Summer birthday party ideas for everyone

A collage-style illustration of a birthday gift, cake with colorful sunshine topper, and party hat, all surrounding a sign that reads,

Summer is a great time for outdoor get-togethers. You’re getting fresh air, seeing friends and family, and getting some good, old vitamin D. But sometimes it’s hard to come up with new ideas for a fun party that will be memorable. Don’t worry—we’ve got you.

Need something easy that won’t take too much effort? We have that. Want something convenient and not too expensive? Keep reading. Really want to show someone you know them on their birthday? No problem. 

And whether you’re seeking ideas for party fun that can be captured and enjoyed for years to come, or summer birthday party ideas to create an experience, you’ll find ideas for both kids and adults, all right here. So, let’s get scrolling!

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Easy Summer Birthday Party Ideas  

An illustration of an outdoor party set up with a patio table and umbrella with lights, summery drinks and a small gift bag.

Imagine you’re throwing a party right on the heels of a summer vacation. You need something you can put together quickly and with a minimum of fuss.  

If you didn’t spend every penny on vacation, consider ordering trays of food from your local grocery store or catering from a favorite restaurant. There’s also nothing wrong with making the most of easy summer cookout staples like hotdogs.

 Here are some ways to make those simple food ideas really pay off:

Easy Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Kids

  • A fire-pit party. This is best done late in the evening after the hot summer sun has gone down. The kids can stay up late—it’s summer, after all! Roast weenies, make s’mores, decorate with string lights and buy little flashlights or glowsticks for all the kids.
  • A scavenger hunt. Use stuff you have around the house. Hide items all around your yard and type up a list of them and make copies for all the guests. Winner gets to take home an extra piece of birthday cake. If you have a little more time, you could make a treasure map of the backyard with clues about where to find certain things, and decorate with an adventurer theme, like Dora the Explorer, Indiana Jones or Captain Jack Sparrow. Make this idea even easier with our free printable!
  • An indoor camping party. Unveil an epic blanket fort or forts premade by adults. Put pillows, lanterns or flashlights, and of course, snacks inside.
  • A sunshine and sprinkles party. Is there anything better than a colorful party idea that comes with free printables and an easy-as-boxed-cake-mix DIY? Not in our book.


Easy Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Adults 

  • A takeout picnic. Meet at a park and encourage everyone to bring their favorite takeout to share. You can bring the cake, plates, napkins and forks. You don’t even have to clean your bathroom for this one! 
  • Have a house party with a music theme. Could be the guest of honor’s favorite genre or music from the year they were born. You could have a dance contest or karaoke contest if you have the equipment and your guests are game. Decorate with printouts of album/CD covers from the internet. And no need to spend hours curating songs—you can find lots of pre-made playlists on your favorite streaming service.
  • A summer camp-themed outdoor party. Summer camp was always the best, so bring those memories back with games, songs around a campfire and marshmallows for roasting. Print out your favorite camp songs and copy them so everyone can get into it. Play games like “Would you rather…” and “Telephone.”
  • A “destination” party within a 90-minute drive. Find somewhere that isn’t so hot! Depending on where you live, that could mean the beach, a mountain, a shady forest, or a favorite treed-in park. Bring a frisbee, a ball, badminton set, or anything you already have at home. Bring a cooler of cold drinks and an outdoor-themed cake.

Budget Summer Birthday Party Ideas  

If you love to throw a great party, but don’t have a lot of money spend, it’s sometimes harder to make it unique and memorable. Foods like popcorn and bowls of cheap candy can really cut down on cost. And of course, it’s always okay to say BYOB on adult party invitations. The fun can come in with the theme, a cultivated music playlist or homemade party decor.

Here are some inexpensive summer birthday party ideas that pretty much any crowd would love:

Budget Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Kids

  • Water balloon extravaganza! Have the guests wear swim clothes and bring a beach towel, serve frozen treats or ice-cold punch and fill a kiddie pool with a ton of water balloons. When the water balloons are all thrown, turn on the sprinkler. Have a contest for the most impressive sprinkler jump.
  • An outdoor adventure party for older kids. Go to a local state park or conservation area and hike around in nature, maybe go swimming in a lake, have everyone take pictures of stuff they saw that day on their phones and text them to you. Create a slide show and send it out after as a fun memory of the event.
  • Make-your-own-pizza party. Buy some premade pizza dough or just get some bagels and arrange them on cookie sheets. Then, let the kids add their own sauce and cheese and choose their own toppings. Pop the personalized pizzas in the oven to bake. Dessert could be a cookie pizza!
  • Have a low-stakes talent show. This could go two ways—talents could be legit, but kids might have more fun demonstrating silly, useless skills, like singing along to armpit noises. Have the kids make ribbons for the person they thought was the best. Play a circus music playlist from your favorite streaming service.


 Budget Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Adults

  • Cold soup contest. Summer’s answer to the chili cookoff. Have everyone bring their favorite cold soup or salad. Make a crown out of construction paper for the winner or give them a $10 coffeehouse gift certificate.
  • Wear all white party. It’s such a fresh bright color! Serve easy-to-eat, non-messy finger foods that won’t drip on clothing, like fruits and veggies or sturdy chips and a hearty dip. Take group photos to share with guests later.
  • A staycation party. Serve a signature drink, make a passport with stops in different rooms of the house/parts of the yard, and a photo area with beach towels, a beach ball and whatever you can pull together to look beachy in a corner of the yard. Make a playlist of tropical music. If you live in a tight-knit community, you could also do this with your neighbors and make each person’s home a different “country.”
  • An outdoor home movie night. Project on a sheet or the side of your house. Make it all about the birthday person by decorating with nostalgic items like their old toys, printouts of photos, images of TV shows they used to love, etc. Bonus if the movie is one of their favorite childhood films!
  • A clothing or thrift swap. This is so much fun to do with friends. Set out tables and blankets for guests to set their offerings on, give everyone a grocery bag to take away their new treasures. Consider a green theme with earth-friendly decor and whole foods like fruits and veggies that don’t require packaging. 

Personalized Summer Birthday Party Ideas  

An illustration of a colorful unicorn with a collage-style inset image of a rainbow-swirl frosted unicorn cupcake.

The best thing on your birthday is to be celebrated by the people who really know you. And a good place to start when trying to show the guest of honor how well you know them is by thinking about their hobbies and habits. Are they always throwing out movie lines? Do they live for going on beach vacations? Are they always planning their next casino trip? 

These are good places to start when trying to personalize a party theme:

Personalized Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Kids

  • Your kid’s favorite movie party. Or an upcoming movie they’ve been seeing previews for and are really excited about. Mermaids, pirates, video games—all would make for a good party theme. For instance, at a pirate party you could have them make swords out of cardboard or lay out a bunch of kiddie pools for a mermaid adventure.
  • A big rigs party. Dump trucks, tractors, fire trucks, construction cranes and things like that always seems to be a big hit with the littles. If you can find a museum or exhibit with real ones, have everyone meet there. Alternately, you could set up some fake construction areas in your backyard and have all the kids bring their favorite truck to play.
  • A gamer gathering. For tweens and younger teens, a marathon videogame session or a variety of board games or role-playing games like D&D could be fun. Just set out lots of chips, soda and candy, and you’re set.
  • A meme dress-up party. Older kids are always on their phones and know today’s memes by heart. Encourage guests to pick one and dress the part! Make a viral video compilation (or better yet, have your kid make it) and have that playing on the TV. Give prizes for the most accurate costume, most creative, most hilarious, etc.
  • A rainbow unicorn-themed party. Did you know you can have a horse come to your house dressed as a unicorn? You can! Take pictures of all the kids with him and go all out when it comes to colorful food. Rent a cotton candy machine, buy rainbow colored suckers or make these magical unicorn cupcakes. You could also print out unicorn coloring sheets and have all the kids color them and use them as decor. 
  • Everything ketchup party. If you have a kid, you know kids love ketchup. (Sometimes maybe a little too much.) To keep things worry-free, have everyone wear red. Then serve all kinds of food that taste good with ketchup—fries, burgers, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, etc. Too make things interesting, you could buy some different ketchup varieties for taste testing.
  • A barnyard theme party. It’s possible to rent a petting zoo, but you could always bring the kids to the petting zoo instead. For food and decor, all the barnyard animals can play a part. For instance, you could make pigs in a blanket and barn animal cupcakes. Or some cheesy chicks mini cheese balls! 


Personalized Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Adults 

  • A Shark Week theme party. You could do fins for party hats, put on the Jaws soundtrack, and serve seafood like sushi or shrimp and cocktail sauce. 
  • Golden Girls theme party. Set up a DIY mini bar and serve cheesecake or get a cheesecake bite platter. Guests could have name tags with the name of the character they think they’re most like. If you really want to go all out, you could encourage costumes. And, we happen to have tons of Golden Girls gifts to decorate the serving table or give away to guests. 
  • An outdoor brunch party. Serve up quiches or mini frittatas, pastries, parfaits, and mimosas or a pitcher of white or red sangria. Create a smooth jazz playlist to put everyone in a relaxed, Sunday morning kind of mood.
  • A trivia party. Use the guest of honor’s favorite movie, TV show (like Friends) or music to create the trivia questions. For instance, if it’s Star Wars you could theme your decor around that vibe. If you’re basing the fun on movies, you can play movie soundtracks in the background.

Memory Making Summer Birthday Party Ideas  

The special thing about summer birthdays are the good memories they provide for years to come. Consider hiring someone to take pictures for an hour or so, or use these iPhone photography tips to DIY. Either way, these can be compiled into a printed memory book. You could also have guests make something they take with them, like a macramé or pompom keychain.

Here are some more ideas for creating a memorable summer birthday party:

Memory Making Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Kids

  • Make a compliment book. Get a blank journal and have every guest write one thing they love about the birthday kid, giving them something to look back on and smile.
  • A rock painting party. Have it outdoors and keep a hose handy for wash up. To make it extra fun, take the kids on a hike on a local trail and place the rocks in fun places for hikers to spot them.
  • A planting party. First, everyone decorates their own pot with markers, stickers or paint. Then they get to pick from different annuals that can be mixed and matched. Fresh fruits and veggies make an easy snack, and tables covered in floral gift wrap make for a pretty decor opportunity that also makes clean up simple at the end of the party.
  • A T-shirt making party. If you want to go all out, break out the rubber bands and tubs of fabric dye and water to make tie-dyed shirts! A simpler option could be glow in the dark fabric paint or puff paint. Have kids decorate shirts however they want, eat some cake while the shirts dry, then have a photo shoot to show off the creations.


Memory Making Summer Birthday Party Ideas for Adults

  • A “save the bees” garden party. This is where everyone plants wildflowers or native perennials that attract pollinators. In other words, a party where people come over to help you out with some outdoor tasks instead of bringing gifts. (How smart is that??) You could send home packets of seeds as party favors. And you could make the bees the decor theme in so many ways. 
  • A group brewery tour. Beat the heat and go inside. It’ll be a great time for everyone and No set-up or clean-up for you! Try a flight or sampler of beers and have fun talking about the pros and cons of each with your friends.
  • Decorate a cup party. Provide basic plastic wine glasses or tumblers, or plain white coffee mugs for guests to decorate with  stickers, markers, paint, etc. Everyone takes home a memory from your party. 
  • A petting zoo party. Yes, kids love petting zoos. But most adults do, too. Could be at a local farm or have them come to you and set up in your backyard. Hire a photographer for the first hour and get lots of fun pictures of your friends and family with the animals. Have some allergy pills on hand…just in case. 😉

Summer Birthday Party Ideas That Create an Experience  

A collage of different summer birthday party ideas, including a drive-in movie, a pair of roller skates, and a simple, white cake on a gold cake stand with multicolored party balloons in the background.

While many parties are memorable, there are ways to make a birthday party more of an experience. Going somewhere fun, having guests participate in contests or doing something constructive that helps the honoree are some great ways to do that. 

Here are some specific ideas to inspire your summer birthday party plans:

Summer Birthday Party Ideas That Create Experiences for Kids

  • A zoo party. Many zoos will provide group rates and have rooms to reserve for having cake and refreshments. This could also be a petting zoo or a visit to your local animal rescue organization. If the zoo offers special demonstrations, feedings or shows, buy tickets for everyone to elevate the experience further.
  • A backyard camping party. Have the kids set up their own tents and give a prize to the first kid who complete theirs. Have a fire, roast marshmallows and sing songs. A small flashlight is a great, inexpensive party favor for this party!
  • Big pile of dirt party. Every kid gets a beach bucket, shovel, solo cup, etc. Bring out all the toy trucks and tractors. Keep the hose handy for wash ups…or for making dams and rivers. In which case, maybe suggest that guests bring an extra set of clothes. 😉
  • Tee-ball or kickball party at the park. Most community sports complexes allow fields to be reserved or rented out for private parties. And if possible, it’s a good idea to reserve a shelter, especially in the hot months of summer. Make sure you have plenty of cold drinks and fruit on hand, and it’s not a bad idea to have an alternative activity available for kids who aren’t athletic or have mobility issues.
  • Drive-in movie party. Pile the kids into the car (or cars) and hit a drive-in double feature. Have kids bring their own camp chairs and sit outside under the stars. If you’re wanting to save on snacks, you can pop a gigantic grocery bag-full of popcorn before you go and bring a cooler full of their favorite drinks. If you can fit a cake in there, even better!
  • A finger food party. Serve only things the kids can eat with their hands. Provide plenty of hand sanitizer and maybe a hose. Since there’s no plastic ware needed, it’s Earth friendly! To finish, have a cake-eating contest to see who can finish their slice of cake first with their hands behind their back. 


Summer Birthday Party Ideas That Create Experiences for Adults

  • A spicy food party. Lean into the summer heat with a food menu full of zing. Consider a hot sauce or pepper eating contest. (Just make sure there’s plenty of milk to put out the fire afterward.) Decorate with chili pepper-pattered anything! 
  • A “drive-in” movie night. Use a projector either outside or inside on a blank wall, have popcorn and nostalgic concession candy. Have a lighting round-style movie trivia contest at intermission.
  • An 80s roller rink night. Have guest dress up in 80s attire—sky-high, teased and sprayed hair optional—and make a fun playlist from the era. Give era-appropriate awards to the people who really committed to their look.
  • An adult scavenger hunt. This could include anything from trying different bars or restaurants or doing silly things in public (which they must get video evidence of). Have everyone end up at the same place for a toast to the birthday person.
  • A volunteer party. Have everyone meet up at the birthday person’s favorite charity and spend a couple of hours doing something for others—like sorting food at a pantry, weeding or planting in a community garden, or taking care of animals at a shelter. Then everyone goes out for drinks after. Matching T-shirts for the participants could make for some great photo opportunities.



Hopefully with all those ideas, you’ve got a good plan going for any upcoming summer birthday party needs. In case you need extra inspiration, we’ve rounded up a bunch of ideas for birthday decorations and treats, too!