With the weather warming up and birthday season upon us, there is no better way to celebrate with a party at the park! Parramatta and surrounding suburbs have some amazing parks with each offering something different. Nature makes the great outdoors ideal for garden parties, water games, messy projects, and sporting events — and best of all, they can be done at a fraction of the price of indoor ones without rental fees! Below are some of my tips for planning and hosting a party in the park.

What type of park?
  • Shaded parks are my preferred choice for summer parties.  Large trees are a great place to pop a picnic rug and some chairs down.
  • A shade cloth over the play equipment helps keep plastic slides cool meaning you can spend more time at the park.
  • I love a good bbq, so having a bbq near the playground means you can still keep an eye on the kids but quickly cook a few sausages for a party feast.

    Dundas Park
    Playground at Dundas Park
  • Parks that have a sandpit are also one of my favourites, my son could spend hours with a few trucks, a bucket and a spade in a sandpit. Sandpits also mean that almost every guest can join in the fun and parents aren’t having to help their child up the stairs or down the slide constantly.

Check out few of our favourite summer playgrounds for under 5s here! All are shaded and within a 20km radus of Parramatta CBD.

What time?
  • Early morning (9:30am until 11am is a morning suggestion) or late afternoon (4:00pm onward is an afternoon suggestion). The heat isn’t too bad and you can work around nap times. It also makes it easier with food as you don’t feel as if you have to prepare a large meal for everyone. If you do an afternoon party, a simple bbq dinner with some salad is the way to go.
  • For under 5s, 2 hours is my preferred length, even shorter if you are holding the party closer to midday. Break it up with getting out some bubbles, a ball, directing the kids to another play area or attempting to round them up to make sure they are having lots of water.
  • A Saturday is my day of choice. Winter sport has finished for the year and summer cricket is just about to begin. Holding a party on a Saturday still leaves Sunday free for family gatherings and church services.

    James Ruse Reserve
    BBQs at James Ruse Reserve
What to bring?
  • Picnic rugs or folding chairs
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Sunscreen
  • A first aid kit with bandaids, ‘stingos’ spray, antiseptic spray such as ‘betadine’, insect repellent such as ‘Aeroguard’ roll on.
  • If you are having a bbq: Tongs (2 pairs, one for cooking one for serving), foil and paper towel and then a foil tray for the cooked meat.
  • Birthday candles
  • Pre-cut food in take away style containers.
  • Large black plastic bags for the rubbish
  • Large plastic tubs that can double as a drink esky and a way to carry everything to and from the car.
  • Plastic plates, cups and cutlery.
  • Small water bottles such as the ones you can buy from Aldi. I prefer the pop top type style as well as not all young kids have mastered drinking from the open top bottles.
  • Small pump bottle of soap
  • Baby wipes
  • If there is the possibility of limited shade, a beach shade tent or large beach umbrellas
  • Spare clothes and small plastic bag as well as some hand towels if the park has a water area.
  • Spare toys such as buckets, spades and diggers

    Parramatta River Foreshore Reserve
    Parramatta River Foreshore Reserve
Food Suggestions:
  • Cut season fruit such as strawberries, watermelon, banana, pineapple, pear, apple and orange.
  • Veggies cut into sticks that can be used to dip – cucumber, capsicum and carrot
  • Individual cupcakes rather than a large cake. Easier to transport and cater for individual food requirements.
  • Classic dip and crackers combo
  • A block of cheese cut into cubes
  • A simple bbq with sausages, bread rolls and sauce
  • A simple salad like traditional greek, a garden salad or if you’re feeling fancy try Claudia’s Fattoush Salad.
Other handy hints:
  • Check out the park a few weeks before the party date at different times so you know the seating and shade situation.
  • Let your guests know about what is at the park e.g. sand, water, bike track or limited seating so they can bring spare clothes, some sand toys, chairs or a picnic rug.
  • Check if anyone has food allergies. As a parent who’s child has food allergies I always double check that the substitutes are suitable for everyone else and if anyone else has allergies. That way you can make or buy a cake (or cupcakes) and have food that is allergy safe and the child can join in without feeling excluded.
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I am a mother to a 3 yr old boy who loves noisy cars and strawberries. I love baking, cooking, summer storms and being a full time friend and teacher to my son. I kill everything I try to grow including air plants. I pin more cakes and craft ideas than I will ever get to bake or make. I also will never be able to top the dinosaur egg activity I ran at our playgroup. You can find me chasing after my son as he steals flowers from the gardens in West Ryde or at your local sushi train at lunch time.