Not one of my three children celebrates their birthday in the summer. However, if they did you can bet I would throw a simple backyard bash each year, using at least one of the birthday ideas from the list below.
When you have warm weather, green space and sun, birthday party planning is a breeze. Just add a bit of food, a cake and a few activities to keep the kids entertained and you’re set.
10 simple ideas for an awesome summer backyard birthday party
- Make a Water Balloon Piñata: Instead of hanging a paper-mâché container full of candy from a tree or overhead trellis, try making a water balloon piñata instead. Simply fill some oversized water balloons with water and hang them from string at varying heights. Have kids use a plastic baseball bat or stick to swat at the balloons to try and break them. Fill more balloons than you hang so you can replace the broken ones as needed.
- Set up a Giant Bubble Station: This simple-to-assemble activity is so much fun for kids. Fill a kiddie pool with a homemade bubble solution and use a hula hoop as the bubble wand. Head here for more information and inspiration.
- Play Backyard Jenga: Kids (and adults) of all ages LOVE this game. Set it up on a low table (we use an inexpensive side table from IKEA) and have friends take turns playing throughout the party.
- Watch a Movie Outside: There’s something magical about watching a movie on a big screen set up in the backyard. So, this summer we want to bring our love for the outdoor movie to our own backyards by throwing a movie-viewing party for our kids and their friends. You can read more about how to execute this type of celebration here. For snacks, we wholeheartedly suggest setting up a movie night popcorn bar for everyone to enjoy.
- Send the Kids on a Scavenger Hunt: In my experience, kids really love a scavenger hunt. As a parent, I also think they’re an excellent way to keep little ones occupied for an indefinite amount of time. Inexpensive to execute, they can also easily be customized based on the ages of the kids at your party. For little kids, try using pictures to illustrate what they need to find; for bigger kids, words will suffice. Also, don’t forget to have prizes (or birthday cake!) available at the end of the hunt as a reward for their hard work.
- Create a Simple Photo Booth: Photo booths are still popular with kids and here’s an inspired idea for how to make an easy one: hang a large oversized picture frame (you can probably find good ones at a thrift store) from a tree branch. Set out a basket of props and encourage them to be as silly as possible. Older kids can take turns taking the photos themselves if you’re comfortable letting them use your camera.
- Donut Eating on a String: When it comes to cheap and cheerful party games and treats, almost nothing can top the classic donut eating on a string game. Trust me, the kids will love it and it can work for any kind of party! To put it together, all you’ll need are three items: donut (one per participant), rope, and ribbon. Tie a length of rope between two trees and ask the kids to line up underneath it. Tie pieces of ribbon to the donuts and then to the rope, hanging them slightly above the kids’ mouth level. Let the children know that on the count of three they are to begin eating their donut without using their hands AND without letting it fall off the ribbon. The first to finish is the winner, and the prize is the eaten donut.
- Water, Water, Water: There’s a reason the ice bucket challenge was so successful: there’s something so thrilling about being soaked, or soaking someone else, with cold water. From water balloon fights to super soaker battles to water gun tag (the person who is “it” used a water gun to tag the players and once you are hit you are “it”) there is no limit to the amount of fun that can be had with water.
- Toppling Tug of War: Using milk crates and rope set up a simple toppling tug of war station as part of your party games activities. Players should stand a least six feet apart and the rope should have plenty of slack so those competing can have lots of cord to work with.
- Turn to the Country Fair: I find a lot of inspiration at the country fairs we visit in the summer months, and I use a lot of the games/activities we spot there in my birthday parties and family celebrations. From sack races to relay races to egg on a spoon races, there is no shortage of simple fun you’re sure to see at these types of events.
Important to note: celebrants hoping for a themed party can customize these ideas to match. For example, use the water balloon pinata and scavenger hunt for a Moana-inspired party, while a celebration with a Star Wars theme would benefit from the simple photo booth idea.