I know there are many of us out there that don’t have parties at home, either by choice or necessity. A great alternative location is your local park or playground. They almost always have tables and chairs, open space, and equipment for climbing. Most parks do require you to apply for a permit, and they may have rules for activities and decor, so check your local parks department website before you send out invites. Alyson requested some ideas for her upcoming playground party (she’s dealing with decoration limitations along with food/heat issues), so Jen and I put our heads together to see what we could come up with!


1. Chicken Wrap – Do all of the food prep in advance (and keep the kid stuff simple). You’ll thank yourself later.
2. Watermelon Sticks – Fact: kids will eat anything on a stick.
Other ideas: Boxed lunches are amazing for the super-hostess, or you can go with my personal chef, aka the pizza delivery man.

Snacks & Dessert
3. Single Serve Ice Cream – You can buy these in multipacks at your local grocery or big box store. They pack well into a cooler and you don’t have to kill your arm to scoop individual ice cream servings.
4. Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes – Self-contained servings of cake are always a big hit (we had these at Annie’s first birthday).
5. Marshmallow Pops – Get paper straws and candy melts in your party’s colors to tie it all together.
Other ideas: Fruit skewers are yummy, healthy, and low-mess. Veggie trays are great for adults, and pretzels with hummus is delicious. Don’t forget baby wipes and/or hand sanitizer!

Decor & Favors
6. Balloon Tree – These are easy to do yourself. Just tie inflated balloons to wooden dowels, then stick them into multicolored buckets filled with sand or rocks.
7. Sand Pails – Multifunctional! Sand pails make great party decor, can entertain the kids during the festivities, and are perfect favor bags.
Other ideas: Tape butcher paper to picnic tables, provide crayons, and let your little guests do the decorating! Styrofoam cup typography is rad – spell out the birthday kid’s name! LOVE the idea of tying up ribbons around the party. If you have access to a helium tank, make a balloon arch! PinwheelsPersonalized pinwheels! Bubbles! Sidewalk chalk! Okay, I’ll stop now.

8. Kite Kit – These are so clever! And they’re a two-for-one: party activity and favor!
9. Bean Bag Toss – Very easy DIY game. You can buy large plastic bowls here, and bean bags here.
Other ideas: A nature scavenger hunt is fun (PS I went to college with Shannon. Hi, Shannon!). Water games are great on hot days. Paper airplane flying

I LOVE seeing the ideas you’ve all come up with, so leave them (along with any theme requests) in the comments below!