This post has not been updated for COVID. For tips on throwing a pandemic-safe party for winter 2020-21, see “How To Throw a COVID-Safe Winter Party for Kids”.
Planning a birthday party in winter may seem like a challenge. Summer party options are plentiful and offer up so many more accessible outdoor options.
But don’t fret! Winter brings its own joys, and indoor parties can work at any time of year. Here are some great ideas for DIY winter parties for toddlers, kids, and tweens.
North Pole Party
A twist on the traditional winter wonderland party—bring in arctic creatures like polar bears, penguins, reindeer, and maybe even some imaginary ones like the Abominable Snowman!
Build igloos out of sugar cubes, play pin the tusk on the narwhal, and set up a hot cocoa bar (pictured) with whipped cream, marshmallows and other toppings, sprinkles, and stir sticks made from Pirouette-style cookies or candy canes.
Loot-bag ideas: mini animal figurines, snow globes, hot-cocoa mix or kits
Kids love being allowed to make a mess, and eating what they’ve baked (or taking it home) is a sweet reward. Be sure to plan an activity while treats are baking so kids don’t lose steam. Providing chef’s hats and aprons for each kid are both practical and take care of party favours.
Loot-bag ideas: baked treats, kid-size aprons and/or chef’s hats
Worried about the mess, the space, or your ability to keep a gaggle of children safe in the kitchen? There are plenty of cooking schools or programs that specialize in cooking, baking, or even chocolate-making parties for kids. Some will even come to you.
An outdoor party in winter? Yes! Whether you set up a large tent in your backyard or use your garage, setting up a camping-themed outdoor birthday party is perfect! Fill up individual Thermoses of hot chocolate, serve fun campfire snacks, and plan fun campfire games—tell spooky stories, have a sing along around the “campfire”, and have a rousing game of leapfrog.
We love the idea of having the kids help you “build a fire”—grab some logs and twigs as well as some red, yellow and orange tissue paper to build a fun, completely fake, fire in your garage! And if you have access to a fire pit, take advantage and build a real fire—adults only of course.
Loot-bag ideas: toques, gloves, cocoa mix
Have a little sports lover on your hands? Try a basketball- or football-themed party. Send playoff-game-style invitations, play mini versions of the games or break out an interactive sports-themed video game.
A chili bar with lots of DIY toppings is a fun food idea.
Loot-bag ideas: balls, snazzy athletic socks, reusable water bottles
Fort Building Party
While you might think of fort building as something you reserve for rainy Sunday afternoons, with a fort building party you can take this fun activity to the next level. Get all the blankets and pillows you can get your hands on and invite a few of your kid’s best friends over to build the most epic fort ever.
Let them take over your entire living room and even the dining room to make the biggest fort they have ever made.
Loot-bag ideas: a small pillow, stuffed animal, eye mask
Get kids’ creative juices flowing with a tickle trunk full of costumes, hats, and more. Hit a local thrift store or party store for the craziest, sparkliest, kookiest hats, shoes, sunglasses, clip-on earrings, feather boas, and other dress-up clothes you can find. Let kids borrow grown-up purses, hats, shoes, ties.
Activity for the party: kids make their own crowns, face masks, wands, tails or jewellery. Be sure to set up several viewing stations with mirrors.
Loot-bag ideas: hair accessories, fun face masks, crowns, sunglasses, capes, magic wands, feather boas
Winter is the perfect time to cozy up indoors and try out and nail polish colours, make your own body scrubs, and sip smoothies while your feet soak!
Why not hand over the heavy lifting and take a breather yourself? Spa party organizers can come to your home or bring you to their studio, where girls concoct a signature perfume fragrance or get glittery mani/pedis.
We love the idea of making sock cupcakes with nail polish bottles (pictured); check out a tutorial from The Tiptoe Fairy.
Loot-bag ideas: nail polish, spa socks, bubble bath, reusable water bottles
Take a break from winter for a day! Crank up the thermostat and bring the beach indoors with beach towels, umbrellas, and beach balls. Pick up some kinetic sand and have a sand-castle-building competition.
Serve sand-dollar or starfish cookies, sand buckets of snacks, and virgin piña coladas.
Loot-bag ideas: Flip-flops, sand toys, fish stickers and stamps, beach towels
Spark their creativity, keep them from going too bananas indoors, and give them something unique to take home. It’s a win-win-win! There are so many crafts to choose from out there, but we love these two ideas executed by Glory at Glorious Treats: decorating a wooden initial of each child’s first name and decorating cookie “canvases” with food-colour markers.
Don’t have the crafting bug? Book an art party that comes to you, from beading and t-shirt making to origami and fashion design or book a party at an art- or craft-specific venue like a paint studio, or ceramics studio.
Loot-bag ideas: paint brushes, finger paints, stamps, mini canvases