How to Pick Party Places for a Kid's Birthday Party
Here are 8 questions to ask when scouting party places for your child's birthday party.
Your daughter has been planning her birthday party theme for weeks and talks about the big day constantly. Now that the theme's all set, it's time to scout out some fun party places to make the event a success. What's the secret? Skip the usual pizza place, and look for a venue that reflects your kid's personality, advises Bridget K.H. O'Brien, founder and CEO of Bridget O'Brien PR & Events in New York City. Does your child see herself as a snow queen, like Elsa from "Frozen"? Look into hosting the party at an ice skating rink. Is there talk of an adventure, like in "Dora the Explorer"? Book an afternoon at a family fun center, complete with a climbing wall.
Matt James, founder of the event planning company DNA Productions, says that you should ask lots of questions so that you make the best decision for your kids -- and for your wallet! Visit the potential party places so you can see what everything looks like and where things might be set up. Websites and photos can be outdated, and it can be hard to tell the size of the venue. During your visit, ask these very important questions:
- Is the Party In a Private or Shared Space?
If your party's in a shared space, you're going to want to have more adults on hand to supervise your kids in a crowded space with lots of children running around.
- Are You Allowed to Hang Decorations on the Walls?
Many venues won't even allow temporary adhesives. It's best to know in advance before you stock up on balloons and crepe paper!
- Are You Allowed to Bring Your Own Food and Drinks?
Keep in mind, some venues will insist that even the birthday cake is bought from its caterer. If your child or one of guests has a food allergy, such as a peanut allergy, you need to know in advance whether the caterer will be able to accommodate that or whether you're allowed to bring in allergy-free alternatives.
- What Does the Catering Price Include?
You don't want to find out on the day of the party that their definition of a kid's party meal is half a sandwich and a packet of junk food from the vending machine!
- Is There Sufficient Parking or a Drop-Off Area for Parents?
You might also want to ask if there is anything for parents to do if they want to stick around.
- Are You Allowed to Bring Entertainment or Music?
This can be anything from an old CD player of children's music to a live performer like a magician. You'll want to have all the details cleared in advance.
- Will There Be Any Staff Supervision During the Party?
Having an extra set of eyes is always a good thing. Make sure to ask if they're trained in first aid and if there's a medical kit on site.
- What's Their Policy on Accidental Damage and Breakages?
Before you sign any paperwork, get the details on any costs that you could be on the hook for, like when an overeager 4-year-old accidentally kicks a hole in the wall with their roller skate. Ask for a copy of the location's liability waiver and insurance coverage details.
No matter which venue you decide to go with, make sure you have plenty of space. Janis D. McDavid, who performs at children's parties as Ms. Janis, advises parents to think about the hired entertainers and the amount of space they need before booking a party venue. For example, does a children's magician need a stage, complete with a curtain to hide magic tricks? Or does a singer require an open space, so children can move to the music?
"If the space is too small, problems such as children dancing and jumping too close to the cake could cause an unfortunate accident. This doesn't mean you have to rent a huge hall, but make sure the location you pick can be divided in such a way where everything can run smoothly with no incidents," McDavid says.
Check out these 10 Birthday Party Location Ideas.
Need some extra help organizing or setting up the party? Hire a babysitter or housekeeper to help out for a few hours.
Angela writes about parenting, pet care and being a home-based writer. She and her husband live in Iowa with their two spoiled dogs.