Parents, are you tired of shelling out big bucks for your child's friends to participate in some expensive activity -- video arcade, skating, paint ball -- that comes with unhealthy food and a strict time limit? Are you unable to invite all the kids you would like or who are in your child's class because of cost? Consider having your child's next party at home, in your own backyard or at another free outside venue close to home.
In this day and age, when people spend hundreds of dollars -- a recent suggested average is $370 -- on a kids' party, it's tempting to step away and do something more low-key. Here are a few ideas to have a great, and different, outdoor birthday:
1. Do it after dark.
If your kids are old enough, start the party in the evening and use outdoor candle lanterns for cool, inexpensive lighting as it gets darker. Enjoy cake by candle light. Break out the glow sticks and set up some games that are fun in the twilight, like a scavenger hunt by flashlight (get inexpensive flashlights that the kids get to keep as favors) or a dance competition.
2. Don't mind the weather.
One of the biggest reasons why parents don't host parties in the backyard is the threat of bad weather. Unless your birthday celebration is during the time of year when temperatures will be below freezing, host a "dress for the weather" party. Encourage rain coats and boots if there's inclement weather, and let the kids play in puddles, get soaked during a game of tag and dig in the mud for buried treasure. Hose off the kids and end with cake and hot chocolate indoors or under cover. Of course, if it's sunny, you'll have to have a contingency plan.
3. Go to the park.
Your backyard's not big enough for everyone? Visit a local park instead. The benefits: built-in play areas or playground equipment, and a shelter or covered area in case of rain. Some municipalities even let you rent or reserve the covered space so you're guaranteed to get it. Set up an obstacle course and grill hot dogs. Outdoor candle lanterns can be fun here too if the party lasts past dinner time.
4. Set up the sprinkler.
Planning a party in the warmer months? Borrow a variety of sprinklers and water toys from friends and family, or purchase a few types. Let the kids bring their swimsuits and play on a water slide or join in a game of tag through the sprinklers. For added fun, buy some inexpensive squirt guns or encourage the attendees to bring their own super water guns for some fun fights.
5. Get on wheels.
Have a bike rodeo! Attendees bring their bicycles, scooters or skateboards to a local park or track and ride until they're worn out. Set up speed trials, fun riding routes and a grassy area to try tricks. Make sure participants have proper helmets as well as knee and elbow pads. After the kids are tired of rolling around, have a bike decorating contest followed by cupcakes.
Parties for kids don't have to be at the local arcade to be fun. Set up a great time for play and you'll find that all the kids will be talking about your party for days!