Birthday party but in the dark and freezing to death
November 11, 2020 1:30 PM   Subscribe

My 7 year old is celebrating her birthday with her best friend, with a nighttime picknick in a park. At 5 deg C. Please help me brainstorm 2 or 3 activities to keep them busy and warm.

We're abiding by local covid regulations. This is in a park/playground after dark (so around 5 pm). There will be flashlights and exploring under trees. We can have music.

I don't expect us to last more than an hour tbh, it's too cold!

Kid likes treasure hunts (though how would we do that in the dark?) And sparkly things.

Kid likes the idea of dressing up as monsters in halloweeny way

She likes balloons. And unicorns and fairies. And dancing.

Please give me some ideas? Thank you!
posted by Omnomnom to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If ever there was a call for glow sticks or sparklers and a disco ball run off a car lighter converter, this would be it!

You could also set up glow sticks as a path under the trees that leads to treasure/dance party/bonfire with smores.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:38 PM on November 11 [6 favorites]

I'm afraid we will not be able to have a fire! (Sucks, but it's a public park so that makes sense). But the other ideas would work, thanks!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:43 PM on November 11

Instead of a fire for s'mores, you could use a propane or charcoal BBQ.
Make sure there are hot beverages - cocoa or cider.
posted by ShooBoo at 1:48 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]

There are lots of LED "wearables" like rings, necklaces, headbands - they blink in rainbow colors and are migraine-inducing indoors but would be super fun out in a park after dark.
posted by nkknkk at 1:48 PM on November 11 [3 favorites]

Can you hide a ton of candy and small toys/treats with things that glow? So like an Easter egg hunt but restyled for a dark birthday. Maybe there's a tech solution that would allow you to hide everything and then turn on all the lights with your phone. But if there is, I don't know it, so maybe you could just flip on the glowing things as you hide the items and rely on them to be too excited and blinded by their flashlights to notice 'til you say, "Okay, partiers, it's time to turn off your flashlights, close your eyes, and count to twenty to give the Halloween birthday fairies time to finish laying out their smorgasbord of delights!" (And to give their eyes time to recover from the flashlights.) I'm thinking use those really cheap LED rings.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:50 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]

Yes to LED rings! Put them in the Easter eggs with the candy. You can also try to find the ones that go inside balloons! Another fun thing would be chalk or chalk paint (mix 1-1 cornstarch and water) under a black light.
posted by mai at 2:01 PM on November 11

EL Stick Figure costumes?
posted by BungaDunga at 2:02 PM on November 11

Okay the internet informs me that to make paint that glows under a black light, you should mix cornstarch with tonic water. I recommend chunky, junior sized paintbrushes for this. It’s a bit of a pain to mix the cornstarch because it sticks together but totally worth it.
posted by mai at 2:04 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]

Is the park somewhere that you could make leaf piles for jumping in? I loved that at that age. Hide and seek in the dusk/dark is also fun, especially with costumes. I'm pretty sure my own 7-year-old birthday involved nighttime sledding in the middle of the winter...the main thing I remember about winter and elementary school is that the cold didn't bother me then the way that it would now. Picnicking/sitting still would be harder, but as long as everyone is running/dancing around, that temperature wouldn't be that bad.
posted by pinochiette at 2:05 PM on November 11

Lots and lots of glow bracelets! They sell packs of them online with connectors to make funny shapes. Have a glow stick dance party!

Also my 7 year old loves scavenger hunts at the park, even if they're for simple stuff like pinecones and smooth rocks and the prettiest leaf.

Also lots of layers and a thermos of something hot to drink.
posted by beandip at 2:08 PM on November 11

Flashlight tag!
posted by Grandysaur at 2:46 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]

You could set up a really cool treasure hunt, with each clue leading to the next clue and a cache of glow in the dark toys at the end. Start the event with a note--either with specific instructions (third swing from the left) slightly obscure if she knows the park well (the squeakiest swing/X's favorite swing), or vague hints ("To soar toward the sky where the birds take wing, look for a clue that is stuck to a _____") The next clue is twisted in the chain of the swing and points you to a bench or the top of the slide or whatever.

I have literally never seen a dozen large balloons (not helium--just tossed on the ground) not thrill a group of children. If it's not too windy, you can do those outside in the park; they will chase them around.

Thermoses of warm drinks.

You could do a photo scavenger hunt; give them cameras and they have to find/take pictures of things with the flash. Harder than during the day, which might take more time.
posted by gideonfrog at 2:47 PM on November 11

I love the idea of hunting for glow sticks or LED stuff. Headlamps are always fun. If you can get reflective tape, you can mark stuff with that; even a little is quite effective. 2nding thermoses of hot cider, hot chocolate, hot tea, soup/stew. And handwarmers Bring spare mittens/gloves.
posted by theora55 at 2:47 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]

I really think this needs to be some kind of fairy hunt that leads to a glowing fairy ring she and her friend can dance in.

Amazon results for "glow in the dark fairies" should give you lots of ideas:

I would probably start with some of the GITD fairy stickers scattered throughout the trees, then as you get deeper, add in a few of the fairy houses tree statues. Get some solar LED fairy lights too, and/or increase the frequency/density of the stickers on the trees.

Finally, use GITD pebbles to create a path or road to your fairy ring made with GITD mushrooms. Hang a few LED wind chimes around (I didn't see any fairy ones specifically, but a mix of hummingbirds, butterflies, and angels should have the same impact). I see some unicorn plushies with LED lights in them that might be a fun addition, or battery operated unicorn nightlights. Maybe one of those castle play tents with some LEDs inside?

Of course, I guess you'd really need more of a private forest than a park to really make this work and it'd get expensive fast, but I kind of want to throw this party now...
posted by natabat at 3:02 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]

Light up frisbee! Or even catch with a lit up ball if frisbee's are too tricky. We used to play with one a lot as a kid after it got dark.
posted by Dynex at 3:21 PM on November 11

Battery powered tealights might be useful.

Make sure you go to the park before the night of and test how dark it will actually be and if lights or glow sticks etc will be visible. It could be too light or too big an area for your proposed lights to work.

Consider sound effects such as spooky noises for atmosphere.

Try and source a glow in the dark ball for them to play pitch and catch or kickball with. A regular ball with glow in the dark tape around it would work in a pinch.

Marshmallows on a stick can be toasted over a candle if it is not too windy, especially one of those chunky candles with multiple wicks.

I would bring lots of clothes for them to bundle up in, mittens and fleece lined hooded jackets and aim to get them good and chilled so they are delighted with hot cocoa, either from a thermos, or once back home/at a drive through. If they are doing a picnic in the dark the birthday child is looking for a sensory experience, so being cold and cozy would likely add to that.

If the park is big enough and dark enough bring a telescope or binoculars and do some star watching, if the weather is clear enough to permit.

Luminaria (jars with real candle in them) might also be good for the mood.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:52 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]

I don’t know why, but I’m thinking wheelbarrow rides. Blankets in the wheelbarrow so it’s comfy for the rider. Maybe a kind of obstacle course that the driver has to navigate.
posted by lakeroon at 9:58 PM on November 11

Going to project my own party dreams here and suggest silent disco. A cursory search shows there are apps for this, but also you could probably just pull up the same playlist on two devices and hit play at the same time. And yes, glow sticks and LED wearables.
posted by justjess at 7:24 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]

Doing a treasure hunt like an Easter egg hunt is doable. I recommend flashlights for searching. I did one for my family for Halloween with candy in plastic sandwich bags. I was concerned enough about losing them in the dark that I actually numbered them and did a crude map of where each number ended up. Probably want something like that unless you're hiding biodegradable items. They were able to find most of them and it was a lot of fun running around in the dark.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:17 PM on November 17

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