Summer is a great time to have a birthday party. There are a lot of options available for every budget, from free to as expensive as your budget can handle. There are a lot of outdoor activities and locations for parties, though you should always keep in mind that weather will not always co-operate. Always have an indoor back-up plan.
The time and day that you have the party on is going to have an effect on a lot of things. The best time for guests between 4 and 6 years old is usually 11am to 1 pm on a weekend. This time will usually work with most families so that the guests you invite can come. In the summer it is possible to have parties during the week between 11 am and 1 pm, however you can expect fewer guests to be available. Evenings can work, but you may want to have the party from 5:30 or 6 PM until 7 pm to prevent interfering with bedtimes. Afternoons are better then evenings, though some people feel afternoon parties are more disruptive to their routines and you may have fewer guests then if you have it at 11 am.
You do not want to have the party last longer then two hours at this age. Any longer then that become disruptive to routines. Kids may start to misbehave or act out from the stress of the disruption of their routines. Also parents are less likely to bring their kids to a party that is going to be more then two hours. For the most part you can get a lot of fun and activates into two hours, anymore then two hours becomes stressful for everyone.
The best place to have a summer party is a local park with playground. Often there will be a picnic area, bathroom, on a bus route, and plenty of parking. Some places even have large covered areas that you can hold the party if it rains. Several in my city will also have little water parks, splash pools with lifeguards. This gives you a lot of options for party activities, though if the playground is big enough you may not need any. The beach can also be a good location, with lots of space, and there is usually a park area for picnics or local restaurants with bathrooms and food. Theme and water parks, zoo’s and places like the lion safari are also great ideas. You plan the party early so everyone meets to enter together, and then are free to enjoy the park after the party is over. Keep in mind that although you can get group discounts it can be very expensive. This can also be overwhelming for 4 to 6 year olds.
Once you have a location picked out you will want to think about activities and food. Kids this age have very short attention spans so having several activities on going so that they can move from one to another as they feel like. Don’t try to have very organized or complicated activities. Simple games and toy areas work best. Have some sidewalk chalk available, bubble stuff, some creative toys like trucks, cars and balls, balloons on strings and then let the kids be free to have fun. They are very creative at this age and are likely to be quite happy to chase on another around a tree then play some formalized game with rules.
Food, keep it simple, kids are picky. If you have a portable BBQ then do hotdogs. If you don’t then bring sandwich makings and let the kid’s parents make their sandwich as they know what their kids like. Have a selection of cut fruit and vegetables with a dip, chips, popcorn, and a selection of drinks. Pop is not a good idea here, fruit juice boxes and water works best. Cake is traditional and fun however a wonderful idea is to have a selection of cupcakes with out icing available. Have a table set up with the selection of cupcakes, several types of icing, and plastic knives, and some fun toppings such as gummy candies, mini colored marshmallows, sprinkles, and anything else you can think of. Let each kid pick a cupcake, put what ever icing they pick onto it and then let them pile it high with toppings. This gives you a great activity for the kids, reduces your prep work and is guarantied to have the kids having a messy but very enjoyable time. Just make sure you have enough cupcakes for multiple seconds as the kids will keep coming back just because it is so much fun.
Open gifts when they are all eating and then give the gift/grab bags out. At this point most parents will start leaving. However if you are in a public park even if they hang around you can pack up and get ready to go home. This cuts down on the guests that never leave, and leaves the door open for everyone to stay for as long as they want. So as long as you and your kids are having fun, stay.