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Need birthday party ideas? Try a backyard camping bash

Our how-to guide has the tips you need to make your backyard sleepover the best on the block.
Kids camping around lantern at night
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January 22, 2018 10:05 AM

After several years of pool parties, piñata bashing and the like, you’re probably ready for a new way to celebrate your child’s special day. How about a sleepover in the backyard? It’s perfect for everyone. Kids love the freedom of being outdoors combined with the peace of mind of being right at home. Parents enjoy the ease such a simple idea brings.

Planning your backyard party
Before the event, figure out how many tents you have, how many they sleep, and how many will fit in the yard. Check the weather forecast too. It’s best to find a dry night when overnight temperatures are forecast above 50⁰.

Once you’ve settled on a date, send out invitations. Have as much fun as you want with the design. You can even let the birthday boy or girl glue twigs and leaves to them. Just be sure to include a list of all the things the guests will need: a sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, air mattress, toothbrush, pajamas and a change of clothes.

The big day
Have the guests arrive in the early evening. (They’re going to be up all night anyway, right?) You decide whether to set up the tents before the kids arrive or whether to help the kids set up their own. However you pitch the tents, make sure they’re close together, on a clear and flat surface and near the house. When the kids have found their sleeping spots, have each group name their tent and make a welcome sign for the front door.

Once the campers are settled, lead a couple games. For younger kids, try the fishing game you used to play at community fairs. You know the one: Each child casts a pole behind a sheet outside and comes back with a small treat. Older kids will have a blast on a scavenger hunt.

They’re kids, so of course they’ll want to eat—and often. Have some fun with it. Pick up something like a Deluxe Camp Grill to cook your food over a campfire, then remove it so you can tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows later in the evening.

When bedtime beckons
When it’s time for bed, make sure the kids have plenty of light. Each person should have a flashlight for midnight bathroom visits. You may also want to keep a few battery-powered lights on all night just in case a couple of kids are more afraid of the dark than they’d like to admit.

Saying goodbye to the happy campers
In the morning, send the kids home with a goodie bag wrapped in a bandanna. Fill them with trail mix, granola bars, juice boxes and outdoor treats like mini flashlights and glow sticks. Afterward, put the guest of honor to bed. Use that quiet time to clean up all the fun.

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