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16 outdoor birthday party ideas for kids

Outdoor birthday parties keep the fun in — and the mess out.
If there's going to be a mess, let them make it outside!
If there's going to be a mess, let them make it outside!Getty Images

Outdoor parties give kids a place to stretch out and run around, and let you get creative with the theme, food and games. 

So instead of hosting your kid’s birthday party inside your house or taking a crew of kids to the same old place that serves up pizza next to questionable ball pits, why not take the party outside?

And while you can’t predict the weather, you can plan ahead. Make arrangements to move the party indoors at the last minute if needed, and on hot days, get creative to stay cool.

No matter if you’re hosting toddlers or tweens, getting outside can be a treat for everyone.

Nicole Heinbaugh, owner and event planner at Simply Sweet Party Boutique, says there are plenty of ways to cool down kids on hot days.

“To keep cool, use little fans as favors. They even make the ones that spray water. It’s definitely a great option to keep guests as cool as possible in the summer heat,” she says. “I also love setting up refreshing stations. Serve a cool frozen drink or frozen dessert as an option. Freeze pops are such a hit too and inexpensive.”

16 Outdoor Birthday Party Ideas

Let’s get this party started. Here are 16 outdoor birthday party ideas to help inspire your kid’s next bash. 

Scavenger Hunt

With a little bit of prep work, this party idea is a slam-dunk. Prep rhyming clues that lead party participants on a journey around your yard — or through a local park — with a giant surprise waiting at the end for all partygoers.

Tie-Dye Party

From shirts and beach towels to socks and scrunchies, there’s no limit to what kids can tie-dye at this groovy party. Grab a few tie-dye kits and let them get creative. Have a clothesline and plenty of clothespins ready to hang all of their tie-dye creations to dry, and before kids leave, send them home with directions on how to care for their newly tie-dyed items. 

Summer Camp

Break out the s’mores, get ready to sing songs around the campfire and take a hike — even if it’s just around the backyard. A summer camp themed party can include food that kids and adults alike will enjoy and you can play some of your favorite childhood games and activities. 

Starry Night

Get set up just in time for sundown and have guests arrive early to enjoy dinner outside before looking up at the night sky to identify constellations. Don't forget some out-of-this-world snacks to enjoy while you stargaze, like star-shaped cookies and gummy rings (to mimic planetary rings, of course!).

Reel Fun

Kids will be hooked on this fishing party. Start by letting guests make and decorate their own fishing rod out of wooden dowels, eye hooks, string and metal clips. Then host a casting contest and fill a baby pool with different sized paper fish so kids can try their luck to catch a big one. While the kids are eating, break out a deck of cards and play a few rounds of Go Fish.

Outdoor Movie Night

Set up a movie under the stars by using a projector and a bedsheet as a screen. Have plenty of movie snacks, like popcorn and candy, on hand. And since this party starts after dark, pass out glow sticks as favors.

Olympics Party

Bring home the gold with this party theme by setting up obstacle courses and relay races. Before the athletes head home, wrap a cookie in gold paper and attach it to a ribbon so everyone gets to take home a sweet gold medal. 

Lawn Games

Turn family game night into a party. There are plenty of family-friendly lawn games you can buy — like oversized checkers and cornhole. Or you can make your kid’s favorite games, like creating a Twister board on the grass with spray paint or make a DIY version of skeeball with buckets and a few small balls. 

Bubble Blast

Bubbles are pretty magical and you can adapt this party for kids of all ages. Set up machines to get the bubbles flowing while kids work on a DIY wand to make bubbles of all shapes and sizes. Fill a baby pool with bubble mixture, have kids stand in the pool and use a Hula-Hoop to make jumbo bubbles around the kids.

Archaeological Dig

Dinosaur fans will dig this theme. Set up an archeological dig in a sandbox or in a baby pool so partygoers can search for artifacts. Give kids shovels, buckets and paint brushes to uncover the dinosaur figures, fossils and gold coins. At the end of the dig, the artifacts become party favors that kids can take home with them.  

Outdoor Arts Party

An artsy outdoor bash is the perfect time for all of those messy arts and crafts your kids want to try. Fill up squirt guns with paint and use large canvases as the target, whip up a few batches of slime or give kids a paint tray palette and let them get crafty.

Water Party

Splish splash, it’s time for a water bash! You don’t need a pool for this outdoor party, just plenty of ways to play in the water. Break out a sprinkler, a Slip 'N Slide and fill tubs of water with plenty of water toys. The perfect party favor? A cozy beach towel that guests can dry off with and take home.

Garden Party

Let kids try out their green thumbs at a garden party where they decorate their own pots and then get to plant seeds, flowers or succulents. Create sensory bins filled with soil and kid-friendly gardening tools for a fun activity. For dessert, fill mini terracotta pots with a cupcake and top it with a flower decoration for a sweet treat. When the party wraps, send kids home with mini watering cans filled with seeds to start their own gardens.

Mini Golf

It’s time to par-tee. Using items like cardboard boxes, balloons and pool noodles, construct a mini golf course for your pros. Turn sandboxes into sand traps and transform a large open space into a driving range. For younger players, skip the regular golf balls and use beach balls instead.  

Beach Bash

Sand buckets, beach balls and plenty of sunscreen are essential for a beach bash. If there isn’t an ocean nearby, baby pools full of water will do the trick.

Glow-in-the-Dark Party

This one is great for older kids because the action starts when the sun goes down. Load up on glow-in-the-dark necklaces, fill baby pools with glow sticks and place colorful plastic cups over tea lights to illuminate the party.