Sometimes kids with summer birthdays (ahem–mine) feel a little ripped off because their friends are out of town. I love the idea of a summer camp themed party right in your own local park or backyard. It’s a great way to make the party special, even with a smaller group. Here are lots of fun ideas to help. -Liz
Camp Party Invitations and Printables
This birthday camp invitation printable (above) at Etsy’s Cyan and Sepia is just so fun. They’ll customize all the information for you on the gorgeous vintage design, then you just print and send. ($18 including customization)
Amanda’s Printables has an entire camping party printable set that includes invitations, plus anything else you could ever need. Wow, it comes with a lot of personalized stuff for $24!
I also really dig this cute printable camp invitation from nelliev2 ($15) with the fun burlap texture and tasteful design.
For an extra touch, set the table with these great printable camping emblem placemats. Kids can write their own names at top, then color in the circle with their own merit badge design while waiting for the grub. ($4.71 instant download PDF)
For activiites, you can sing songs, roast marshmallows, play any games at all, or one of my favorite parts of camp: arts + crafts. Why not put together “care packages” for each kid filled with an activity?
You can buy ready-made Friendship Bracelet Kits that make 10 at a time, or get your own supplies at any craft store. There’s a fabulous friendship bracelet photo tutorial for a classic chevron bracelet at Honestly WTF (photo above; or, find lots of variations at Braceletbook.com.)
Martha Stewart Living has more than 20 ideas for camp care packages, like these color-your-own blank bookmarks for summer reading.
I also love their idea for keepsake volleyballs–make them as a craft; they’re under $15 each which is good if your party is small and they double as a goodie bag gift too. (Wilson volleyball $12.72 at our affiliate Amazon) For a little less, kids can decorate their own pillow cases (these are $9.99/2 on Amazon) and have the other kids sign them with Sharpies. Aw, I loved that about the last day of sleepaway camp.
For more active activities, a Summer Olympics is always a big hit. (Or you can call it color war.) From sack races to water balloon tosses, it’s easy to come up with lots of contests and activities. You find some inspiration at this Summer Olympics party post including a tutorial for DIY medals at AlphaMom (above). Kids can even make their own.
At Catch My Party, one crafty mom came up with her own nature scavenger hunt–love this! Especially when the items don’t require tearing up your garden.
And if things get too toasty for running around, you can always set up a hose or sprinkler and let the kids have at it. Sometimes the coolest thing about camp is free time, right?
Easy Camp Party Food
I’m all about easy when it comes to party food for kids, so don’t expect any grand cupcake towers or homemade cakes shaped like campfire logs here. Though certainly you can find them.
For beverages, there’s simply no camp without watermelon and we have rounded up 11 ways to serve a watermelon that kids will love. I really like this idea for serving a watermelon punch, but even “bug juice” in a pitcher would be authentic and so easy.
You can always grill hot dogs and burgers but if you want to keep things easy, I love that you can create your own brown bag buffet and let kids “pack their own lunches.” It can be as simple as a peanut butter (or sunbutter) station, fruit, pretzel sticks, veggies and a juice box.
Let’s be honest: When it comes to dessert, S’Mores makes the camp party. We have 9 fantastic s’mores recipes from top food bloggers, like this standard recipe (by Savory Sweet Life) plus variations like Grilled Banana S’Mores.
I also love these cool S’Mores Pops (via Inspired Taste) if there no fire handy and you want to keep things a little on the un-messy side. Though…what’s a little mess between camp friends.
Neat idea: Use mason jars and printable labels to let kids make their own trail mix to eat or take home. Don’t worry, your station doesn’t have to look so elaborate but wow, this one is impressive!
Really, you don’t have to go overboard here. Kids will probably end up with plenty of craft items to take home, though a little something extra can be nice.
Grab a copy of of any one of the Summer Camp Mad Libs for each kid and enclose a cute pencil. Easy! ($3.50/B+N)
Personalized camp labels are a goodie bag item parents will appreciate too, and we rounded up the coolest ones recently. Also, CMP reader fave Mabel’s Labels makes it super simple with the Loot Bag label bags, just $5 each, ready to go, and all personalized!
For a quieter activity if it’s hot out, a DIY terrarium kit can be great fun, provided you give some boundaries as to where kids can forage for clippings. It then becomes a great take-home gift they made themselves, and a cool memory of an awesome day. Or…two hours. That feels like a day.