Kids love outdoor parties, whether to celebrate a birthday, a milestone, or just for the heck of it. But luring children outdoors has become more challenging in the age of internet and game consoles.
Health experts say today’s kids spend less time outdoors than any previous generation. That means they miss out on sunshine, exercise, and face-to-face socialization. So, how do you entice a kid to leave the Xbox and venture to the backyard for a couple of hours?
You’ll find no shortage of outdoor games at stores and online. The trick is finding ones that will pique your children’s interest. You don’t have to spend a lot to engage the kids. In fact, getting your kids involved in the creative process of the party will prod their interest and give them a sense of ownership. Involve them in picking a theme, making decorations and baking or buying the cake.
Here are six tips for throwing the ultimate home backyard party for kids:
1. Clean It Up! Make sure your yard is cleaned, trimmed, and free of hazards such as sharp objects and burrs and stickers. Get a head start in the winter so your lawn will be in great shape for summer parties.
2. Know when to call it quits. Nothing takes the glow off the party like having it drag out too long. Rule of thumb is that 90 minutes is the max for small children, two hours for older kids. Put the times on invitations so everybody knows when to break it up.
3. Think with your eyes and ears. We live in an age of vibrant graphics and dazzling animation. The more color and movement you can add to the backyard, the more likely you are to engage a child. Streamers, balloons, and pinwheels are cheap. Kids are accustomed to soundtracks. Play age-appropriate music — just not so loud that the neighbors complain.
4. Put your game face on. Sure, you can buy all sorts of outdoor games, but a little ingenuity can save you money and make things more fun. A new twist on the old horseshoes game is to make one child the “stake” and have others try to throw inflated pool rings around him. An interesting spin on a pinata game is to tape a plastic bag of goodies on one child’s back and have the others chase her around to try to grab it. Seeing how long a huddle of half-pints can keep a balloon from touching the ground makes for gobs of goofiness and excellent exercise. Your imagination is your only limit!
5. Do yourself a favor. One ingenious mom took a picture of all the kids mugging the camera as the party started. She then printed them and put them in small frames for each child to take home. That’s likely to last longer than a few pieces of candy and a plastic trinket. Think outside the little gift box.
6. Don’t leave guests guessing. If your youngster is having a party, chances are he or she will get presents from family, too. Parents can be uncomfortable not knowing if their child is expected to bring a gift to the party. A note on the invitation that says, “Your presence is the only gift needed” can put them at ease and make the party more enjoyable for everyone!
Kids whose birthdays fall in winter can feel left out of the backyard fun. One work-around for this is to have small indoor parties for each child in the family on their birthdays, then throw one big outdoor bash for all when the weather warms up.
Emma Bishop is a lifestyle and design writer, and mother of two beautiful girls. She is a social butterfly and loves to entertain guests at home with beautifully decorated spaces for any occasion.
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