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Birthday Party in the Park: Here's How to Have the Ideal Setup

Bring the crew to the neighborhood park for a birthday bash with plenty of room to run around!

Margo Gothelf and Sarah Burns

park birthday party


There's a reason throwing a birthday party in the park is a classic tradition. The playground is built-in entertainment, and there's plenty of room to run around and play endless games. This year, come prepared when it comes to your park party and have the ultimate setup! Check out our suggestions and make your park party the best one yet.

Make Reservations

Want to make sure you'll have the space you want on the day of the party? Make a reservation. Many local parks require reservations or even permits for parties, so it's best to check out what the rules are before you plan the big day. This way, you won't show up and scramble for a place to set up on the day of the party.

Do Some Advance Scouting

Even if you're a regular at the park where you plan to have your party, make a special trip to the park just to scope out a setup for the shindig. Take note of how many tables are available, what the bathroom situation is, and if you need to bring picnic blankets. This way, you can plan ahead and show up the day of the party ready to go. 

Keep the Decorations Simple



It's best to keep the decorations simple for your party in the park. If you have space under a pavilion, let the birthday boy or girl pick out a few banners of their favorite characters or colors to hang up. Then grab some matching table cloths, paper plates, utensils, and cups.

Balloons and garlands are the sole exceptions to the less-is-more rule — not only are they great party decor, they make it easier for all your guests to find you at the park! Put together a big bunch of balloons in different shapes, sizes, and colors to display near your setup, or hang colorful garlands or banners from a tree branch.

Pack Extra Picnic Blankets

park birthday party


Picnic blankets will be your best friend when it comes to your park party. Even if you do have benches to sit on, spread out a few blankets in the area. That way, you'll have space for everyone to hang out and won't have to worry about not having enough seats. If your party has a theme, grab a few picnic blankets to match the decorations. If there's no theme, use whatever picnic blankets you have around — even an old top sheet will work in a pinch! 

Serve Up Park-Friendly Food

birthday party in the park


Forget about five-star dining — a park party is all about keeping the food simple and unfussy. Besides, your guests will be too busy running around and playing games to eat a full meal! Stick with picks that are easy to pack, foods that keep well in the sun, and snacks that can be eaten on the go. For the main meal, go with wraps or even have a few pizzas delivered. Save the good birthday meal for a special night at home!  

Stay Hydrated



All that running around is sure to make your party-goers extra thirsty. Keep everyone hydrated throughout the party with a well-stocked drink setup. Fill up a cooler with ice and stuff it with water bottles, juice boxes, soda, or iced tea. You can even bring a few small coolers — that way, you can spread them out for easy accessibility.

Line Up the Big Hits



Is it really a party without some music? Put on your DJ hat and bring along a Bluetooth speaker. Not sure what to play? Thanks to Spotify, you won't have to think about it. Check out their summer playlist for a list of guaranteed hits. You could even let some of the kids take over the DJing duties and let them curate their own playlist. Just get ready to hear Olivia Rodrigo on repeat! 

Activities Galore



When they've overdone the playground and need a little break from the monkey bars, set out a game and activity station to keep the party going all afternoon long. Pick a picnic blanket and set up a few board games like Guesstures or What Do You Meme, along with Spot It! and a deck of cards. Throw in a ball or frisbee too for a game of catch or an impromptu game of kickball. 

Sunscreen Station



Hopefully, your guests will leave your party full of fun — and with a nifty goody bag! The one thing your guests won't want to bring home with them is a sunburn. Set up a station full of sunscreen — some bug spray wouldn't hurt to throw in either! Keep the station accessible where everyone can see it, that way they can reapply midway through the party, especially if it's a super sunny day. 

Cupcakes Over Cake



A party in the park is the perfect time to ditch the traditional birthday cake in favor of birthday cupcakes! Cupcakes are basically the finger food of cake, making them much easier to eat in an outdoor setting. You won't need a plate or fork, making clean up much easier as well. You can still make them fancy like a full cake — fill them with chocolate or cookie dough and top them with sprinkles and Oreos. You might as well bring a variety — it is a birthday celebration after all! 

Don't Forget the Trash Bags and Clean Up



Let's be real, clean up is the worst part about hosting a party. The garbage cans at the park are always full at the end of the day, so make it easier on yourself and throw a few extra garbage bags in the car before you head out. That way, cleaning up from the party will be even easier after a day full of fun.

Updated June 2022.