Always at a loss for birthday party ideas? This special advertising section from Chicago Parent has a bevy of ideas and resources. All you have to do is click online or make the call. Easy peasey.
Always at a loss for birthday party ideas? This special advertising section from Chicago Parent has a bevy of ideas and resources. All you have to do is click online or make the call. Easy peasey.
Adoring Fans. Attention from the crowd. Lots of doting andspoiling. For most kids, birthdays provide that once-a-yearopportunity to grab the spotlight, take the proverbial stage andtruly become the star of the party. Parents and lots of localbusinesses realize that ‘the star’ is indeed what kids want to beand they’re catering plans and offerings to make sure children getthe experience they desire. If you’re looking for ways to make sureyour child feels amply pampered with the star treatment, readon.
What could be better than celebrating a birthday with the King’sCourt at Medieval Times in Schaumburg? The birthday celebrant issurely the star of the party here, where celebrations includeadmission to the thrilling two-hour show, a medieval four-coursefeast, a slice of cake and a group photo. Take things to the nextlevel by planning a knighting ceremony for your child during theparty. Lord Chancellor performs the knighting in the Hall of Arms.A wench or surf will sing and all in attendance will focus on thebirthday child and his or her new knighthood. For Sunday parties,the first 100 kids in line are welcomed into the actual arena sandto learn how to properly swing a sword and participate in acommunity knighting ceremony. Celebrate the medieval way and youryoungster will definitely feel like a star.
Video games are all the rage with kids of any age these days.Just imagine how it would feel to have all your favorites up andrunning simultaneously so that your friends could play together.That’s where The Game Dudes come in, with their state-of-the-artmobile gaming theater in tow. Equipped with the latest technologyfrom floor-to-roof inside and out, this unique gaming experienceoffers packages ranging from two to three hours and can accommodate16 to 20 kids. Don’t worry much about the weather; The Game Dudeswill take care of your star with their climate-controlled vehicleand outdoor awnings. The star of the party will feel truly incharge when they select their favorite games to play, includingthose just released and most anticipated. Laser tag can be added aswell. “We recently had a brother-sister party where the boys set uptheir games inside and the girls did Wii Rock Band, Just Dance andkaraoke outside,” says Kevin Brock, director of franchiseoperations. “It worked out great and everyone had a blast.” Theserious entertainment provided by The Game Dudes means parents saveon extra food or activity costs; kids will be so busy that theywon’t need anything else. Sit back and watch your gamer run theshow.
Your child will feel like a star while under the stars at theAdler Planetarium. The newest birthday party package includes DeepSpace Adventure, an immersive space experience like no other. Kidswill board the observation deck of a starship where they’ll besurrounded by the larger-than-life phenomena of the dynamicuniverse in which we live. Parents can personalize a planetariumparty to include specific shows, like Journey to the Stars and OneWorld, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure, depending on ages andinterest. Decorations and cake may be brought in and catering andgoody bags are included at an additional cost. Kids aged 3 to 10will love a planetarium party, but for those 6 and up, consideranother new offering: an Astro-overnight. Youngsters visit exhibitslate night, participate in exciting activities and telescopeviewing. The planetarium includes a late-night snack for thisadventure, and parents can select from an evening after-hours partyor a true planetarium sleepover.
There’s nothing like being the center of attention at birthdayparty given by The Bus of Fun. Kids ages 12 and under will loveplanning the line-up of classic style party games, like Bozobuckets, tug-of-war and balloon tosses, all which take place on thefully birthday-decorated party bus. “Parents can sit back, takephotographs and just enjoy the party,” says Jamie Molina, partycoordinator. “We’re all about m
There’s no question that most of us parents have too much to doand too little time. So, what about if we could actually enjoy ourchild’s birthday party – without the preparation, planning theentertainment, serving the food, AND the dreaded clean up? Thesevenues will actually throw the whole party for you – all you haveto do is be a guest at your child’s party. Win win all around!
Yu Kids Island Chicago is the only play place of its kind in thecountry. Recently opened and conveniently located in the WoodfieldMall, and open seven days a week, rain or shine, Yu Kids IslandChicago features activities and equipment with movement. That’sright-all of the equipment gently move. From their Spinning Palmsto Dancing Balloons (both big and small) and even a super specialRevolving Tree, all of the equipment helps to teach children until48″ body coordination, strengthen muscles, and improve interactionwith others. And now, Yu Kids Island Chicago is offering birthdayparties for your child.
A party at Yu Kids Island Chicago includes a special partycoordinator to help you throughout the entire party; free printableinvitations; use of a private party room for 1 ½ hours; all partysupplies – cups, plates, etc.; party set up and clean up; plusunlimited playtime for all guests the entire day. Food and drinkare available for an additional charge. The only thing parents haveto supply is the cake.
Aneta Mojsa of Yu Kids Island Chicago says, “Yu KidsIslandis dedicated to making playtime as rewarding for theparents as it is for the children. This is truly thatmuch-sought-after quality time that parents want to spend withtheir children.”
Odyssey Fun World originally opened in Tinley Park as a 45,000sq. ft. indoor facility. It now includes three indoor rides, LaserTrek, a gaming lounge, a two level redemption center, andexploration adventure. Their outdoor venue (weather permitting)includes two go kart tracks; 2 mini golf courses (one of which iswheelchair accessible); baseball/softball batting cages; speedboats and bumper boats, as well as an inflatable kids’ park.
Ryan Jacobs of Odyssey Fun World describes this amazing place as”Chuckee Cheese on steroids.” And their birthday parties areequally sensational! Odyssey Fun World offers a variety ofcustomizable party packages. You can design a free party invitationthrough E-vite, or purchase postcard invitations for a nominalcharge. For the basic birthday party, pizza and pop are included,as well as game tokens and your choice of unlimited explorationadventure, 1 laser tag mission, or indoor ride tickets. Options canbe added to suit the tastes of the birthday guest, including goodybags. Their premier packages include an extreme everythingwristband which allows unlimited exploration adventure time, andunlimited indoor rides. Parents supply cake and ice cream. MascotChipper can even be invited to join your birthday party for aphotograph with the birthday child.
“Whether your Child is only 2 years old, or even 45, Odyssey FunWorld has activities sure to entertain your guests.”
Most parents of young children are familiar with My Gym, whichis an extraordinary program and facility, designed to make fitnessfun. My Gym is dedicated to nurturing children, not onlyphysically, but mentally, socially and emotionally. And what betterfacility for a terrific children’s birthday party than My Gym?
Lindley Gibbs of My Gym, Skokie, says, “Our complete facility isdedicated solely to your family and guests. Celebrate your child’sbirthday with exhilarating, age-appropriate games and originalactivities, relays, rides, songs, puppets and more! Our partyspecialists handle the set up, decorations, entertainment,refreshment service, and cleanup. You just sit back and enjoy thefun.”
Parents can choose from three party packages, which allow partyguests the exclusive use of the facility, a party room,decorations, a My Gym
Remember when you were a kid and first stepped inside a moonbounce or bounce house? The excitement you felt as your feet landedon the soft, squishy floor and the freedom that came from jumpingas high as you had every jumped can never quite be replicated.Today’s bounce houses have gone to the extreme and places such asJump!Zone, Monkey Joe’s, PartyTime and Pump It Up are giving kidsof all ages the opportunity to bounce through rooms filled withthemed-inflatables that jump the birthday party celebration to anentirely new level.
“Kids get to run, jump, and slide all over the place,” saysDavora Sides of Pump It Up. “Who doesn’t love that?” Not many kidswould balk at the chance to have free reign in a party area wherefun obstacles and challenges abound and their playground isliterally a room filled with soft, bouncy surfaces and parents lovethe idea of letting kids be kids in a location other than their ownhome or yard. While most inflatable party locations offer packagesthat include party rooms, dedicated party hosts and even snacks anddrinks, there are numerous ways you can make the most of your partyexperience:
Although the floors and walls are soft, safety is still aprimary issue when it comes to having an inflatable party. At PumpIt Up, guests are shown a brief safety video before the partybegins that clearly outlines all the rules of play. And atJump!Zone, those rules are reinforced throughout the party. “Askids tend to have a short memory span, we train each of our staffmembers to remind our young guests the importance of the rulesthroughout the party in case they forget, ” says Scott Soeder ofJump!Zone. Make sure parents of all your guests are informed of therules as well-even if that means asking them to stay during thebeginning of the party as the rules are being explained.
Be Date Flexible
As with most birthday party locations, inflatable parties fillup fast especially during the key weekend hours, so be sure andbook your party at least 4 to 6 weeks ahead of your intended date.In addition, ask if there are any ‘off hour’ party times. Pump ItUp offers “Early Bird” (Sat/Sun 9AM), “Late Night” (Sat 7:45 orlater and Sun 7 PM or later) and weekday party options.
Don’t miss the opportunity to make your party unique and shiningthe spotlight on the party boy or girl. At Monkey Joe’s, thebirthday party kid gets a sticker to let everyone know it is his orher birthday along with the opportunity to sit in an “awesomebirthday chair” and have a poster signed by all the guests. Also,if you have a separate party room available where you can servefood and open presents, ask if you can bring in your own items.”Parents can bring in their own custom birthday cake as well astheir own paper plates and decorations,” says Soeder. And someparents have taken the decorations to the extreme. “We had ajungle-themed party where the mom packed the party room withinflatable animals, trees, etc. It was amazing,” says Sides.
Ask for the Upgrade
At Pump It Up, almost any traditional party package can beupgraded to include pizza, drinks, goodie bags and balloons. MonkeyJoe’s will actually offer you a variety of ‘themed’ paper plates,napkins and cups. And, PartyTime Palace in Des Plaines allows youto order balloons or piñatas directly from them and has an amazingselection of food options that includes kosher pizza, spaghetti,nachos and salads. Although most upgrades will cost you a littleextra, they will save you tons of time and planning. In addition,be sure and ask if the location of your party has any partnershipswith outside vendors such as pizza restaurants or ice creamparlors. If they do, they will often have discounts available ifyou purchase food for your party.
Make the Memories Last
No party is complete without
If you have young children, your next birthday adventure couldliterally be a walk in the park. With numerous facilities and staffexperienced in working with children and their families, local parkdistricts have become part of the party scene. “You know thefacility, you know the staff,” says Nancy Prosser of Mount ProspectPark District. “Most park districts have a big reputation and takegreat pride in their facilities, staff and activities-making theman ideal place for celebrating your big day.” Here are somesuggestions for getting the most out of your park district partyexperience.
Think Outside the Party Room
With so many facilities available for children and theirfamilies, your local park district makes it easy to move beyond the’party room’ and into a birthday party adventure. At the Emily OaksNature Center, which is part of the Skokie Park District, kids ages3 & 4 become part of nature during the “Mouse Walk” party.After painting on whiskers, kids pretend they are mice in thewilderness-building houses, looking for food and even hiding from afox (which is really a fox puppet). “We want kids to have apositive experience and build a relationship with the naturalworld,” says Lee Hansen of the Emily Oaks Nature Center. “And, inorder to do that, we believe you have to actually have contact withnature.”
And don’t let colder weather deter your ‘outside the party room’imagination. There is a “Winter Mouse Walk” party which still getskids out into nature, but also includes some indoor nature centeractivities and at the Bolingbrook Park District kids can enjoy thepool year-round. “Our most popular package is the Parkie thePelican Poolside Birthday Party,” says Rebecca Gonzalez of theBolingbrook Park District. “We are able to offer this partyyear-round since we have an indoor and outdoor aquatic park bothoffering exciting attractions for all ages and genders.”
Keep It Simple
You don’t have to be elaborate with your party plans-especiallyfor young children.
Often renting a room or a gymnasium to let them run and play isall that is needed for the day to be a success. “Even with our gymparties we have two hosts available to help parents plan theperfect activities,” says Sandie Gilmer of the Naperville ParkDistrict. “We can even tailor the activities so they fit with aspecific theme your child enjoys such as freeze tag becomingsuperhero tag.”
If you do opt to go with a more hands-on experience such asOakbrook Terrace Park District’s Lake View Nature Center wherechildren can get up close and personal with some of nature’s finest(think reptiles, fish and animal tracks), keep the group small.”Keeping the party small is not only more manageable for parents,but it allows each child to really be engaged in the activities,”says Marianne Long from Oakbrook Terrace Park District.
Tap Into Interests
There does appear to be something for everyone when it comes topark districts.
A sports enthusiast? Checkout organized sports parties such asthe ones found at the Skokie Park District or the Deerfield ParkDistrict. “Our most popular Sports Party packages such as soccer,basketball, dodgeball and taekwondo, come staffed with coaches tofacilitate the activities,” says Tony Korzyniewski, general managerat the Sachs Recreation Center of the Deerfield Park District. Abudding ballerina? Think about renting out a park district dancestudio and hosting a ballet-themed party or ask about hosting aparty at one of the park district’s theatres where your futureOscar-winner and his friends can perform on a real stage. Stilldon’t see a party that fits? Ask your park district forsuggestions. “We can direct parents to the right locations andfacilities within the park district,” says Prosser. “Even if aparty is geared towards older kids, we might be able to tweak it abit to work for younger kids as
Cakes, cookies and pies – oh my! When it comes to birthdaycelebrations, food of all kinds is taking center stage these days.Serve it up to eager taste buds, or take it to another level andconsider getting kids in on the act of making it, too. Whetheryou’re serving up the most amazing cake in town or making the foodas entertainment, yummy creations as this year’s party theme meandelicious birthday fun for all your guests.
When you’re looking for birthday cake to round out your themethis year, check out Roeser’s Bakery. As the oldest family-ownedbakery in Chicago, Roeser’s is a one-stop shop for all your partyneeds. The care and high quality ingredients that go into eachconfection from Roeser’s remain the same as those used when theyfirst opened in 1911. Providing cakes that exceed your imaginationis just one facet of this establishment, whose owner, John RoeserIII, has successfully competed in three Food Network cakecompetitions. Stop by Roeser’s Party Palace next door to theHumbolt Park bakery, where you’ll find paper products and décorcoordinated to today’s most popular themes.
Take your birthday party on the road and feed the kids what theyreally want: cake and ice cream! The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor inForest Park serves up delectable treats with old fashioned charmevery day, but hosts parties as well. When it comes to set up andclean up, they’ve got it covered, along with running the show.Brown Cow offers various packages, which include variances in partylength or organized games, for up to 10 guests. Themes range frombuilding your own sundae, waffle or cupcake, to the exciting”Trough Party”, where party goes work together to demolish theultimate sundae containing one scoop each of 21 flavors, whippedcream, sprinkles and cherries. All parties include party roomdécor, paper goods and refreshments, hats and a balloon. For thebirthday child who selects the trough, they’ll leave with a t-shirtannouncing, “I tackled the trough!”
Another delicious option when you’re looking for your child’scake to be the showpiece of your event is Deefields Bakery inDeerfield, Buffalo Grove and Schaumburg. They’re up for thechallenge of any theme, including 3D cakes. They also specialize inminiatures, one to two-bite sweets perfect for taste buds big andsmall. Don’t miss their monthly cake pop flavors or their savorybacon donuts, sure to blow you away. Whether your child wants agiant dragon cake, the most beautiful princess cake or a cake ofthe United States, Deerfields will astonish you with theirconfectionary creations.
When hosting a party at home, don’t feel limited to sweets andsuch; savory dishes can be just as much fun for kids to make. It’sfun to dream up culinary creations that line up with other themeideas. For a messy theme, work in an artsy craft, followed byslurping long spaghetti noodles and crunching garlic-y bread. GoHawaiian with assembly of personal fruit salads, wearing Hawaiiangarb and making fresh leis for guests to wear.
To keep things spectacularly simple, consider selecting”Do-it-Yourself” as your theme. There’s nothing young kids likebetter than running the show themselves, so choose games, likeSimon Says or Wii’s Dance Revolution, that allow them to directtheir own fun. When it comes to grub, take your DIY to the nextlevel by letting them assemble personal pizzas, concoct the perfecttacos, select their favorite candy mix-ins for chunky shakes ordecorate their own jumbo cupcakes. No matter how you weavedeliciously creative food prep or eating into your next party,guests are sure to rave about it for years to come.
Does your child already know what a “mani/pedi” is? Does shenaturally pose with one hand on her hip for family pictures? If so,you just might have a glamour girl who would love a “Going Glam”party for her birthday. Whether your little girl is three and lovesbows in her hair or your teen is approaching her sweet sixteen,everyone no loves to feel glamorous, if only for a day!
“There is something magical about believing in princesses andbeing able to dress like one for the day,” explains MelissaRaitano, owner of the wildly popular My Party Princess dress upboutique in Schaumburg. “It’s a dream birthday party for any girlto have.”
Announce the party with a glamorous invite! Consider deliveringparty invitations personally, transporting the birthday child vialimo or vintage car to make quite the impression on all of herpartygoers. Or, mail compact mirrors to all of the party guests,writing the party info via eyeliner or lipstick, sticking it in anenvelope and affixing a stamp in the corner. No matter what type ofinvitation you pick, make sure to encourage everyone to dress inglamorous attire! Once the big day has arrived, decorate a roomwith luxurious details! Replace light bulbs with pink bulbs, anddecorate using all of the birthday girl’s favorite colors! Turn themusic up and strew the room with accessories that will get theirimagination going! Anything from boas to sunglasses will get theparty started, and don’t forget to set up some full length mirrorsso everyone can check out their fancy reflections!
Once the party begins, make sure everyone makes a memorableentrance. And what’s a red carpet arrival without paparazzi? Askfriends and family to greet partygoers with an onslaught of cameraflashes as they make their way to the VIP entrance, and considerusing these pictures in either the party goody bags or in thank younotes after the grand event.
Looking for a bit more subtle way of going glam? Considerturning in the dresses for luxurious robes during a Spa at Homeparty! Greet guests with a luxurious, monogrammed robe that theycan take home once the party is over, but something they can getcomfy in during the party. Keep them busy with manicures, pedicuresand facials and glam-inspired crafts such as personalized flipflops and crystal encrusted picture frames and boxes to hold all oftheir favorite party memories!
Of course, there are a number of locations outside the home thatare specifically designed to make every child feel glamorous andevery parent feeling grateful! In fact, with locations in LincolnPark and Oak Brook, Sweet and Sassy offers the perfect destinationwhen it comes to going glam. Offering party themes such as”Enchanted Princess”, “Pop Star”, “Magical Fairy” or “FashionDiva”, chances are your glamour girl will find the customized partycreated especially for her.
Is your “little girl” about to turn sixteen? Look no furtherthat Elmhurst Park District’s Wilder Mansion. Built in 1868 andacquired in 2008 by the Elmhurst Park District, this one of a kindreception venue provides the perfect setting for a glamorous sweetsixteen party that girls only dream about!
“We recently held a party for over 100 high school teens,”explains Meagan Benes, Facility Rental Supervisor at the ElmhurstPark District. “The girls wore dresses and the guys wore ties. Theyhired a DJ, put out some cupcakes and punch and everyone danced allnight long. This venue is getting so popular that we are askingpeople consider booking out at least 18 months in advance,especially if your event will take place during the weekend.”
Chances are, at one time or another, you have encouraged yourchild to get off the couch, put down the video game controller andgo outside and play. But while no one wants to raise a couchpotato, video games can have their benefits. Not only are they agreat form of exercise for the brain, today’s video games nowencourage players to get up and get moving.
Do you have a gamer in your life? If so, a gaming-themedbirthday party just might be the perfect idea. And when it comes toa game party, it doesn’t matter whether you are a boy or a girl orwhat age the guest of honor is .the simple fact is that everyoneloves to play.
Before you run out to the store to pick up invitations, sit downwith the birthday child and come up with a theme based on the gamesthat will be played. Work off a theme, whether its sports, dance ora particular video game character. In terms of decorations, colorscan run from red and yellow to blue and black. Fill the party roomwith balloons and streamers. Also, consider stopping by a localvideo game store and ask the clerk for any extra posters or signsyou might be able to put up on the wall.
As partygoers arrive, set up an “athlete’s” table where everyonecan receive their video game team assignments. Consider outfittingeach team in their own color and possibly personalized, thereforeserving as a fun take home gift. Once everyone has checked in, setup a large tournament board which can list each team and event andthe order of team play. Perhaps the first 2 teams compete and thewinner plays the winner of the next two teams in that event. Ofcourse, don’t forget to take pictures of all the teams, which canthen easily be sent home as a goody bag memento or enclosed in thethank you notes.
Not sure if you have own enough games to keep your guests busy?Scatter hand held games throughout the room to keep gamers busywhen they aren’t involved in the tournament. No matter the game,make sure to award winners with theme inspired prizes, such as aSuper Mario doll for the younger ones or a gift card to a localvideo game rental facility.
If you plan to take the party out of the home, considerscheduling it on a weekday afternoon after school, since partypackages are often cheaper during the week. A party outside thehome can go far in offering partygoers the chance to play a bunchof games they just can’t find at their local video game store. “Weserve as a test floor for a number of video game companies, so weoffer a ton of unique games that you are not going to find anywhereelse,” explains Michael Hernbrott, General Manager of Rink SideSports in Gurnee. “There is a little bit of something foreveryone.”
“It’s nice to get the kids off of the couch in their living roomand out with their friends to play their favorite video games,”explains Adrian Castaneda, VP of Operations at Game Pazzo inDowners Grove, Chicago’s largest game center. “We have a widevariety of games for all sorts of different crowds and partythemes.”
Once at your destination, the clank of video game tokens will beenough to get these gamers excited for the afternoon ahead. AtHollywood Park in Crestwood, party attendees receive at least 20tokens each, along with other package features such as admission tothe bumper cars, rock wall or mini-golf. Worried about keepingeverything organized? A party host or hostess will be on hand toshow everyone the ropes.
It’s also important to keep track of the games that will beplayed at these centers to ensure nothing is too violent orinappropriate for young eyes. At Game Pazzo in Downers Grove,parents can pick out video games ahead of time that partygoers willbe able to play during the center’s two hour birthday partypackages. “We can customize any party,” explains Castaneda. “For asports themed party, we can set up the video stations with gamessuch as bowling or car racing. If the child is into music, they cantake advantage of many
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago
(312) 294-0360 or
Book a birthday party for your Lil’ Explorer at the Adler today.Launch a rocket, visit a space station and explore the mysteriousPlanet X during an out-of-this world birthday your child won’tforget. Check in with mission control to add a space show and goodybags for the ultimate adventure!
Farm, Orchard, Restaurant
5006 S Sylvania Ave.
Bring the family out to pick-your-own apples, pears and pumpkinsthen enjoy farm park including: The Golden Goat Bridge,animal feeding area, Play Area, The Mazes, tractor-drawn wagonrides, pony rides, pedal carts, gemstone mining, Bounce House,Johnny Appleseed show (reservations required), pig races, facepainting, children’s games and delicious food. Birthdayparties and private wagon rides and campfire packagesavailable.
4845 Oakton St., Skokie
For your birthday, come to our house- Bughouse! BughouseStudio is a contemporary art studio that offers ceramic classes andbirthday parties for kids of all ages and abilities. For yourspecial day, we’ll both sculpt and glaze our clay!
Center Stage Academy of Dance
186 Skokie Valley Rd., Highland Park
Let Center Stage Academy of Dance host your child’s next birthdayparty! From Princess Ballet to Hip Hop Dance parties, we doit all. We even host adult Zumba and Hip Hop parties.Our party hosts and dancers will customize any dance party foryou!
CircEsteem & The Chicago Youth Circus
Run away with the circus without ever leaving home. Invite theCircEsteem Experience to your next event. We provide circus showsand interactive workshops for kids of all ages that leaves themsaying, “WOW, look what I can do!” Call or e-mail to set up yournext custom circus party.
Buffalo Grove – Deerfield –
Creative family baking since 1886. We hear it over and over again.Flavor is our best feature. When customers cut into “a work of art”in cake, they are delighted to find it tastes as good as it looks.We take pride in our scratch recipes and, therefore, use only freshquality ingredients, guaranteeing wonderful flavor. Good tastestarts here.
16678 W. Aptakisic Rd.
Hayrides to the Pumpkin Patch, 5 acre Corn Maze, pony rides,petting zoo, Halloween Shop, & straw maze. Visit the IndianTeepees, Antique Tractors and Educational Farming Display, and thebaby chicks and baby pigs. Children’s fun rides, fall produce,apple cider and pumpkin donuts. School groups weekdays. Birthdayparties.
Dolphin Swim Club Loves Park (815) 282-3488 Crystal Lake (847) 854-1300 Skokie (847) 854-1300 dolphinswimclub.com Dolphin Swim Club is a learn-to-swim facility that is committed to bringing con