An outdoor living area is a great place to gather the whole family. For some of us, that means lots of kids around—our nieces, nephews, grandkids, best friends’ babies, and maybe even our own children!
You’ll want to keep the little ones entertained, and it would be great if that entertainment included the fresh air and not their electronic devices. But you probably want to enjoy some adult time as well, so you’re not committed to a full-on children’s party with bouncy houses and entertainers.
Fortunately, you can host a gathering that appeals to everyone in the family—the kids have fun activities to do, and the adults can watch while still having a chance to catch up and chat. Here are a few simple ideas for low-key outdoor entertainment that’s engaging for the children in your life:
If you’ve got the space, you can set up some outdoor games on the lawn and let the kids enjoy. We recommend traditional lawn games that the kids may not be as familiar with to keep up the interest factor. Many of these games are relatively inexpensive, require minimal setup, and are fairly easy to store over the winter. A few options include:
- Bocce ball
- Cornhole (a.k.a. beanbag toss)
- Horseshoe toss
- Ladder toss
Many of these games also have adult appeal, which is great in case an uncle needs to come by and show those kids how it’s really done.
A scavenger hunt
Who says Easter egg hunts are just for the spring? Hide a few small, inexpensive “treasures” around the yard (keeping them away from the grill and other potentially dangerous or crowded areas), and let the kids search. You can also write hints to guide them to the next hiding place and eventually lead them to a larger prize at the end of the line.
Older children might also enjoy turning the tables and getting a chance to hide items for the adults to find.
For younger kids, a small vinyl pool with a few inches of water can be a huge source of entertainment on a hot day. Add some inexpensive water toys, make sure the kids have a change of clothes, and let them go to town! Of course, you’ll need to directly supervise infants and young toddlers, but for older children you may only need to make sure they’re within eyesight and earshot of the adults.
A sandbox is similarly fascinating to young kids, albeit a bit harder and heavier to set up.
A (supervised!) fire pit
Kids and adults alike are mesmerized by watching a good campfire, so be sure to have your fire pit or outdoor fireplace stoked and ready to go. Have an adult on hand at all times, of course, to make sure children don’t get too close or careless, and that they don’t burn any dangerous items.
If you have a wood-burning model, let older and more responsible children be allowed to add occasional kindling. This experience can be a great way to teach kids about how to build a good campfire, and how to handle fire safely.
If you do have an open fire, let kids roast marshmallows (again, supervised!). Set up a s’mores bar to let them customize their treats. You might want to include:
- A variety of cookie bases (chocolate chip, oatmeal, pretzels, etc.)
- Banana slices
- Peanut butter
- Other chocolate candy options
See our Upscale S’mores post for more ideas.
This activity may be better done after dinner, and you may want to limit how many marshmallows each child can eat so they don’t get carried away.
We hope these ideas help you make the most out of your next outdoor get-together. If you’re looking for more outdoor living ideas, check out the Outdoor Lifestyle section of UOK’s blog, which includes articles such as:
- 3 mistakes to avoid when designing an outdoor living room
- Seating ideas for your outdoor kitchen
- Make the most of your tiny backyard with these upgrades
- Container gardening ideas for outdoor kitchens
- 3 ways to beat the heat in your outdoor kitchen
And if your outdoor living area is currently theoretical, our professional designers can help make your dreams a reality!