Tips for Planning a Kids Party at the Park or Playground

Children on swings in a playground at a park birthday party. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

If the thought of planning the next birthday party for your kids fills you with dread – look no further than your local park playground.

Hosting a birthday party at the park or playground is usually free – yippee! OK sure, you’ll still have to front the cost of food, decorations and party favours, but these are a given if you’re DIY-ing a party anyway. It’s still going to be loads cheaper than hiring an indoor party venue, or a kids entertainer.

Another major plus is that there’s no need to clean and tidy your home to welcome a swarm of kids and their parents. Since you won’t be limited by the space of your home, you don’t have to worry about how many friends your kid wants to invite. The more the merrier!

With a park party, the kids will make their own fun with all the playground equipment and space to burn off all their energy- no need to find activities or party games to entertain them for several hours.

Have I convinced you yet? (I was sold at ‘free’ and ‘no cleaning’ 🙂

The biggest downside of course will be weather, but with a bit of extra planning, you can be assured a simple, fun party that all the kids will have a ball at. Here are some tips to make sure it’s a stress-free affair.

How to throw a playground birthday party

Scout out the perfect playground location

Check out your local area for the best parks and playgrounds that might suit. Definitely find one that has bathroom facilities (that one’s pretty essential!)

If you prefer, some parks may offer barbecue and possibly picnic tables and shelters, which you might like to use. It’s quite unlikely you’ll be able to book these, as they’re generally on a first-come-first-served basis – but check with your local council or park management group.

If you’re wanting a table, shelter or barbecue/grill, these could be in high demand. Prepare to get there well in advance of the party, and snag it. If you have a relative or friend who is able to help by getting there early to reserve a spot, all the better (it can be ruthless!)

You might even consider a recon mission in the weeks prior to scope out just ‘how’ early you need to be to nab a table or shelter, and to check out the facilities.

Consider a backup plan in case you miss out – fold-up tables, portable barbecues (if they’re allowed) and portable shade tents might work in a pinch, if all park facilities are occupied.

Nail the guest list

With almost unlimited space at the playground, your child may have a huge list of friends they want to invite!

With the guests, just remember:

  • As they RSVP, remember to store and organise their phone numbers. Particularly the case with school friends (as you may not have the contact details for all the parents), having these as organised lists and contacts in your phone will make life easier in the event of cancellation due to bad weather.
  • Check for allergies – there’s a plethora of allergies out there, it’s always good to check and to make sure you might have something for them as part of your catering.
  • If your location is at a large or busy park, it may be worthwhile asking parents if they can stay to help supervise their kids. This is a given for younger kids anyway, but considering there may be multiple parties at the park – once the kids start running around it’s not difficult to lose track of them all. Having extra pairs of parental eyes on the young ones will make things less stressful!

Keep the food catering simple

Keep things simple when it comes to the food. Kids are simple creatures anyway, and with no doubt they’ll be too busy having fun to be too picky!

If you have a morning or afternoon party, it is easier to keep the catering limited to snack foods. Think about cold finger foods (the kids will likely grab something and run) and individually wrapped items (a little worse for the environment, but loads better for hygiene and portability).

Some park birthday party food ideas include:

  • Mini sandwiches
  • Muffins
  • Small packets of chips or popcorn
  • Fruit kebabs
  • Crackers and dips

If you’re hosting a party around a main meal time such as lunch, then guests might be expecting catering to be a little more substantial. It’s still possible to keep it simple though:

  • BBQ sausages and kebabs on the barbecue/grill
  • Takeaway pizza (someone might have to do a pizza run part way into the party, or find out if delivery to a park location is possible)
  • Chicken salad rolls – some cold roasted chicken with cut up salads and bread rolls

As for the pièce de résistance of any kids party (AKA the birthday cake), having cupcakes might save you the trouble of taking and cutting up a large birthday cake. Whichever you choose – don’t forget to bring the candles, and some matches or a lighter.

What supplies to bring for a park party

If you’re not already a list person, then consider making a supplies checklist for your park birthday party.

A DIY party at a park playground is an easy option, however a challenge is that you’re away from home and need to take EVERYTHING with you.

Have a ‘party at the park’ checklist of everything you need on the day will make things less stressful. I don’t know about you, but I am TOTALLY prone to forgetting things when the kids are barraging us with questions and over-excitement when we’re trying to get the family out the door.

If you can avoid a frantic trip back home to get something when you realise you’ve forgotten it at the park, then go the checklist!

Here are some considerations for things you may need.


How to decorate a birthday party in the park? Well – apart from the actual decorations of your choosing (balloons, streamers, banners, etc), consider that you’re at the mercy of the open weather in the park – so this means crazy gusts of wind, potentially. You may need extra:

  • Tape
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Weights (or things to hold down a table-cloth, if you have one)


Depending on how you are catering, apart from the actual food you may need to consider:

  • Paper plates, cups and cutlery
  • Pallet of small water bottles, and small juice poppers
  • Serving tongs
  • Serviettes
  • BBQ tongs and equipment (foil, tray, paper towels)
  • Candles and matches/lighter for the cake
  • Knife – for the cake, if you’re bringing a large one
  • Marker/pen – always handy for people to label their plates and drinks
  • Ice – if it’s a hot day and you’re needing to keep drinks cool

Be prepared for accidents

Kids being kids, be prepared for accidents. These are the handy things you may want to bring with you, that you’d otherwise have on hand at home:

  • Hand sanitiser
  • Wipes
  • Bandaids
  • Antiseptic
  • Insect repellent
  • Tissues
  • Sunscreen
  • Toilet paper

Everything else

  • Large plastic tubs – this will make things easier to pack up all your items at the park, and you can use it with the ice to keep drinks cool
  • Rubbish bags
  • Fold up chairs or picnic mats

Have a park party weather backup plan

Having a backup party plan is essential, as rain can easily lay waste to any of the planning you’ve done to date!

There’s a couple of things you could do:

  1. Relocate – the most obvious location would be your own home, however for some of us it’s just not possible to cram that many people into our humble abodes!
  2. Postpone – perhaps consider an alternative date in advance, and include this date on the invitation. This way, guess will know what the back-up date is in the event of bad weather. The only issue here is that you could be unlucky and it might rain on backup date as well! Alternatively you might play it by ear and pick another date within the next week that has good weather, just expect that some of the guests may not be able to attend at the last minute. What doesn’t work so well with any postponed party is any pre-booked catering and cake, that cannot be rescheduled in time.
  3. Cancel – Whilst disappointing, there might be no way around it if you have limited options for relocating or postponing.
  4. Hybrid plan – This sounds complicated but it’s just a combination of the other backup options. For example, family and a few close friends could still come over to your home, and the park party is cancelled (or another date organised) for the remaining guests. Whilst it may not be the dream party at the park with all the guests, your child will at least be able to have a celebration on the day.

Regardless of which option you opt for, make sure you have all the phone numbers for the attending guests ready in your phone, so that you can contact them as soon as you’re ready to make a call on the weather.

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