Kids Parties that Take the Cake
When it's Time to Outsource the Festivities
October, 2008 - Issue #48

When your home is too small or your to-do list too large, outsourcing your child's birthday party to an off-site location can be your heaven-sent saving grace. Plus, the all-inclusive option is often less expensive, once you take decor, paper goods, food and more into consideration. The best part, though: no clean up! Here are some of our favorite options...

"Hiii-ya!" Happy Birthday
We like Sidekicks Fight Academy birthday parties because the high-energy martial-arts-style games are so fun to watch. Plus, their staff will decorate the facility and find the perfect set of activities for your crew. Relay races, sword fighting, obstacle courses, wrestling contests and even a boxing ring for the older set, make this a top choice. Sidekicks charges $150 for a one-and-a-half hour party with unlimited guests. Sidekicks Fight Academy 251-0761

Flexible Fun
Private parties are the name of the game at Fun & Fit Gymnastics. Relax while the friendly staff totally runs the show (these angels do everything from entertaining the kids to serving refreshments and cleaning up). The birthday star will leave with a free t-shirt and each guest walks away with a coupon for a free lesson. There's even a sleepover option for the very adventurous. Daytime parties range from two to three hours and serve kids aged 3 to teen, with prices starting at $19 per child. Fun & Fit Gymnastics 255-7244

The Littlest Goddess
Your guests will uninhibitedly dance and celebrate at Goddess Fitness. Choose your little girl's favorite theme for the big day; babies will love "Tinkerbelle Toes," and older girls will be the envy of their crowd with events like circus, ballerina, pop-star, hip-hop, jazz, princess and fashion-show parties. Each is hosted in the gorgeous 3,000 square-foot dance studio, complete with velvet drapes and chandeliers. There's a 10-person minimum, with parties starting at $30 per person. Goddess Fitness 251-2831

A Shooting Star
Parties are a piece of cake at the Shooting Stars Center. The enthusiastic staff will customize a party to suit your child. The facility is closed to all other business, so you and your guests have a totally private event. Some popular party themes are pop-star, pirates and princesses, luau, animals, and dancin' divas, and the Stevenson Ranch company doesn't add a bunch of extra charges. Parties start at $290 for one-and-a-half hours of entertainment for up to 25 children. Shooting Stars 291-1333

Get your Race On
At MB2 Raceway, party packages can include multiple races, private, decorated party and VIP Rooms, pizzas, snacks and drinks. Plus, all racers receive Olympic-style medals. Youth birthday parties (for kids 48-inches and up) start at $295 for up to eight junior racers. MB2 Raceway 866-986-RACE

Ultimate Fun
Mountasia Fun Center was voted the best place to throw a party in 2005, 2006 and 2007 for a reason. They do all the work, you have all the fun! Parties include a table for one hour, balloons, a party pal to set-up, serve and clean-up, plus a special gift for the birthday kid. Choose from a variety of packages including food, ice cream and attractions. Packages start at $10.99 per person, with a minimum of 10 guests. Mountasia Fun Center and Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant 253-4386

A Jumping Good Time
At Wallers' GymJam Academy, your guests will smile through one-and-a-half hours of age-appropriate gym fun and games, obstacle courses, a foam pit, trampolines and more! They'll end the day with 30 minutes of birthday cheer and celebration in the birthday party room with tables and chairs included. All you provide is the cake and food, if desired. A free tee for the birthday child, plus balloon and free trial class for guests, are also included. Prices start at $175 for up to 10 participants. Wallers' GymJam Academy 251-3390

Thinking Outside the "Cake" Box
"Birthdays aren't just about cakes anymore," says Denise Kane, owner of Babe's Dessert Bar. "In fact, cupcakes are probably the most popular option for kids parties, especially if they are under the age of 6." Specialty orders are also increasingly common. Posh Pastries, a fine purveyor of European desserts, has seen an increased demand for sugar-free - but still delectable - sweets. Here are Inside SCV's picks for perfect party treats...

Cupcake Dippers
Choose from a variety of cake flavors, stuffings, and frostings, then select three toppings (like candy-bar crunches, cookie crushes, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and more...). The treats are then assembled during the party by the guests themselves, combining craft time with sweet time! Babe's Dessert Bar 254-4770

Sweet Variety
Mixing guests in age and likes means that everyone wants something a little different. Customize the experience with a selection of cookies, cupcakes, mini-cakes and - if you really want to impress - a custom birthday cake that perfectly complements the party theme. Posh Pastries 360-4949

Fulfill their "Party Wishes" Easily, in Home
Think you can pull off throwing your child a puppy-themed party, complete with real-life cuddly balls of fur and a take-home "stuffed puppy dog" activity station? Or maybe you dream of treating your pre-teen to a girls' spa night, complete with a birthday-girl quiz, guest-made custom lip gloss and body lotion. Daunting, right?

It doesn't have to be. A local company, Party Wishes, offers a unique service that lets parents throw "dream parties" in their own home, but without the stress. Host your own party and only worry about what cake you'd like to serve. Party Wishes will deliver a box brimming with decorations, guest favors, tableware, games, crafts and more - plus a notebook that clues you into the ideal timeline (meaning, constantly-entertained kids).

Choose from a huge variety of themed-packs, including Spa Girls, Rock Star Diva (think "Hannah Montana," complete with a "purple" carpet and microphones), Pirates, Bugs, Puppies and more. Prices start at $169 for self-hosted gatherings of eight kids; hostesses are available for an additional fee. Party Wishes 263-7278

Taking the Stress Out of Birthday Party Planning
by Stacie House

Though trends in kids' birthday parties seemingly continue to become more elaborate, don't let anxiety set in just yet.

Let the kids run the show. Don't overwhelm your guests with too many coordinated events. Rather, consider incorporating activity stations for children to enjoy during the party. Depending on the age of your child, this may include an arts and crafts or dessert-decorating area, or a quarter-pipe skateboard ramp in the front yard.

Have good timing. Depending on the age of your child, be sure to coordinate around his or her, and other children's, common nap or school times.

Get under the "Big Top." Don't let the outdoor weather determine event activities. Consider hosting your party in a climate-controlled tent, perfect for creating a faux indoor pool in the middle of January, or a snowball fight in July.

Deal with over-popularity. It is not uncommon for a guest list to originate at 20 guests and ultimately end up at 50. To keep costs to a minimum, consider hosting your child's party at a time that is amiable to serving desserts or snacks only.

Let the adults in on the fun. Consider inviting your children's friends' parents to join you. As social schedules continue to become increasingly hectic, this gives you the opportunity to "catch up" with other parents among your child's circle of friends.

Put the "o-r" back in "original." Rather than having a traditional theme, consider having a party that is themed with your child's initials. In this case your guests can arrive dressed in a costume reflecting an item beginning with a letter in your child's name.

Stacie House is a party planner with A-1 Rentals & Event Services 273-6900.
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