Step-by-Step Guide to Planning the Perfect Picnic Birthday Party

pole tent at corporate event

A picnic birthday party is a lighthearted occasion that deserves the best picnic birthday party ideas—and every one of those can be personalized for the guest of honor. Plus, a picnic-themed birthday party can be adapted to suit guests of all ages and be as small or as large and rambunctious as the guest list calls for!

Set a guest list and start thinking about the guest-of-honor.

The first step of birthday party planning is to make a list of potential guests. This simple step is important because it steers almost every party detail, including the budget, size of venue needed, amount of supplies, and the menu.

In addition to deciding on the size of the gathering, this is also an opportunity to start thinking about how to customize the picnic birthday party theme to the guest-of-honor. There are many variations to the theme: an upscale rustic picnic, a kid-themed picnic party, a vintage picnic, a night under the stars picnic, a carnival-themed picnic. The possibilities are endless (and so are the picnic birthday party ideas!)

Choose a date and venue.

Once the guest list and size of the birthday party is decided, its time to finalize the venue. The venue can be a backyard, a park, or an indoor venue. If the venue is outdoor, always make sure there is a shelter or room for a tent to ensure an area that is out of the sun or rain.

The perfect venue checks off all the boxes: location, size, availability, and amenities. Party planners can use the date to choose the venue (“is this date available?”) or use the venue to choose the date (“what dates are available?”). The location of the venue should be convenient for guests, especially if some guests use public transportation.

Plan for guest comfort.

A picnic birthday party needs seating, even for the most energetic crowd. For younger guests, a table and chairs suffice for kids and their parents. When the guest list is more adult, it’s appropriate to choose more comfortable seating. There are a few possibilities: couches and coffee tables (perfect for a rustic wine theme), picnic tables (for a classic picnic birthday party theme), or family-style seating arrangement with long table and rustic décor. The furniture can be matched with bars, chill tables, giant barbecues and serving tables.

Because our Chicago weather can be incredibly hot and rainy, it’s also a good idea to rent a tent when another shelter is not available. (Some tents can be installed without poles to ensure that the sod is not damaged.) For a large, upscale gathering, the tent can also be equipped with side curtains and cooling to ensure guests are comfortable and enjoying themselves.

Step-by-Step Guide to Planning the Perfect Picnic Birthday Party 1

Lighten up the mood.

For an evening or all-day birthday party, add lights to the party supply checklist. String lights can add a wonderful glow to a picnic under the stars. For a vintage feel, consider using lamp posts to create a beautiful entrance. Truly, there are a ton of different options for party lighting; an event planner can help match the right lighting specific to the birthday party picnic theme.

Add entertainment for an incredibly fun picnic birthday party.

A birthday party isn’t complete without entertainment, and there are so many ways to entertain young and old alike. For a kids’ party or a family gathering, add a variety of yard games, such as ring toss, corn hole, tumbling towers of blocks, bocce ball, and yard bowling. A wine gathering isn’t complete without a sampling station and personalized table games that celebrate the guest-of-honor’s tastes.

A picnic under the stars can be enhanced with speakers, dance floor, and stage for an evening dance. For a fantastic encore to an evening barbecue, rent a projector and screen for a screening of a favorite movie under the stars.

Plan the perfect picnic menu.

The perfect birthday party picnic menu can be as casual and fun or as fancy as the occasion demands. For a kids party, a basic menu with a kid-friendly main course, fruit, and cake is always a hit! For a fun twist, add an ice cream bar with everyone’s favorite toppings; this is also a wonderful birthday party picnic idea for guests of all ages.

An adult-gathering can be as simple or as sophisticated as the occasion allows. An adult birthday party picnic can include ribs and other more flavorful menu dishes. No matter what the dishes, party planners should always include plenty of chilled drinks. Chicagoland weather can get hot! Metal chilled tubs or chilled tables are perfect for this purpose, fulfilling both function and style.

chill station at chicago outdoor wedding

Play up party décor with fun linens.

Everything about a birthday party picnic is fun, including the table linens. A classic birthday party picnic theme demands the traditional red checkered linens. For a fun twist, use bright colored table linens that match the guest-of-honor’s personality. Kids love themed and neon linens that are perfect for the youngest party guests.

Plan for set up.

Once the planning phase is over, it’s time to contact event supply rental specialists (if you haven’t already) and turn those birthday party picnic ideas into reality. No matter what the party rental checklist includes, always include time for set-up and coordination before the day of the birthday party. If the menu involves shopping and cooking, allow plenty of time for preparation and lay out.

Lastly, have fun!

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