How to Host a Playground Birthday Party

Posted in Kids, Mom Life, Parenting, party by

I’m a big fan of the playground birthday party.  It’s kind of no-brainer, when you think about it. Kids+cake+playground=party.  Bonus:  It’s free, and there’s no blue frosting mess in your house.

(Planning a party? Check out Outside the Box Locations for Birthdays and Easy Birthday Favors everyone will love.)

Where I live, there is probably a city park within every 5 mile radius.  We’re lucky.  Most of them have at least one covered picnic area with tables, if not several, and in some cases, charcoal grills.  There is usually a playground, and sometimes adjacent soccer fields or basketball courts.  A few of the larger Parks and Rec areas can actually be reserved ($), otherwise it’s available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

You have to gamble with the weather…and that will surely give you a few gray hairs in the days leading up to your party.  Develop a back-up plan (ideas to come) and consider this PRO list for an outdoor party:


  • You can invite as many people as you want!  We invited a lot of family friends and included siblings in many cases. The more the merrier!IMG_2024
  • No need to develop activities, games or crafts… I promise the kids will have no trouble coming up with plenty of fun running around together.  Fun is built right in at a playground/park.
  • Clean up is a breeze!  Most parks have trashcans, and whatever crumbs you leave behind the birds will gladly handle for you.
  • Sidewalk chalk!  This was a big hit at our party.
  • If there is a grill at the park (or maybe you own a portable one), you can grill hot dogs (it’s cheaper than ordering pizza!).  But depending on the time of day, you don’t have to provide a meal.  Schedule your party in the morning or afternoon and you can just do snacks.
  • A playground makes a great back drop for an adorable group shot of all kids at the party!  They can hang all over it – so cute!
  • BYOB – that’s balls, not beer.  Invite kids to bring their own outdoor stuff – whatever they like to play with.
  • It’s free!  Unless you choose to rent/reserve a pavilion area (may or may not be possible  in your city – look into it.)  Of course, your party supplies and treats will cost money, but it’s still far cheaper than a party place.


  • The weather.  In Texas we have a saying that whatever the forecast is…just wait 5 minutes and it will change. I’ve lived here all my life and I swear this is 100% true.  (It must be depressing to be a weatherman in Texas.) Anyway, I’ve hosted several outdoor parties, and never had to cancel one yet!  But we always have a backup plan just in case.  If your invitations are via Evite or another online system, it’s very easy to send an update to your guests regarding a weather-related venue change.  Ideas:  Meet at an ice cream place, buy each kid a cone and open presents.  Meet at the Mall food court and set up your party plates, tablecloths, cake, etc at a group of tables.  (Our mall has a carousel, so that’s a fun bonus.)  If your guest list is reasonable you could go bowling or meet for a movie.  Naturally, the easiest backup plan could be your house.
  • Very often the park pavilions are first come, first served.  We always send someone ahead to snag our party spot early.  Our grandparents were happy to bring a book and hang out for a little while before got there to set up. So sweet!
  • You have to share the playground with the general public.  (No big deal.)


  • image2Party favor ideas for an outdoor party:  balls, bubbles, jump ropes…things they can use at the party, and fit your outdoor theme. Oriental Trading company is a great source for inflatable balls that are inexpensive and easy to pass out.  Dollar Tree is a great place for bubbles.  I found these cute colorful balls at Super Target (see pic at right), and some colorful bubbles at a party store.image3
  • Buy a large pallet of water, Capri-Suns, and individual packs of chips and/or fruit snacks.  Easy peasy.  (I much prefer to give each child their own bag of chips than have all the kids sharing germs in a large bowl.  Blechk!)
  • A few parties ago I decided to only buy the small squatty bottles of water, instead of the full-size ones.  Have you ever noticed how people only drink a little of it, then misplace it, and grab another?  We were always throwing away near-full bottles of water after parties.  So now I buy the short bottles.  Of course people can take another if they need more.
  • Bring heavy duty tape in case it’s a windy day.  Great for keeping those plastic tablecloths on the tables, or securing balloons.  Also bring scissors, matches/lighter for candles, and bags or a wagon to bring home the birthday presents.
  • Bring sidewalk chalk, balls, jump ropes, etc. and/or encourage your party guests to bring their favorite outdoor stuff as well. We had a couple of kids bring basketballs and kites.  It was so much fun!
  • Determine where the nearest bathroom is, if there isn’t one at the park/playground.
  • Wouldn’t hurt to bring band-aids in case any of scraped knees.

Our most recent birthday party inspired me to schedule a family and friends potluck soon! Ever since we had kids, we hardly ever spend time with our friends.  We’re always saying to one another that we want to get together, but it’s difficult to schedule hosting a dinner party, and expensive to get a babysitter to go out.  So, rather than put the burden of hosting on either of us, we’re going to simply pick an afternoon or evening to meet a park, bring some food and let the kids play while we catch up with one another.  Easy breezy, and no one has to lose a whole Saturday cooking and cleaning their house to get ready for company!

Let us know if you host a playground/outdoor birthday party, and share your tips and pics with us! Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more Kid friendly Ideas.


Looing for a cheap birthday party location? Try the park! It's usually free (or really cheap) and has built in fun for all ages. See all about how to host a park birthday party

April 14, 2016
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  • Reply Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

    I’ve never done a playground party but after two boys at my daughter’s last party nearly destroyed my house, I think we’re done with at home parties…LOL! I love these ideas and also the fact that you wouldn’t have to plan a lot of games. The “goodies” are perfect too! I’m going to have to try this for our next one.

    April 15, 2016 at 7:20 am
    • Reply Shannon

      Yes! It’s built in fun for kids of all ages! You also don’t have to keep the list small because you can have tons of kids at the park. Parent like it too because the kids will be worn out after 🙂

      April 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm
  • Reply Stacey

    Such fun tips! My kids love the park, so I think this would be a great way to celebrate one of their birthdays next year 🙂

    April 15, 2016 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Heather @ Simply Save

    I’ve been to a few for young cousins and they always have a great time!

    April 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm
    • Reply Shannon

      If you can have nice weather it really is the way to go!

      April 16, 2016 at 6:29 pm
  • Reply Aileen

    These are some great tips! I’ve always been hesitant to host a park party because I felt like I would have to schlep so much stuff. You make it seem so easy and I am totally over cleaning up my house before and after parties.

    April 16, 2016 at 4:22 pm
    • Reply Shannon

      I always have a big bucket I start putting stuff in. It’s easy to carry and then everything is in one place. Don’t clean your house! Have it outside!

      April 16, 2016 at 6:29 pm
  • Reply Amila

    I really like to plan different birthday parties.This sounds great for kids parties.Once I organized a Birthday party in a park for my niece.That went very well too.Thanks for sharing these tips and ideas.Really helpful and informative.

    April 17, 2016 at 6:22 pm
  • Reply Faye

    Fun tips! I’ve always wanted to do a park party, but my kids’ birthdays are in the winter…. That said, we are in Southern California so the weather should cooperate. I’m going to try out some of your tips for the next birthday that rolls around!

    April 18, 2016 at 1:07 pm
  • Reply Angela @ Blooming On A Budget

    Winter birthdays here, too, so just a little jealous of how easy this looks! We’ve been to a few park parties before and the kids always sleep very well that night. Another win! 🙂

    April 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm
    • Reply Shannon

      Yes! They do wear out and sleep well. That’s a huge advantage!!

      April 20, 2016 at 8:12 am
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    May 10, 2016 at 1:58 am
  • Reply Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama

    Great points here! We’re having my girls’ joint birthday party at the park in a few weeks. We’re definitely bringing fun things to play with – but best of all, there’s a splash pad right next to the pavilion we rented! Score!

    June 27, 2016 at 7:51 pm
    • Reply Shannon

      Oh that’s perfect! The kids will just love that!! Have a great time!

      June 29, 2016 at 10:13 am
  • Reply Erin @ Stay at Home Yogi

    We’re actually going to be attending a park/playground birthday party this coming Saturday! My three year old is so excited! Birthdays and the park are his favorite things in life! lol
    I love BYOB – Bring your own ball! 🙂

    September 15, 2016 at 3:54 am
  • Reply Slescoto

    Great tips! I decided to have my son’s 2nd Birthday at the park this year and have been wondering if I made this right decision.

    January 16, 2017 at 12:56 am
  • Reply Party Planner

    Such a unique, awesome party idea! I really like the party favor ideas and the checklist is very helpful. Bookmarked this page and looking forward to applying these myself.

    January 26, 2017 at 5:19 pm
  • Reply Jennifer

    Instead on tape use butterfly clips to keep tablecloths from flying away. Just clip the clothes to the edges of the table.

    January 20, 2018 at 8:02 am
  • Reply Tracey Doss

    Hi hon. We are doing a graduation party for our son. Because we live an hour away from his friends, we are going to go to Miami Whitewater Forest where this is midpoint. We are inviting all of his friends and our family. We have reserved shelter, have a grill, and its the largest shelter with a bathroom. We also have horseshoes, volleyball, and a huge shaded area for our older adults.

    March 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm
  • Reply Alejandra

    Last year i celebrated my son’s first birthday at a park. It was very windy that day. More that i was expecting but overall we had fun. This year we are doing it again. But we will have someone to go early and save our spot last year we got there and the spot we wanted was already taken, it was a little disappointing but we made the best of it after all.
    Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions

    April 23, 2018 at 10:38 am
  • Reply Burt Silver

    These are some really great ideas for throwing a party for your child. So many great things to do with them and taking them out to a playground is a great idea to keep them all contained to a space. My wife and I want to throw a party for our 7-year-old son and we think he would love to have puppets or something like that of people he likes to role model. We’ll have to look into finding a service that can assist with that maybe.

    May 4, 2018 at 1:12 pm
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