Kids parties are so cute. As if picking out playful themes, decor and party food wasn’t fun enough, seeing a bunch of delighted faces is an added bonus. It probably helps that the younger kids are, the easier they are to please. However, there’s a flip-side to that: it seems that the smaller a human is, the bigger the mess they’re capable of creating!
This is probably the reason why kids garden party ideas are always popular – it’s much easier to clean cake and crayons off of a patio than carpet! In fact, as long as you’ve got half-decent weather, wrangling toddlers or young kids is always going to be easier (and usually safer) in a confined outside space.
Plus, after the craziness of 2020, we can all appreciate how much easier it is to stay socially distant in the great outdoors. Even when this pandemic is no longer a problem, kids are forever picking up sniffles and bugs, so it won’t hurt to minimise the spread a little bit!
Planning a kids party in the garden is basically the same as planning one indoors, but there are ways you can be a little bit more creative (if you want). Here’s a reminder of all the steps you need to follow, plus a whole list of photos and suggestions for kids garden party ideas if you need some inspiration!
What do you need for a kids garden party?
Any party requires a bit of planning, so having a checklist can help you stay on track. This is a rough guide you can follow for a simple party (with more detailed tips below):
- Choose your party features
- Pick a theme
- Plan a rough schedule
- Buy/make decorations
- Send out invites
- Arrange entertainment
- Come up with some games
- Prepare supplies (food, drinks, plates etc.)
- Think about seating and food stations
- Get everything set up on the day
Kids Garden Party Features
Keeping a gaggle of children occupied is much easier when your party has an exciting focal point, like a bouncy castle or paddling pool. It doesn’t have to be something big – you could create craft stations, or a garden obstacle course if you would prefer something DIY. Of course, you don’t have to have a “feature” at all, but it really can help you exhaust high-energy kids and provide an ongoing activity between organised games, eating and resting.
Even in the digital age, bouncy castles still take the crown for best garden party entertainment.
On a hot day, having a pool or two set up is a great way to help kids stay cool. Make the water more exciting with balls, inflatables, pool noodles, plastic toys and water-pistols. Remember, if it’s really sunny, keep as much of your garden shaded as possible and keep sunblock handy!
Even if you’ve never done it before, face-painting is easier than it looks, especially if you choose a few designs you feel comfortable offering. You could always hire a professional (or rope in a creative teenager for a bargain price, if you happen to know one).
Garden obstacle courses can challenge kids mentally and physically if you plan them right. We’ve got lots of obstacle course tips if you need them!
Themes for a Kids Garden Party
Choosing a party theme is a fun opportunity for you and your child to be imaginative together. Start by choosing a handful of theme ideas that you’d be comfortable working with, and then involve your kid in the creative process, asking for ways they’d like their chosen theme to be brought to life. Look for inspiration in class kids’ characters as well as your child’s favourite books, films or TV shows.
Create a magical wonderland with pretty garden lighting, bright colours, flowers and butterflies. Use floral runners across your table tops, and encourage party guests to dress up as their favourite fairy-tale characters to fit the theme. If you’re trying to recreate Alice’s wonderland, be sure to decorate with teacups and playing cards, too!
For the adventurous animal lover, try building an exciting safari-theme. You can craft decorative leaves and vines using a variety of paper, and keep kids entertained with an animal-themed treasure hunt!
In hot weather, break out the paddling pool, water pistols and water balloons to keep kids cool. If you have a sprinkler system, even better! Add inflatables for that poolside vibe, but make sure to keep an eye on slippery surfaces. It’s also a good idea to warn parents that your party guests will need spare clothes!
Most children have a favourite superhero to inspire them – why not pay homage with the theme of their party? It’s a perfect excuse to build a garden cinema and watch a film once the energy starts to dwindle. Use the hero’s outfit to decide your colour scheme, and offer face painting so kids can wear their own “mask” for the party!
Plan a rough schedule
How long do you want the party to last? Toddlers can typically endure 3-4 hours before getting exhausted, and as kids get older you might be able to stretch to half-days a full days (if you want to). You might even want to host an overnight sleepover or garden camping party if you’re feeling brave!
However long your party is planned for, make sure to include time for structured games, refreshments, and less-structured play.
Garden Party Decorations for Kids
Regardless of the garden party theme you select, you’ll find that decor is almost always cheaper when it’s DIY or made using things you already own. If you’re picking up materials for party decor, you can’t go wrong with these ideas.
Origami is a beautiful way to decorate a party. There are thousands of tutorials for flowers, birds, butterflies and all kinds of other shapes online. Once you get the hang of folding a particular design, you might surprise yourself with how many you can make in a short space of time! Learning some simple origami patterns could be a fun party activity, and it’s a low-cost item to include in a party bag. Plus, as long as your paper isn’t coated, you can simply recycle or compost your decor when you’re done.
Lots of kids love pretty, shiny sequins, and they can be the perfect way to playfully sprinkle some colour in your garden. Choose confetti made from organic materials, like dried petals or recycled paper.
Not everyone is blessed with a lot of outdoor space. If you’re only working with a patio or courtyard, consider buying some synthetic turf to cover the party area temporarily. Not only will it make your garden look more welcoming, it’ll provide a softer surface in case anyone takes a tumble, and is super-easy to hose-clean at the end of the day. It also makes a fun cover for other surfaces, too!
Streamers & Bunting
Fences and trees are perfect candidates for hanging streamers, bunting and fairy lights. You can create a very pretty effect with very low-cost materials and careful draping – choose colours to match your theme and you’re all set!
Depending on the occasion, you should generally aim to send invites out 3-4 weeks ahead of time. You may want to err on the side of caution and send them earlier, but remember that other parents have busy lives and it might just make your invite fall off their mental to-do list! The only exception is if you’re sending invites in school bags – in which case, factor in school holidays and send invites before the break if your party falls just after.
Entertainment for kids garden parties can come in many forms. If you’re keeping an eye on budget, you can simply look up a party playlist and get the tunes pumping. For special occasions, you might look at hiring some specialists.
Character impersonators are increasingly popular, with little boys and girls equally loving the chance to hang out with their favourite hero or princess for an hour or two at home. Theatrical performers – like magicians and clowns – can also be a wonderful idea, depending on your child’s comfort.
Did you know you can even hire petting zoos that can bring small animals to your garden party? Companies offer everything from adorable bunnies and fluffy chickens to fascinating tarantulas and lizards!
Games & Activities
When you’re planning your kids garden party ideas, remember that a variety of games is essential. Try to pick a handful of games (and have a couple of back-ups) that play to different strengths and personalities.
Classics like musical statues, pass-the-parcel and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey are all still perfectly acceptable, and can easily be tweaked to fit whatever theme you choose. Simply switch up the music to an appropriate soundtrack, use themed wrapping paper and draw (or print) the shape of a character and their logo, tail, hat or other accessory.
For something a bit different, try this doughnut-eating contest with a twist. Tie a length of string around the branches from a tree (or the struts of a pergola), and attach a doughnut on the other end. Make sure both ends are tied securely and are at roughly child-height! You should have one doughnut for each child, then time them to see who can eat their doughnut without using their hands the fastest! (Understandably, this one’s a hit with the adults too, so you might want to save some doughnuts to have a go later).
Not every game has to have an individual winner though, and collaborative games are a good way to encourage kids to make new friends. Try giving them simple building materials (like lollipop sticks and masking tape) to build the tallest tower. If you need them to burn off some extra energy, tug-of-war, three-legged races and team obstacle courses can all boost bonding.
Of course, activities don’t have to be competitive at all. Letting kids be creative with some low-cost craft materials can keep them busy for hours. Depending on the season, you might be able to use natural materials from your garden (like conkers and dried leaves), or some coloured paper, newspaper, paint and glue.
Just don’t forget the golden rule: if in doubt, bring out the bubbles.
Preparing Food & Drinks
Party food can be a little tricky. On one hand, you don’t want to just feed everyone tons of sugar but on the other, kids might outright refuse to eat anything that doesn’t appeal to them. The key thing to remember is that kids generally like foods that are familiar to them, and try to aim for small bits and pieces that are easy to eat.
It’s definitely worth checking in with other parents about food allergies – you could include a note on your invitations.
- Mini sausage rolls / cocktail sausages
- Chopped up veggies, like red pepper, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots
- Chicken nuggets (you can get vegan ones that taste identical)
- Finger sandwiches (with simple fillings, clearly labelled – cheese, ham, jam, egg)
- Pizza squares or mini pizzas
Sweet party treats:
I don’t care which tribe of healthy-eaters you subscribe to, a kids’ party isn’t complete without a little bit of sugar in one form or another. Of course, there is some room for balance:
- Flavoured jelly (you can use a novelty cake mould to make it more exciting)
- Classic biscuits – party rings, pink wafers, custard creams
- Cake – cupcakes or a full-sized cake is up to you!
- Flapjacks, brownies or other tray bakes
- Gummy sweets that match your theme
- Chopped fruit like strawberries, grapes, apple and melon
Kids garden party drinks
Include some beverages in your party planning, especially if it’s going to be a hot day. Water should be always accessible (you could make it look more appetising by adding fresh fruit and ice), and having some squash is a good idea too. Most kids love fizzy drinks, but you’re under no obligation to keep them topped up on sugar all afternoon (their parents will thank you for it, at least).
Tidying tip: Mess is inevitable, but if you keep some paper towels or cloths handy, you can catch any spillages quickly. It’s also useful to keep a bin bag nearby so you can tidy a little bit of mess as you go along. You’re also allowed to politely ask the kids to deal with their own rubbish – which can be a fun recycling lesson before the party resumes!
It’s not just a matter of what your little party-goers will eat, it’s where they’ll eat it, too. If your guests are old enough to self-serve, a picnic bench or trestle table can be a perfect buffet-style stand. Let kids make a lap of the table and then sit on blankets, cushions or the good ol’ grass while they munch.
It’s not a bad idea to keep food under a gazebo or other garden shelter if you’re serving outside. If you’re going to let kids graze for an hour or so, check that you’ve got covers and lids to keep bugs away.
Get Set Up On The Day
The final hurdle is getting everything set up before your party starts. When thinking about your garden layout, make sure to leave plenty of open spaces where kids can run around and enjoy themselves. The whole party area should be easily supervised – block off any out-of-bounds areas if you need to, and make sure you’ve always got eyes on hazards.
Putting food areas near to the house saves snacks from being dropped across the garden and will make tidying up slightly easier at the end of the day. It’s also a good idea to put the messiest activities far away from the house, but bring out a washing up bowl as a hand-washing station if you need to!
With a bit of creativity and planning, there are so many ways you can transform your garden into a magical space for adventure. These kids garden party ideas are really just the launch-point for creating a memorable, fun-filled day that you can enjoy as much as your little ones!