Take the Party Outside

. May 5, 2014.
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As the weather warms up, you may notice your children’s energy levels tend to wind up as well. With summer right around the corner, children are just itching to run around, kick a ball, swim, and be free from classroom confines. Add that energy level to the apocalyptic-like sugar-highs at many birthday parties, and you might rethink even hosting a summer birthday party for your son or daughter!

Others embrace this warmer weather and use it to their advantage! Take the party outside – where you will have more space for the kids to let off steam, less chance of new items being broken (or your favorite vase crashing to the floor), and an easier clean-up once the guests have all gone home.

Embrace the weather – and the mess – with these month-by-month suggestions for your next birthday party:

May

If April showers bring May flowers, then May is the perfect month to have a planting party! Have flower pots for the kids to paint and decorate with stickers, pom-poms, pipe-cleaners and other craft items. Then have each child plant a seed or flower in their pot to take home with them as their parting gift.

Decorate a favorite backyard tree  or  the nearest basketball-hoop pole as a Maypole. Play music and show them how to loop their crepe-paper lines over and under each other. Stop the music at intervals and make sure the children “freeze” until the music plays again.
Give each child a bug house or jar with a lid, and a pair of plastic tweezers. Shout out the name of an insect and see who can scramble around the park or yard the fastest and find the “grasshopper” or “katydid” first. Boys and girls alike will have fun trying to capture as many of these insects as they can.

Have flower-shaped cookies that were baked onto toothpicks that you then “planted” on top of each chocolate (dirt) cupcake with green (grass) icing on top. Be sure to add a couple of gummi worms here and there, too!

June

Have a June-bug party! Kids love dressing in costumes: ask them to come dressed as their favorite insect. Designate a grown-up helper (or two) to be official Face Painters and have them paint an insect on each child’s cheek or face.

Have simple outdoor games with a little twist to them: hard boil a dozen or so eggs, color them yellow, and have one for each child to decorate like a bumblebee (provide googly-eyes and glue, or stickers, crayons and markers). Next, divide your guests into groups of two, have them each hold their “bumblebees” in plastic spoons and see who can “fly” their bees across the grass and put them in the “hive” or basket at the other end without dropping them! Whichever team gets all their bees back home first wins a prize.

Have an Antennae-Making station at one of the outdoor picnic tables. Have enough headbands for each child, and show them how to wind pipe cleaners around them to make their own Ladybug or grasshopper antennae.  This will enhance their ensemble and be their parting gift, as well.

One of our most beloved pastimes is to have our guests decorate their own dessert. Give each child their own paper plate and plain cupcake, and have bowls of colored icing, jelly beans, sprinkles, gummi fish/bears/worms, or whatever else your birthday-boy/girl requests. Turn Twinkies into slugs, or plop cupcakes upside down on a plate and ice them that way – they become snails! The kids spend as much time decorating their dessert (and, let’s face it: themselves as well) as they do eating it.

No matter which month your child’s birthday falls in, try to remember that it isn’t about having the coolest place to go, or the most money spent, it’s about making memories that last a lifetime. The best of memories can be made right in your own backyard. And clean-up is so much easier!