When considering my daughter’s spa themed birthday party, all kinds of ideas ran through my head. She was new to middle school and was turning “12” and I wanted to do something special for this pivotal time. She had gone to a small elementary school and I knew all the girls she was friends with and their parents and all their siblings. So when time came to attend middle school and I didn’t know anyone, I was put a little off balance. In my desire to get to know her new friends, I thought this would be a great time to spend with them in the car to get to know them.
For my daughter’s spa party, we decided to take a road trip! Who doesn’t love a road trip with girlfriends? We live in Knoxville, TN and decided to take a small group to Hot Springs, NC to have a hot springs bath. Sounds great right? It actually was. In addition to everyone having a phone and being attached to it, I thought I’d throw in a few things that they could do during the ride.
I bought some tween magazines for them to read…..making sure there were enough to go around. And then so that they could get to know each other better, I put together a 1 page questionaire. Thinks like sibling information, favorite boy band and such. Your daughter can help with some of the fun questions.
After the hot springs bath, we headed back home and the girls all had facials and to top it off the salon offered to give each of the girls an age appropriate lesson on applying makeup. It was a girls day through and through and the kind of birthday I would love……even at my age…..and we’ll keep that number to myself!
At nine, my son was starting to really develop some core friendships. As I was thinking of a fun theme for the small group that he wanted at his birthday celebration, Boys Night Out just fit. You have to be really careful when not inviting all the boys in a class. The personality of the child determines whether or not this is possible. They can’t talk about it at school as it will make others feel left out and some school even frown upon handing out invitations if the whole class isn’t invited….girls and boys… Luckily my son could handle this. My daughter who is 11 can’t hold it in but he could.
This party was all about what the boys wanted to do. The theaters have party packages that you can take advantage of. But since we were having such a small group, I didn’t feel that that was necessary. I picked the boys up at their homes and we headed to a movie. After the movie, the boys hit the arcade. They had so many tokens to spend. It was interesting how 2 of them were interested in how many tickets they could accumulate for prizes and the other just wanted to play games.
After being crazy, we loaded into a photo booth for candid shots of the boys and off to the food court where they all picked out exactly what cupcake they wanted. Boys Night Out was the perfect, easy, low key party for my son as he was able to spend quality time with his best buds. He really is wise beyond his years. When you have too many kids, it’s fun for the atmosphere but you really don’t get to spend one on one time with your guests as we’ve all learned through the years!
Directions to your Birthday Party
If you are inviting new friends or you live in an out of the way place, it’s always thoughtful to assist your guests in finding the party location! I have to be completely honest, this is a detail I personally often forget.
It seemed like for so many years we were inviting friends to our parties who knew our neighborhood. Now, that my daughter is in first grade, we are inviting a whole new set of folks. It’s no longer the kids of my friends who are coming but her friends from school. And not very many of them live in our specific neighborhood so they get lost!!!
Really all it takes is a simple sign that your kids help to make. Or get a couple of extra balloons to tie to the front gate or a stop sign where they need to turn.
Another nice gesture is to put a copy of the directions in the invitation and not just an address. I’m so dependent on my IPhone to get me where I need to go that I forget not everyone has one or uses theirs in that way. This is really easy to do if it’s your home. Just type the directions in a word doc and size it small so you don’t have to resize all the time to print. Save the Directions Document for all the parties you throw.
So, no matter what kind of party you are giving or gathering, it’s helpful to assist your guests in arriving on time and with as little stress as possible!
Children's Museum Parties
The great thing about having your party at an alternate location is that when you end the party, you leave and the mess generated is not at your home. On the other had you do tend to lose some control.
This party was held, and we’ve attended several, at our local Portland Children’s Museum. You go in and pay for the use of a party room and the admission for the number of kids you’ll be having. They have a list at the desk of your guests and are directed straight to the party room. Many times, they will offer adding a craft as part of your package which kids always love.
What do you lose? Flexibility on time and date of the party. This is probably the biggest one. Some places might not let you bring in your own food. Other restrictions that you might find a hindrance.
The biggest consideration when planning an event at an alternate location is to plan it during a non peak time for them. We did attend a birthday party on New Year’s Eve at the Children’s Museum and it was rough on the hostess. There were so many people already in the museum that it was tough to control the party and tough to get the kids into the party room because so much else was going on around the museum. It was fun for them but the whole group never got together. Just food for thought.
Pump It Up
If you haven’t experienced a Pump It Up Party, you are missing something. The only problem is that once your group of friends gets a whiff of Pump It Up, everyone will want their party there.
If your child is a young teen or below, this location can really be fun. The business is a franchise and there is Pump It Up and then Pump It Up Jr. for the little guys. The system is that you go in and play in one room for a period of time and then move to a different room to continue to bounce and play. Then at the end, you are ushered into an eating area for cake and food if you wish. They have many packages where you can plan more of the party or they can plan more of the party.
Even if you choose a location like Pump It Up, you can still have many creative details in regards to your child’s Birthday Party.
Resource: To see if there is a Pump It Up in your town visit their Website.
Walking to the Park
Walking to the park during a birthday party is a great idea. It does two things. If you’ve already had cake it burns off some of that sugar so mom doesn’t have to take the kids home hopped up. Secondly, it breaks the party up and makes the time go by faster.
Here the kids had pizza and cake at the child’s home and instead of having the activities at home as well, we took the kids to a park just a few blocks away. You’ll want to make sure there are extra adults per child for safely sake if they are little. I know preschools walk around with 10 kids and 2 adults but not a good idea to try at a birthday party.
Really this isn’t about walking to the park but walking anywhere to another location. The park doesn’t have to be the destination. Just changing the scenery is a big deal for kids and parents.
Hillside Community Center
I will constantly talk about locations and where to have your birthday party. The location of this Birthday Party was at our neighborhood community center. The name is Hillside Community Center in Portland, OR. We’ve hosted several parties there but this one happens to be a Fire Truck Party Theme. When you use a generic site, the sky is the limit on themes you can use.
We love this location to host parties. You can either sign up for a hosted or a self hosted party. I want to do everything myself, so I generally do self hosted parties. They have numerous trikes, balls and toys that can be used in the gym. For ages 5 or 6 and below, that is ALL that is needed at the party. You can certainly plan more but the kids just want to run around and have fun…..as you can see.
Photograph taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.
Fire Station Party
The biggest fire truck birthday party idea I can give you is to actually visit a fire department. Because of budget cuts in our city, the individual fire houses don’t allow parties in their community rooms. So, we had our “party” at a different location. After letting out a bit of kid energy, we loaded everyone up and went for a tour at a local firehouse.
Here the fire station captain on duty extended the ladder truck and climbed to the top to waive at the kids. These always work best if you can find a fire house with younger firemen with kids of their own. They understand what the little kids love. As we were driving to the fire station, my daughter asked if there are any women fireman(firewomen). I said that there absolutely were but she had never seen any. It was a wonderful surprise for us to show up and the captain on duty the day we were there was a woman!
Most of the time there is no fee for this type of tour, so it is very nice to go back with a plate of cookies, brownies or something showing your appreciation. A small donation if you can afford one, would also be appropriate. The idea of visiting the fire department as a group to see the fire trucks is also a great idea for auction party items.
Photo take by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.
Fire Station Birthday Party
One of the most fun Birthday Parties is a Fire Truck Birthday Party. This theme, like many others, has endless possibilities. I had a Birthday Party for my 3 year old son centered around the Fire Truck theme. The party included girls and boys. Not only did the kids love this party but the parents loved it as well. The first part of the party was at our community center and then the second was at the local fire station. It just so happened that the station number was Station #3! I couldn’t have planned it any better.
If you look at all the posts for this month, you will see ideas shared that encompass all ideas of a Fire Truck Party.
Photo taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.