When it comes to throwing a party for your child, there’s no shortage of places you can go. As a parent, you’ve probably attended your fair share of parties at indoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, pools and more.
Trampoline parks and pool parties are great options for party venues, but the work and expense that can come with planning elaborate parties can make it next to impossible to enjoy your child’s special day — and isn’t that the whole point?
Playground birthday parties are a great way to simplify the planning process while still making your child’s birthday fun and memorable. They’re easier on your wallet, too.
But what exactly can you expect with a playground birthday party?
Pros of Hosting a Playground Birthday Party
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a climate that’s warm year-round, or you have a child whose birthday falls during a warm-weather month, then having a playground birthday party can be a big win. Here are some of the pros that make it such a great option.
You’ll want to choose a park that has picnic shelters available so there’s a place for everyone to sit and eat. Some parks require you to reserve a shelter in advance — usually for a minimal fee — while others offer picnic shelters on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you want to bring decorations, you can, but the beauty of a park birthday party is that you don’t need elaborate decorations to have a good time. You also won’t have to pay for extras, like a party planner, cleanup or if your guest list goes over a certain number of people.
2. Meals Are Optional
Most parks with picnic shelters will have grills you can use to serve up burgers and hot dogs, but park birthday parties are also just as fun when it’s not meal time. If you don’t want the hassle or expense of preparing and serving a meal, then plan the party for mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Of course, you’ll want to have a birthday cake and plenty of drinks — like water and juice boxes — but there’s no need for the elaborate finger foods and snacks that often accompany other indoor parties.
3. No Guest List Restrictions
Planning a party at a local entertainment center — or even your home — can impose limits on your guest list. When you host a birthday at the park, you don’t have to worry about how many children show up or whether they bring a parent or sibling with them. There’s plenty of room to spread out.
4. Minimal Cleanup
Anyone who has gotten clean-up duty after a birthday party at home knows firsthand that cleaning can be one of the most time-consuming parts of a party. So skip the messy house and head to the park! You’ll just need to take down any decorations you hang, pack up all the gifts and other items you and your guests have brought and make sure to put any garbage in the trash can.
Making Arrangements for Your Playground Party
Celebrating a birthday in the park is a simple way to give your child a memorable celebration. It’s also a great way to cut down on the amount of work you put into planning the party. However, there are still a few things you’ll want to do to ensure the party goes smoothly.
1. Make Reservations
Call your local parks and recreation office to find out if you need to reserve a picnic shelter in advance. If so, find out how to complete the reservations — online, in person, over the phone — and pay the reservation fee if there is one. Make sure to reserve the shelter with enough time before and after the party to accommodate any set up and clean up you’ll need to do. During the warmer months, parks may book back-to-back parties, so you don’t want to get caught cleaning up when the next group is waiting to come in.
2. Send out Invitations
Whether you opt for digital invites or traditional paper ones, make sure you send a detailed invite to everyone on the guest list. Include the party’s location, as well as starting and ending times. Be sure to also let parents know if a meal will be served. It’s also a good idea to indicate whether additional siblings are welcome. Be sure to ask for an RSVP in advance of the party date so you can buy the right amount of food and drinks.
3. Plan the Food and Decorations
Decide in advance what food you want to serve and how you’ll decorate the space. Simple is usually best, but a handful of balloons or a birthday banner is a festive touch that can also help guests find the right pavilion on the day of the party, especially if you’re at a park where several groups are meeting at the same time.
4. Make a Backup Plan
Decide how you’ll handle things if the weather makes it impossible to host an outdoor celebration. Will you postpone the party to a later date? Will you move it to an indoor location nearby? Creating a backup plan in advance will keep you from stressing too much if rain or colder temperatures make an outdoor party impossible.
Playground Party Decorating Tips
When it comes to decorations for a birthday at the park, you can go as simple or as elaborate as you want. Just as you would at home, you can let your child choose a theme or a color scheme and then use that to turn the picnic shelter into a party space. But as you’re looking for park birthday ideas, keep these things in mind.
1. A Simple Setup Means Simple Clean Up
Elaborate decorations are beautiful and will certainly draw many compliments, but they’re also going to require a lot of time to set up before the party and then clean up when everything is over. Choose decorations that can go up quickly and come down just as fast. Balloon bouquets that you pick up from your local party store or a pre-printed banner are great options for a speedy, simple set up and clean up. If you do opt for balloons, remember to also buy balloon weights to keep them from drifting off during the party.
2. Don’t Forget the Tablecloths
Tablecloths come in an array of designs and colors, and they’re a must-have when you’re going to have a group of children eating on public picnic tables. Come prepared with plenty of disposable tablecloths, as well as paper towels or sanitary wipes to make sure there are plenty of clean eating surfaces available.
3. Use Food as a Decoration
To further simplify things, the food you bring can double as decorations, too. Add festive toppers to cupcakes or other food items. Select brightly colored foods, such as a fruit tray or a cake with colorful designs on top. You can also purchase colorful napkins and utensils for each guest to use.
4. Goody Bags Double as Decor
If you’re planning to send each guest home with a goody bag, use those same bags as centerpieces for each table. Arrange them so that one of the items inside is peeking outside of the bag or opt for a fun bucket or container instead of a traditional plastic sack.
Food for Your Playground Party
Everyone loves party food, but what kinds of food are safe bets for a party at the park?
1. Snack Foods
If you schedule a party for mid-morning or mid-afternoon, there’s no need to plan a meal. Instead, plan to have cake or cupcakes, something salty like pretzels or crackers, and then plenty of juice and water. Hydrating beverages are especially important since you’ll have a group of hot, sweaty kids running around for a couple of hours.
2. BBQ With All the Fixings
If you decide to serve a meal at the party, check to see if there’s a grill near the picnic shelter you reserve. You can use the grill that’s already there or if you have a small charcoal grill, ask if the park allows you to bring a grill with you. Then bring the supplies for burgers, hot dogs and sides. Chips and fruit are plenty for kids, and it’s easier than having to haul things like potato salad and coleslaw from the parking lot.
3. Kid-Friendly Grub
Since you’re planning a child’s birthday party, channel your inner child, and plan simple foods that all kids love. Consider cooking hot dogs in a slow cooker ahead of time, then adding buns and condiments when it’s time to eat. Or you can make up a variety of sandwiches in advance, then let the kids choose which they want. Remember to ask parents about any potential allergies before you plan your food menu, too.
Additional Playground Birthday Party Tips
Playground birthday parties are simple, fun ways to celebrate your child without driving yourself crazy with the details.
Here are a few final tips to help you make sure your party is as hitch-free as possible.
1. Bring Along Some Extra Entertainment
When you host a park party, it’s a good idea to bring a few extra activities to keep kids occupied on the off chance the playground doesn’t hold their attention. You can bring things like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a soccer ball or kickball, or even a few jump ropes.
2. Find the Restrooms
Any parent will tell you that one of the first things they look for when they arrive at a new place is the bathroom. It doesn’t take long before someone will need to use the restroom, especially at a party where food and drinks are being served. Help your guests by finding the bathroom in advance. In fact, we recommend inquiring about restrooms when you reserve your picnic shelter. Depending on the park, choosing a shelter that’s in close proximity to a bathroom may make things a lot easier on the day of the party.
3. Pack a First Aid Kit
Where there are kids, there are accidents — anything from a knee scrape to a bee sting, and everything in between. Having a first aid kit on hand will help you dry tears and have your young party guests back in action in no time.
The Best Park Birthday Party Ideas Start With Playworld®
Scientific research confirms what we’ve known for years — play is an essential part of a child’s development and well-being. Playworld® does more than just design and build playground equipment. We strive to create play structures that strengthen kids’ bodies and minds. We are proud to see children using our equipment as they learn to share with their friends, exercise their powers of imagination and grow stronger as they run, jump, climb and swing.
Playworld is proud to design safe, inclusive play structures for schools, community parks, daycares, religious institutions and more. If your school or organization is preparing to build or redesign its play space, let us help you create the right design for the children you serve. Contact Playworld to get started today.