Planning a summer birthday party for your child can be a lot of fun, but it can be a bit challenging to find just the right way to celebrate while beating the heat. With school out of session, you can expect a larger number of guests available for your event, and they will appreciate your efforts to entertain them. These crowd-pleasing summer birthday party ideas will get you started in the right direction.

Ages 3 – 6

  1. A bubble party is sure to be popular with the younger crowd. Decorate with bubble wrap, Styrofoam balls, rubber ducks, and a bubble machine. Fill a kiddie pool with homemade bubble solution and a hula hoop for each party guest. Dollar store bubble wands and water guns add to the fun and make great party favors. For a crafty twist, add food coloring or paint to large bottles of bubble solution and have guests create their own piece of art by blowing the colored bubbles onto a white canvas or piece of poster paper. Serve bubble waffles with ice cream for a cool treat and send guests home with bubble bath and bubble gum for favors.
  2. No one loves ice cream more than children, so an ice cream social is a great opportunity for them to eat their fill while celebrating the birthday girl or boy. For decorations, hang balloon “ice cream cones” along with colorful streamers to create a festive atmosphere. Set out clear containers filled with a variety of colorful candies and other ice cream toppings. Children can create their own birthday hats by gluing colored pom-poms to cones made from poster board, then play a round or two of “Pin the Scoop on the Cone.” Finish the day with an ice cream bar offering up a few favorite flavors of the frozen stuff, along with whipped cream, chocolate and caramel syrups, and candy sprinkles.
  3. Little kids have vivid imaginations, and they love pretend play. A pirate party can be a great way to engage young minds for an entire afternoon. Treasure map invitations with the location of the party are a great way to set the tone, and guests can be asked to dress the part. Provide pirate hats and eye patches for each guest and have them set sail by working together to create a pirate ship out of recycled cardboard boxes, markers, and crayons. For more fun, create a simple scavenger hunt, complete with treasure (small toys, candies, or favors) kids can find along the way. Serve a treasure chest cake, and send guests home with a bag of chocolate coins to enjoy later.

Ages 7 and up

  1. Summertime is camping time and an older child will surely enjoy a camping themed party held right in his or her own backyard. Set up a tent or two, complete with a fire pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Have guests arrive just before dusk. As they trickle in, hand out paper bags and have them visit a DIY trail mix bar, where they can pick and choose from ingredients like Chex cereal, popcorn, marshmallows, raisins, chocolate chips, and other goodies. Provide each guest with a small flashlight for a game of flashlight tag after dinner. Finish the evening with S’mores and an outdoor movie under the stars. This effect can be created by projecting the movie onto a white sheet hung from a tree or on the side of a building. Optionally, party guests can bring sleeping bags for an outdoor sleepover party.
  2. For kids who love a physical challenge, set up a DIY backyard obstacle course for an American Ninja Warrior themed party. Decorate with mini flags (easily found during summer months) and red, white, and blue streamers. Outfit each guest with a personalized headband, then line up the guests for the main event — competing for the best time on the obstacle course. DIY obstacles can include old tires or pool floats to run through, a string maze, pool noodle arches to crawl through, and balance beams to walk over. Award each guest with a “medal” (a sugar cookie decorated to resemble a medal) and a certificate of completion congratulating them for a job well done. If you’d like to take it to the next level, this theme can also be used to create a mud run, with a water activity at the end for guests to clean up a bit before heading home.
  3. No list of summer birthday party ideas would be complete without a water party theme. Use various shades of blue balloons, streamers, and paper lanterns for decoration, along with all manner of sea creatures. Serve blue punch or sports drinks and get creative with different types of blue foods and candies. Invite guests to participate in a variety of water games, such as squirt gun soccer, cup races, sponge ball relay, and water balloon basketball. For the grand finale, allow your party guests to have an all-out water balloon war with balloons you’ve prepared ahead of time. Dollar store pool floats, water disks, bubbles blowers, and squirt guns make great favors for this themed party.

A summer birthday party is a unique opportunity to celebrate your child’s special day with a variety of activities not conducive to other times of the year. With just a little imagination and a few easy-to-find supplies, you can create a summer birthday party your child will never forget.