With a little creativity, there are endless options for birthday fun outside year-round that create special memories for years to come (and don't leave a mess in the house).
Here are some outdoor birthday party ideas from Rebecca P. Cohen, author of 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids and the new early reader series, PJ's Backyard Adventures.
These ideas can be interchanged by season:
A planting party is a great activity that becomes a party favor too. With help from an adult, even a toddler can hold a hand shovel and dig with you. Plant seeds (sugar snap peas are a favorite and fun to watch grow) or plant a flower such as a pansy in a small container to take home. Adults and kids can use their hands (have hand wipes ready!) or ask families to bring hand shovels and gloves of all sizes, and there will be plenty of tools to go around.
Have a pick-your-own party! Summer can bring delicious activities in the form of picking fruit, such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, or peaches. Invite families for a birthday celebration at a pick-your-own farm followed by a gathering at a picnic shelter or nearby swimming lake.
Organize a nature walk and scavenger hunt leading to s'mores and birthday cake! Party favors with an outdoor theme (toys including balls, bubbles, and plastic pails and shovels) offer children more outdoor play time. The nature walk party I had for my five year old with his friends and their parents was one of the most low-key, successful gatherings I’ve ever had, and a lesson about the possibilities for future birthday parties.
Sled or ice skate along side hot cocoa and cake, meet up with families at a playground, or involve your children in what they'd like to do. When my older son turned nine, he chose to have a capture the flag birthday party outside, and even drew the layout of the party and plan for the game on a whiteboard. I ordered blue and red bandanas (half in each color). I think I ended up with 30 nine year olds in the backyard who had a wonderful time running around for two hours! Shoes were left at the door to come inside briefly for cake.
Share your favorite outdoor birthday parties with Rebecca on her Facebook page: Be Outside and Grow.