If you’ve ever organized a birthday party for kids, you probably have the rules down pat: no matter how delicious the hot dogs and ice cream cake there will always be at least one child with explosive allergies, once dessert is served you’ve got twenty minutes to get the parents back before the party devolves into anarchy, and the more space you have the better. Kids don’t sip tea and chat about current events at their parties. They run wild, and that’s the entire point of a party after all. But if the weather allows and you have access, keeping the party out in the backyard will always be preferable. You’ll save a ton of cleanup, minimize the chance of any real destruction and give the kids plenty of leeway to run themselves ragged and get as dirty as time and their dress clothes allow. But that doesn’t mean you can simply open the back door and usher them outside. Here are five fun backyard activities to try out at the next kid’s birthday party.
The sack race may have been around for a hundred-odd years, but there’s a reason for that longevity. It’s a ton of fun! All you need are potato sacks, which you can find at a party supply store. If you have the time and energy you can decorate the sacks to fit your child or the theme of the party. Then you give them out, note a start and an end point and let the kids hop themselves silly. It’s a great way to exhaust the precious little ones and get them in the mood for an afternoon of fun. But consider this a pre-meal activity. All that hopping can have some ugly side effects. A scavenger hunt is another awesome party activity. Basically, you’ll give the kids a list of things they have to find, a container to keep them in and a time limit. It’s a good idea to have a couple of other grownups around to act as chaperones and to explain anything complicated to the younger children. Set them up in teams of two or three, and give them tools like a disposable camera or a magnifying glass to add to the fun. But try to come up with items that can all be found within the confines of the yard, or items you can plant there. And don’t forget a prize for the team that finishes the fastest.
If the party’s going down in the heat of summer water games will always be a huge hit. Just make sure you let the parents know their kids will need a change of clothes. If you have a pool you can sink prizes (shallow end for the little ones, deep end for the older kids) like little toys and ‘treasures’ for the kids to uncover. Give everyone goggles and a snorkel to add to the fun. If you don’t have a pool the kids can still have a wet and wild time. Get a Slip n’ Slide attached to your sprinklers, hand out water guns for a liquid battle or just play Tag with the hose. On a hot day any soaking wet activities will be a hit. You should also consider any game that involves balloons. Kids never tire of the pop of an exploding balloon, and they are so inexpensive you can buy a ton of them to last the whole party.
On summer days you can have a water balloon toss, which always ends in laughter. A simple game of stomping on balloons also seems to keep the kids entertained. Finally, consider hiring someone to make the kids balloon animals as well as teach them to make their own. They get to bring home their efforts as an added bonus. There are certain backyard activities that bring an elevated level of expense. Kids will always love trampolines, ball pits or the sort of massive wooden playhouse you’d find at the park. But there are tons of simple games as well. And those can be best in the end. Consider the classics, such as pin the tail on the donkey, Twister or even smashing a piñata to round out the day. It doesn’t have to be expensive to captivate the party guests. After all, kids would play with dirt all afternoon if left to themselves. As long as you keep the treats flowing you’ll be fine with any simple party game.