a young child gleefully plays in the snow


How to Have a Winter Birthday Outdoors and Have the Best Time Ever

Jan 28, 2019

We’re strong, tough Canadians – there’s no reason to have indoor birthday parties. Even in the middle of January. I have a winter baby, so you can trust me. My fingers go numb just from rinsing the dishes, so if I can handle planning an outdoor winter party, you can too!

Sure, actually interacting with the children versus throwing them in a play gym is a bit more work, but it’s totally worth it. Play gyms are fun, but very gross. I once watched my 3-year-old contract pink eye in a ball pit. I knew it the second her hand touched her eye. My spidey-mum-Polysporin senses tingled.

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How to Party Outside on Autopilot

First, if you 100 per cent do not want to do anything more than supply cake and pizza, then check out a nearby nature centre (you can find plenty of options across Canada). Some will throw the outdoor party for you, with themes like wizards, fairies and gnomes, and more. A local sugarbush or conservation area may offer similar options.

But if you are brave enough to interact with the kiddos for the requisite two hours, here are a few activity ideas (taken from my own plan for my daughter’s upcoming bash) that require just a bit more work.

How to Party Outside With Some Effort 

Start with a winter wonderland theme and work from there.

From Snowball Fight to Relay Races 

A giant snowball fight is the winter version of water balloons, and it’s all my daughter’s been talking about for six months. Pre-make a stash of snowballs and use food colouring and spray bottles to delineate balls for separate teams. Then have at it. No other involvement required.

It seems basic, but it truly is a treat to have a pile of premade snowballs at your feet, and your friends ready and willing! My daughter’s brilliant idea is to recruit all of her brother’s friends to make the snowballs. I’m not sure I can trust a group of 8-year-old boys to make and then NOT throw snowballs, but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll bribe them.

Next, split the group into two or three teams, and the first one to make a three-foot tall birthday cake out of snow wins. My kid is a bit nervous about this one — she's worried the other kids will win and say ,“We won! We won! We won!” Such a specific concern that I’m hoping she gets over! Anyways! The dollar store sells bricks and buckets specifically for snow, but regular sand toys work, too.

Toboggans are great for team relay races and obstacle courses. Pretend it’s an Arctic expedition. First the kids must build a snowman — their explorer. And then they have to be the huskies, pulling the toboggan to transport their explorer to the North Pole. Younger kids will have fun barking and acting like animals, while older kids will delight in the crazy competition.

Once you’ve pushed them to the very limits of their snow play, hit the backyard, rev up a firepit and bring the patio furniture out for a fleeting winter moment. Roast marshmallows to plop into some hot chocolate. A hot chocolate buffet can replace cake — think whipped cream, sprinkles and crushed peppermints. You can put the birthday candles in the snow cakes they made earlier!

How to Decorate Your Winter Wonderland

A can of silver glitter spray paint can be used to jazz up any decorations, from thrift store vases to leftover 1st birthday bunting. The glitter will catch the sun reflecting off the snow to make the world seem even more like a wonderland. You can make your own banners with cardboard from the holiday box stash — just cut out H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y, or your child’s name and age, and spray away!

Finally, the dreaded loot bag. If we must do it (and sometimes we must), try including stretchy winter gloves personalized with a kid's initial using puff paint. That and a big old lollipop should do the trick, no? If you’re crafty, silicone chocolate moulds of snowflakes are easy to find, simple to use and totally adorable.

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How to Have a Snow Party with No Snow

But what if there isn’t snow you ask? You can set a backup date or just check the 14-day weather forecast, because most invites don’t need to go out much sooner than that. Or you can make the best of it. Relay races, obstacle courses and firepits don’t require snow to be fun.

When the kiddos come inside for the must-have pizza, I’m hoping their rosy cheeks will make the sopping pile of boots and snowpants at the front door totally worth it. If not, a smile from my six year old will do it.

Article Author Yasmine Abbasakoor
Yasmine Abbasakoor

Read more from Yasmine here.

Yasmine Abbasakoor was a television development executive before leaving to pursue her dream job of being a stay-at-home mum. After five years of living it up in the sandbox and laundry room, she’s ready to share her myriad of musings with the world once again. Connect with Yasmine in her kitchen (she’s the one standing behind the island) or on Linkedin.

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