So your child’s birthday is just around the corner, and you don’t have time to plan and prepare the perfect birthday party? Don’t despair. There are plenty of fun places to hold kids’ parties that’ll save you time in planning, preparation and cleanup. Most importantly, your birthday girl or boy and guests will have a blast.
Try some of these party places for kids of all different ages. When you call, ask what amenities are available and included. Many places provide invitations, food and cake, balloons and decorations, a private party area, a gift for the birthday child and other special birthday services.
Skates & Blades. Roller skating rinks are again gaining popularity and most offer a choice of inline or roller skate rentals for today’s kids. Consider ice-skating and ice or roller hockey parties as a fun alternative.
Strike it Big. Bowling parties are a fun form of recreation for kids of all ages. Preschoolers can score every time with bumper bowling, while teens can go cosmic for glow in the dark fun. Add to the amusement by offering small prizes for low and high scores and the most and fewest gutters.
Pizza and Play. Preschool and early elementary children thrill at being invited to these parties where they can play kiddie arcade-style games, win tickets for prizes, hop on coin operated rides and romp in soft play areas.
Water, Water Everywhere. Head to a wave pool or water park where big kids can ride the waves, swish down water slides, take a plunge and go on tubing adventures. What better way to cool off and party on a hot day?
Recreational Romp. Recreation and fitness centers offer a wide variety of activities for birthdays including gymnastics, swimming, basketball, and arts and crafts.
You Should be Dancin’. Check with your local dance studio for birthday party packages. Some offer professional dance instruction and allow food and party treats to be brought in, so the whole shebang is done right there.
Hit the Right Note. Big kids will be in awe to see one of their favorite performers in concert. For young children, look for a kiddie musical adventure offered by an area musician or music center.
Craft Magic. Young children love to create, so schedule a craft party at a fabric shop, craft store or scrap-recycling center where kids’ activities are offered.
Cops and Robbers. Kids will thrill at testing their skills and cunningness in a game of laser tag. These centers often offer on-site party areas and birthday packages.
Fast Food Fun. For a simple and inexpensive toddler or preschool party, fast food spots are an excellent choice. Children can crawl through a playscape and dive into a pool of balls while enjoying their favorites: hamburgers, chicken nuggets and French fries. Call ahead to make your reservation.
Putt-Putt & More. Family fun centers offer a variety of entertainment including batting cages, miniature golf, video games, bumper boats and go-carts.
Hands-on Science. Keep kids of all ages thoroughly engrossed and entertained at one of the many hands-on science instruction sites, where they can try out gadgets, watch or participate in experiments, build constructions and much more.
Elevating Adventures. Daredevils won’t want to miss one of these exciting quests. Look for a rock climbing gym or zipline tour in your area where party guests can pursue adventures with a professional instructor.
Monkeyin’ Around. Parties away from home don’t have to be costly. Reserve a pavilion at a nearby park with a large playscape. Little ones can run, climb and play to their hearts’ content. Bring along your own party supplies. To keep things simple, call ahead for pizza delivery.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat. An afternoon paddling excursion for teens is the ultimate in outdoor fun. Contact stand-up paddle board, kayak or canoe rental facilities for details. Bring along a picnic lunch. Add to the fun with a cooler full of water balloons to cap off the day.
Z is for Zoo. Zoos and wildlife centers are a great source for birthday entertainment. Many offer party packages that include meals, cake, invitations, live animal presentations and more.
When planning your child’s party, keep in mind what’s important is not how perfectly the party goes, but that your birthday child and guests have fun. To ensure success, follow these tips:
- Offer your child choices for his or her party, ask for input and allow him or her to assist in planning.
- Send out written invitations. Verbal invitations may be forgotten, make the invitee feel like an afterthought or leave parents of the invited child questioning whether the invitation was approved by the birthday child’s parents.
- Include all details on the invitation including a start and end time, address and directions, phone number and anything guests need to bring, such as a bathing suit and towel or activity waiver.
- Play it safe and set a rain date for outdoor parties.
- Keep the guest list manageable to avoid chaos, confusion and conflict. The number of guests should correspond with the child’s age or slightly over.
- Request an RSVP with a specific deadline, allowing yourself time to invite others in the event that the guest list falls short. Be sure to include your contact info.
- Keep the length of the party within reason. Unless it’s a sleepover or special event, preschool parties should be limited to one hour; parties for older children should last two to three hours.
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer and the author of a kids’ STEM book, Horoscopes: Reality or Trickery?