Party Guide    

Have Party fun outdoors

There are countless ideas for outdoor fun:

  • Set up an outdoor movie theater with a white sheet and a projector, pop some popcorn and send out invitations that are shaped like movie tickets!
  • Pitch some tents, make a fire pit and brush up on your ghost stories for a summer camping party.  Catch fireflies, roast marshmallows and make flashlight art. 
  • Little girls may enjoy a fairy party. Decorate your swing set or pavilion with streamers, star garland and balloons. Dangle white lights from patio trees and the fence for an enchanted look.  These items can be purchased at your local craft store or ordered from online stores. Ask everyone to come dressed as their favorite fairy and give each child a wand. Watch them create their own fun! 
  • Don’t mind a mess? Try a “messy party.” Gather items of different textures like cornflakes, yogurt, whipped cream, Jell-O, etc. and put them in bowls, bags and bins. Have guests come in play clothes and allow the children to explore the bags with their hands, feet and mouths. Use a hose or sprinkler to clean them up at the party’s end.     

One drawback to an outdoor party is the weather. Try as we may, it’s nearly impossible to predict summer weather in the Hudson Valley. To avoid weather complications try the following: as old fashioned as it sounds, consult the Farmer’s Almanac. Used for years to determine the best time to plant crops, this publication is often quite accurate in predicting weather conditions.

Schedule a rain date. While it may alter your guest list, a rain date is a good idea if your party location does not require a reservation or pre-arranged time and date. Plan a party in a location that has a rain shelter, such as a playground or park with a covered pavilion, a theme park with an indoor section or an establishment, like a fire department, that has indoor items of interest. 

Bugs can also put a damper on your outdoor fun. It’s hard to find an outdoor site that’s bug-free. Try to spray the area for insects several hours before your guests arrive so the smell of insecticide doesn’t linger in the air. If mosquitoes are in the air, light some citronella tiki torches.

They’ll keep the bugs away and add a decorative touch.  Just remember to keep citronella away from food because of its distinctive smell. Finally, make sure that you have ample trash bins with lids. This way you will cut down on bees searching for sweet foods! 

If you’d prefer to host your event at a local park, contact your town hall or visit the county public works website for more information. While Rhinebeck’s Starr Park did not require a fee or a reservation for use of their pavilion, I was advised that the facility was on a first come, first serve basis. Other area parks may require reservations and/or day use fees. 

  • Bowdoin Park, located in Wappingers Falls features an award-winning playground with a sprinkler park, 4+ miles of hiking trails and beautiful views of the Hudson River. Bowdoin has four outdoor pavilions, a band shell, auditorium and chapel for events.  Rentals for these facilities start at $85 for county residents and $100 for non-residents. 
  • Wilcox Park located near Milan features breathtaking views as well as a man-made beach, playground and two pavilions that can also be rented by Dutchess residents starting at $85 a day and more for non-residents.
  • Smaller, community parks such as Red Hook’s Recreation Park do not require a deposit but require a reservation to ensure that the space is available. 

The Hudson Valley has hundreds of beautiful parks that are well equipped for celebrations. You can usually find reservation information posted at park entrances.  When in doubt, call the town offices for further information.  Finally, if a reservation fee is not required, it is always a nice idea to offer a donation to the town for use of the facility. These donations are for park upkeep for future celebrations!      

The options are endless, and if all else fails, call upon memories from your childhood summers.  Recall how you spent your afternoons playing freeze-tag or kickball, setting up a lemonade stand and catching fireflies. The wonder of summer is that it gives us more daylight to explore the outdoors and get back to the simple pleasures. Introduce your child to these games and some “old-fashioned” entertainment. 

Meridith Ferber lives in Rhinebeck with her husband Chad, and their three children. She is a contributing writer to both HV Parent and HV Life. Meridith runs “Takes the Cake Party Planning” with her friend.