We’re thick in the midst of birthday party season at our place: all three boys have birthdays in a five week span. Over the years we’ve mostly contracted out the birthday party, largely because the idea of avoiding 10 caked-up boys drunk on adrenaline on the loose in my house is worth just about any price! As such, I thought it would be nice to share our perspective on some of the various birthday party options for the school-age set in Ottawa.
Our perennial favourite has been Starr Gymnastics. They have two locations, one east and one west. I’ve never been to the Lancaster location, but have only good things to say about the west-end location. We’ve done four, maybe five birthday parties there, plus taken a couple of years’ worth of gymnastic lessons and even done a week of summer camp there. Starr gets a gold star in our book!
We tried Cosmic Adventures one year when Tristan was wee, I think it was his third birthday. It was fun, but the location is not convenient to Barrhaven, and we’ve never gone back. The boys have been to parties at Midway and Fun Junction, neither of which are convenient to Barrhaven although the boys had a good time.
One year we went with a few friends for an informal playdate at Playtime4Kids before having cake back at our house (that was the year Simon turned four and I was eleventy-hundred months pregnant with Lucas — we were looking for simplification that year!) and I was not really impressed with them at all.
This year, we did Simon’s party at A Gym Tale in Barrhaven, and we were extremely pleased with everything. The package included nearly an hour of free play on their indoor playground (very clean and very safe for toddlers), then a half an hour “adventure” led by a hilarious party helper. The kids did an obstacle course, and then the leader dressed up as an alien and let the kids pelt her with balls — the kids thought it was fantastic and the grownups watching couldn’t help but laugh. Then we had the standard 30 minutes for cake and presents in a private room. All told, I was highly impressed by the value and quality — another gold star!
We’ve considered parties at the Agriculture Museum and the Museum of Science and Tech – would like to get around to those one year. Last year, we did Tristan’s 7th birthday at Merivale Bowling Centre, and I found that to be another excellent value that seemed to be a lot of fun for the kids. We toyed with a Cineplex party, as the kids have enjoyed attending parties there in the past, but there were simply no good movies on around the kids’ birthdays this year. And speaking of movies, did you know you can rent a movie theatre at the Colliseum to play Xbox on the big screen? How awesome is that! We’re *so* considering that for next year!!
But I don’t think any year will top this year’s party for sheer awesomeness, at least in Tristan’s mind. This year, I am so delighted by finding the perfect personality-theme mix that I am even willing to risk hosting it in my own house. Next month, I’m inviting five 8-year-olds (plus a nephew and two little brothers) to a Lego birthday party for Tristan. We’ve contracted “The Lego Guy” to come to our house for the event. You might have heard of him, he does a lot of Lego workshops around town. Here’s what he offers for birthday parties:
My party starts of playing the LEGO Creator Game, then building machines and structures using LEGO Technic pieces, example projects are amusement rides, hand drills, paper crinklers, etc., most of the projects can be motorized. The last part of the party is spent building LEGO robots using NXT Robotic System, and then do some sort of activity with them such as Sumo Wrestling and / or exploring with sensors to make the robots react to their surroundings.
Isn’t that perfect for a kid who lives and breathes Lego? And lookit me go, instead of dollar-store invites, I made personalized Lego invites with my mad photoshop skillz:
Fun, eh? The mini-fig is Tristan’s own representation of himself, made from this awesome “create yer own minifig” site. (If you’re doing this with the kiddies, make sure you use the kid-friendly version *without* cigarettes and handguns available!!) Of course, there will be a full report after the fact. Wish me luck on actually having the kids in my house!!
Now to see if we can find an alternative to loot bags (hate them!) that the kids loved as much as their personalized birthday CDs to give away!
Care to share your experiences? Any suggestions for fun kids’ parties in or around Ottawa? What has been your kids’ favourite or most memorable party experience?
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