Birthday Parties for 3 & 4 Year Olds
|Party Ideas & Questions||More Party Suggestions for 3-4 yos|
3 Year Old Birthday PartyApril 2012
Anyone have good ideas for places to have a birthday party for kids in the 2-5 years old range? My kids have done a couple of Head Over Heels parties and LOVED them, but unfortunately there are no openings any time soon that work with our time frame. I'd prefer something indoors so as not to worry about a rain plan. Physical activities would probably be better than art activities for this one (3 year old boy), but suggestions of all kinds welcome. Thank you!
Not sure where you are located, but we did my son's third birthday at My Gym in Walnut Creek and it was great - lots of physical activity, good ''free time,'' great ''planned activities'' lead by some wonderful instructors, wind down at end with snacks and cupcakes (we supplied the snacks and cupcakes - so you can control what is served :)) -- my son loved it, and all the guests seemed to like it (including the younger siblings and parents). Closer to Berkeley, we attended a birthday party at Play Cafe in Oakland and that was really great too - different ''rooms'' with different activities - including a big ball pit for the more active kids. Hope this helps! Happy BIrthday to your son! CA Mom
Off the top of my head, you might try Oakland's Kinetic Arts Center, or Pump it Up (which many parents seem to have a love/hate relationship with). There's also Super Franks and the Bay Area Discovery Museum. anon
Discovery Museum or Fairyland, on a sunny day. Studio Grow, on a rainy day. Have fun! East Bay Mom
Hi there! Depending on your budget, Super Franks in Pleasanton is the best! They are a little on the expensive side, but their sports party is amazing for this age group. They put on music, have gym mats, plasma cars, basketballs everywhere, and it's great! Then you go into a room, you can bring a DVD and they will play it during that portion of the party. Also, it is very parent friendly! Steph
The Play Cafe in the Oakland Hills looks like a great place for an indoor, active party. I have only been there during their open play hours during the week, but I'm pretty sure the weekends are completely dedicated to parties. The couple that runs it is really sweet and puts a lot of care in to keeping the place clean and well organized. The greatest thing for me, is I can sit and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a good healthy salad while my 2 year old runs around and I chat with my friends. The ball pit can get a little hectic at times, but I have never seen a calm ball pit anywhere. Anon
Habitot is perfect for this age. I had my son's party there when he was 2. http://www.habitot.org/museum/visit_parties.html L
Low-key birthday party for a 3 year oldNov 2011
my daughter is turning 3 in 2 weeks im trying to think of ideas for a party that are NOT over the top, just simple and low key. we are inviting 5 of her play group friends (and parents) and few other friends with older kids. i would love to have it at a park but weather is ify and our house is quite small . any suggestions? thanks d
Set up your house with ''stations'' like at preschool. Air-dry clay, paint, blocks, and maybe markers or glitter glue. When kids arrive they make something, or a few things. Then singing and cake, and time to go home. We did parties like this in our small house several times -- the center for creative reuse is a great place for art supplies when the children are a bit older and enjoy more variety of materials. We've done out of the house parties at Lawrence Hall of Science (little animals, dinosaurs) at MOCHA (clay) and at the YMCA (kindergym); though usually for somewhat larger groups. We've done parties outside at times, but had to switch one to the house because of bad weather. But at 3, a little art, some toys to play with and snacks defines a party. anon
We just had our 3-yo's bday party at the Merry-Go-Round in Tilden. It was a drizzly day, but there is plenty of covered space around the MGR. We had about 10 kids and handed out tickets as many times as needed. Cupcakes and lemonade were the only food offerings. It was sweet and simple and close to perfect for this age group. Fan of Simplicity
I recently went to a party were one of the faeries from Happily Ever Laughter performed. They were amazing. Is made the birthday magical without the mom having to do much. A little decorations, a cake, pizza and that was it. The faerie did the rest. She showed up in an amazing costume and kept the kids memorized for over an hour. She brought her own magic show, balloons and facepaints. The facepaints were really special. It's not cheap but a great way to keep the stress off the moms. Happy Mom!
Looking for ways to celebrate 4th birthdayJan 2011
We moved to the bay area this past summer, and I have been looking for work since we got here. My son had been in daycare from 4 months old until we moved, but has been home with me for the past six months out of financial necessity. We will be bringing a new baby home in January, and then just a few weeks later, my son will turn 4. We have no family in the area (none can afford to travel here for his birthday) and he has not made any new friends that we can invite to a birthday party. His parties in the past haven't been a big deal, but he always had family and friends around to celebrate with (on top of a celebration at 'school').
I'm looking for suggestions of ways to make a big deal out of his birthday when it will very likely be just the four of us. I'd been thinking about Gilroy Gardens or something similar, but just discovered that all the local amusement parks close for the season after New Year's. Any suggestions would be appreciated - we'd be willing to drive a couple hours for something really spectacular, although anything requiring an overnight stay might be too expensive. Thanks in advance for your help! Erin
I'm not sure about the amusement park stuff for 4 year olds what is open, etc. most 4 year old boys love the steam trains in Tilden Park -- they are usually open throughout the year usually rain or shine-- if he's a train lover you can do the train set kind of presents, go on the steam trains, and then have grilled cheese and ice cream at Fentons on Piedmont Ave. afterward? which is not too far away... Another train-loving exciting trip that we did with my son when he was younger was to take the Amtrak to Sacramento, where you can walk to the train museum and go to the old fashioned candy store in old town Sac-- all stroller friendly, and take the train back again. If he's a builder kind of boy, give him some tools, and bring a special picnic to the Berkeley Marina Adventure Playground (put the baby in a carrier) and hammer on stuff or paint wildly for a while (check hours when it's open). A good show venue would be the Buddy Club shows (magic, etc. kiddos love it) at the North Berkeley JCC and then get cupcakes afterward at love at first bite, Vine and Shattuck. These are some of the things my 9 year old remembers fondly from when he was a littler guy and still likes. Carol
I haven't been myself but several coworkers highly recommend Safari West in Santa Rosa. It's a preserve where you can get very close to the animals and spend the night if you want. Folks have taken kids as young as 2 and up to 10/11 and really enjoyed it. Not sure if it would be possible to take a newborn, but maybe one parent stays back at the lodge with baby and the other joins the 4yo go on the 2 hour jeep tour. Would def. be an out of ordinary experience. Congrats in advance on the new addition to the family. brenda
My boys birthdays are close together; my little guy was 3 weeks old when my oldest turned 2. To celebrate his birthday, we took Amtrak from Downtown Berkeley to Jack London square, had brunch at a nearby restaurant (Cuckoo's Nest, since closed), and took the train back. It was a fun, easy outing. I haven't been to Jack London Square in years, but perhaps there is another restaurant that would make the outing fun. Anita
If your son likes trains, I'd recommend the Niles Canyon Railway. It's a beautiful ride, and I think on the Sunol end there's a fun pizza place on the small main street of town. hope this helps
4-year-old birthday party for the whole classApril 2010
Hi everyone, I'm organizing a birthday party for my soon-to-be four-year-old at a playground (I reserved a picnic area). We invited his whole preschool class, and I'm wondering if I should plan any games, or just let the kids run around and have fun, since it is right next to a lovely playground. We will be doing a gift exchange, and cake (and food and drinks), but I wasn't sure if I should plan anything else. The theme of the bday is car washes (per request of my car wash- obsessed son , so if you have any ideas that would be fun for 3-5 year-olds that'd be great...Thanks so much! Mariana
I don't think you have to plan any activities, the kids will have plenty of fun just running around. If you want, you could give each one a bottle of bubbles to play with--that's vaguely car wash related, right?
Even though you'll be at a park with a playground, I would suggest having one or two planned activities. I always did this because I think it is a good idea to bring all the energy down to one place a few times and be sure the kids are interacting well. It can be as simple as having a craft for the kids to do as they arrive. This allows them to sit and meet other kids, presuming there are kids there who might not know each other. Then just before food or cake, you might want to play a game. That's a good way to bring the kids all back together and then move into eating. It helps my sanity to have a few things planned so I'm not running around trying to figure out who is where.
I am the grandmother of a 4-year old whose birthday was scheduled at our house on a rainy Saturday. We hired Magic Dan (Dan Sneider)who performs locally at lots of libraries and functions in SF and the East Bay. Kids and adults loved him, and he knows his audience. Literally. The first thing he did when he arrived was to ask for the names of all the children. As kids entered, he asked their names and then called them by name throughout the show. Dan was able to squeeze us in at the last moment. He isn't cheap, but we made this our gift to our grandson. His performance is a great gift alternative from family members! By the way, our house if very small, but he was comfortable with 15 kids and 20 adults. He's great. www.magicdan.com grandma
How about providing squirt bottles (available at places like Walgreen's for .99), and the kids can make two rows and squirt a kid as s/he runs through the ''car wash.'' Also kids that age enjoy decorating their own cupcakes: provide frostings (use food coloring in the vanilla for variations) and toppings (gummy bears, mini M, gum drops, candy corn, sugar sprinkles). Love that age!
3-year-old Birthday Party IdeasFeb 2010
Does anyone have any ideas for entertainment for a 3-year-old's birthday party? Music, storytellers, etc? Also, it will be in August, and I'm wondering if outside would be too hot for the little ones. Thanks! getting a head start
Sure, you could hire an entertainer for a 3 year old's birthday party if you're not up to organizing party activities yourself, but please don't go overboard! Most kids that age would rather run around a playground than watch a 'professional' show of some sort. If you do hire a storyteller or musician, make sure it is someone accustomed to working with toddlers and preschoolers and that it's more of an interactive, loosely structured thing than a sit-and-listen thing. (Circle time with a Music Together or kiddie gym teacher is better than a magic show.) Or you might think about paying a teenager to do face painting or something simple like that. Think about the kinds of things your own child likes to do or see at street fairs or other people's parties, and plan around that.
It's rarely too hot around here for kids to play outside, but if you're concerned about the possibility, have the party at home or in a park with an indoor hall or at least a shaded picnic area, so that everyone has the option to get out of the sun. A water play area or wading pool can be a great party feature too. Partying Mama
Michal Karmi is perfect for this sort of thing. we met her at Studio Grow in Berkeley, where she does story/music/parachute time with the kids. we hired her for our two-year-old's outdoor birthday party last summer, and she was a huge hit - brought her ukelele, face paint, and parachute. the little ones had a blast. you can tell she genuinely adores children, and just has fun entertaining them! i think she knows every kid song under the sun, and can sing many of them in Hebrew and Spanish, as well. highly recommended! Michal Karmi spinningkitty [at] gmail.com http://partywithmichal.webs.com/ http://www.youtube.com/user/musicwithmichal Jason
3 Year Old Boy Birthday PartyAugust 2009
I'd love to get some ideas about where to throw my son's three year old birthday party this fall. We'd like to invite his entire pre-school class so I definitely want to have the party outside of my home - but not too far from Berkeley so it's not a big hassle for the other families. Naturally, he loves fire trucks, construction sights, trains and all ball sports. I already perused the archive on BPN and we've already experienced most of those parties with his 2 older sisters. Many thanks.
We recently held our party at SadieDey's (aka Tumble & Tea) in Oakland. It was a very good experience and I'd highly recommend it for a 3-year-old's party. We chose the after-hours time so the place was all to ourselves (also the whole preschool class). I really liked how the play space was adjacent to the party space (unlike, say, Habitot or other bday places) so there didn't have to be scheduled eating and playing times. A little snacking, a little sliding, fun for the kids and relaxing for the parents. It was not super-cheap but the only thing we had to do was get a cake - worth it to us compared with all the work that can come with a park b-day. The staff were very helpful and nice, but do be sure to pin them down in advance on every detail. (Not everything was as described on the website.) Toddler mom
Not sure what BPN postings are as far as birthday party suggestions...for my son's 3rd birthday we went to the local firestation...all the kids got a tour of the place, sat on a fire truck and in an ambulance, got a lesson on fire safety and then we went to a separate room to have cake...you could also go to a local pizza parlor afterward...they had such a fun time. Not all fire stations do this...call and they will tell you what they can offer. Good luck! Andrea
For my son's 3rd, we had an adventure treasure hunt. We filled a big carboard box with mardi gras beads, trinkets, wrote TREASURE in marker on it and ''buried'' it in the park near our house. I ordered some indiana jones types of hats from Oriental Trading. We marched the kids through the park to find the treasure. It wasn't hidden so it would be hard to find. They were able to find it together and share the booty. They had a great time and the parents loved it. We hiked back to our house with the booty and they played in the back yard and ate cake and pizza. Great fun. You could easily do this in a park and not have it at your house. Some kids brought their own binoculars and other types of explorer gear so it was so cute. The hike was about 15 minutes, tops.
you can also have a bday party at your local firestation! we're planning on doing that next year. anonamom
How about having a picnic/BBQ and train rides for the kids at the steam trains in Tilden? My son still loves those trains even at 8! DD
Fun at-home party for 3 year oldOct 2008
Hi - My daughter is turning 3 in December and I am looking for advice/suggestions on birthday party planning. For her past two bdays we had small family parties but now that she is in preschool (and gets excited about parties) we'd like to do something a little bit bigger and invite her new friends. It seems the trend is to host a party at a kid-oriented venue (e.g. the zoo, habitot, mocha, etc) but my husband adamently refuses to go that route - he thinks it is unnecessarily extravagent for a 3 y.o. So, does anyone have advice about how to make an at- home party fun, special, and manageable? Our house is reasonably spacious but assuming we invite 5-8 children and their parents it could get pretty hectic. Thanks! Party Novice
Hello Party Novice, this last October 4th we had a birthday party for my son who turned 3, he was so excited about having a party that the theme changed almost every day, I ended up having an Ice cream party cause he loves Ice cream and his daddy is an ice cream fan himself, then about a week before the birthday he asked if he could have a monster party also and we added that in too since Halloween is around the corner and everything is on sale. well we ended up with about 60 people at our small townhouse (where we also run a daycare). we made pasta with red sauce for the kids and ordered pizza from lane splitters ($10 the extra large pizza),we rented a popcorn machine, Ice cream cake & everyone got to create there own ice cream Sunday. For fun we ended up filling the living room with pop up tents and tunnels, than we had some dancing followed by Halloween art in the patio & ended with the piC1ata, which was also there goodie bag.
Everyone had fun. my husband and I had the best time ever! and our son had the such a great time he is still talking about his party. I recommend that you let the parents stay at the party and since the party is in December make it a winter party,(ice princes party or ice fairy) you will save your self so much money & have a ton of stuff for the kids to do. I also recommend twisty man http://www.twistyman.com/ he is the best! we had him at our daycare so many times and I have seen him at many other birthday parties. ( we tried to get him for our party but he was booked). Rebeca
When we were on a tight budget we did a party right after pre school at Habitot primary caregiver and child only. fruit tray, Bagels, creem cheese and cake from costco. The kids had so much fun. Dad came in time for cake. Habitot has a party room on side on main play area. anon
As one who has done Birthday parties at a kid friendly venue there is some positives to do it at one. One is that you don't have to get your house ready for the party. The second you do not have to clean up. Third, you are not the entertainer or the master of events for the kids, fourth - it can be so much fun. It depends on what your budget can be. I don't know if it is extravagant or not, it is not like some of those Sweet 16 birthday parties that are so extravagant. One must weigh the pros and the cons. Pay someone to lead the party or let kids run around the house and make a creative mess of it. Depends on whether you two feel like you can take on a birthday party or not. Rachel
Last year for our daughter's third birthday I found some foam crowns at Michaels. I think they were $1 each. I bought stickers and things for the kids to decorate the crowns. The letter stickers were particularly popular as most of the kids put their names on their crowns. It was a fun thing for them to do and each child had a nice take away from the party. I think it worked out great. That with the meal and cupcakes pretty much filled a few hours and we were set. Good luck. PS - we have not gone to any parties at those event places, just fyi. Mom of 2
Does your husband realize that renting a ''venue'' is actually the easy, NON-extravagant way to give a kids' party? LOL. But whatever. If you're not the type who really enjoys planning and hosting parties, no, you don't have to go nuts or spend a ton of money to give a fantastic birthday celebration for a few preschoolers.
First, choose a theme. Honestly, it makes things easier to plan, and this is what makes the party SPECIAL. Go with whatever your child is interested in lately (trains, princesses, monkeys) or hit a party store or browse the Birthday Express catalog together and pick one of their offerings. Of course, buying invitations and decorations from the party store helps keep things simple (as opposed to making them yourself) -- especially if you get a ''party pack'' from an online vendor -- though you might spend less by picking and choosing at a local party warehouse.
Then, choose a time for the party that is in between mealtimes, so you don't need to worry about serving lunch or dinner and can just offer snacks.
Set up your home with some toys-to-be-played-with laid out in your main party room, and everything else put away as much as possible. Then have your planned party activities. I recommend one craft activity that the kids to do as they arrive, spending as much or as little energy on it as they like, and then one or two more structured games/activities.
For example, if it's a princess party, decorate craft foam crowns with stick-on jewels (hit Michael's or JoAnn's for kits); then announce ''circle time'' and read a fairytale; follow with a simple treasure hunt or pull-string pinata, or perhaps some dressing up for and dancing at the ''ball''. Keep 'em occupied with planned activities and they will be less likely to wreak general havoc in your house!
Serve cake (allowing the kids to decorate their own cupcakes with tubes of frosting, tubs of sprinkles, etc. can count as a party activity too, and it's usually a major hit with this age), have some free-play time, open presents, hand out some goody bags. Done!
For inspiration, I am fond of www.birthdaypartyideas.com -- you probably don't want to get as complex as some of the parties described there are, but you can pick and choose from the ideas. I'm also happy to offer suggestions by e-mail; this post started out much longer but I went over the character limit! Have fun! Holly
I recently saw this webpage with some fun ideas: http://www.contracostapreschools.com/Partyideas.html. joj
We've always had our kids' parties at our house (or the park or the beach) and they've always worked out great. I like to have a theme to organize things. Some themes that we've done that have been good have been Dora the Explorer, Butterflies, Princess Tea Party, Scooby Doo Pirate Adventure. You can Google ''birthday party ideas'' and get lots of good ideas. Have your daughter pick a theme. Then come up with 3 activities or so that fit with the theme. Make one a craft-type thing that they can take home and that is the ''goody bag''. Kids will enjoy anything fun. Believe me, they are not comparing parties. It should be fun for you too! Good luck and Have fun!
I agree with your husband that the venue events are too much for 3-y olds. Both my kids were very much into parties at that age, but the concept that 'today' was really their own birthday was really not there for either. Their little friends have a hard time participating in organized stuff, particularly when it's hyped. For both kids, we had a party much like you suggested, about 5-8 friends (with parents AND siblings, mind that!), and a few activities, like simple crafts (like decorating a party hat or a cookie) or a very simple game, and a pinata. Our house is small, and one birthday is also in december, so it's always been indoors. For the most part, the kids were just running around after each other, playing with whatever they can find. It's hectic, but works. What helped make it better for kid #2, was to close off the kids room with the toys! That way, it didn't get turned upside down completely. Party mom
Birthday party for 4-year-oldJuly 2008
My son will be 4 in September. Ideally, I would like to have an old-fashioned birthday party at home with kids, games, hamburgers, and cake. However, our house is very small and our backyard is in disarray from remodeling mess, sort of torn up with construction debris etc. Our son plays there, but I think many parents would not want their kids to do so, so home is not going to be an option this year. Can anyone recommend a fun place to have a birthday party that is not overdone with bells and whistles and is not too expensive? I hesitate to just go to a park since I couldn't guarantee we would have a place, but maybe some of you have done this and it has been fine? We're looking at probably 5-10 other kids. Thanks in advance.
Well, you could just choose a construction theme for the party and have it in your backyard like we did. Seriously, though, many local parks (I know Temescal Reservoir and Roberts in Oakland for sure, but I'm sure there are others) let you reserve a picnic area in advance for a small fee. See the Park & Rec department website (or call them) for whichever city you're interested in. JP
Hi, Last month was our 1st real ''party'' party for our 4-year-old son's birthday, and we wanted it to be special without being too over the top. I read about Magic Dan here on BPN, looked him up on-line and called. He was WONDERFUL! He arrived well ahead of ''showtime'' (we're in Oakland, he's in SF), set up by himself amidst all the commotion, was very friendly AND professional, and just really did a great job. He's very good with the magic, but in my opinion, his best trick by far was keeping 15 kids (ages 14 mos. up to 7 yrs) completely mesmerized and cracking up for a FULL 45 MINUTES!!! He is funny, nice, highly entertaining, and really knew how to keep the kids' attention (which was fabulous for the parents as well as the kids). Magic Dan helped my son feel comfortable being the magician's assistant, and all the kids really loved him. He really made the party, and I highly recommend him to anyone, esp. for the 4-6-yr.-old crowd. His number is 415-337-8500 and website is www.magicdan.com. Happy Birthday!
There are parks with reservable picnic areas. Codordices in Berkeley is one, but if you check with the parks and recreation office in your city, or their website you can find more options. The East Bay Regional Park district also offers reservable picnic spots; Roberts Recreation area offers reservable picnicking and a playground and pool.
But if you don't want the bother, I went to a lovely 4-yr-old birthday party that was set up on blankets on the ground (at Montclair Park). It was casual, low-key and a ton of fun for both my daughter and me. The other option is to plan on arriving early to snag a spot--which works as long as you're willing to settle for a less desireable spot or can go with a plan B like the blanket idea.
I have hosted or attended kids parties at Montclair Park, Lake Temescal, Roberts Regional Park, Shorebird Park (Berkeley Marina), and Alvarado Park (north end of Wildcat Canyon park). All really nice. Carrie
If you want to hold your party at a park, you don't have to worry about getting a space. Both the East Bay Regional Parks sytem and the City of Berkeley allow you to reserve picnic areas in a variety of local parks. Check their websites for instructions. a park lover
We had my daughter's 4th birthday at Round Table Pizza in Pinole across from Target. They have a climbing structure indoors and don't charge for the room, but you do have to put down a deposit and you do have to order a minimum of some amount, but I can't remember how much the minimum is. It ended up that I spent less than $250 for a party of 8 kids, plus 10 parents (give or take). We had salad bar for all the grown-ups, cheese pizza, and some cheesy bread sticks. I did my own favors. I thought about buying milk for the kids, and didn't. I left the cups out for the parents to determine what they would give there kids to drink. We brought our own cake and decorations (that's all they'll allow you to bring). We had a pinata that you pull the strings so her dad held it and the kids each got a turn pulling (no hooks for hanging the pinata). My daughter loved it and says she wants her 5 year old birthday there too.
They give you about two hours total for the party in the room. We were having so much fun that we ended up moving our stuff to another area and hanging out for another hour. Parents all commented on what a fun party it was for the grown ups because they got to hang out and be social while the kids were in the climber. Melissa
Magic Dan, Part 2 Hi again. Sorry, I responded to just your heading of ''Birthday Party for 4-year-old,'' THEN read your entire post re. preferring a party away from home. Smart move, that. We've been to LOTS of parties at parks all over the bay area, and they seem to go great. Lots of fun and easy clean-up! Some you can reserve, others are 1st come basis. But I've never known it to be a problem for anyone. AND I bet Magic Dan would be happy to put on his show at a park! GOOD LUCK
We had our daughter's 3rd birthday party in Tilden Park at the carousel and it was really fun and not to hard to handle. They put a birthday party package together that I thought was reasonably priced. It came with the space (picnic tables in a shaded area), cake, ice cream, and a packet of tickets for the kids to ride the carousel. I brought lunch meats, cheeses and etc. for a make your own sandwich bar and I think that was it. I covered the tables with butcher paper, added little tin pails with crayons, bought helium balloons for the tables and to give away as kids left, and that was pretty much it. Had a ball. Can't remember the cost but I didn't have to clean up a big mess and that was worth it! Andrea
Many of the picnic areas at parks in both El Cerrito and Berkeley can be reserved for a small fee. Check out the cities' websites for more info. We did this for our 4-year-old's party with great success. It's nice to have built-in entertainment for the kids (the playground). And September should be perfect park weather. party veteran
For the kind of party you want, a park is perfect. And you're not talking about such a large number of guests that you'll need to worry much about reserving the space -- though you might want to send one parent to the park early in the day to ''stake out'' the spot you want and start setting up.
That said, in many, many parks you can reserve a specific picnic area for a party, and local residents can often make that kind of reservation for very little money. Go up to Tilden or Roberts, or see if your city has a site reservation system for your own neighborhood park. Holly
We've had our son's birthdays celebrated at the park for the last 5 yrs (he's 5). Both Temescal and Roberts. You can reserve a site on line or show up the day of when the park opens at 8 and opt for first come first serve (my father has been happy showing up at 8 with his coffee, newspaper, and putter to guarantee a picnic site). What kid isn't happy at a park - lots of options! park happy
I believe you can reserve a spot for a small fee at Kensington Park at the top of Arlington near Moeser. I've been to a few parties there. It's a lovely park with play structures for younger and older kids and a pond. I recently attended a party at Kennedy Grove Regional Park in El Sobrante and that was nice as well, with lots of room to spread out. As an alternative since you mentioned burgers, one girl I know had a party at Fuddruckers and it sounded like it was relatively low key (though I didn't attend so can't say more). I love house parties too that are simple and have so far resisted the urge to hire ponies, bouncy houses, magicians, musicians, clowns, or even Elmo! Party Mom
Some of the local parks have sites that you can reserve. Tilden Park, and the Arlington Park in El Cerrito come to mind. They will cost you a small fee, but you have a space, room for kids to play, and access to a restroom key in many locations. We had my niece's 3rd birthday at Arlington, and it was quite nice! Kristin
Activities for tiny 3 yo bday partyNov 2007
My daughter's 3rd birthday is coming up. There will be 3 same-aged girls, their parents and up to 3 adult relatives. It will be from 9:30-11:30 am and include brunch and birthday cake. We are not hiring any particular entertainment. It will be indoors in a large, sunny room with round tables and cement floors. There is a grassy area nearby. What activities work best at this age? Ideas? Art projects? Dress up? Pot a plant? Blow bubbles? (outside) Run and kick balls? (we have a lot of balls) Dance to Dan Zanes? What has been really exceptional fun for your kids at this age that can be done in a large indoor room or out on the lawn? Thanks! I wish I were a party girl!!
I've always given birthday parties in our home, so we have the built-in attraction of all of our kids' own toys. When you have a park/plain rented room party, you do need to bring in some ''free play'' things. Bubbles are great -- get some of those big dipping trays and a variety of different wands.
A craft project of some sort is great to have too, because kids can work on it at their own pace and do it at whatever level of skill and intensity they prefer. And you can easily relate it to any party theme you are using. If the girls like dress-up, they could decorate craft foam crowns or tiaras, for example. (Michael's sells inexpensive kits and supplies for this sort of thing. So does Oriental Trading but usually 12 sets to the package, so you're probably better off buying locally.) And you could use princess themed party goods. Or combine this activity with the cake: Give each girl her own cupcake and put out some frosting tubes and an assortment of sprinkles and candies. They will make a mess but they will LOVE it.
And then I would add one somewhat more organized game or activity. For kids this young, though, you should avoid anything too competitive or that requires a lot of waiting around to take your turn. Also, if there are prizes or treats involved, every player should receive one. Think of the kinds of circle games and songs they do in preschool. Or do a pull- string pinata, which I've done with great success with all ages. The pull-string kind is much more manageable and safe than the hitting-with-a-bat kind! A ''treasure hunt'' is great too: just scatter party favor type toys around the area, issue each child a bag or basket, and tell them to find as many bugs/stars/gold coins/lost puppies as they can. It can be great fun to do this after telling a story that involves needing the girls' help to find or rescue the whatevers. Have fun! holly
My son's 3-year-old party, which was really fun for everyone, sounds very much like what you are planning. My idea was to provide enough for kids to do, but to have it be very ''free form''. No games or other activities where everyone would have to cooperate and participate at the same time (except the pinata at the end - and even then one kid opted out of that and kept playing with play dough). Kids were free to choose their own activities. We set up 2 tables inside with playdough on one table and stickers and construction paper on the other. You of course could always have a coloring table or other simple art project instead. In an outside area adjacent to the indoor room, we had large bubble wands and trays with bubble solution on a small table (so the kids could blow the bubbles themselves), and a truck play area. The kids played and the parents chatted and had coffee and snacks for about 1 hour, and then we did a simple lunch (PBJ), cake, and a pinata outside. My kids LOVE pinatas, and you can fill them with little plastic toys (check out the Party Warehouse in El Cerrito) if you don't want to fill it with candy. Liz O.
Think about the equivalent of an easter egg hunt. That's been a complete hit with kids in our house. Now, you'll need to modify it for the non-Easter season. We have had a big basket and every time a kid finds something, they have to put it in the basket. (Pre-school socialism) It extends the time that the hunt takes and makes it so that you don't have to worry about which kids have found stuff. For non-Easter, you can use the eggs or wrap things in colored saran wrap. Then, after the hunt, the kids gather around and take turns picking things out of the big basket. It also eliminates the need for a separate gift bag.
Also, kids have enjoyed a peanut hunt. Peanuts in their shell. Kids like hunting for them -- even if they don't like peanuts. have fun!
Bubbles and chalk for drawing on cement!! have fun
My daughter just turned 3 in October and I was looking for a similar idea. I came up with one that worked great, I think. I went to Michael's and found these foam crown's...$1 each. And bought some glitter glue, some stickers, and some pipe cleaners (and had a hole punch at home already) and each child decorated their own crown. They turned out great. The stickers that were especially cute were letters, and most of the kids put their names on the crowns with the letters. We did not do a goody-bag...but everyone went home with something special. Hope this helps. Mom of 3 year old too
We had exactly the party you are describing for our preschool girl. What stood it apart and made it really enjoyable was the small scale and mellowness of it all. Both the adults and the kids seemed to appreciate that. Take advantage of it! The girls showed up and were given a little treat bag (a dollar store purse with lip gloss, vending machine rings, a small notebook, stickers and mini pencils, and a finger puppet (total cost ~$12), then whisked off to a dress up corner where they chose an outfit (If you don't already have a dress up collection you can get good prices on cocktail dresses at the goodwill) and put on their lip gloss. Then everyone ate. The girls danced while I cleared some space, then we did a simple art project and played a simple group game (like musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, adapted red light/green light) Next was cake then we played outside. Last we let the girls free play with our daughter's toys, then watched a short video to regroup and it was time to go. It was really fun! Happy Birthday!
We just went to a party like you are planning, but for boys. Was it ever fun!!! The activities that the kids did were:
1. decorate cookies (home made, pre-frosted with sticky frosting and lots of choices of things to decorate with...each kid used a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan to contain mess...cookies were then put on paper plates for kids to take home and share for dessert that night...course we ate a ton there too).
2. ''treasure hunt'' in the backyard (hostess had pre-made some decorate sand bucketsand each child got to pick one)...small candies, pkgs of cookies, pencils, etc. were sprinkled in plain view around the yard)
3. ''basketball'' (they had lots of balls too and a couple of those shorter crawl thru tubes that were set on end and used as ''hoops'')
4. lunch and cake
5. free play
6. open presents
7. more play (mostly with the presents that were just opened)
It was a great party and I think the key to it was that the hostess was totally prepared. Every activity was already set up (but hidden from the kids). The husband was quick about moving just before or just after to set things out/put them away (he was in the backyard tossing the ''treasures'' just as the cookie decorating was ending, for example). Nikki
We had a beach-type theme for my daughter's 3 y.o. party. Activities that went well were a ''shell hunt'', we hid shells around the yard and gave each kid a bag, put on music and when the song ended, whoever collected the most won. Also a musical chairs game where they stop on paper plates when the music stops, take away one plate each time and keep doing that till the last kid wins. We colored beach balls (really cheap from Oriental Trading) and blew bubbles too. The one thing that did NOT work was a pinata - yikes, 3 year olds, blindfolds and wiffle ball bats do not mix Have fun!
One activity that I did for both my kids' 3rd birthdays that was a big hit was a treasure hunt kind of thing for their party favors. I wrapped each kid's party favors in different wrapping paper. Then I hid the party favors and gave each kid a bag and a swatch of their wrapping paper. They went around and hunted for and collected the ones with their wrapping paper. This is a good activity for the end of the party to send them home with some party favors. getting experienced at birthday parties
3yo Bday: #kids, entertainment for a sweet partyOct 2007
My three-year-old's birthday is next month, and I want her to have a lovely party that is joyful and relaxing for parents and children. This is such a fragile age, with the children going from delight to tears so quickly \xe2\x80\x93 I want to make it the most likely that they will just have fun. Our community has a clubhouse with kitchen that opens onto a heated pool. Outside the iron pool fence are the locker rooms and a large lawn. I would love to incorporate all elements of the wonderful space, but it is really too large for what I'm envisioning, so I'll need to choose either clubhouse/pool or lawn for the party.
I will hold the party in the morning so none of the children are yet napless, and have food out the entire time so none are fading from hunger. I will try to remember to serve the homemade cake (something we look forward to all year) early enough so people can get home before the early nappers melt down.
1)\tWhat's the right timeframe for the party? 9-11? 10-12? My kid needs lunch right at 11:30, and most of her class naps at 1 pm, so I want to be done by noon.
2)\tHow many 3-year-olds do I invite? It could be anywhere from 1 to 50 of them. Do we have to invite the 6-year-old brother of our 4-year-old neighbor? Last year we had about 10-12 children for the second birthday and we did great.
3)\tWhat activity/entertainment do we provide? Last year we had a children's singer, and that was fine. The previous year, we had a sign language teacher and a photographer who did it for free for the publicity. I know where we could borrow a jumpy/bouncy. If it's beautiful Indian Summer like the last two years, the pool alone might be enough.
4)\tDo we hold the party on the lawn or in the clubhouse? If on the lawn, we would need to schlep some tables for food from the clubhouse to the lawn, and roll some terribly heavy concrete umbrella stands from the small pool to the lawn to shade the food, but the kids could run or kick balls or we could borrow a friend's bouncy/jumpy. If in the clubhouse, the kitchen is part of the same room, and the tables are already there, so it's very easy. Big sliding doors open onto the pool, so people could easily go to the pool as well, but we could close them for safety.
5)\tWhat's the deal with party favors? I always think they are very sweet but a waste of money. Are they necessary? If so, what could they be that is not junk food or cheap stuff that gets thrown away? Last year I didn't buy any and my MIL bought some individual packages of cookies and party hats. I was irritated but the kids liked it.
I really want something lovely and memorable for everyone without the risk of kids getting too amped up and melting down or hosts getting too exhausted.
I think that kids who are 3 just love to play. Maybe you could use the Jumpee that you mentioned and set out some coloring activities. You might want to be sure that you can use the indoor space, in case the weather is not suitable for being outside.
First I think it is great that you want to have a simple party that will really be enjoyable for all involved, and also that you've given the issues so much thought. I love to throw parties for my kids, and I find that a theme really helps organize things. One theme that has worked really well for my 3 yr olds is Dora - my kids loved Dora. You can have them make backpacks out of manila envelopes, ribbon, googly eyes, and felt (you pre-cut it before the party). This is a nice craft while waiting for everyone to arrive and doubles as the goody bag. Hand draw a map (does not have to be terribly artistic) with 3 places/activities and make copies for everyone. The older sibling can be very helpful, playing the part of Swiper or another character (we had an older sibling be the Grumpy old Troll that they had to make laugh in order to pass). Other ideas: unicorns (make headbands with cardboard horns; have relay races, treasure hunt), butterflies, etc. See birthdaypartyideas.com for lots of ideas.
To answer your other questions: 10am-12 sounds perfect; 10-15 kids is a good number, more can be overwhelming; you do not have to invite the 6 year old, and if he will be the only kid over 4 he may not want to go, however it can be a lot easier for the parents to bring both and if you could give him a role (Swiper, the Prince, the evil Wizard) to help with the theme it might be win-win for everyone; kids love jumpy houses but they also love games, parachutes, bubbles, races, obstacle courses, etc. I don't think you need to provide expensive entertainment; party favors are not strictly necessary but usually much appreciated by the kids. One nice thing like bubbles or inexpensive jewelry is usually better than a bag full of little stuff, imo. Including a craft activity that they can take home is usually plenty as far as party favors. Have fun! --party girl
Less is more! When my kid turned three last month, we had a big pile of leaves that the six guests jumped into. One of the presents from Mommy was a rocket balloon launcher, and we shot a lot of balloons into the yard, and into the tree, and into the neighbor's yard, and so on, to great excitement. This was the total of ''planned entertainment.'' And along with a couple of ride-on toys and a pad and some crayons, that made the kids perfectly happy from ten to noon. A pound of twisty noodles with pesto, some mini-bagels and cream cheese, and cake. Less excitement makes more fun. Fewer kids means less fighting and confusion. My kid even managed to nap after the party! keep it simple
Place for a 3 year old party in DecemberAug 2006
hello my son is turing three this december and i am looking for a great place to throw a great party. we have lots of adults like 30 and 20 kids and always throw a big bash. we would love for the place to be inside,maybe with food avaiable and lots of fun for adults and kids. i dont really seem to like places that everyone is spread out doing everything and i want everyone to be togehter or at least around in the same area. i also want a cool part for the cake and gifts stuff...... he is into dinos,trucks and crocodiles as most 2 1/2 year olds are... please email me or respond on parents network! mom with a big part to throw
I just had my daughter's 2nd birthday party at Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley. We had about 25 children, mostly 2 year oldsbut some up to 6 years old, and 40 adults. We did a museum rental on a Sunday afternoon when the museum was closed. We ordered pizza and had a few snacks and it was great. They provided big tubs of ice to put the drinks in. It was large enough for the group with plenty for the children to do but it was contained enough that people aren't venturing too far away. We were able to put up some decorations but it wasn't really necessary. I brought art projects for them to do, but they will also set up the art studio with a project if you prefer. We did a pull-string pinata and pulled out the table from the small party room for the cake cutting (prior to the cake we stashed the presents on the table in that room). They even wrote happy birthday with my daughter's name on the party room window. We had some really positive feedback from the other parents. It was like a huge playdate for the kids and I didn't have to provide too many activities for them to do since they have that there. If you need ideas, the reservation staff is really helpful. With the summer discount, we paid $225 for the rental and considering all that it provided it was well worth it Very happy with Habitot
Indoor location for a 4-year old's birthday partySept 2005
We're looking for a place in the East Bay to hold a party in mid- November for our son's 4th birthday. Most of the recommendations on the website are several years old, so I thought it worth a try to ask again. We will likely have up to 30 kids, ages 2-10, plus a smattering of adults coming to the party. Since the party will be in November, we'll need an indoor location. Would appreciate any recommendations or advice. Thank you. Eric
First piece of advice - 30 4-year-olds is a nightmare! Seen other parents try it. Seen them go insane. Promised ourselves we would never do it. Best piece of advice I ever received was when planning a child's birthday, invite the number of children that corresponds with the child's age. Ex: for a 3 year old, invite 3 children.
A few weeks ago we passed by a ''My Gym'' (kind of like Gymboree) and saw a birthday party in progress and it looked awesome. They close the place and provide a gym leader, plates, cups, cake, etc. Then the gym leader provides an hour or 1 1/2 hours of directed activities. The party we saw looked to be about 15 6 year old boys and they were going crazy, running around with streamers. They leader was a young man and he had the kids in the palm of his hand. We swore that next year that would be the place for us! (This location was in Walnut Creek) nune
You'll probably get several recommendations for this place, but Habitot Children's Museum is fantastic for a large group of 4-year-olds. I had birthday parties for both my children there and it was so easy for me, great fun for the children, and convenient for the parents. In fact, my daughter loved it so much she begged me to let her have her birthday party there the following year, so I'm a veteran of THREE Habitot birthday parties! I'm not sure what the current operating schedule is at Habitot, but we had all our parties on Sunday afternoon when the museum is closed so we had the entire place to ourselves. It made it easy for the parents to relax and visit while the children played. I highly recommend Habitot! http://www.habitot.org/ - Sharon
Wow. 30 kids?? For a 4-year-old's party? Are you sure you want to do that to yourself and your child? My first recommendation is to trim that guest list way back...or have two gatherings: one for friends and one for family, or something like that.
Outside of that, I don't know where you could host 30 young kids without renting out a place completely. The Jungle in Concord or SF is always fun for the kids (but no younger than 4); Habitot does parties, but don't know if they could accommodate that large of a party. You might consider renting a rec hall somewhere and bringing in a clown/ entertainer and an inflatable bounce house. Local churches and city rec centers are options there. You could also reserve a restauant banquet room and set up activity stations for the kids, so they could do crafts and have fun stuff to do inside. Good Luck
Habitot Children's Museum is a great place for a large, indoors party for a 3-5 year old. For $275 you can rent out the entire space after regular hours, so your party would be from 6-8:30 p.m. All the normal facilities and activities are available, as well as an assistant to help with set up and break down. They provide tables, ice, etc and you bring your own refreshments. This is a great option because there is no limit on the number of guests. (They have other packages during the museum's regular hours, but those have a set # of invitees--around 12 kids and 12 adults.) We ordered pizza from Mel's upstairs in the building and brought a cake. All of our guests raved about how nice it was to hang out in a space that their kids loved but with so many less people than during a regular day visit. Nice for adults too, because the environment is so safe and engaging, that we could all talk while our kids played. Check out their website: http://www.habitot.org Kerry
Kindergym is a great thing for that age-the Berkeley YMCA has one, as does the Albany YMCA. I did it for my kids when they were 5, and it was fun and easy and stress-free. The kids gets to play on all these fun structures, and there's an adult (or more if needed) to play games, lead songs, etc. Then there is a birthday party room, so all you have to do is set up in there. Highly recommended!
Try Lawrence Hall of Science. They do wonderful bday parties for a reasonable rate. Or a gym party is always a hit at this age as well, esp if your child is into gymnastics. Kids In Motion in Oakland or your local gym offers party packages, I'm sure. Been through the 4 yr old bday circuit
We're looking for indoor birthday venues beyond the usual suspects (Habitot, LHS, Chabot Space, Gymboree, the Jungle) for a December birthday. I'd rather not spend $200 just for the venue. The kids are 4, with lots of younger sibs, and I'm looking for something like a rentable church or synagogue big room at a reasonable rate. Does anyone know of such a thing (beyond Epworth--not quite right for what we've got in mind)? Thanks-- hilary
Wee Play on Solano offers reasonably priced indoor birthday parties. You can choose Open Play, Art or Music Together style activities (with a Music Together teacher). Call (510) 524-1318 or visit www.wee-play.com Andy
Another request for advice about birthday parties. Our son turns four in May; most of his friends are four to five years old. We'd like to have some kind of entertainment at his party. But we aren't sure what kind of performer would hold this age group's attention: clown, magician, story teller, puppeteer, balloon artist? Any advice from the group? Ann
We had a great party for my 4-year-old at Tilden Park. We reserved the picnic area across from the pony rides and bought a bunch of pony ride tickets for an activity. We also brought along some beach balls and bubbles and had a picnic for kids and parents. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the 2 hours just flew by. Our son's birthday is in June, and I don't know when the pony rides open. You can also have a party right at the pony ride. I don't know if that age group really needs much of an activity, but I have seen kids that age sit quite well for magicians too. The Oakland Zoo can also be a great place to have a party. Seen a lot of kids parties.
My daughter will be turning four in October, and I'd like some suggestions on how to throw a birthday party for her. Ideally, I'd like to follow the 'one child for each year' rule, but she goes to a preschool with 20 kids in her class, and I'd hate for any of them to feel excluded. This is the first time I'll be throwing an actual party, so I'd like it to be special. I live in Fremont, so if there are any specific recommendations for that area, I'd love to hear them! If it helps, she is a very girly girl who loves pink, the Disney princesses, Hello Kitty, you name it. Any advice will be greatly appreciated! Annabel
We had a similar situation. Our 4-year old has a February birthday (which pretty much rules out picnics in the park due to the chance of rain), and also about 20 kids in her preschool class. It turned out that another boy in her class had a birthday that was close to hers, so we ended up throwing one party with the other parents for both kids. It worked out really well, and we were able to include everyone in an indoor activity party without it costing an exhorbitant amount. Anon
Pump it Up in Union City is a great place to have a party for kids -- www.pumpitupparty.com For about $225 (more for food) you can host up to 25 children (unlimited parents/adults) for 1 1/2 hours in their inflatable room and have a half hour in their ''party room'' for pizza. The 2 hour window is a perfect amount of time, and no clean up afterwards! Anne
My son will be three in mid july and I'm planning to plan a birthday party. I'm not a natural party thrower and could use some suggestions (I've looked at the ucparents section already). I'd like to invite all of the kids in his daycare class (about 13 but I doubt they'd all be able to come), a few kids from his play group, and a few slightly older kids from the neighborhood. I don't know any of the parents well, so I'd like things to go as smoothly as possible. thanks in advance,karlyn
A good site for birthday party ideas/advice is: http://www.birthdaypartydirectory.com/index2.html. It has suggestions on party themes, games, food, crafts to make, food to serve, as well as tips on throwing birthday parties.
It sounds like you will be inviting A LOT of kids, maybe too many? It can get pretty overwhelming/chaotic/stressful with so many children (for you, your child and the other children). A good question to ask yourself is - who is the party for? The child is usually excited to have a few friends over while s/he is the special birthday child of the day.
I also find it helpful to remember to remain relaxed, flexible, and to let the birthday child determine (to some degree) what s/he wants to do rather trying to stick to a rigid ''schedule.'' Again, remember that the party is for them and you want to make sure that they are having fun.
When my daughter was a toddler, we usually invited as many kids as her age, plus one. It seemed more manageable for her and for us.
I know that a lot of people open presents so that everyone can ooh and aah, but I have found that this is difficult for the kids who are observing. I usually thank the gift giver and open the gifts at a later time, after the party.
Also, I have been to parties where clowns were hired and I have always thought that this was a terrible idea as a few of the kids were always scared to death (as was I, haha!) of the clowns.
Good luck! MK
here are some suggestions based on parties that i have hosted for my kids as well as parties we attended for the 0-5 age group.
oakland zoo children's fairyland habitot local park picnic luau in backyardit may be a bit ambitious for a self-proclaimed non-party- thrower to host such a big group of people (esp. all of those parents). you might consider having a small ''party'' (cupcakes and party favors) one afternoon during snack time at school. and then having another event for the the other group. good luck and don't stress! suzie
For my son's 3rd birthday I hired a person who entertained the children with lizards, snakes, spiders and turtles. It was educational and fun. I always try to hire someone for his birthdays so the kids are kept busy and I have less to do. You may want to check out www.birthdaypartyideas.com. This is a great site for reference. tabnand
Does anyone have suggestions of low-key activities that would be a hit at a 3 year old's birthday party? I've searched the UCB website but did not come up with any specific information regarding 3 year olds. Has anyone had a great experience renting Kindergym at the Berkeley YMCA or alternatively, at Habitot? My daughter loves storytellers but I'm not sure if the rest of her friends would be able to sit that still at a party. Also, an etiquette question: if your child is enrolled in nursery school, is it best to invite every student in her class? Thank you in advance
Hi -- I hired a Kindermusik teacher to come right to our home for my 3 year old and 4-5 friends. It was a HIT! They had their little program (she stays for up to an hour and I think it was $100, but she will end sooner if the kids are losing interest). She was very intuitive and creative and had their attention for about 45 min. Then we had cake and presents and that was it! I am glad I did it and may try it again when my next one is 3! Trish
We did a 3-year-old (and a 5-year-old) birthday party at Kindergym and have been to a number of other people's parties there. Kindergym is lots of fun -- plenty of large motor activity and kids have a choice of playing side-by-side or playing together. The new party room is really nice (the older one was kind of minimal). The other nice thing about a party at the Y is that you get away from the opening presents thing, and when it's over you don't have to clean up your house. If you want to do a party there, you need to book it significantly ahead of time to get the date you want. CD
I attended quite a few 3-year-old parties last summer, and the activities that seemed to work best were the ones that the kids could do on their own schedules. One party had 2 tables set up, one with play-dough and the other with wooden frames and materials to decorate them; another had a giant tray (like a roasting pan) full of bubble mix and a lot of wands. The kids spent as much or as little time on the activities as they wanted. Face painting is also fun if there's an adult who doesn't mind spending a big chunk of time doing it. This approach seemed to avoid the herding cats aspect of trying to get a group of little kids to so the same thing at the same time. Jennifer
Perhaps not low-key enough for you, but my daughter's 3rd birthday is next week; since she absolutely loves to cook we're going to have a baking party. We'll have the kids help to make a simple cookie dough, roll it out, cut it with cookie cutters, then bake, and decorate with different colors of icings, various fun sprinkles, and even edible food coloring markers that they can draw on the cookies with. We'll also have a few store-bought sugar and gingerbread cookies on hand to decorate in case the baking doesn't work out; if you can't or don't want to bake you could take the store-bought option exclusively. Or do cupcakes, and let them stand in for a bigger birthday cake. Either way, the kids should get a kick out of it. Have fun! Lauren
Chuck E Cheese is the perfect place for kids that age. They have hostesses that basically run the party for you so you have more time to take pictures or play with the kids. I was told when kids are able to have parties its best to limit the guests to the age of the child (3 years, 3 friends) to avoid overwhelming the child, especially when it comes time to open the presents. I invited all of my sons classmates one year (he was six) and only ten of them showed up. After that, I only invited the people he asked me to invite. It makes sense that your child would want kids there that he plays with all the time.
Chuck E Cheese has music and the hostesses will lead them through some songs. There's plenty of activities for them to do and the best part is you don't have to worry about the cleanup afterwards. Also there is a good security system in place so your kids are safe. There are also other kid-oriented party places around (one of them is jungle-themed I believe).
One year I also had the party at my sons preschool (with permission from the teacher ahead of time). I hired a Peewee Herman impersonator and he basically ran the party for me, did fun activities with the kids, kept them entertained for about an hour and then we all helped cleanup. It was fun, the teachers liked the break and the kids had a great time.
Back to who to invite, if you are going to have it at your house, you need to decide how many kids you can handle (how much help you are going to have). You could probably hire a storyteller or a clown or someone to do facepainting. Lots of things to do out there that kids really go for. If you have it at some kid-oriented place, you can invite more because they can handle it.
It's more of an issue of how much you want to get into.