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Planning an Outdoor Party in Winter

Winter is a long season - and the current health restrictions can make you feel like hibernating until Spring. But we’re strong, tough Canadians - we don’t let cold or snow get in the way of a good time. A small outdoor kids’ party (a maximum of 10 people can get together outdoors) can be a lot of fun. So, embrace your inner ‘Elsa’ because I’m going to guide you on how to throw the best outdoor winter party ever!

The autopilot option

First, if you 100 percent do not (or cannot) do anything more than order individual pizzas and cupcakes, then think about having the birthday party at a nature centre, City park (one with picnic sites and fire pits), a conservation area, or hosting the party in your own backyard. Some businesses will even throw the outdoor party for you, complete with nature themes. Another great option is renting a local community outdoor skating rink. Lastly, you could check out a Tube Park for some downhill thrills in or outside of the city. Outdoor activities will be more popular this year, so make sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

The hands-on option

Sure, wrangling kids outdoors is more effort than throwing them in an indoor play gym, but the effort is totally worth it.

Here are a few tips on how to make your outdoor party simple, fun, and memorable.

We like to move it, move it! Get your birthday party guests moving! Have a few games ready. You may need to improvise at the last minute depending on the weather and your guests. If your guests are under the age of five or if your outdoor area isn’t enclosed, pair younger kids with older kids or adults.

  • Snowball fight. Pre-make a stash of snowballs and use food coloring and spray bottles to paint snowballs different colors to represent the teams. Take cover and let them go wild!

  • Snow cake. Who can build the tallest cake out of snow? Preparation is minimal. You can use natural decorations like carrots for candles, strings of cranberries to loop around the cake, and bird seed for sprinkles.

  • Ice bowling. Fill water balloons (you can add food coloring) and allow them to freeze. Once frozen, remove the balloon plastic and voila! You have bowling balls. Set up water bottles for pins (add glow sticks to the water bottles for glow- bowling after the sun sets).

  • Scavenger hunt. Check Pinterest for free printable winter scavenger hunts or create your own bingo card and give out bingo dabbers. Think about scavenging for wintry things like lichen, acorns, squirrels, bird tracks, and pinecones.

Weather or not. Have a back-up date for the party (but most of the time, you should be able to work with the weather). Remember, if needed, set up a tent or tarp to provide a bit of shelter for your party guests. Snow on the ground? Hello, sledding, snow-painting, building snowmen, and snowball target practice. No snow? No problem. Try ice-blocking in lieu of sledding, creating ice bubbles or ice pants (it’s a thing!), participating in a winter obstacle course, or creating stick forts.

The sky’s the limit! One winter bonus for stargazers is it gets dark earlier in the day. Consider a ‘Night Sky’ theme for older kids. Think glow sticks, flashlight tag, and stargazing. You can even rent a high- powered telescope, set out good binoculars, if you have them, or ask the kids to bring them to the party if they have them.

Stay warm. This is the most important part of having fun outdoors: making sure everyone is dressed properly. Have a packing list of layers on the birthday invitation. During the party, periodically do ‘layer breaks’ with the kids to ensure they don’t get too hot and sweaty and end up with wet clothes. The purpose of layer breaks is to check in with the kids to see what needs adjusting. Get the kids to unzip their coat or remove their toque if they’re too hot and when they get cold again, layer it back on!

Serve simple snacks. Once you’ve pushed your party guests to the limits of their winter play, stoke up a fire and bring out some blankets for a cozy winter hangout. Start your fire early, so it’s really going by the time your guests gather ‘round and have hot chocolate, coffee (for any adults), or cider ready. Too cold to serve cake? A hot chocolate or s’mores buffet is a good replacement (health safety first! During a pandemic, only 1 person should be serving food to others; no self-serving for a buffet). If you can’t do a fire, borrow some patio heaters from friends or neighbors and host in your backyard (again, health safety first! During a pandemic, no guests should be allowed in your home).

Give out ‘goodie bags’ at the beginning. Instead of typical loot bags, think about how to help your guests have a good time outside this winter. Think hand warmers, insulated mugs, neck warmers. Stick to the outdoor theme with goodies like a snowball maker, smaller Field Notes journal, trail mix, flashlight, or a little first-aid kit.

Embrace the chaos. The outdoors brings out the wild in the wilderness. Expect the unexpected and roll with it - bring extra warm clothes, blankets, and lots of hot chocolate. It’s been said that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

Jenelle is the President and Co-Founder of Wild | Life Outdoor Adventures, a Calgary-based company that delivers outdoor adventure kits for kids. Each kit contains outdoor gear, tools, toys, and activity cards with over 10+ hours of adventure ideas, skill-building lessons, and crafts. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit Follow on Facebook and Instagram @thewildlifeca.



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