It’s that time of year again! Your little one is turning another year older and it’s time to start thinking about party planning! This time of year invokes both excitement and anxiety in me as I envision trying to execute the perfect party that my son will declare as “Epic!” and the other moms will dote on with envy. If you have a little lover of all things camping, consider throwing an awesome outdoorsy, camping-themed party at your house. This theme is so fun and easy to plan a party around, the ideas for fun and food are endless. Whether your party is going to be indoors or outside, the theme is so versatile it will work anywhere. This year, skip the expensive trampoline parks or bounce houses and throw an in-tents party that’ll have everyone asking for s’more! To start planning, check out these camping-themed birthday party ideas for your little camper!
First of all, let’s start with the invitations! Invitations set the tone for your party and should give your invitees an idea of what the theme of the party is. Look online for customizable templates that have a camping theme and then add your child’s information to it. For some witty verbiage, give these a try:
- Let’s Go Glamping at Camp (insert daughter’s name here)
- You’re Invited to Camp (insert child’s name here)
- S’more Fun Than You Can Handle
- Calling All Happy Campers to Camp Run-a-Muck!
- This Party is Gonna Be In-Tents!
- Birthdays are S’More Fun with Friends!
All Decked Out!
When your child’s friends arrive, you want them to feel like they’ve just arrived for the most awesome camping party ever, so make sure your decorations scream “We’re gonna have the most camping fun ever (without really camping)!!” Ok, maybe not scream, but at least suggest it. Decorations can be as subtle or as off-the-charts as you want. Here are some fun, easy ideas for decking out your “campsite”:
- Make a “Welcome to Camp (insert child’s name here)” sign out of a piece of wood and stake it by (or hang it from) the front door
- Decorate the food table in red-and-white checkered décor, including a tablecloth, napkins, plates, and cups
- Set or hang small kerosene lanterns around (above the food, on picnic table outside)
- Place large teddy bears around the house with homemade signs next to them that read Don’t Feed The Bears
- Create tiny tabletop campfires using small votive holder with lit candle, tissue paper flames (yellow, orange, red) taped to outside of glass votive, small rocks/pebbles surrounding it, and pretzel rods layered on top of rocks for logs
It’s always important to have enough party activities to keep the kids busy for the duration of the party. I always try to have MORE than enough things going on so that I don’t hear the dreaded, “I’m bored!” But who could get bored at a party filled with fun camping activities??? Add these fun ideas to your activities list and everyone is sure to have a blast:
- Hang a tent-shaped piñata from a tree outside and let the kids whack away at it (just be sure to use caution and make sure no one is standing close to the “whacker” when they're swinging their little heart out!)
- A scavenger hunt is a must at a camping-themed party! Give each child (or team) a brown lunch bag that has a list of scavenger hunt items printed on the outside of it. Or, if the items are large, give them an index card with the list and then a larger bag for the items. For younger kids, use pictures instead of words. Items on the list can be as specific as a flat rock or a maple leaf or as generic as something colorful or something bumpy. Give them each a branch-shaped pencil for marking off their finds.
- Set up a Build-Your-Own-Trail-Mix station! Give each child a bowl and set them loose to create their very own trail mix out of Teddy Grahams, small marshmallows, pretzels sticks, chocolate chips, M&Ms, goldfish crackers, cheese balls, and whatever else you want to set out. This would be great to do after they’ve worked up an appetite from the scavenger hunt.
- Play Camping Bingo! Who doesn’t love Bingo?!?! Create enough bingo cards so that each child has a different one. Use small marshmallows for markers. Some great camping words to include on the cards are: mosquitos, firewood, compass, backpack, flashlight, sleeping bag, tent, s’mores, campfire, RV, canoe, walking stick, binoculars, sunscreen, etc.
- For a great indoor activity, have kids make Marshmallow Shooters and then play a friendly game of Marshmallow Tag. To do this, each child needs a small plastic or foam cup, balloon, and small marshmallows. Cut the bottoms off of each cup. Cut the tip off of each balloon (on the large end). Stretch the cut end of the balloon over the cut end of the cup and tie a knot in the mouth end of the balloon. The part of the balloon where you blow it up should be sticking up off of the cup. Kids load a marshmallow into the cup, pull the balloon back, and let it fly! Perfect for good, clean, indoor fun!
Food is a fun, easy way to complement a birthday party theme. And luckily, this camping theme can go in so many directions! There are endless possibilities when it comes to camping-related food. Here are some favorites we've found online:
- Tortilla roll-up sandwiches labeled “Sleeping Bags”
- Bowl of cheese puffs labeled “Campfire Flames”
- Buckets filled with strawberries labeled “Berry Picking” and Teddy Grahams labeled “Don’t Feed the Bears”
- Bowl of multi-colored Goldfish crackers labeled “Rainbow Trout”
- Pretend tackle box filled with gummy worms
- Wooden skewers fashioned into fishing poles with gummy worms hanging from the line
- “Ants on a Log” (celery, peanut butter, raisins)
- Campfire cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes with red/orange/yellow-swirled frosting piped on to resemble flames)
- S’mores cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes topped with a marshmallow that’s slightly melted and browned in the oven, graham cracker square standing upright, and two small Hershey’s chocolate bar rectangles standing up in the marshmallow)
Send Them Packing
When it’s time to tell your little campers to take a hike, send them home with a cute party favor that they’ll get a kick out of! Give these a try:
- A Ziploc-type bag filled with two graham cracker squares, a small Hershey’s bar, and small marshmallows with a label that reads Take Home S’More Fun
- A hobo stick with bandana sack hanging from it filled with “bear poop” (Whoppers candy) or small dollar-store toys
- Treat bag filled with trail mix with a label that reads Happy Trails
Do you have any great camping-themed ideas to share for a birthday party? We’d love to hear from you!