Outdoor birthdays are ideal when the weather is totally perfect. If you pick from some of the best outdoor birthday party ideas and send your invites out with some time to spare, you'll be able to round everybody up for a day or night out together alfresco. And what's better than soaking up the sun with all your favorite people as you blow out your candles and make your wish for the next year?
You should pick your theme based on your preferences and your crowd (some are geared toward more adventurous types, some are more family-friendly—you get the deal). Below, see the 15 outdoor birthday ideas we're considering for our special day to inspire gatherings of your own.
Old Hollywood Movie Night Party
Find a drive-in nearby or re-create one in your backyard with blankets, a large screen, and twinkling strung lights overhead for ambiance. Don't forget a popcorn bar with various sweet and savory toppings (or rent a popcorn truck for the night). You can take a poll ahead of time to see which Old Hollywood flick your attendees want to watch—or since it's your birthday, it's fine to take your pick, from adventure-filled Indiana Jones starring a young Harrison Ford to The Graduate, a playful and iconic movie.
If you plan to find a drive-in, check out Coyote Drive-In in Fort Worth, Texas (which offers free entry if you arrive on horseback!); Delsea Drive-In Theatre in Vineland, New Jersey; South Bay Drive In in Imperial Beach, California; and Fairlee Motel and Drive-In Theater in Fairley, Vermont (cash only).
The Extras: Vintage popcorn containers, "Oscar"-like statues as décor, a red carpet and "paparazzi," and fancy dress for guests.
Relay Race Fête
Remember those family picnics you probably went to as a kid, whether with your extended family or your parent's office? If you're all about fun and games, organized activities like the water balloon toss, tug of war, and potato sack race can be so much fun. Plus, we like that this idea lets the kids get involved too.
The Extras: Team T-shirts, prizes for the overall winners, and a snow cone bar.
Dinner Alfresco Get-Together
There's just something about eating together under the stars that is so relaxing. Plus, hosting at your place versus eating at a restaurant means there's no rushing you out right after dessert. To plan, think of supplying enough ice buckets, oversized serving boards and platters for charcuterie and other finger foods, and napkins. Or, think about having your event catered so you can sit and enjoy it from start to finish with your guests.
The Extras: A cocktail hour (perhaps featuring a signature cocktail named after the birthday person), a gorgeous floral centerpiece, and assigned seats.
A Birthday Yoga Retreat
For the person who wants to embrace their spirituality on their special day, why not ask all your friends to go to an outdoor yoga retreat? Whether it's at your place, at the beach, or even one of those extended yoga getaways you can plan, you'll bond through getting your om on together. Just remember: Make sure to hire a yoga instructor or pick a retreat that will cater to different levels of experience so no one feels left out. With the use of props like yoga blocks, straps, and bolsters, almost anyone can do yoga.
Off to the (Horse) Races
If you're celebrating a birthday mid-year, summer is typically home to many a horse race. And even if you've never ridden one, it sure is fun to don your finest attire and watch those beautiful, powerful creatures run. And did we mention you can bet on the event and sip on Champagne the whole time? If you want to splurge, why not go all out and get a private box so you can enjoy the VIP experience?
The Extras: Sun hats, fancy dresses in suits in pastel colors and floral patterns, and paper fans to mitigate the heat.
Vineyard Hopping Soirée
If you're a wine lover, then going on a vineyard trail with your best friends could be a fun adventure (just be sure to have a designated driver). Aim for three vineyards max to avoid tiring everyone out (or getting too tipsy). Make sure at least one stop has a fun option for lunch—or make sure to pack your own sustenance in between stops.
The Extras: Tastings (make a reservation in advance) and a limo, or book a driving tour where you can hop on and off the vehicle as it shuttles your group around to various wineries.
Flower Crown Party
Craft with seasonal blooms to make a wearable piece of art. Host an earthy, nature-themed party in which you gather and craft flower crowns from an assortment of varietals. Hosting the event on a patio is ideal, but a porch or rooftop will do the trick in city settings.
The Extras: An all-white dress code, iced tea, and throw pillows for seating.
Crawfish Boil Celebration
Look to the South for a chill, relaxing way to celebrate. A crawfish boil is truly a sight to see, as the seafood, potatoes, ears of corn, and the like get cooked to perfection in a big outdoor pot. Family and friends will eat family-style and with their hands—messiness happens to be one of the best ways to get people talking (and laughing). Just remember to keep lots of napkins and wet wipes around.
The Extras: Boozy popsicles for dessert and Cajun lemonade, like this recipe from Food & Wine featuring Pimm's, lemon juice, and Tabasco.
A Night of Stargazing
Celebrate your next birthday by hosting a night under the stars to check out the constellations together. Set the scene by placing blankets on the ground, and have everyone settle in before it actually gets dark. Give each guest a laser pointer so they can show others exactly what they're seeing in the night sky.
The Extras: Rent a bunch of telescopes and serve cocktails named after constellations. For the ultimate evening experience, locate a dark sky community near you or plan a trip to one of them, like Big Bend National Park in Texas, Death Valley National Park in California, or Tumacácori National Historical Park in Arizona.
Bonfire BBQ Birthday
Make like your camp days with a bonfire (or bonfire pit if you're throwing your shindig in your backyard). A DIY s'mores bar lets everyone fill their treats with all their favorite ingredients before putting them together between crunchy graham crackers. Settle in for some live music, courtesy of that friend who plays the guitar (or just a low-key playlist) as you sit around the crackling fire.
The Extras: Roasted hot dogs for dinner and cozy blankets for seating.
Low-Key Beach Day
Pack a cooler of your favorite beverages and snacks and celebrate by spending a sunny afternoon at the beach, river, or lake. Sun bathe, throw a frisbee around, and if your recreational site allows, bring your dogs along for the fun. Coordinate with your group and designate who will bring what—like beach chairs, towels, a sun umbrella, sunscreen, and a portable speaker, for starters.
The Extras: A portable grill for hot food items, should your recreational space allow.
Rooftop Patio Brunch
Elevate your brunch gathering... literally! Book your next birthday celebration at a restaurant with stunning views. Consider hotel restaurants, brewery restaurants, and pop-up restaurants in a stunning location near you. Remember to book a reservation if you'll have a group larger than four or five people.
The Extras: Look for special touches like a fire pit, complimentary blankets, and live music to amp up the brunch experience.
Open-Air Performance Bash
Scour your local newspaper or city magazine to see if there are any live, open-air performances of interest. Whether it's a live band, to the symphony or stand-up comedy show, pick a show located al fresco.
The Extras: Consider splurging on VIP seating, which may come with a better view of the performance, food and drink, and comfier seating.
Pick a trail you've been meaning to hike and conquer it with your loved one or best pals. Remember to keep on the marked trail, or for more complicated hikes, opt to hire a guide. Afterward, keep the outdoor party going with brunch on a rooftop or patio.
The Extras: Bring along or rent a GoPro to capture your adventure, or a wide-angle lens attachment for your smartphone to capture a group selfie.
Splash-Worthy Pool Party
Weather permitting, take the birthday soiree to the pool; whether you gather at your apartment pool, someone's backyard, or by booking a reservation at your community pool. Hotels also rent out poolside cabanas for the day, and you usually don't need to be a guest to do so.
The Extras: A portable speaker for birthday jams, and chilled cut-up fruit for a refreshing snack.