Originally Published on May 5, 2022. Last Updated on August 18, 2022.
Whether you’re planning a birthday bash for yourself or a little one, these creative backyard party ideas will be something your friends and family won’t stop raving about (at least until next year). Sure, there’s lots to plan, lots to buy…but with some planning and prep work, it’s all fun in the sun.
Party Themes for Kids
There’s something to be said for the classic “chocolate cake, ice cream, and streamers in the backyard” birthday party. Not only is it affordable, it’s less stressful because it’s so easy to coordinate. But if you’re looking to throw a kid-friendly bash they won’t soon forget, you may want to think outside the cake-and-ice-cream box and incorporate a few hands-on activities. Here are a few of our favorite activity-filled themes for children’s outdoor parties.
Give your child an unforgettable day with some fun, Olympic-style party games right in your backyard. The kids will have a blast showing off their skills and competing for the gold medal. While water balloons and potato sacks or three-legged races are backyard classics, here are a few ideas to consider if you want to switch things up.
- Obstacle Course – You can buy pre-made obstacle courses, or you can get the kids involved with an easy DIY obstacle course that they can help set up.
- Tug-of-War – Tug-of-war is a game that never gets old and can be played with as few as two kids and as many as 10. All you need is an 8-foot rope and some masking tape.
- Javelin Throw – With just a few pool noodles and a roll of duct tape, you can create a fun javelin throw game.
- Pass the Water – Place a dispensable water jug on one end and an empty bucket on the other. Each team forms a line of at least four people. One person fills up a cup of water and passes it all the way down to the empty bucket. The person at the end of the line pours water into the bucket and passes it back to the start of the line. The first team to fill up the empty bucket wins.
DIY Escape Room
Escape rooms have become increasingly popular, and tweens and teens love them just as much as adults do. Now, you can even purchase escape-room-style board games for your next party. (Here’s how one mom made it happen.) Set a timer and watch as everyone teams up to solve the clues and scramble to “escape.” If you’re feeling extra ambitious and want to DIY, this step-by-step guide is for you.
Perfect for aspiring artists and creative kiddos, alfresco painting parties are an interactive way to keep little ones entertained. Make sure to stock up on all the essentials, including:
- Non-toxic paint
- Art canvases or poster paper
You can lay a drop cloth or old sheet down, especially if they’re painting on the deck or patio, to keep the mess contained. Don’t forget to remind parents to pack a change of clothes for after the little Picassos finish their masterpieces.
Scavenger Hunt Party
Calling all treasure-seekers! Scavenger hunts provide endless adventure for kids, and any of these indoor and outdoor scavenger hunt ideas will do the trick come rain or shine. If you have a small outdoor space or very young children, a simplified version is the way to go, while older children may enjoy this hiking scavenger hunt for exploration beyond the backyard.
A backyard camping party is a perfect solution for smaller celebrations with your nature-loving child and their best friends. Of course, no campsite is complete without a place for kiddos to cook hot dogs or roast the perfect s’more marshmallow. A fire pit table provides a safe yet roaring fire thanks to its adjustable flames and glass wind guard. Plus, there’s a ton of room to layout your treats without having to put food on the ground. Last but not least, make sure to stock up on tents, flashlights, and plenty of bug spray.
Party Themes for Adults
Bring out the tiki torches, paper lanterns, and coconut cups — and don’t forget the blender. Once you transform your backyard into an island oasis, give your guests fun apparel and swag like straw hats, grass skirts, hula hoops, and leis (lots of leis). If you’re feeling crafty or just don’t like the idea of the plastic kind, you can always create DIY leis from recycled paper. Simply throw on your favorite tropical playlist, and you’re ready to hula.
Between cannonball contests, fruity drinks, and all the sunshine — everyone loves a good pool party. Want your bash to make a splash? Deck out your outdoor space in festive floats and an awesome backdrop for Instagram-worthy photo ops. When they’re not swimming, guests will love catching up and catching some rays on a chaise lounge.
1980s Themed Party
Take a trip back in time with a retro party inspired by the neon colors and iconic fashion of the ’80s. Tee up a playlist (ahem…mixtape) with the decade’s greatest hits, sing your heart out with a karaoke machine, or play a themed trivia game — just remember that the bigger the hair and shoulder pads, the better. Craft a signature cocktail in advance or let guests play mixologist at your open-air bar.
Movie Night Party
A movie night under the stars is just the ticket for a birthday gathering with close friends and family. Much cozier than the theater and definitely an upgrade to streaming from the couch, you can watch a favorite flick from your patio with only a projector, movie screen, and comfortable seating. If you’re feeling fancy, try rolling out a red carpet for party goers to make their grand entrance.
If you aren’t sure how to create an outdoor theater in your backyard, our guide to planning your outdoor theater can help you get started.
Don’t Forget Fido
Because furry friends are family too. Cakes made for human consumption aren’t good for dogs, but there are some great dog-friendly cake recipes for your pup (and their friends) to enjoy. And don’t forget to give your pet the royal treatment with a backyard paw-ty – fully loaded with treats, new squeaky toys, and tail-wagging tunes on repeat.
We’ve never met a backyard party we didn’t like, but these inspired ideas have us more excited than ever about celebrations spent outside. Are you going to try any of these outdoor birthday party ideas or come up with your own? We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.