Partying In The Park

The best venue for your child’s party might be at the end of your street, writes Claire Yezbak Fadden.

Is your home too small to accommodate 10 seven year olds running around? Or are you the kind of mum who wants to be more hands-on with party activities? Maybe your budget won’t stretch to a play centre this year.

Then take your celebration to the park. It’s the perfect venue: there’s built-in entertainment, room to roam, and the best part is you won’t have to clean your house before or after the event. “As the mother of a four year old and a two year old, I’m in the middle of those busy birthday-party years,” says Melissa Kovacs. “Some weekends we have two or three. From the many parties that I’ve gone to this year, I’ve definitely seen a trend away from home parties.”

If considering taking your celebration outdoors, try the following ideas for an enjoyable fun party in the park.

  • Build-Your-Own Ice-cream Sundae: Everyone loves a bowl of ice-cream. At this party, the guests (with mum’s help) swirl whipped cream on to their ice-cream and choose their favourite topping and sprinkles and lollies to put on top. “I was so glad I had this party at the park,” says Kovacs. “The spills and thrills of toppings and ice-cream were thoroughly enjoyed and I didn’t worry about the mess.”
  • In The Jungle: For the cost of a panel of plywood and some paint, you can create a jungle-themed wooden stand-up. Invite guests to put their head through the hole to pose as a monkey (or any other animal you choose to paint). You can include the photos in the thank-you notes. Lolly-bag ideas: animal-shaped biscuits, small stuffed animals or stickers.
  • Special-event Birthdays: Does your child have a birthday near a special time of the year? If so, let that be your theme. Consider a Halloween costume party for your child born in October, or for an Easter-weekend event, host an egg-decorating party.
  • I’m Sherlock Holmes: A spy-themed party is a guaranteed winner. Each guest makes their own version of a deerstalker hat from newspaper, is given a detective kit (comprising a magnifying glass, a list of clues, a notebook and a pen) and sent on a pre-arranged, supervised scavenger hunt throughout the park.
  • Old MacDonald: Bring this long-time favourite song to life with a farm-animal themed party. Invite everyone to wear overalls, sit on hay bales and eat corn on the cob. Inexpensive bandannas can double as party bags and be filled with plastic farm animals to take home.
  1. It’s A Fairytale: Hire your teenage babysitter to dress up as a fairy and entertain the guests by reading books about fairies to the kids. Silver or gold glitter in small bottles can double as fairy dust. Guests can make magic wands and crowns. For boys, have a fireman or cowboy reader, and select stories that match your theme.