How to Throw a Beach Birthday Party
How To:

Throw a Beach Birthday Party

There's no better way to celebrate a summer birthday than by throwing a party at the beach. The activities are built right in, you won't have to do any cleaning beforehand or after, and the opportunities for themes kids will love are endless, from pirates to mermaids to fishies and whales. With just a little advance planning and preparation, you can invite all your child's friends for a day that's sure to be nothing but fun in the sun.

Three to four weeks before

Plan the location & send invites. Some beaches have picnic areas that require reservations or permits for gatherings; make any necessary phone calls to confirm. Choose a parking lot or landmark that guests can use to help locate your party once they arrive. If you've selected a theme and colors for your child's party, the invitation is a great way to give guests a sneak peek. Include reminders for guests to bring a towel and sunscreen, beach chairs if picnic tables aren't available, and sandcastle-building tools.

Plan the menu. Simple finger foods will be the order of the day, but start gathering ideas and recipes now. Choose things that stay tasty and fresh at room temperature.

Plan activities. The beach is great for foot races, sack races, sandcastle-building contests and obstacle courses. Learn to create plaster sandcasts of their hands or feet by watching our video, or plan a piñata activity by creating the jellyfish piñata featured in another video.

Plan decorations and favors. Paper lanterns strung above picnic tables, a few colorful beach blankets, and an arch or a stake to hang your piñata are probably all you'll need. If you're planning our sandcast activity, that will become a treasured party favor – otherwise, something simple and fun such as a blow-up beach ball or a colorful pinwheel is perfect.

One to three days before

Shop. Purchase food, snacks and drinks, plus the materials for games or activities, decorations and party favors. Make sure you have enough plates, cups and utensils that are outdoor-ready. It's a great idea to have things like a roll of paper towels and a box of wipes nearby to help clean hands after eating, and a bottle of sunscreen in case kids forget or go for a long swim.

Begin food prep. Get started on anything that can be done ahead of time, such as cutting up fruit and vegetables and baking cupcakes or our sandcastle cakes (keep chilled until the day of the party). The day before the party, make and chill lemonade, using our easy recipe. Make sure you have enough bowls for chips and other snacks.

Day of the party

Finish up food prep. Fill a cooler with a bag of ice and any treats that should be kept cold until it's time to eat, such as cheese, hummus, or cut fruit. Frost and decorate cupcakes, or add decorations to the tops of the sandcastle cakes. Make sure you have birthday candles somewhere in the bags you're bringing to the party.

Prepare the location. An hour or so before guests will arrive, go to the party site and begin setting up. Arrange balloons, hang paper lanterns beneath picnic table umbrellas, and set up plates and utensils so kids can help themselves to food. Set out a cup full of your decorated straws, if you're using them, and hang your piñata.

Set up for games and activities. If you'll be hosting sack races, mark off where the start and finish lines will be. Set up a table with the materials for your sandcasts. You may want to set up an area for kids to spread out beach blankets and towels, so they can have a seat after swimming or while eating (if you don't have picnic tables).

Arrange an end time for the party. If parents are dropping their kids at your party, make sure you communicate with them about when to plan to pick them up so they won't miss out on any of the fun.