Richly frosted cake, sugary fruit punch, colorful balloons, noisy noisemakers, funny hats, wrapped presents, exciting games—these are everything a birthday celebration should be. And not what you'd normally associate with camping. But there's no law that says you have to give up camping to have a party. Take the party with you. Here's how.
Step 1: Choose a Campground
Where you camp and celebrate is important—especially if you have children because it's likely that they'll want to invite their friends. And, of course, your family will want to be there too.
A local campground is your best bet. It should be close enough that your guests can make a day of it and still be home for supper. Keep in mind that not everyone will want to stay overnight. Plus, if the weather should turn nasty or someone doesn't feel well it's a quick trip back to civilization.
Invite family and friends with their own equipment to join you for the overnight; just make sure that parents accompany kids younger than 10 who are going to sleep over, or arrange for a few chaperones, so you're not left babysitting in addition to watching over your own brood.
Step 2: Decide When to Throw the Camping Birthday Party
Because a trip to a park or campground involves some logistics, make sure you get your party invitations out early—even if you send them electronically.
If you're sending them through the mail, find some with an outdoor theme or get creative and make your own. Dark brown and forest green construction paper is a great color combination; add twigs, leaves or other tidbits of nature to make the invitations stand out. Be sure to include an equipment checklist in case people want to camp with you; this is especially helpful for those who don't often go camping.
Insist on an early RSVP so you can make arrangements for other campsites if required and collect the camping fees (unless you're generous and picking up the tab).
If you can, get away early and get to your campsite the night before. That way, you'll have plenty of time to set up in the morning and be ready for when guests arrive. This works well if you throw the party on a Saturday.
Remember that the days (and nights) can start getting chilly as early as mid-September, so unless your guests have warm clothing it's best to save camping birthday parties for warmer months.
Step 3: Decorate
Why not? Just keep in mind that what you put up has to come down, and because you're outdoors there's a chance that the breeze could carry your balloons and party favors away—and that you'll have to chase them down to avoid littering.
Keep the decorations minimal and use eco-friendly products when possible.
Step 4: Plan the Food
No big deal here. Keep it simple. Think of the party as an overnight picnic: Burgers on the BBQ; hot dogs over the campfire; a bucket of fried chicken and some potato salad; what more could you want?