Confession: I love friends, gatherings, and celebrations — but as I begin my journey as a parent, I really don’t look forward to going to countless birthday parties. Call me a party killer, but sitting around eating cake and watching kids get bowled over just doesn’t sound like my idea of fun.
These feelings puzzled me as I pondered what to do for my twins’ third birthday. The answer wasn’t not to celebrate, but to fit a celebration into what our family and friends would probably be doing on a Saturday morning anyway.
And so, on a beautiful Saturday morning in March, we ended up at Carkeek Park to celebrate our twins’ third birthday.
Birthday party in a park: reserve a seat
You don’t need a reservation to throw a party at a park, but if you want to make sure you have a seat and access to a covered area (raining, anyone?), make reservations through Seattle Parks and Recreation.
The site includes a map of reserveable parks and includes a helpful chart of pricing, capacity, covered options, park descriptions, and photos for each reserveable location.
We chose a park that our family frequents so we knew what to expect when planning the party, such as: B. the parking lot situation and the proximity to playgrounds and playgrounds. If you’re thinking of throwing your party at a park you’ve never been to, use the website for information, or perhaps plan a trip to explore the park before making your reservation (and experience along the way a fun park adventure!) .
Once you have decided on a place for your party, fill out an online application. Once you’ve confirmed your reservation, you’re done!
On the day of our party we didn’t have another group wanting to use the space we reserved. However, I had the confirmation information in my email in case we needed to show someone our reservation details.
Birthday party in a park: agenda
Our party was very casual. We didn’t have a formal schedule: no singing, no gifts, and no structured games. We wanted people to gather, grab something tasty and enjoy the park with friends. And we wanted people to feel like they could come anytime during the party, explore the park, and stay as long or as long as they want (we included those details in the invite).
However, I wanted to provide some employment opportunities that go beyond playing on the playground. We brought sidewalk chalk, a soccer ball and ladder golf. A friend brought some hula hoops and flag balls. And I created a simple scavenger hunt to find items in the park.
We used everything (except the scavenger hunt) at various times during the party. Doing these independent and self-directed activities seemed to work well, rather than trying to gather people together for a formal game.
But it’s your party, so do what you want! I encourage you to think about the logistics ahead of time: maybe let people know an agenda when they arrive, or have a method of communication if you want everyone to gather, or choose to host your party in a smaller one Park host if you want guests to stay nearby.
Birthday party in the park: food and drink
Again, we’ve kept it very simple. Her grandma and I made some sweet treats; we picked up crates of coffee from the grocery store; and we brought tea bags and thermoses filled with hot water.
We made sure there was always a party helper (grandma or grandpa in our case) at the dinner table handing out treats with tongs, answering questions about potential allergens, and keeping any park animals away.
Birthday Party in a Park: Misc.
Unfortunately, what you can never plan for is the weather. Rain was forecast all week before our party, but we ended up with the most beautiful Saturday morning: blue skies and the Olympic mountains shining towards us from across the Sound. The party was so much better because of the nice weather but we had the covered shelter in case it rained. When planning your party, prepare for the worst weather situation, but hope for the best!
My daughter was a bit overwhelmed during the party. I had brought nothing for the situation and was grateful that a guest had brought some books as gifts. We opened them and she had some quiet reading time with Grandma as the party wound down. For a future event, I might bring an activity that kids can do when they need a little break from the larger group.
After years of missing out on group gatherings, it was so nice to have people together to celebrate. It seemed like all of our guests, regardless of their personal pandemic protocols, were comfortable with the outdoor environment. Some wore masks; some don’t. We didn’t think about the pandemic as we enjoyed the blue skies and watched our kids run around the park.
Pandemic or not, our party in a park just worked out great. I wholeheartedly recommend it for your next birthday party!
Released April 18, 2022
More party fun:
Ideas for a COVID-safe celebration with family and friends
Tips for a birthday party for a child with autism or sensory sensitivity