experts ready to come and entertain your guest list. Here are our curated picks:
- Animal Experiences: Animal Embassy, The Nature of Things, Curious Creatures, Two by Two Traveling Zoo
- Bubble Dad
- Create a Carnival: Any Excuse for a Party!, Get Down Entertainment, Just 4 Fun Entertainment, Party Talent, Parties by Paris, The Party People, Sparkle Events
- Magicians: Jojo’s Party Pals, Billy & Friends
- Music: Brett Band for Kids, Armelle for Kids
- Sports: Super Soccer Stars, Topsy Turvy Yogi
A final word on backyard bashes. Little known fact – it’s actually considered rude to host an outdoor, summer party and not offer your guests ice cream. Gilvar, who is familiar with this rule says, “At the end of my son’s party, the ice cream truck shows up – it’s the highlight of the event for the kids!” Whether you bring in an ice cream truck, offer a make-your-own sundae bar or your standard, yet delicious ice cream cake, make sure not to offend your guests by omitting this essential.
Shauna Levy is a writer, communications professional and stay-at-home mom. Her interests include flaunting her discount shopping finds, cooking food her children reject and restoring her 125-year old home. She is currently raising her three boys, ages 9, 6 and 5 alongside her husband in Chappaqua, NY.