Birthday Parties for 8 & 9 year-olds

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Spa Party for 9 year olds

    (2 replies)

    My daughter wants to have a manicure or spa party in the Berkeley/Oakland/Richmond/Walnut Creek area.  Any suggestions on either a location (day spa or nail salon) that could accommodate 10 kids for manicures or someone who will coordinate at my house?  Suggestions for other spa-like themed parties welcome!

    We had Yvonne come to our house a few times during the pandemic to do backyard mani/pedis: 510-648-1167. You can text her.

    It sounds like a fun time. So we did a spa day bday party at home. We put out ingredients for the kids to make their own foot scrubs, lip palm, etc and make foot soaking baths with small tubs. It was a big hit and might be something to consider too. 

  • My daughter's birthday party got cancelled this spring (like many many others) and she is understandably very sad over it.  Family is sending gifts to open on her birthday over video conference and she will get a song from family over video conference but it is not the same.  I want to get her a gift or several to make the birthday more special since she cannot get her normal big party and won't get the usual many gifts from friends. Any ideas of something special to get an 8 year old girl to cheer her up.  I want something more special than usual but as our usual gifts are outings or tickets to shows/event (which are no longer an option now and I don't want her to wait unknown amount of time to get to enjoy her gift) I cannot think of anything to get her now and she is not really into any of her toy sets so adding to a collection is not an option either. She has a lot of activities continuing over zoon and is over it so adding another cool activity over zoom is not an option.  I was considering getting her own ipad but not sure I want to have the argument about limiting screen-time when the device is hers though her own device is tempting with all the school work lately and i cannot think of anything else.  I know this is such a first world problem at this point but I really want to cheer up my little girl on her birthday.  Any ideas?  I know many birthday parties are cancelled so figured others might have done something special as well and maybe there is something big I'm missing. 

    I have a baby so not sure what the best present would be, but I read this and felt for your girl. I'm imagining transforming a room into another world (under the sea, fairy woodland, tropical luau, a scene from her favorite movie) with party decorations bought online and thematic takeout food, then have a scavenger/treasure hunt with a few small gifts leading up to one larger gift. Maybe something she can personalize so it still feels like an experience? Customized Keds, 'create your own' American Girl doll, a charm bracelet.

    You could also ask her friends & family to record little birthday messages sharing one of their favorite things about her and play these throughout the day. It'd be a keepsake when she's older and remembering how crazy this whole time was.

    Do you have space for something like a bounce house or trampoline?  A gift that offers a fun energetic break from all of the on-screen school time might feel special.  If she has some special friends you could ask the parents for a birthday "parade" where the kids drive or walk by your house (respecting 6 ft distance rules of course) holding signs and singing happy birthday.  Don't be afraid to ask - the other kids would probably love it too!  Finally, my kid's best friend had a zoom birthday party and all of the friends sent a gift the week before the zoom party where the birthday child opened all the presents.  I don't know where you are, but Five Little Monkeys is doing online orders and doorstep delivery.  There are also "quarantine birthday" t-shirts on Etsy - maybe it can help her feel like she belongs to a special club.

    Happy Birthday to your girl!  

    I find it sad that giving her a special event to do over Zoom isn't special enough so I'd encourage you to re-think that.   What about something like a guitar and some guitar lessons over Zoom or some other instrument?  What about talking with her about donating some money or toys in her name to more unfortunate 8 year olds?    I like the idea Jannan suggested about a theme room for a pretend day with a treasure hunt.   IClearly, you will need to talk with her about how so many kids are sad about their birthdays right now and she's not alone in that.   I know that it hurts to see one's child hurting and I think it's also OK and even important for them to experience disappointment.   Life is not about always getting everything one wants, unfortunately.   Maybe talk with her about how to make it the most special day possible given the circumstances.   Happy Birthing day to you!  

    My friends made a treasure hunt for their daughter. The treasure hunt was in their house, and every time she solved one clue, she found the name of a friend/family member, who she then had to call to get the next clue - this made it more social and fun!

    I'm sorry you're having to deal with this - it's a tough question. My instinct as the mother of my own 8yo would be that just buying a big-ticket item isn't going to address the underlying sadness/disappointment, which I'd guess is probably more about not having a celebration than not getting a ton of presents. The novelty of any shiny new thing you buy is going to wear off just like the Zoom activities and toy sets she's not interested in. A few suggestions: Other people I know in this situation have had friends decorate their yard or do a drive-by party or a socially-distanced street dance party. Or you might ask everyone to make a card or artwork and mail it to her - getting paper mail is still kind of a big deal when you're 8. Hang up all the cards around the house and celebrate her. If you have time (I know we're all navigating work and school and everything else), maybe give her a gift of a project that the two of you could work on together - planting a garden, or decorating a doll house, or making a fairy garden, or building a robot, whatever she'd be into. Time with you is valuable and unique. Or see if a grandparent or friend could give her cooking or crafting lessons virtually, sharing their knowledge, helping her build a new skill, having some facetime. My kid is really into acquiring new skills and being self-sufficient right now - even if it's just making a sandwich, he feels really proud of his accomplishments. My last idea is to maybe make a promise for an event you could attend or a day trip you could take once restrictions are over, and then giving her a book or a craft or something else related to that event that she can do at home now - for example, if you were planning a trip to the zoo, sign up for virtual zookeeper visits like the Oakland Zoo is doing, or get her some books about animals or a subscription to Ranger Rick or whatever her interests are. Use the delay as an opportunity to build excitement and knowledge that will enhance the eventual outing. Good luck!

    Get the iPad! We got my 6 y/o "his own" iPad for Xmas and it's actually gone quite well, in terms of screen time, limit-setting, etc. And we're glad he has it now with all the distance learning and new apps and zoom dates - it's great, actually. If you're still hesitant, how about a puppy? Everyone is home, lots of time to train and bond... or a kitten, or a bunny, or hamster... you get the idea. :)

    Have you heard about the "birthday parades" taking place?  Her friends who would have come to the party, relatives, etc. could drive by in cars at about the same time.  Kids can hang signs out the windows, make noise, sing happy birthday?  You could get cupcakes, keeping them in the bakery boxes, and have a table set up where the kids can come out of their cars and pick up a cupcake one at a time.  If they have presents they could drop them off.   I thought about doing this for my daughter who just had her birthday without a party, but didn't get organized in time.  It would take some coordination with the other families, but could lift her spirits.  

    It is a disappointing thing to have a birthday party cancelled, so I think it's OK to let your daughter be sad over it. Don't waste this golden teaching moment. It's better for children to face minor disappointments and learn how work through them when they are young, so when they are older and meet real, more serious disappointments, they won't be knocked down by them. You can ask your daughter what makes her the most sad about missing the party--is it seeing her friends? Is it the feeling of being special that day? Is it the fun activity that was going to be at the party? Is it the presents? Then talk about which of these things are actually the most important (hint: it's not the presents, it's the people) and how you don't need a party to celebrate those important things. You can also talk about how people around the world are facing huge, real, serious, disappointments nowadays (like death of a loved one, loss of a job, illness), and you can think about how you can help others who are also disappointed, Maybe you can take some of the money you were going to spend on the party and donate it to a food bank, or buy some gift certificates from a struggling restaurant and give it out to people in need. This teaches your daughter to turn outwards when she feels sad, instead of focusing on herself and her sadness. Her feelings of sadness help her empathize with others and that is a very important skill to nurture. Giving her an excessively large gift at this time doesn't really teach her the right lesson, and I agree with you, DON'T buy her an iPad! My son just missed a big birthday party too, so we did some fun activities at home, and I surprised him with a Zoom call with his cousins from around the world (all 7 of them!) and we played a giant game of Drawful 2. It was SO fun. I know your daughter doesn't really like Zoom, but we found the game really fun and interactive. It takes a little tinkering to set it up via zoom, and be sure to set up family friendly controls. Happy Birthday to your little one!

    She the perfect age for a micro kick scooter. They are fun and active but with 3 wheels do more stable and turn by leaning like a skate board. 

    My son just had his birthday in mid-April, so we struggled with the same dilemna... he is 4, so I know our experience is a bit different. Even though he wasn't able to enjoy his brithday with friends and family, we were able to do several things which made it an extra special/memorable day:

    • I hid presents for him in various locations in the house and gave him a treasure map so he could find them all.
    • We made his birthday cake together! He loved it, and has been talking about it ever since.
    • I discovered Radish Kids ( which sends out monthly cooking boxes. Ours took about a week to arrive, and so we opened it up on my son's birthday and cooked a special meal together.

    The options are definitely limited during Shelter In Place, but I think if you can do an unusual activity with her at home, or even just spend extra time together, it can end up being one of her favorite birthdays ever!

    I did break down and buy our kids the iPad Air and an Apple Pencil to complete their school work. One kid is the same age as your daughter (turning 8 soon) and he is super excited. This is despite our setting up strict parental controls and time limits on the device and requiring all school work to be completed before any games are unlocked. The pencil is great because he can write directly on the many PDFs coming home for school (no printing and scanning) plus he can color and draw on the free coloring and drawing apps which is super fun. If you’re considering something functional for your sanity and that will be super exciting for your daughter and the iPad is in your budget, it’s a good gift. Even if you set up lots of restrictions around it.

    If you want something that is not a device that kids are super excited about, I would recommend a hammock - you can hang it indoors to studs if you don’t have any outdoor space. Our ENO DoubleNest hammock with the Atlas suspension system is extremely portable and easy to hang anywhere with trees or posts (the 7 yr old can do it). If you want to hang it indoors you just need to add some metal carabiners and anchors to studs in your wall. ENO sells a “hammock hanging kit” with metal hardware for hanging indoors. We’ve had our hammock for a while and it is well loved by all children at the park, when we camp, etc. We’ve had it out for the whole shelter in place, and it’s still getting used every day by the kids and parents too.

    Wishing your daughter a happy birthday!

    I’m so sorry, my daughter is 8 also, this is tough.

    A friend of hers is turning 8 in a few days and her Mom sent out a request a few weeks ago for friends/teachers/family/etc to send over a short video birthday message that she is compiling into a movie for her daughters bday. I thought this was super sweet and we enjoyed making the video to send her. Not the same as an in person birthday but very sweet. I think it will be a fun day for all of you, acknowledging her sadness and staying positive will really help too. :)

    I was also going to suggest the custom American Girl doll -- if she likes AG dolls. If she's more into small dolls there are some very talented people on Etsy who do OOAK (one of a kind) Barbies and similar size dolls. I know some kids really get a kick out of having a "mini me." If she's interested in learning an instrument maybe this is the time for a special-looking smaller sized guitar? I'm not a guitarist, but I know there are some smaller ones that are still full sized in terms of sound. Lots come in pretty colors, etc. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable could advise you. If she likes Taylor Swift, for instance, maybe she'd think it was cool to learn to play and write songs? Anyway, I really feel for you, and hope you settle on something she loves.

    What a good parent you are!  Birthday parties are a big part of our lives. My kids always had two parties each, one with our family and one with friends. The first thing that came to mind you might both enjoy; if you don’t already have one maybe you could order a sewing machine online and sew together (blankets, superhero capes) My now grown daughter knows how to sew, we are making masks together for donation to local healthcare workers. 

    Our sons birthday is next week and the idea of skipping it broke my heart. So while we can't have a traditional party or go out to any of his favorite places. We decided to surprise him and turn some rooms into different activity stations based on some of his favorite things. For example I found a disco light and glow sticks to create a dance party, filled a room full of balloons, a cooking challenge and an indoor obstacle course. I'm sure your daughter will have a great birthday!

    I just celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday and we did a the floral hoop photo shoot, lots of balloons and an art project on evite video chat with a few friends.

    In case you haven't seen it, 510 Families put together a post with ideas for celebrating birthdays in quarantine that might be useful:

    I know you said no Zoom.  But this might be different enough.  Does she like to bake?  How about a Zoom workshop where she and her friends learn how to bake amazing bagels.  Just a thought.  I teach that workshop.  Laurie

  • 8 yo boy birthday party ideas

    (6 replies)

    Yikes, I feel like I am fresh out of ideas for an upcoming 8 yo party! Coed, 8-10 kids, autumn, can be at our house with entertainment (? what, I don't know), at a park, at an indoors venue. Would like to keep cost under $200 (not counting food). Have people liked lately Albany Bowl, Bridges, a particular ($200 or less) magician/juggler type? What is that type of entertainer costing these days? Note, we have done Playland and it was great, but not considering it this year since we might do it for another sibling within 12 months!

    I don't want or need to be fancy, I just don't want to bore myself or the guests! Thanks!

    Adventure playground is a lot of fun at this age. 

    Some ideas: owl pellet dissection (I've ordered mine through obdk), birdhouse decoration (buy the birdhouses from Michaels, buy the bird feed and nuts from Safeway, make your own "glue" with molasses and peanut butter) then the kids can also hang the birdhouse in their backyard, slime making (Scientific Explorer Sci Fi Slime kits from Amazon). I would recommend holding your party at a park if you are afraid of mess, but these activities would be a great hit for that age group, boy or girl. Have fun!


    Disclaimer:  I'm a kid's entertainer and wanted to weigh in on your question.  Below are some ideas to consider and you can check around in your area to find services that appeal to you. 

    As an entertainer, outdoor venues are not preferred and here's why.  The elements and in particular the wind.  Twisting balloons at a park is fun, but the wind can create problems if kids don't get a good grip on the design and it blows away.  Also, kids like to touch balloon designs to the grass which is prickly and thus pops the balloon.  Face painting is a good choice, but the wind, again, is troublesome as it blows wisps of hair into the child's face and messes with the design.  You also need to have a shady area for your entertainer to work.  Balloons do not do well in direct sunlight and no one likes the sun in their face or the child's face when painting them.  The park can be a good choice if it's not windy and has shade, but definitely plan a backup in case of rain, etc. 

    As someone who's worked in both indoor and outdoor venues, I prefer indoor venues.  First off, if a PA system is used it can be heard as the sound is contained within the walls as opposed to being diffused in a park setting.  This way, everyone hears what's going on.  There is no wind so twisting balloons and face painting is more comfortable for both the entertainer and the children.  Balloon designs survive indoor venues much better than outdoor venues.  Additionally, magic shows typically work better indoors although they, too, can be done outside.  You also have the option of a balloon workshop which is an interactive balloon twisting experience that kids 5 and up really enjoy.  Kids learn to twist some basic designs and then make their very own crazy hats.  This is a winner for birthday parties because the kids won't be bored and the guests can get involved, too, or sit and enjoy the kids having fun.  There are also non-elimination games that can be done for this age group with prizes either as teams or as individuals.  The magic show and balloon workshop will engage the kids, keep them laughing, spark their creativity all while entertaining the parents so everyone will enjoy a wonderful time.

    Good luck!

    East Bay Swim Center has a party room for about $200. You get a certain number of wristbands for swimmers. Really fun place -- the kids swim and the parents can just hang out. 

    Parks work! No entertainer or rental necessary, just have balls, chalk, bubbles, finger food available. Maybe a park that has a semi-enclosed area, such as Castro or Cerrito Vista in El Cerrito, would work to sort of keep the kids in view.

    If your son and his friends are into Harry Potter, our favorite 8yo birthday party was hiring the Cal Quidditch team to run a quidditch game for the kids.  They provided all the brooms, hoops, balls, etc., and it was a blast.  This was a few years ago, so I don't know if they still do it, but you can reach them via Facebook at  The Adventure Playground someone else suggested is also a great idea.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

B-day party recommendations for active 8 yr boy

Sept 2012

Hello. My son will be turning 8 this In a few months. I know I'm several months away but I'm starting to think about possible places to host his party. He is active and enjoys physical activity. I like to do unique birthday parties (not at my house and I'm not interested in setting up space in a park). I like the idea of a coordinated activity. Are there any ropes courses or something along those lines that you can recommend? Any other ideas? I would like to invite both boys and girls to the party. I'm open to any suggestions. Thanks! Party Mama

I would suggest 'Pump it Up' (, a Rock Climbing gym, or a gymnastics gym that has a trampoline. We did all three of those with our kids and everyone enjoyed them. -Have Fun

My son is turning 8, and he's having a laser tag party at Q-Zar in Concord. His older brother has attended several parties there, and it's a hit with most all the boys. Alex H.

The East Oakland Sports Center has great rooms you can rent, then all the kids can go swimming afterward. Lots of fun! mom to active 8yr old too!

You could do a rock climbing party though Berkeley Iron Works or another local climbing gym. I know Berkeley Iron Works hosts parties for kids, but I am not sure if there are any age requirements. I am sure the kids would love a climbing party! Or, not sure if it has lost its hipness, but I remember loving parties at Skating Rinks (or an ice rink) when I was younger. Also, I know you said you didn't want to host a party at your home, but if you change your mind, you may want to consider a Bot Bash Party. It is a battle-bot robot tournament and is perfect for boys and girls. It is better for smaller parties though (less than 24 kids). The SF Bay Guardian just named it party service of the year!! Check them out at: Disclaimer - my brother in law runs these parties on weekends. He builds (and repairs) all of the robots himself.

Not a ropes course, but an active party... try Playland-not-at-the-beach in El Cerrito. Good for all ages/genders. you can bring in your own food, we had it catered the two times we've used it. playing

Berkeley Ironworks does a great rock-climbing birthday party for kids. We did a soccer party at Bladium too, which was very successful. Especially with winter birthdays it's risky to plan an outdoor event. Good luck! Active birthday party host

Check out Kuk Sool Won martial arts in Berkeley near the corner of Sacramento and Dwight. We had my 7 year old son's party there, and it was great. Bring your own food and cake, and pinata. The teacher teaches a short martial arts class, and the rest of the time is spent chasing balloons on the padded floor, and doing tumbling and other organized activities...all led by the teacher. He even runs the pinata hitting! Kuk Sool Won mom

Old-fashioned tea party for 8yr-old

Jan 2012

My daughter wants a fancy tea party with a Victorian theme for her next birthday. She and I are having fun planning food and costumes, but I also want to have some games or crafts to keep things lively. Does anyone know of activities with an old-fashioned flair that are fun for a bunch of 8 year old girls? I'd even be open to showing a short movie with an appropriate theme. mom of junior Jane Austen

Oooh! can I come to your party? The chances of my 5 y.o. son wanting a party like this in the future are pretty slim!

Outdoors: Play Croquet! If you have more than 6 people playing, simply team up, 2-3 people per team, and members of the team rotate turns. You'll need to borrow or buy a croquet set, though. Or you could do some races rolling a hula hoop (or other hoop) with a stick.

Indoors: They played card games and other ''parlor games.'' You could google for some that are authentic, or you could choose some of your own that might be more fun for 8 year olds. card games or board games: set up card tables of 4 people each in your living room. Each table plays a game, then rotate players to different tables. Charades is also a good choice, though the charades we play today are rather different from the way they played then. I recall in one of the Jane Austen books (I think it was ''Emma'') they played at riddles - you would definitely need to use more modern riddles or make up your own. more here: Jane Austen fan

What a fun theme! I'd suggest a period-appropriate activity. An embroidery project, perhaps, or embellishing headbands with fabric flowers and lace. Making sachets? Anything involving flowers, really! And play Victorian ''parlor games'' like Dictionary, Blindman's Bluff, Charades -- you can Google other examples. Many of them are things we now consider to be children's games, though at the time they were played by adults as well, so finding things that 8yo girls will enjoy shouldn't be difficult. Party Mama

Let's see:

1)Make corn husk dolls.You get the husk at food stores and soak it for 1-3 hours and assemble them. If you want to get fancy, you add yarn hair ( requires glue or sewing). You'll need some kind of material to hold the dolls together like yarn, raffia or string. You can make boy or girl dolls. 8 is a great age for this

2) Make scented sachets. You can pre-sew the bags and just have the kids fill them and thread a drawstring( faster, no needles required). Have some nicely scented choices for fillings. I got some lovely fabric for this at Stone Mountain last year...very Victorian!

3) Have them assemble their own tea party. That is... have ingredients for tiny sandwiches ( tiny bread slices, pre-cut cucumber, cream cheese, smoked salmon etc) and those tiny crust pastry shells( maybe pre-cook them and the kids can fill with blueberries and strawberries?) 8 is a great age for this stuff. Then make it pretty in a plate and sent it on the table. Pick flowers for a centerpiece. Make pretty name cards for where people should sit? If you want to get fancy-have the kids take turns shaking cream in a jar to make your own butter( takes 10-15 min) Remove the lump that forms and knead out any excess liquid ( butter milk) that gets trapped inside -- voila' butter! I'd skip the film and just DO! All really good fun! JM

Mystery Dinner Party for 9 year old girls

Nov 2011

Hi there, I think my daughter would enjoy having a Mystery Dinner party for her birthday because she is into mysteries. But she doesn't really understand how it works and I would love to be able to give her some of the materials to check out to see if it's something she'd like to do. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good mystery dinner kit for kids (8 and 9 year old girls so it can't be too babyish) - non-murder is preferable but not a requirement. Better yet, if you have one, could we check your out before we commit to buying something? Thanks! thinking ahead

This site has mystery party kits for pre-teens and teens:

Instead of murders they're about stolen guitars, sabotaged soccer games, etc. They even have all-girl versions. We looked into using one for an event we put on last year and they seem pretty cool. JP

8 yo boy birthday party ideas

May 2011

I need some help with birthday party ideas for an 8yo boy. Some place not-too-expensive where his friends can have fun without getting lost or hurt. bday mama

I know this wonderful Cuban percussionist, Pablo Soto Campoamor, who does birthday party entertainment for children. He comes with all kinds of instruments and leads the children through a number of activities. They get to play instruments of all kinds and he tailors activities to the age group. Email him at bacheche7 [at] and let him know that I sent you his way. Reasonable prices too! Suzette

I highly recommend a mobile pottery painting party by Cora Bahl. We did this for my daughter's 6th birthday party and it was a big hit. Cora brings everything to your house, including a selection of ready-to-paint ceramics, paints, brushes, even the tablecloth. Your guests paint them at your house, then Cora glazes and fires them offsite and delivers the finished products to you one week later. It is very reasonably priced (much cheaper than pottery painting stores). Contact Cora Bahl @ 925.951.7246 or corabahl [at] Satisifed Parent

I just wanted to recommend a bunny party with Georgia Williams of Bunny Central. She brings bunnies - lots of them & many different kinds! - to your house and sets up a little corral where the kids can sit and play with the bunnies. All the bunnies are amazingly gentle and friendly. She also educates the kids. We just had an 11 year old party here in Berkeley, and it was a HUGE hit with all the kids, and adults too! Georgia was really great to work with, is great with the kids, was prompt and the cost is really reasonable, especially since she comes to you. Her website is She knows everything about bunnies too, so a great resource if you may be thinking of getting one. Highly recommended for any age!! Happy Bunny Party Mom

8 year old boy wants laser tag party - other ideas?

Feb 2009

My son is turning 8 years old in March. For 7 years, I have loved planning parties, baking a cake, and entertaining his friends, their parents, and siblings. This year, I am short on time and energy and I am looking for ideas for a fun and low-key celebration.

We have told my son, an only child, that he can pick two friends for an afternoon of fun. He wants to go to Q-zar, but I found myself trying to talk him out of it after dreading the idea of hours at an arcade/laser tag.

I would appreciate some perspective - Am I ruining the fun for my son by discouraging his choice of birthday celebration. Should I just go to Q-zar? If not, I would love advice on fun activities for 8 year old boys. My son is very active, enjoys science, sports, video/computer games, Star Wars and movies, and lots of other typical boy interests.

I suggested the Planetarium, but both my son and his dad groaned and told me I was boring! How did I turn into my mother? I thought birthdays were only hard after 30!

I completely understand being busy and wanting to make this stress free. How more stress free can it be then taking him to a place where he can run around and do whatever he wants for a couple of hours and then you all leave, with no mess to clean, etc? So it's not your cup of tea. It's not your birthday. I say let him have his party where he wants. It's just a couple of hours, and that is your gift to him. Chalk it up to another sacrifice of being a parent. jennifer

Let the boy have his birthday at Q-zar. Yes, it's a horrible, nerve-jangling place for those of us who are not 8-year-old boys, but for those who like that sort of thing, it's heaven. You mentioned that Dad didn't like the planetarium idea -- how about if he takes the 3 boys, plays laser tag with them (you know he wants to do it), and you don't even have to go? I know that it can be hard to make the transition from those sweet little parties with a homemade cake that he loved when he was tiny, but he's older now. Let him have the party that he wants, and you can have a nice family celebration for the three of you that doesn't involve arcade games. Anon

Honestly, I think that it is your son's birthday, and since you gave him the option of inviting 2 friends to an activity of his choice, you need to put your feelings aside and let him go to Q-Zar-it is supposed to be his day after all. Or perhaps dad could take him and his friends and you could meet them at the end of the day for cake? Next time, perhaps choose 3-5 venues that you would be OK with, and let him pick from a pre-approved list. Kris

Well, if you have always thrown a big party for your son and this year you are switching to only two friends, I think you should probably go with his choice of venue. Yes, it might give you a headache, but it is his birthday after all, and you've already asked him to accommodate a pretty big switch in expectations. Maybe your husband can take the boys and you can meet them afterwards for lunch and cake?

Go on down to the laser tag place! It's not at all onerous. First I checked out the place by going there with my son, played some laser tag myself, saw that it was a good time and not icky at all. Then I took my son and three of his friends there for his birthday, I went off to a nearby cafe, they had a blast. Afterwards we went for pizza. Perfect birthday, zero stress, mom's a hero. Go for it! birthday queen

My son had his 8th bday party at QZar and he and his friends had a great time...we have since gone back with just one or two would be easy to limit the time spent by just purchasing one or two laser tag games (totaling less than 1 hr) and then maybe giving each child a certain amt of money for playing the video games (they can collect tickets for little prizes)...then have any food/cake elsewhere or at home. Andrea

Take a trip to Angel Island with your bikes. The ferry from Tiburon still runs in the winter I believe. Borrow a bike rack for the car if you don't have one, or rent bikes on the island. My son had no birthday party this year, instead it was just him & me with bikes on the ferry to Angel Island, had a picnic lunch as we rode around the island. We timed it on the day that the Blue Angels were performing during Fleet Week so got a great sky show too. Taking his bike on the ferry was a thrill in itself for him, he felt so grown up (he was turning 9). Can't have imagined a better birthday for him. They sell souvenir patches on the Island so you can commemorate your trip too. anon

Let him play laser tag. Bring earplugs and a good book. Anon

Go to q-zar. He will have a BLAST and you will have awesome pictures of his happy face at his most fun birthday celebration ever. Look at it from his perspective -- how cool is it to shoot other people in the dark? And if you play too he will get a kick out of getting you. Make sure you zap him too

You asked him and Q-Zar is where he wants to go. So unless there is a financial reason why you can't, it's what he chose for his birthday celebration and you should try to accommodate. Sam

Dear Birthday Mama, Why is it only up to you to throw the party? If your husband groaned about your idea, let him take the reins. Could part of the party be at home that you handle - pizza, cake and ice cream, then let dad take the boys to the arcade. Who says you have to go too? Share the Responsibility

Let him go to Qzar. It is his birthday and it is a lot of fun for boys that age. Take a book and read while he and his friends play. My son says its a good idea. He is 13 and has been going for many years. He says there are big people there too but they will be ok if you just make sure they check in with you at intervals. Karen Avery

Geez, take him and his two friends to Q-zar! You told him that he could have a day of fun and that is what he picked. You don't have to do anything, just bring a book and wait for them to be done. I am sure he does not want you to play! It is a few hours out of your life, as opposed, as you pointed out, to hours and hours of party planning and entertaining. He is right, the planetarium is not as fun!!!!! anon

Why doesn't just Dad (or Dad and another dad) take the boys to laser tag? He can bring the boys back to your house for pizza and cake if necessary. Or you can give him a special present of Mommy and Son time at the planetarium as an extra present :} ! anon

Hi mom I also have an 8yr old boy, I am learning that its not so much our suggestion but allowing them to be apart and plan a really special day! In letting them plan and us going along it allows them to be comfortable with whom they are and when they are 30 we will be proud we did. wow i sound like my mom lol just take them to Q`zar he'll love you for it erica

Wow- follow through on the plans you made to take your son and a few friends to Q-zar to celebrate his 8th Birthday. And try to have fun and put a smile on your face! Enjoy this time with your son- He will be grown before you know it! Mom of grown boys

Just do the qzar thing. if you wear earplugs it is actually possible to sit in there and read a book (not in the room where they do the laser tag, but in the outer area!). or maybe dad will just take him and his friend. qzar survivor

If you told him he gets to pick, then he gets to pick. Bring a book, and let him enjoy his afternoon with his friends. anon

Exploratorium in San Francisco- it's fun, science-oriented, and no shooting-type activities. anon

Maybe look into another arcade-type place that we just found out about that isn't too annoying for adults (fun even) -- it's Playland NOT at the Beach in El Cerrito. Someone got a bunch of the old arcade games from the original SF Playland At the Beach and, combined with his own collection of pinball machines, etc., recently opened his own version in a storefront on San Pablo Ave. We went recently and were really impressed -- 19 rooms of fun games, machines, etc. Some friends hosted a party for 8 year- olds and they had a great time. It's not terribly crowded so you could just show up with your son and his two friends rather than rent out the whole thing. Just make sure they're open the day you want (it's volunteer run). Here's the web site: Jenny

we did a 9yo party last weekend-chuck e cheese is my achilles heels as is anything that loud so mom has found her alternative, Superfranks in Pleasanton which has Dodgeball, mini golf and games and a place for parents to hide from the noise. It's not that loud. We too have done big parties, this year it was 3 friends and his sibling, my husband& sister on Valentines eve at above mentioned Superfranks, they had a special that included dinner-it set us back $100 for 5 kids and 3 adults-the next day we took one child who had spent the night to the Academy of Sciences(we're members)-it was a little of both but I wouldn't have NOT done SF in lieu of the other-its his birthday, not mine-i choose to spend mine face first on a massage table.Go to QZAR and be done with it... mom of boys

Thanks for the perspective everyone! After reading all the responses, I told my son that we could send out the invites for his Q-Zar party. His response, ''Can't we go somewhere else? I'd rather play mini-golf!'' Whatever he decides, I will tag along and enjoy his excitement. After all, he only turns 8 once... Birthday mom

9 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas?

Oct 2008

I'd like to have a low-cost birthday party for my 9 year old active son at our house - any ideas? It will be in November, about 10 boys. I was also thinking bowling or Lawrence Hall of Science could be fun, too, but just need it to be easy. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! K.

I just took my 9 year old for a rock climbing birthday party at one of the rock climbing gyms - there's one in Berkeley, Oakland and SF - all owned by the same company. $20/kid for two hours. $100 minimum. It was terrific. They provide a belayer. The kids do get a little antsy when they aren't climbing so I wouldn't bring too big of a group. The one in SF had a ''party room'' for a little while after the climbing, but we didn't use it.

Indoor birthday party for 8 year old

Sept 2008

My daughter is turning 8 in November and wants to invite her whole class. We need to find an indoor location for a birthday party for about 30 kids. I know of lots of places for younger children but can't really think of anything for older children. We do not take gymnastics classes so Kids in Motion or Head Over Heals is not really what we are looking for. Any recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks!! Madeleine

I've found that the gym parties to be really good for all kids - they don't do ''gymnastics'' but usually have a par course of different activities for the kids to do, suitable for their age and attention level (swinging on a rope into a pit of foam, obstacle course, etc).

Other indoor options for a large group would be: Pump it Up, bowling (Alameda or Albany), pinball, or rent a community room and hire entertainment (vivarium is a good one for older kids). Elena

I have given ''invite the whole class'' parties at Lawrence Hall of Science 3 times and they all went very well The staff there are an obstacle...but, the workshops are really good and you can use the big conferance room which makes it not all that expensive. You can make the cake and party favors (or bring pizza) and the party runs itself. I like it because everyone can run around and stay as long as they like. (But, yeah, the booking staff there is dis-organized / flakey and it is hard to keep your confidence up planning it. But, it does always go well, so.....)

I have attended some big kid parties at the Berkele YMCA pool. Good place! (You have to join, but even with that, it isn't too bad, then you are a member..)

Also, The Iron Works was a fun one with harnesses & gear...the parents brought snacks & cake...seemed to be easy on them and all the kids loved it.

I think you are wise to use a place. I had my last 'everyone' party at our house? OMG never again. Someone dropped a kid at 8:00am & didn't pick up untill dark..Someone came 4 hours late..well you're home anyway... tsk tsk

Pump It Up is fantastic. They have several rooms of huge inflatable jumping houses and slides and kids of all ages LOVE it. (My friend even had her 40th birthday party there.) My son has had his last 2 bday parties there. you can search for locations on the website. - mom who likes fun and easy bday parties

The Exploratorium is a great venue for that age, and they have a choice of 45-minute classes, then another 45 min in the room. Also, any of the gymnastics places, plus Oakland Zoo, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, etc janet

Thought of more indoor party options: ice skating ... pizza & movie - attended a party at a restaurant in Alameda that had a separate party room with video games and big screen tv ... rock climbing ... Bladium sports club in Alameda -

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

2003 & Earlier

Sleepover away party for 8-year-old girls

Sept 2003

Hi - We're considering a sleepover for an 8 year old's party this year (girl). Has anyone done this recently (saw the older post on the website), and could you recommend a place to stay? Hotel with a pool, and then videos in the room? (or, a hotel adjacent to a movie theater). Our house is simply too small, so this would have to be an ''away'' sleepover. Any ideas? Ideas other than a hotel? (not camping; this is a winter birthday; but any indoor ideas?) Thanks for any & all recommendations. Seeking Overnight party ideas

  • Marin Highlands Youth Hostel

    Horse enthusiast 9 year old


    I am having a birthday party for my horse enthusiast 9 year old. We are having it a a local stable where she takes lessons and will offer rides. Any creative, fun ideas for other activities besides rides and food? Terry

    I don't know about games and activities but I have an idea for party favors. My daughter at 9 also wanted an outdoor type party. In her case we went hiking from the big meadow in Tilden to Lake Anza where we had games and a picnic. As a party favor everyone got a different colored bandana (from REI) and a water bottle. The bandanas sort of sound horsy. Janet
    How about a horse-theme craft? Our pony club camp in the summer makes t-shirts using horse stencils and fabric paint. Or a build-your-dream barn project with graham crackers and baking (powder?) cement, a la gingerbread houses. You can buy Breyer Stablemates, very tiny Breyer Horse models for a couple dollars apiece as favors to go with these, and use little plastic trees, etc. from a craft store to decorate. And maybe paints. Or set up a cross-country or show-jumping course in the party area with miniature jumps and have the each kid jump the course and award ribbons and medals Nancy
    See additional recommendations here: Horseriding Trails & Stables