An experienced mom’s guide to kid birthday parties in Ottawa

by DaniGirl on February 24, 2010 · 94 comments

in Fun for kiddies, Ottawa Family Fun

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!

375:1000 Happy Birthday Simon!

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:

395:1000 Lego birthday invite

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?

{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve February 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Have done swimming parties at Ray Friel centre as well. Need a parent to stay as you cannot watch all the kids in the pool, but price was good and private room afterwards ie very spacious.

Loved gymnastics parties at Tumblers in Orleans too.

2 Judy February 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

So many good ideas. We have a 2nd birthday at the end of the summer and need something toddler friendly for little boys.

Loot bags are hard… we often get customers looking for alternatives in the store and can usually find something on the jewellery wall for lttle girls, but boys are a challenge.

3 Karen February 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I had my daughters 6 and 7 birthday parties at the Nepean Corona School of Gymnastics. All the kids had a great time.

I’ve had parties for both my son and daughter at the Y at the Merivale Mall. Both of my kids love this one.

4 Stefania (Ingredients for Life) February 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Dovercourt offers great birthday packages. We’ve done the dance party and were very pleased.

5 Elise February 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I am kind of bewildered at birthday parties here in Canada. Maybe they are as elaborate in France, I just didn’t have kids in France so I didn’t know anything about gym clubs hosting birthday parties and the cost of it all.

My birthday parties as a child entailed having 5 to 10 friends, eating cake, opening presents like books mostly and play doll with my friends. No loot bag whatsoever.

Here I’ve heard of having to invite your child’s whole class, and also all these venues, birthday themes, etc. While I understand that findng a theme like Lego for a Lego addict is great, I’m still a little scared by all the costs and the “rivalry” that I feel sometimes between parents. Parents of 2 year-olds! planning huge birthday parties with clowns, sharing tips and having this conversation reminding me of “whose baby walked first/whose baby talked first conversation.

And then, there are loot bags. I don’t want to go to Dollarama and buy cheap plastic toys. I don’t want to stuff kiddies with candies either. And I don’t really understand the whole idea of loot bags.

For the moment, the b-da parties we had for S. (2 for now) just entailed about 5 to 8 friends, their parent(s), a cake, our toys. The same parties I had when I was a child. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to sustain that, how long S. will be happy of the simple parties.

Tell me, do you feel also sometimes overwhelmed by the b-day parties business?

(I’m sorry if I come accross as accusatory. I’m not – I’m just still finding out what it entails to be a mom, and more specifically, what it entails to be a mom in Canada).

6 Lynn February 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

My goodness, this post was a gold mine! So many things to explore! So many things to try!

I wish I’d heard about The Lego Man before we booked the Captain’s party for just two weeks from now…I think it’s probably too late to organize something different. How did you get in touch with him, though? I’d love to check it out for next year. Although, the Coliseum/xBox thing sounds SO COOL, too.

And, we are so totally making Lego men verisons of ourselves all afternoon.

Thanks Dani!

7 DaniGirl February 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Elise, I think you raise some excellent points and if you read some of the related posts linked above, you can see I used to feel much the same way. My childhood parties were nothing like what we give to the boys now, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you describe for any age — cake and presents and people who love you, what more do you need?

It does seem to be the norm around us, though, that a parent spends in the range of $150 to $200 for a hosted party somewhere. I’d say that kicks in somewhere around schoolage — I wouldn’t do it for Lucas this year or next, I don’t think. I don’t feel particularly competitive about the parties, but the kids have seen their friends have something similar and we’re financially capable of doing so, so we do. Easy indulgence, IMHO.

On the other hand, I see loot bags as a waste of money. I hate the idea of cramming them with worthless dollar store toys and sugary candy. (I know, judge much?) The boys have received some really nice ones, but after spending $200+ on the party? To me, that’s enough. As I said, both the boys and their guests seemed to love the hand-picked music CD with a fancy pencil taped to it in lieu of a loot bag, despite what is probably an egregious copyright violation!

8 DaniGirl February 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Lynn, I’ll e-mail you The Lego Guy’s contact info. (I think I’ve outed enough innocent bystanders on the blog this week!)


9 February 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Ive pretty much done/been to every birthday venue mentioned so far

other ideas:
Gymboree, for the younger crowd, is excellent
clown/magician at home
Mad Science at home
Ray Reptiles at home
skating party (can even rent the ice for just yourself and your gang through teh city of Ottawa)
Laserquest for teh older boys

Let us know how the Lego party pans out!

10 Annika February 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Great post! Elise, I completely relate. My 1980s Canadian upbringing consisted of plain-Jane (yet fun) bday parties that pretty much match your description. That being said, I have already hosted a few bday parties (and attended several) in the Ottawa area that are similar to the ones Dani has mentioned. We have had positive experiences at PlayTime4Kids, Starrr Gymnastics and A Gym Tale.

We are very lucky that our children have summer birthdays, so we’ve been able to host simple backyard barbecues, where the parents hang out on lawn chairs in the shade and the kiddies run through the sprinkler. Plus, there is minimal clean up (we even served the cake outside last year!).

Tristan’s lego birthday sounds incredible…you will have to share the end results! I also dread putting the loot bags together. Last year we used “The Loot Bag Lady” and were very pleased. Instead of the usual dollar-store swag, she puts together customized bags by gender, interest, etc. It was a little pricey, but I loved the actual product. Also, she is a mom-preneur operating of her own home in Ottawa, which I think is way cool.

Hope T. has a wonderful Lego party with his friends!

11 Kelly February 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I did a Lego party for my 7yrd old last week. I did get the number of the “Lego Guy” from you, but opted not to have him come. I felt the kids were a little young to really get the value of his expertise and also, my son wanted EVERYONE to come – too many for this guy to handle. I too abhor loot bags, but see them as a necessary evil to not be the “awful parent who didn’t give out loot bags”! I loaded up a treat bag full of candy from Bulk Barn (even got the Lego brick ones!) and picked up $6 Creator sets from ToysRUs. I rationalized this expense because I feel it is a better choice than dollar store junk that smells funny and breaks when you get home. My daughter organized a scavenger hunt for the kids, divided into teams of blue, red, yellow and green; coincidentally the colours of the sets I bought. There was no fighting about who got what because you got whatever colour team you were on! Good luck with your party – having done several at home, I can tell you that it’s not that bad and it will be over before you know it!!

12 coffeewithjulie February 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Hi Dani,

I “outsource” birthday parties any chance I can get! My house is ridiculously small, so I have that as my excuse and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

As for lootbags, I feel the same as you — by the time you buy a whole bunch of cheap dollar store items, it actually really adds up! Here’s an idea for you that I did one year: we had a dinosaur themed party, so I gave away a dinosaur book (wrapped up like a gift) to each child on the way out the door with a thank-you note that was made from a group birthday photo (take a group shot at the beginning of the party, have someone run out to a 1 hr developer and voila – a lootbag item and thank-you card all in one!). I had already pre-folded a bunch of cardboard paper for the cards and had my daughter sign them in advance and then simply stuck the photos on before everyone arrived to pick up thier child. I don’t know if the kids actually liked these loot bags but I know the parents liked it that I didn’t provide them with a whole bunch of sugar!!

13 Annie February 24, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I “outsourced” my daugher’s 3rd birthday party with Fêtes en boites ( It was a princess tea party. “Princess Belle” came to our house (for about 90 min.) and my daughter and 4 of her friends dressed up as princesses (Princess Belle arrived with a chest full of different costumes and accessories), had tea (apple juice!) together, listened to a princess story, learned how to dance as princesses, etc. Lots of fun. My daughter still talks about that day – that party was 2 years ago!

14 Help We've Got Kids February 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm

RT @DaniGirl: An experienced mom’s guide to kid birthday parties in #Ottawa

15 Elise Ondet February 24, 2010 at 7:37 pm

@DaniGirl guide makes kids b-day parties a little less scary, especially knowing you hate loot bags. I do too

16 Quirkymom February 24, 2010 at 7:38 pm

We just booked a party with Radical Science, part of Little Rays Reptiles. We have mostly done parties on our own at home, we just really like to change things up and not do the same old all the time. When we had a superhero party, the kids did come dressed that way and/or we provided costumes as we have lots. We ran a series of contests, where kids got a superhero name if they won. Each kid won a contest. We had Green Tornado, which was the winner of the speed contest, which was a game of Perfection. We had Super Shrink, which was the winner of the limbo contest, etc. For the last one, we did Mind Reader and it was whatever my husband was thinking and whoever hadn’t won yet, just so happened to be the one to know exactly what he was thinking all the time.

Last year we paid out and had one at Kidzone, because my son was in a terrible “That is mine” phase and 5 or 6 boys all at that stage didn’t seem too fun, so having it there was intentional, as there is really nothing to fight over, no trucks, no hockey sticks, no dinosaurs, etc. This year my daughter loves science and has been wanting a mad science party all year. We thought about doing our own, but figured we’d give the professionals a chance.

As for loot bags, honestly my kids eat one piece of candy when they get home, play with their stuff and that night I throw it out. I don’t want them to eat all that candy and I detest little bits of cheap toys being spread all over my house. (I keep pencils, stickers, books, etc, but all those cheap toys get tossed after 1 or 2 uses) Last year my daughter had a sleepover for 3 little girls and they all got a picture frame and I took a group photo of them that night and printed for the next day to go home with them in the frame – it was an awesome keepsake! This year with the Radical Science party they make “Goo” and get to take it home, so that is good enough to me (and they make cotton candy for each as well). At my son’s party we used a Transformer plate (re-usable, cost about $3 each) as the base and on top they got a kool-aid jammer drink and a Joe Louis, all wrapped in cellophane.

We just went to a party at A gym Tale and I agree, it was very impressive, loved the intermediate step with the leader – they did parachute and bubbles, plus had a superhero there. Awesome! Next week my daughter attends a party hosted by Kids Create, where they do a craft, we’ll see how she likes that.

17 Carly February 24, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I read this post with great interest because in my never-ending quest for a home based business I can love and sustain (pipe dream, but I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open), I dreamt last night of the possibility of hosting birthday parties in my home for parents who want a “simple” party, but don’t want to deal with the prep and clean up.

I wondered if that would go over well and fill a need for parents who might want something in between the outing birthday party and the home party. There could be themes to choose from, and pick your own “extras” like invites, cakes, bouncy castle rental, etc. The parties could be led with games tailored to the birthday child and their friends, all taking place in a bright, fully finished basement “party room” with kid friendly bathrooms, etc.


18 Elise February 24, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Ok… so I know I have some time until preschool starts, that is… well just another birthday (god, next birthday is 3, can’t believe it 🙂
I’ve bookmarked this conversation, I’m sure there’ll be lots of other nice suggestions, as coffeewithjulie’s loot bags

Just another question? Do you know of a mommy blog in Toronto? Because on top of being French, I’m also living in Toronto and your blog makes me want to move to Ottawa, but hey, we have a pretty good life here, and all that. I never came across a Toronto blog like yours, Dani.

19 Miss Vicky February 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Spring Action Trampoline and Circus School on Chapel (off Rideau) does birthday parties… for adults and kids! They have a room for presents/cake afterwards and the price is very reasonable. We’ve done 2 adult birthday parties there (with kids in attendance)…. Not for toddlers, but for any kid over 5 I think it would be great

20 Stephanie February 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I’m also in Barrhaven so I appreciate the rundown!!
We had a birthday party at Gym Tale too (but for 2 yr olds LOL), and we were pretty happy with it, although would have liked a bit more than 1 hr of free play.

21 Sue1788 February 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Great birthday ideas. Thanks! We’ve also done Mad Science, the Aviation museum and Dovercourt.

I can see other have asked about the Lego Guy, would you be able to give me contact info also, my 8yr old would just LOVE that kind of party.

22 alison February 24, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I’ve started alternating, one year a ‘big’ party at a pool or something like that, and the next, a small party at home. And the years with the ‘big’ parties, the party is the main gift. This year’s party for Leah was to have 4 friends over for tobogganing on the hill over by the library, have home-made pizza and cake, then a sleepover with movies and I gave them all a manicure. She’s 10. Last year, we did an in-home snake party from Little Ray’s Reptiles. A bit pricy, but worth every single penny. Here’s my post about it:

Rae’s last party was a group swim a the Kanata wave pool. Lots of fun, but you really need a lot of parents for supervision. It was her 7th bday.

Leah always gives a CD out with a notebook and pen instead of a lootbag.
The girls look forward to getting it every year.

23 Melanie February 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Great tips! The Lego party sounds really cool.

We live quite close to Cosmic and Midway and have had fun parties there. We also had a good movie party at Silvercity Gloucester, though after helping a friend with her son’s movie party, I’ve learned that the number and age of the kids invited is very important. Too many young kids + not enough chaperones + boring movie = kids running around in the lobby, begging to play video games.

Loot bag junk bugs me too. My youngest son had a small pirate-themed party at home last year, so we gave our guests an eye patch and pirate hat when they arrived, and the kids decorated plain wooden boxes from Micheals to make “treasure chests”.

24 suze February 24, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I agree with Élise…I find Canadian birthday parties so intimidating! When we moved to Toronto, I was amazed at how much money parents felt pressured to spend on childrens’ parties. (totally Keeping up with the Jones’). My kids are happy to go to the pool (free!), have a pj party (free!), visit the firehall (Free!) followed by cake and presents. Our circle of friends don’t give out loot bags – some make donations to Toronto Sick Kids or other charitable donation in lieu of loot bags – others don’t give at all – and kids are totally cool with it. Since when did kids become so fragile about these things? Birthday kids get bday presents! anyhow, some other options for those who choose to do something different.

25 Alison P February 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I have done a lot of the above too…also am a fan of the road hockey game / bbq hamburgers and have cake option, For the west enders there is I-Play a video game interactive place in the Sensplex that has parties or rent the Sensplex ice and go to Stanley’s after. This year for my 8 year old daughter I had a beading lady come to the house to teach the girls how to make necklaces, it was great here is her website

I also hate the lootbag of crap (food or otherwise) I try to get one thing that is decent for the same money it would take to fill a loot bag ie a bakugon or pokemon thing for the boys or earrings/necklaces for the girls….in Toronto the Mattell outlet was awesome for that, I have had less luck in Ottawa but will try for things like hockey cards/ball hockey ball/Sens skate towel kind of thing or a movie or video rental gift certificate in one of those dollar store popcorn containers with pouffy tissue paper, that makes it look cool-ish!.

I have decided that at age 10 my kids will get their last invite all the friends party and we’ll start narrowing it down to a couple of friends, dinner, movie, sleepover kind of night. Most importantly I will never again do the 10-12 kids in the basement for a sleepover!!

26 February 25, 2010 at 1:50 am

For Ottawa parents – check out this rundown of kids birthday party ideas (via @danigirl)

27 Melissa Dimock February 25, 2010 at 1:50 am

RT @ottawastart: For Ottawa parents – check out this rundown of kids birthday party ideas (via @danigirl)

28 andrea tomkins February 25, 2010 at 2:00 am

A couple neat ideas RT @ottawastart: Ottawa parents – a rundown of kids birthday party ideas (via @danigirl)

29 Carly Haydt February 25, 2010 at 2:03 am

RT @DaniGirl: An experienced mom’s guide to kid birthday parties in #Ottawa

30 suze February 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

In lieu of a loot bag, what about one of those small boxes of lego? You can find them for about $5 and it would be in keeping with your party’s theme? Just a thought.

31 Rebecca February 25, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I love all the ideas on the list, but I haven’t started doing any of them yet!

My kids (3 and 1) have had small, intimate birthday parties with a few friends (or just family), cupcakes I make, maybe an activity and free time to play. I was at first intimidated by birthdays that some would have when my son was young, and while I love going to them, I never could justify doing them yet. I also tend not to host large crowds (and to be honest, I haven’t been prepared to spend the money). I do see the benefit though (space being the biggest!)

Having said that, as the kids get older, and our house stays small 😉 I will likely look to do something elsewhere. I am thinking that the Aviation museum would be fun and my son loves it. I’d love to do the farm, but they are winter babies.

But I find with my friends no one goes over board and crazy – very nice stuff, fun, but nothing ‘showy’ so maybe it’s a shift?

32 Sally February 26, 2010 at 7:44 am

Thanks for the link to the cool mini-figure builder! We’ve had so much fun playing with it. I posted the mini-figures everyone in my family built on my blog. So much fun!

33 Mom on the Go February 26, 2010 at 9:01 am

We did Reid’s 4th birthday party at the Agriculture Museum. I think it was the perfect age for it. The staff are bilingual and that will help if the friends are also a mix of anglo and francophones (as her daycare friends were). We did Cosmic Adventures last year and it was fun and super-simple. They handle everything from food to writing down which kid gave what gift for thank-you card writing and the gifts are all in a bag when you leave.

Reid and her classmates are young enough that we invite everyone so as not to hurt any feelings. In grade one, I think we’ll cut back but then we won’t be able to give the invitations at school, which will be a hassle.

As for loot bags, I usually pick up books from the Dollar Store – last year they were Franklin chapter books, with a pen and notepad, all in a cloth drawstring bag. We’ve also done finger puppets, mini bottles of bubbles (not Dollar Store) and sidewalk chalk. No plastic and no junk are the rules I follow. I’ll start hunting for this year’s offering in the next while for Reid’s July party.

34 Chantal February 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm

You MUST forward me the Lego guys info! My boys are Lego fanatics!

I have a bit of loot bag hangover. My 8yo went to a party last week and came home with a fancy bag from the “Candy Store” in Westboro. I can just imagine what that cost. The parents can afford it, but it certainly sets the bar high. Last week my boys school had a Scholatic Book fair that was a 50% sale . I bought a bunch of books there and those will be our loot for this party.

35 Amy @ Muddy Boots March 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

I’m still taking a blog break for Lent, but saw your pics and video on Flickr and couldn’t help clicking through… Could I get the Lego guy info?? Liam’s bday is in June, but it’s not too early to start planning. Looks like an AWESOME party.

36 Tara Chiarot March 8, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Aaron was at a party yesterday, and the loot bag (hate them as well) was a 5 dollar gift card to bulk barn! how great is that, a kid in a candy store with 5 bucks. perfect. There is one on the way home, so we stipped and he stocked up on his faves for lunches this week.

37 Tanya March 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm

For a girl’s party I would suggest a mobile Spa Party that comes
to your house and does the facials & relaxation (and clean up) for the party girls. Or maybe a Rock Star party where your guests are greeted by a “bouncer” (dad with shades & fake tats) and they get personalized VIP passes to wear with their pics (printed off on the Kodak camera printer)..Ending off the event with a dance under the disco ball before the parents show up.
My boys are also intrigued by the sleepover party in the Jailhouse in Hull & the pirate ship parties offered at Mooney’s Bay. I JUST LOVE PLANNING PARTIES!!!!

38 Shaun St. Louis March 26, 2010 at 11:15 am

There’s a new 3D glow-in-the-dark miniputt and family fun centre opening in Bell’s Corners across from Al’s Steakhouse in April. They have glow miniputt, a balladium, arcade, and 3 party rooms (1 very large for 30+) and 2 others for 15 people. It’s called “A Putt Above” and it looks like alot of fun. Finally quality family entertainment for the Westend of Ottawa.

39 Bernadette Campbell April 3, 2010 at 7:35 am

Can someone please pass on the contact info for the Lego guy? this sounds absolutely wonderful! Thanks.

40 Anonymous April 27, 2010 at 12:15 am

I am trying to find a cheaper alternative and am considering renting the community centre in my neighbourhood. We are doing renovations so I cannot imagine having a group of 6 year old boys in the house. The community centre is next to a park so there is plenty of room to play sports and run outside. Has anyone done that before? Any suggestions? Should I hire a teenager to entertain the kids?
Thanks for the posts!

41 Alexander June 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I’m a magician/student/blogger that specializing in kids birthday parties and I came across these suggestions. Don’t forget about an old fashioned magic show 🙂

42 Genevieve June 18, 2010 at 10:34 am

Thank you for those wonderful ideas! I am very interested in having a lego birthday this fall for my son. Do you know if the lego guy has a website, or how could I contact him?

Thank you!

43 Leo October 18, 2010 at 2:28 am

I’d highly recommend Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo – especially their at home birthday packages. The Big Bad Bug Show was awesome! My grandchildren had an absolute blast!

Very reasonably priced and the staff were great. They even supply the invitations on their website.

44 Mel October 26, 2010 at 8:20 am

Hi everyone,
I have just been looking into booking a birthday party for my daughter, who will be 2, and her best friend. We combine the birthday party because we all have the same friends to invite and it cuts down the costs for each of us as the parents since we split it. I have read through this entire thread and have found it very helpful for the Ottawa area. Last year we did Tiny Hoppers in Orleans which was really good but to try something different this year we might consider A Gym Tale in Barrhaven.

45 Cindy Logan November 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Hi Dani,
So glad I fell upon your page because a LEGO birthday party is exactly what my soon-to-be 9 year old was asking for. Love the pics : ) Would you be so kind as to share the Lego Guy’s contact info with me. I’m very excited that I have potentially locked in this year’s party without pulling my hair out – you are like an angel ! lol.
Thanks so much.

46 Janice November 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I too would LOVE to have this LEGO guy’s contact info. Please share! I’m in the planning stages of my son’s birthday party which will take place in 3 weeks. We had a very successful party at Dynamic Hobbies on Concourse (off of Colonnade Rd.) a few years ago. They have a super cool slot car race track in their back room and the boys loved it. We also had my daughter’s 7th bday at McBead Creations (beading store) off Craig Henry. The girls got to choose their own colours and designs and they each made 2 bracelets. It was great! Coming up with new ideas is always challenging especially when looking to keep costs down because your 2 kids bdays are only 9 days apart!

47 Peggy November 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm

We had a Mad Science birthday party for our son’s 6th birthday and I have to say that it was a huge dissapointment for my son and his friends. The show was very unpolished and overall not a good presentation. I would not recommend.

48 bizzy November 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

For my daughter’s 9th birthday we had a scrapbooking party at home. It was the best party! I requested in the invitation everyone to bring between 7-10 pictures that they could cut up. I had gotten mini scrapbook albums for everyone and provided all the stickers; paper; tape, tools and pens for jounalling. The kids loved it so much and worked on their albums for hours, we had a hard time getting them away from it to have cake and presents. Their albums, stickers and scissors were their favours to bring home.

One Note: it was a mess! but an easy mess to clean up (paper).

49 Anonymous January 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm

We had our daughter’s 4th birthday at the Loblaws Cooking School, and after years of the kids birthday parties at other facilities, this place stood out! Fantastic! The kids had a cooking lesson, decorated cupcakes to take home, decorated chef hats, got a photo souvenir, and cake was included. Awesome awesome value!

50 Anonymous January 5, 2011 at 4:11 pm

For a couple of years in a row our February daughter had her party at the tobogganning hill at the Arboretum. We started after lunch (so all kids would have eaten), parental supervision was obviously required (a bonus over having the drop and run) and afterwards everyone was invited back to the house for snacks, cake, and kid and grown-up friendly beverages. It was a nice way to re-connect with the parents of my daughter’s friends, while the kids ran around the house (for just an hour or so of craziness it wasn’t so bad, and our house is small!). One year we brought the Coleman and made hot chocolate right at the hill. It was great. The party always ended before suppertime.

Last year our daughter decided to go with a movie party at Cineplex and it was awful. Small lousy room and disengaged party “host” staffer. We’re hoping she’ll go back to plan A this year.

As for loot bags, HATE THEM. Hate getting them and disagree that kids should come to expect elaborate rewards when the spirit of a birthday party is spending time with friends and giving (not receiving). That said, every year I’ve bought either a box of Kindereggs or Ring Pops from Costco to distribute, and given each guest a balloon, and the kids seemed to leave just as happy. That’s probably less than $2-$3/child.

Lastly, we may try going with the “Tooney” party concept this year, as our daugher’s birthday follows fairly quickly on the heels of Christmas. She (turning 8) seems very happy with the idea that every guest brings $2 and she can use the money to buy the gift of her choice (with a supplement from Mom and Dad, no doubt, but that’s OK). This should help take the pressure off parents of guests, avoid a pile of presents that will take me until June to find room for/put away, and perhaps build a bit of anticipation to see what she chooses with her money.

It’s a long post, I know, but hopefully something of use to someone out there.

51 Anonymous January 7, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I have planned and organized birthday parties for my children for the last 20 years. Every year I look forward to helping the kids choose their theme and work with them to create unique invitations, games, food, and ,yes, loot bags. Our loot bags have nver been junk in a plastic bag. I’m sure I’ve ever given out those aweful plastic bags. Sand pails with a bag of popcorn in it for the beach party, survivor gear for the Survivor party, etc. Everything is co-ordinated to the theme. We spend good quality time together making pinatas, items for games, and decorations. I think I love the planning of the parties more than the kids do but the kids (both having the party and those invited) love the parties year after year. I come from a Scottish background and am VERY frugal when it comes to parting with my money. $125.00 for a party seems rediculous to me. Homemade everything. Creativity and time management make a great party. Perhaps I should start a home business and teach my frugality to others.

52 Anonymous January 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Wow, great ideas… thanks guys!!

Also, for anyone looking for the LEGO GUY… I came across his information on this website:

53 Shannon February 14, 2011 at 11:15 pm

So I googled “birthday party ideas ottawa” trying to come up with something different for my daughter’s 4th birthday that i havent already thought of … the lego one is VERY different but she is not into lego so I think i will contact the princess one that someone mentionned…but, i do happen to have a few suggestions to add to the list for those who strive to be different:

– 100% martial arts on bank street offers a similar program to the starr gymnastics but they do a jiujitsu/kickboxing combo lesson (age and skill appropriate) as well as the party room and cake
– the museum of civilization children’s museum was by far one of the best….both kids and parents alike enjoyed every minute of the 90 minute animated program then they have the party room with refreshments and cake (we had pizza delivered too) and because we cleaned up after ourselves and looked after our party guests, leaving the animator to put on her show without interruptions or having to chase after children (i thought everybody did that), they did not charge us for having more people than those included in their standard price (i believe it is 8 children and 5 adults)
– playtime 4 kids – ok, so i agree it was not the best place to have a party (especially considering the animator didnt bother to determine which child was the birthday child and was wishing a happy birthday to one of the guests) bu their cake is amazing and I usually order them for pick up and bring them to wherever my kids are having their parties
– sassy bead company does really nice beading parties for older girls (6 or 7 and older)
– michaels has crafting parties for all ages
– pirate adventures 2 hour boat ride and pirate show at mooney’s bay (i think it runs from spring to summer)
– club yoga does children’s yoga (and I believe they can come to your location or if you rent a community centre room)
– vincent massey park is a nice place for a birthday party in the summer with outdoor games and barbeques and you can even rent out and decorate the gazebo if you want to make it a bit more formal

As for loot bags, i agree with everyone else who hates them…but im guilty of being a loot bag provider at all the parties. I try to add in non-junk without breaking the bank and to do that I actually shop at the dollar tree in the states (1 hour away from ottawa). Their dollar store items are much better quality than here (ie: 4 packs of disney or marvel crayons for $1, 4 packs of 5 sidewalk chalks for $1…i cant remember off the top of my head but i put in playdoh, dolls, teddy bears, toy cars)…If i dont have time, the loot lady is really cool

54 Another Barrhaven Mom March 5, 2011 at 10:21 am

Great ideas and there is a new #Ottawa app that this should be posted too! It is Discover Ottawa.

1st I would love the Lego guys contact pls. All these ideas are fantastic, thank you. Hosting my daughters 9th party at Fun Junction with the package that has them rock climbing, glow in dark mini putt, laser tag and token for games. For the loot bag we got these mini scrap books for under five bucks, great for the girls and will be wrapping them up.

The Ottawa area – south west area needs more locals for parked ms I would love to see a roller derby um did that just agent lol

55 Tina S March 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Hi Dani,
So glad I fell upon your page because a LEGO birthday party is exactly what my soon-to-be 9 year old would love. Would you be so kind as to share the Lego Guy’s contact info with me?
You had mentionned about the XBox parties at the theatres. For the last two years, we have done that and the boys have had a fabulous time. It was fantastic to be playing video games on the big screen with the full theatre sound effects to go with it. The boys were glued to the screen and never left the theatre. The first year we went to Barrhaven and last year we went to the Coliseum in Britannia. Both were great venues. The staff were wonderful!
At the Coliseum, we were not able to get a party room for cake, so we made do and grabbed a few tables in the main area before the theatre opened to the public for movies. I stocked up the boys with some coins for the video games and let them loose for another half hour or so.
An hour of video games on the big screen, snacks, cake, presents, and a bonus of extra video games after – each of the boys had a great time and some are asking if we’re going to do it again this year. It was the best and easiest party I’ve thrown for my son so far 🙂

56 Cathy Stewart March 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Just had the Lego guys here for our son’s 8th birthday, he was a hit! Later one mom told me her son said it was wicked, awesome – high accolades from him!

On the loot bag subject, I love to give books and a small candy. I hate $$ store stuff in general and find it so much easier to wrap up a book and stick a candy on it. I’m not exactly sure how well received it is, I should ask the mom’s. I get the books from Scholastic and can usually find a book for around $3 and keep to my $4 goody bag limit. It does all add up!

Awesome blog!

57 kids birthday party ideas May 5, 2011 at 2:49 am

Nice ideas. Thanks for share…

58 chantal May 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

Hi, the Lego guy sounds like a great idea. Where can I find more info about him and his parties?


59 Anonymous June 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Hi. The Lego guy needs to start paying you commission I think! 🙂 Can you please send me his contact information as well?

Thanks so much…


60 Marylene June 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I love your blog. I did my daughter’s fifth birthday at A Gym Tale based on your advice.

I would like to have the Lego guy’s email address too, if you’d be so kind. My son would love to have a Lego themed eighth birthday.

61 DaniGirl June 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Hi Renée, your e-mail address didn’t come through in your comment. Could you please e-mail me at danicanada AT gmail DOT com, and I’ll send the Lego Guy’s info to you?

62 Laura Bouchard August 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm

When we lived in Ottawa I had most of the kids parties at our home; with no damage…My son,Harrison and his friends went on a tour of the fire station; they all seemed to enjoy that. Another year Harrison was invited to a party and Rays Reptiles came to the birthday boys home; Harrison loved that party! I also have 3 sons that were all born in Ottawa; they are now 16,14 and 12. We are originally from NS and we moved back here 9 years ago.

63 Lydia October 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I alternate b’day parties each year. The year a child doesn’t get a party, we take them out to a restaurant with the family which is just as much fun! Last year my daughter had about 15 friends over for her 6th birthday bash. We had Little Ray’s it was awesome. Good value per child. The loot bags from Dollarama cost me a fortune though 🙁

This year we are trying Tumbler’s Gymnastics for my son and instead of loot bags, I am using personalized chocolates from

The lady who makes them lives in Orleans and it came to about $2.50 per person. It was a huge savings from the Dollarama hassle last year and the personalized chocolates look great! It makes for a unique favor/gift.

In reference to Elise’s comment- I used to have the home partes when I was a kid too, but in retrospect it must have been a lot of work for my parents and truthfully, I find the more modern ones a lot more fun!

64 Kristy October 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

Great ideas, thank you everyone! I would love to speak with the Lego Guy if someone could forward his contact information. Keep the good ideas coming!

65 Lana November 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Elise, I am with you. I grew up on the east coast and I don’t recall birthdays ever being so elaborate. While we’re only three birthday parties in.. they have all been simple get-togethers with a small group of friends, homemade cake and running in the yard. At our son’s last party, we gave his friends a honey lollipop that we bought at the market. That’s it.

It’s probably going to get more complicated once he’s schoolage, but for now, we’re enjoying the simplicity.

Daycare has been a window into a whole other birthday party dimension that I never experienced: the at-school party, the home party, the family party… it ends up being a birthday week.

66 Curious December 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Has anyone tried Radical Science through Little Ray’s? We are considering them and looking for some reviews. Thanks

67 Leanne January 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm


Would it be possible to have the Lego Guy’s email? My son is turning 10 in February and would love a Lego party. Thanks!

68 Mavis January 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

My son’s been invited to a few parties for classmates this year. His fave so far was at Midway. He’s also going to one at Fun Haven (near Ikea), an Ottawa 67s birthday and a floor hockey party at the local YMCA. Certain library branches are also offering parties. Last year, we hired Spiderman from Super fun, I would highly recommend it. We might try the Aviation museum.

69 HockeyMom January 22, 2012 at 1:28 am

Probably too late for this answer Curious but … We had Radical Science come to my son’s birthday party and they were awesome! The scientist was funny and great with kids. We had Little Ray’s the year before and they were awesome too but we wanted something different so we tried their other company. I would recommend doing the take-home on the floor though (the scientist recommended that to us too) as there was a spill or 2 that the scientist cleaned up after the show.

Hope that helps!

70 Tina Shaw February 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

I really like all the comments good and bad about birthday parties. As a parent to five kids 2 girls, 3 boys , I thought I would share a few birthday ideas and places.

We live in barrhaven so we have tried Cineplex birthdays twice, like it good value for money. A gym tale like it also. We have done home parties, but they are a lot of work. We did a swim party at Walter baker which was a lot of fun.

We did laser tag for my eldest boys 12 birthday and loved it !! The kids played 2 games of tag, had pizza and cake. then we gave the kids loonies to play the video games until parents arrived.

My kids have attended parties at Merivale Bowling, Lego party guy, princess parties, ray reptiles and all have been winners with them.

I am thinking of doing Build a Bear or princess for my 5 year old in March

71 monica February 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

My nieces birthdays are in the winter. One in February, and the other in March. My sister rented a hotel room at the Delta down town (around $95. ) They have an indoor waterslide, and pool. The birthday girl gets to invite friends (4 or 5), they had a pizza party in the room, a pool party. Then my sister, her husband and her kids stay the night in the hotel, and pretend to be tourists in there own city, skating on the cannel, or checking out all of those things that you always think you love to do but it’s down in the market and parking is such a pain.

She looked into a pool party at one of the city pools and found out it was cheaper to rent a hotel room, and the kids think it an adventure.

72 Anonymous February 20, 2012 at 11:18 pm

My daughter did the research for her 9th birthday and decided on a backwards/upside down party theme. We held it at home. We did everything we could think of backwards and upside down. We made the invitations and the kids had to use a mirror to read them as they were typed backwards. We encouraged the kids to come dressed ready for backwards fun….every kid arrived wearing something backwards. I made decorations everything was either backwards or upside down. When the kids came we said goodbye thanks for coming. The kids had to write their name backwards on their cup. We had a jelly bean guess, farthest away won. The kids hung up their shoes and threw their coats on the floor. We opened presents first. We ate cake first…I decorated the bottom and sides, wrote on the cake backwards. We then had inside out hotdogs….cut a hot dog in half and used toothpicks to attach it to the bun. We had chips, vegies and fruit last. I “set ” the table with the table cloth under the table, the kids were all good sports and sat under the table on the floor. We played games…pin the tail on the donkey, the donkey was upside down, and farthest away won. We played musical chairs, but they moved with the music off and stopped when I turned the music on. We played twister and played opposite to what you normally do. I had a whole list of games that I found on the internet. It was a 3 hour party and the kids got through my games pretty quick. I hauled out all the appropriate board games I had and the 12 girls happily played for an hour, switching games every now and then. We said welcome when they left and everyone seemed to have a really great time. It was the easiest least expensive party I’ve ever hosted. I highly recommend this theme with 9 year old girls they had a blast.

73 Anonymous March 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

I make my kids’ cakes, offer champagne to the parents, set up our little tikes bouncy castle and voila – super fun birthday party at our home.

74 Tammy July 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

I would really appreciate the contact info for the Lego Guy.


75 Carla August 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm

We had a party on the weekend with a great new Ottawa company called Games To Go. They brought a 30 foot mobile video game theate to our house. The kids lost their minds. The cool factor is extreme. Price was compatible to other options for 12 kids. Lots of fun!

76 Janika September 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Dani can you pass along the lego guy’s info? Was he worth the $?

77 Anonymous November 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

We recently had our daughters birthday party at Club Gymnastique Les Sittelles, it was a ton of fun. They offer french gymnastics classes in Ottawa 🙂

78 Matt August 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Was wondering if anyone had used Official Superhero Parties in Ottawa? Was wondering about using them for my son’s party in October (he is turning 5). Was wondering if it would be appropriate for that age (probably Spiderman or Vader, his favorites) and if it was good value for the money.


79 Claire November 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

Great ideas here. Surprised to see though that not many have had a magic show. Last year we had Michael Borada, or as he calls himself, Michael The Magician. We saw him at a different event before and were very impressed so we decided to book him. He had awesome tricks that the kids (and myself) hadn’t seen before, and he was really funny. All in all I thought his presentation was really polished. For 15 kids I thought it was good value to having an ‘in home’ party. For this year I want to try something else, anyone have the Lego guys number?

80 Samantha Howe November 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Hi there,

Would I be able to bug for the contact info for the LEGO guy’s contact info too?


81 DaniGirl November 17, 2013 at 8:38 am

Hi everyone! I don’t know if Ian is still doing parties, as it has been several years since I wrote this post. However, if you leave a valid e-mail address or e-mail me directly, I will share his contact info.

82 Tiffany January 14, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Hi DaniGirl,

If possible could I get the lego guy’s contact info as well? Thanks.

83 rosey March 26, 2014 at 9:19 am

I would love the lego guys info for my sons party please

84 Tad Lassa May 16, 2014 at 12:36 am

Become a sister wife today – we are a polygamy dating website.

85 DaniGirl May 16, 2014 at 7:08 am

The comment above this one is obviously a spam comment, but I am oddly tickled by it. I mean, who couldn’t use an extra wife around the house??? So I think I’ll leave it there – just wanted to let you know it was a concious decision on my part and I’m not getting lazy! 😉

If anyone takes Tad up on his offer, let us know how it works out for you!

86 Anonymous September 30, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Lots of great ideas. I always do home parties with our friends and family until they start school. Once they start inviting school friends it gets just as expensive to do it at home with food, decorations and themes plus all the work involved to set up and then clean up. It’s really nice to just sit back and watch them have fun and come home and put our feet up afterwards, totally worth the cost in my opinion. For loot bags I always try to find one useful thing that goes with the theme like sticker books, books is great you can do new ones every year, I have one in October so we hand out pumpkins (sometimes we carve them if we have time or just send it home), costume parts like teeth or eye-patches, pumpkin carving accessories. The pirate adventure sounds awesome for my son when he is a bit older. There’s a new play place in Kanata called Kids Kingdome which was really nice I am thinking of going there this year for my 6 year olds first birthday party out of the house.

87 Willow Benack April 4, 2015 at 1:22 am

Planning a birthday party should always be fun and stress free. Birthday parties are always special for kids as well as their parents and thus it becomes very important to organize it well and add lots and lots of fun. For some interesting birthday parties getting your child’s opinion on what theme they would like.

88 Irina Chernykh June 28, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Hello DaniGirl,

would you mind to share info about Lego party? would really appreciate.

Thanks in advance.


89 Ric February 21, 2019 at 11:10 pm

For a kids party. You really did a great job. It turned out that everyone really enjoyed the birthday celebration of your son. Great idea!

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