Theme ideas for your next outdoor get-together
Not every backyard party needs a theme. It can be enough just for people to get together to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. Add some snacks, a few drinks, some tunes.. you’re set! Sometimes, though, it’s a bit of fun to give your party a theme. Here are a few theme ideas for your next outdoor get-together or party.
Themes for Childrens’ Parties
The backyard can be the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party: at some point after a few red cordials there might be a bit of chaos and bedlam, and it’s a good idea to keep that away from the antiques.
Every boy of a certain age understands that robots are awesome! Decorations should be metallic, grey and silver in colour, festooned with nuts and bolts.
What to serve: Use a robot shaped cookie cutter to make robot biscuits. Cola can be served as “mineral oil”. Marshmallows of different sizes can be assembled using toothpicks into marshmallow robots.
What to do: Use cardboard boxes and foil to have the kids dress up as robots when they enter the party. You can turn this into a competition, with a prize for the best robot costume. “Simon says” can be played as “robot says”. “Pin the tail on the donkey” can become “pin the arms on the robot”. Have “robot races” where legs have to be kept straight at all times – first to the finish line wins!
Bubbles and Balloons
This one’s great for toddlers, though I think that deep down, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we all love bubbles and balloons.
What to serve: Gumballs, meatballs, rumballs, stuffed potato balls, and delicious round food of any type. Bubble tea. Fill balloons with helium and anchor them down by tyeing them with string to pieces of raspberry coconut slice wrapped in parchment paper.
What to do: Show the kids how to make their own bubble wands using pipe cleaners. Have a competition for who can blow the largest bubble. Hold a “balloon race” where two or more teams of equal size all stand in a row and pass the balloon from the from the front to the back – when the balloon gets to the end, the kid at the back runs to the front and then the balloon gets passed back again – the first team to run through every member so that the kid who started at the front is back there again, is the winner. Popping balloons can be fun, but be careful that this doesn’t happen near to anybody’s ears or eyes.
For the Grown-Ups
No need for the kids to have all the fun!
There’s no better way to pass away a hot summer night than with a tropical party in the backyard.
What to serve: Cocktails. Woohoo! Yeah, cocktails! Mai Tais, mojitos, frozen daiquiris, margaritas, pina coladas, getting caught in the rain.. these all fit the bill for a tropical party. Don’t forget to serve a few alcohol-free “mocktails” for the non-tipplers and those who have to drive. Tropical fruit platters are a great food idea, as are skewers and mini hawaiian pizzas. Click here for more finger food ideas.
What to do: Man, do the limbo! How low can you go? Have a hula hoop competition – whoever can hula the longest, wins. Don’t forget to grab a few hammocks for your guests so they can recline in true tropical style.
Classic Afternoon Tea
Elegant and refined, civilised and traditional. Initially arising in 19th century Britain amongst hungry highborn ladies of Queen Victoria’s court as an informal stopgap “mini meal” between a midday lunch and a dinner not scheduled until 8:30pm, afternoon tea became a distinctly formal affair once the queen herself got involved. Afternoon tea parties would go for hours and might host hundreds of guests. Once a daily ritual for the idle rich, afternoon tea is generally enjoyed in modern times as a rare treat to mark a special occasion, such as a birthday or baby shower.
Fine manners and finer china are optional, but highly encouraged.
What to serve: Tea! Loose leaf tea, ideally. Some seven decades on from its initial publication, George Orwell’s seminal essay ‘A Nice Cup of Tea‘ still serves well as a guide to brewing a great cuppa. Additionally, champagne, prosecco or other sparkling white wine can be served.
Afternoon tea also requires some food: pastries, cakes, slices, small finger sandwiches, biscuits, and scones are all very strong options. Bruschetta or chicken caesar salad are far less traditional menu items, but no less tasty. You should aim for a balance between savoury and sweet.
What to do: Converse in a genteel, leisurely fashion.
What about family dos, and other occasions for children and adults together? Keep reading!
Food, drinks, and games are all part of the fun of a south-of-the-border themed fiesta.
What to serve: Nachos, tacos, enchiladas, salsa dip with corn chips, beans and rice, guacamole, sweet churros, mezcal, Tecate, and agua fresca.
What to do: Hold a chilli eating competition, break open piñata, or enjoy siesta.
Halloween is growing in popularity in Australia, and in many parts of the country, the end of October is when the weather starts to get nice again, so it’s a great time to take your Halloween party outdoors. Costumes and novelties make it a great time with a little something to offer people of all ages.
What to serve: Snacks. Creepy, ghoulish snacks. Spookier the better!
With a little ingenuity, tasty treats can manifest as macabre, menacing, monstrously morbid morsels. Rum balls can be dipped in white chocolate and decorated with a chocolate chip and red icing to become bloodshot eyeballs. Cupcakes can be topped with thick zigzags of light orange icing to become braincakes. Bruschetta pieces can be placed into guacamole vertically in rows, as tombstones, to create a chips and dip graveyard. Juice can be frozen inside a rubber glove – you can then cut the glove away to create a severed hand to place inside a bowl of sangria or punch. Cocktails can be served with black licorice sticks as stirrers.
What to do: The key to making a Halloween party for all ages work is to include something for everyone. A Halloween scavenger hunt is a great way to make things fun for the kids, while keeping them occupied and getting them out of the way. For the “groan-ups”, there’s probably little need of organised activities as they no doubt already know what to do at a party. For all ages, costumes are to be non-negotiable. This is a Halloween party, after all!
The Good Old Aussie Barbecue
An evergreen favourite. Though there’s nothing uniquely Australian about barbecueing, we’ve been more than happy to put our own spin on it and adopt it as a national icon. And why not? The Aussie barbecue is a wonderful institution unifying people of all ages and from many walks of life.
What to serve: Beer is the traditional beverage of choice at the aussie barbie. Well chilled pale lagers work well with the weather and the food, although crisper tasting ales like Cooper’s Sparkling are also worth considering.
Meat, fish and seafood are the traditional barbecue fare. Prawns and sausages are both popular for a reason, but there’s no reason to limit yourself: shish kebabs, lamb cutlets in tandoori marinade, crispy barbecued pork belly, whole baby snapper, pulled pork, swordfish steaks, salt and pepper squid, yabbie skewers.. you can even cook pizza on the barbie.
It’s good to barbecue some vegetarian food as well, and not simply to cater to guests who don’t want meat; you don’t need to be completely herbivorous to find your mouth watering at the sight and scent of barbecued stuffed capsicums, barbecued portobello mushrooms, or barbecued corn on the cob. Bananas and pineapple rings can both be barbecued as well, for a delicious dessert.
It’s a terrible idea to put your salads on the barbecue, but they work great as a side dish at any Aussie barbie.
What to do: Crank some tunes. Play backyard cricket. Keep in the shade when the sun’s at its hottest, and kick back and have a yarn with friends and family.