Birthday Parties for 10-12 Year Olds

Parent Q&A

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  • Birthday party ideas for 10-year old girl

    (2 replies)


    I am new to the area and also new to my child turning...10 - the tweenage stage! Please suggest recommendations for a celebration in the area.

    I'm assuming celebrating at home is still faux pas, although I would love to have an entertainer or a drum/percussion party to liven things up a bit.

    Thank you in advance! 

    My 10 yr. old grandkid just had their birthday party at UC Botanical Garden with a few friends and loved it.  It's beautiful, interesting and they can roam around.  Another idea, indoors or out, is a home party with a project - tie dyeing, shrinky dinks, jewelry/backpack charms making, etc.

    There was a recent post seeking ideas for a 10 year old birthday party. Check that post out. :-)  Many are starting to have birthday parties at home especially if they have a bit of outdoor space. I've seen people have backyard parties even in a modestly sized space. For smaller outdoor space, I've seen people open up their house with all windows and doors open and have an indoor-outdoor flow but the party size was kept on the smaller size. We recently went to a birthday party at a friend's backyard which is pretty small. Food and drinks were set up outside in the backyard where they did "karaoke", scavenger hunt in the back, front, and around the house, and pinata. I thought it was really clever that they used all parts of outdoor space because their backyard is small. A group of about six 9 and 10 year old girls singing their hearts out was pretty awesome. Guests wore masks when going inside to use the bathroom. Drumming sounds really fun. What a great idea! You can have an entertainer or drumming at many local parks. We went to another birthday party at Lake Temescal and they had a magician come and perform. It was fun. 

    Happy birthday to your girl!

    Mom with a 10 year old girl

  • Birthday ideas for 10y old

    (5 replies)

    Hi everyone, 

    My daughter is turning 10 and not having had birthday parties with friends the last 2 years due to Covid, we want to do something special for her. Any ideas or recommendations for great venues are appreciated! Preferably in Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito area. 


    What are your daughter’s interests? When is the birthday and how many guests are you thinking of having? What are your Covid risk tolerance level? What is your budget? These are some questions that could help fine tune birthday ideas. 

    We recently had a 10th bday party and have gone to a few of them now. We did a pool party by renting a pool through Swimply. We spent $$ on the pool but did not spend much on food, drinks, decorations. (Chips, veggies, watermelon,  dip, cookies, cupcakes, water and juice plus beer and wine for adults). We had 5 kids in attendance and 1 adult guest for each child. Many birthday parties in the summer months were all pool/beach parties (at Alameda beach, Keller beach, grandparents’ house, San Ramon city pool, Hilton or some hotel in Walnut Creek — they rented a cabana, a Swimply rented pool). 

    The following are other ideas we shared with friends that could work in colder weather. 

    — karaoke (jaguar in Berkeley has a mobile karaoke service so you could do it in your backyard or you could DYI at home)

    — bowling (Albany bowl?)

    — sleepover with 3 best friends. My kid went to one sleepover. It was fun! We all tested before the party.

    — adventure park in Berkeley 

    — pacific pinball museum 

    — mini golf (Castro valley)

    — plank (bowling and arcade)

    — spa (mani pedi, henna) at a salon or at home

    — outdoor park or backyard party with an entertainment  (magician, bouncy, or something else?) backyard party can be in cold months as well. We had a holiday party in our backyard. We covered outdoor furniture with faux fur and blankets, had an outdoor heater, fire pit, and keurig for hot drinks. We also had a couple of thermos of hot cider and spare blankets. People roasted sausages and hot dogs over fire and we had a big pot of chili in a crock pot. Cup cakes and s’mores for dessert. We handed out hand warmers to guests as well. 

    — six flags or great America 

    — horseback riding 

    — Oakland zoo

    — outdoor movie (backyard or drive in in Concord)

    — escape room in emeryville (it is appropriate for 10 year olds and is very well rated) 

    — scavenger hunt and carnival themed party (can be done cheaply but will need work planning )

    — ice skating 

    — mobile arcade (there are companies where you can rent classic arcade games, air hockey tables, etc.)

    — Chabot Science museum

    — Rent a pontoon boat at San Pablo reservoir and have a picnic there

    Have fun!

    It will depend on her interests, but here are some general ideas kids that age might find fun, as the mother of an 11yo: Escape room, paint-your-own-pottery outing, some kind of sporty class like indoor rock climbing, a trip to Cat Town to cuddle the kittens, a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood, mini-golf, bowling...think about what kinds of things she's into (art, animals, sports, gaming, whatever) and there's probably something around here that ties into it. Tbh, though, all my kid wanted was a sleepover, since they'd never had one because of Covid timing. :)

    Hi! My daughter just turned ten and we hosted a bubble party at a park. Had to reserve picnic tables in advance… we had smallish plastic storage bins with bubble soap and provided a whole big variety of tiny, small, medium and large bubble wands, including stick/rope things for making giant bubbles. It was a HUGE HIT, the kids had so much fun and the whole park was filled with bubbles. They each went home with a variety of wands/bubble makers, a packet of powder to mix a gallon of soap for giant bubbles, and a small container of regular bubble soap. It was its own entertainment and they had a blast. 

    When my son turned 11 during COVID we did a birthday party for him at Traverse Fitness in Richmond. It's a huge "Ninja Warrior" training gym with obstacles for kids through adults. The parties are private to your group, include some coaching on obstacles and then free time, and their is lots of airflow in the space so it feels very safe, but it is indoors so you don't have to worry about winter weather. We brought individual snacks and cupcakes and it was a big hit!

    one thing we did was a reptile petting zoo party.  We actually did it twice - once with a group called Lick Your Eyeballs ( and then through East Bay Vivarium (  Both were great... for our reptile-obsessed 9 year old girl. 

  • Social distancing tween boy birthday party

    (2 replies)

    I have a boy turning 12 this summer and we're trying to think of ideas for a birthday party in late August/early September. We may all be back in school and mingling by then, but we want to have some ideas if we or other parents aren't comfortable shucking social distancing yet. He wants to have a sleepover with 4 friends, but there's only so much distancing you can do with 5 tweens in one room. We'd like to have a list of options with a range of likely contact levels to pose to parents. So far, I have some outdoor activity ideas that lend well for distancing (kayaking, horseback riding, nerf battles, paintball, go karts), and some no contact with the help of Zoom (movie watch party, playing the same video game together, outdoor scavenger hunt). With the no contact ones we'd deliver maybe pizza and cake to each family so the boys can still eat "together". Can anyone else help with more ideas that a 12 year old would find cool enough? Typically we've been able to throw great and memorable parties for around a $100 budget, so nothing too grand, though we realize we may have to be more flexible this year.

    Hi, I also have a September boy turning 12. Definitely not contemplating a sleepover, although it would be his preference! I think we'll probably do something like an epic nerf battle outside, followed by socially distanced cake or other treat (maybe something you can eat faster?). All in all, maybe 90 minutes total, mostly masked and at a distance. Maybe cool masks would be the party favor? I wouldn't choose an activity that requires a reservation (because you lose flexibility if the virus keeps worsening) or touching outside equipment (like go karts or paintball). I don't think my boy would consider horseback riding cool, or kayaks fun. Thus... nerf FTW!

    Zoom sucks for tween birthday parties - saying this from experience. They are really boring :( Outdoor backyard sleepover where everyone is in their own tent? 

  • Tween Girl Birthday Party Ideas?

    (4 replies)

    Seeking current recommendations, suggestions, and best practices for a birthday party for 10-15 4th grade girls! In the winter, so the plan needs to be indoors. I'm not opposed to doing it at our small house, but feel like I would need an outside entertainer or very specific activities to throw at them. I'm also fine with an offsite destination, bowling or similar (is that cool enough for your average 10 year old girl?!), but getting a bit of sticker shock at the cost for a big group. (It would be hard to pare down the number of guests due to girl friend dynamics.)   H-E-L-P....!

    My daughter had an ARF party at that age and loved it. ARF is in Walnut Creek. 

    A girlfriend of mine just did a party for the same grade (but boys) - she rented a Hummer limo and they just drove around town, stopped for ice cream, then drove to the park to play - they had hats and balloons in the car, music - everyone had a blast. She said it was a lot less than renting some party place etc. Just an idea - I think it held 15. Good luck!

    It really depends on what they are into, but some things we did when my kids were tweens: 

    --scavenger hunt at a mall (make up a list of things to find, break them into teams, have them take photos of each thing)

    --tie-dye (could have a "hippie" theme) 

    --karaoke (rent or borrow a karaoke machine, have fun glam accessories; could have a "Divas" theme) 

    --movie marathon (with popcorn, red vines, etc. Can get fun movie-related party decor.)  

    --spa theme (facials, manicures, etc.) 

    Have fun! 

    My daughter had her 10 year old party at Albany Bowl and it was a hit.  She and her friends loved it. (so i think cool enough) She went to an Albany bowl party and wanted the same and we've been to a few more since then as well.  In addition to them having fun,  I think it was one of the most affordable party we've thrown for her, and it was definitely the easiest.  They have all the details on their website about costs and what you provide verses what they provide.  

  • Aviation birthday party for 12 year old

    (4 replies)

    Hi, Has anyone ever had an aviation-themed birthday party at Cal Airways at the Hayward Airport or at the Oakland Aviation Museum? Cal Airways has a birthday party package, but I'm also considering just taking kids to the Oakland Aviation Museum--they don't seem to have an official birthday party package. You can rent the space but it seems like that is more suited to large groups. Also considering the USS Hornet's birthday party. Any other air museums or places that might be cool? This is for a kid turning 12. Thanks!

    Hi - we had birthday parties at the Oakland Aviation Museum - twice! It's a wonderful, large space with a lot of exhibits for guests to see.  They opened up the Solent Flying Boat for guests to visit.  This was several years ago.  If I remember correctly all they asked was a $100 donation and for us to set up and take down.  The staff was very kind and it was a really good experience.

    We celebrated my son’s birthday at the Hayward Airport. I can’t remember which birthday, but it was younger than 12. It was 100% fabulous. The kids had a blast and were entertained by the small staff for the entire time - from baldo wood airplanes to aviation simulators to games over cake and balloons. They took care of everything. I literally only had to show up. For an extra fee, my son was able to fly a small plane for real, which he liked, but wasn’t necessary. I highly recommend Cal Airways. 

    My son had a 10y/o birthday party on the Hornet that seemed to go well. I think it would be even better for 12 year olds. The space is kinda cool, the guests liked the personalized dog tags, and they got to see some neat spaces on the ship. My only criticism is that the somewhat older docent giving the tour didn't really adapt his presentation for younger kids. For my son who was really into airplanes and military history, the relatively dry presentation was just fine. I think some of the kids found it a little like a school field trip. I suspect this is highly dependent on who does the tour, and perhaps a reminder at the beginning to make sure it's interesting to 12-year-olds would help.

    We enjoyed hosting an 8th birthday party at the Hornet.  It’s not super-festive (you can’t run around or go nuts the way you might at other venues), but very interesting!  Most of the parents had never been, so it was memorable and educational for two generations.  I would recommend it as a solid alternative .

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Birthday Party for 10 yr old Boy

Oct 2011

I am looking for some ideas for celebrating my soon to be 10 yr old boy . Some ideas that could be real fun for boys, cost effective, and not too far from Elcerrito . My main concern is the month of celebration, first week of December which limits my outdoor options. Mom

One idea is 'Playland Not at the Beach'. it is in El Cerrito. -pinball lover

My son is turning 11. We have done Playland at the Beach in El Cerrito. Bowling Party at Albany Bowl and the Lawrence Hall of Science. All of these have worked well for indoor birthday parties. El Cerrito Mom

You could have a battlebot party. My brother-in-law has been hosting 'Bot Bash Parties' for a while up in Chico and he recently moved to the east bay. Essentially he brings all the battle-bots, sets up an arena and teaches the kids how to play with the battlebots via remote control. He built all the battle-bots himself and can also talk to the kids about the bots. The parties have been a huge hit up in Chico and would be perfect for a 10-year olds birthday party. Check out botbash fan

Hotels for 12 year old's birthday party

Sept 2011

My VERY serious but fun loving 11 y o going on 12 yo daughter has more or less outgrown the sleepover parties of the past, and after, visiting her family in LA, wants to have a b day pary based in a hotel! This more or less translates into a party of 6 girls and 2 adult chaperones in a suite on a sat and sun nite. A hotel with tolerant staff, hot tubs/swimming pools and rooms ervice whould be good. Any Suggestions? All of the girls involved are very well behaved but probably a little high pitched. future engineers want to have fun too!

You'll probably get good suggestions for the east bay, but another popular place is Embassy Suites in San Rafael, near the Marin Civic Center. My teen son had a a good time playing hide and go seek, as well as using the pool and hot tub. They also have a great breakfast buffet. fan of San Rafael

Hotel for 12 year old's birthday party

July 2011

My soon to be 12 year old entirely skipped her 11th birthday celebration because she wanted at least 12 girls and something extra special. Our little home wouldn't do. For her next birthday (since I saved a little having not done the last one) I'd like to rent two hotel rooms at a place with a pool where the girls can watch movies, swim and eat. I've been at Embassy Suites which seems just disorganized enough that you can get away with anything, but it is also crowded at the pool. Has anyone ever done this, any thoughts or suggestions? Any new ideas or suggestions would be great too. Thank you! birthday mom

My daughter had her 10th birthday party at the Doubletree Berkeley Marina (with only 3 girls, not 12). They ate pizza, watched movies, went swimming and generally had a total blast--a highly recommended birthday party option. anon

Embassy Suites in San Rafael is a popular place for this type of party. mom of teens

Birthday party ideas for girls 10-13

Feb 2011

Does anyone have any good ideas for group birthday parties for the preteen girl set (i.e., 10-13)? We'd like to invite around 10 girls and would like to go offsite somewhere in the East Bay. Thanks very much. Albany Mom

Our girls liked miniature golf parties at about that age. There's one in Castro Valley. Ed

2007 - 2009 Advice

Fashion-themed birthday party for 10 year old

Dec 2009

My soon-to-be-10-year-old daughter loves fashion design, and wants a fashion-themed birthday party. I am just at a loss for games and activities around this theme (for 7-10 kids), and am hoping someone has some great ideas. Thank you in advance! heidi

We've done ''make up'' parties - go to the drugstore, buy a bunch of cosmetics within pre-set budget (everyone picks), do it up at home (you can include facials) and then go out to a restaurant that way. Also, going to a charity thrift, give the kids $20 and let them buy whatever (and also go out to a restaurant that way). Super fun and the kids pick their ''favors.'' In fact, we still have a cool pair of black boots from the party for my eldest. -mom of 2 girls

We had a great time at a luau I did for my daughter's birthday. We divided into teams of two and designed grass skirts with crepe paper, flowers, etc. and then had a fashion show. 1 person was the designer and the other was the model. You can do similar with newspaper and tape to design an outfit. Have someone from Mary Kay come in to do an age appropriate skin care and make up lesson. Have them lie on a ig sheet of butcher paper. Outline them in pencil. Have them design the ultimate party dress for themself, then tape them up on the wall for the rest of the party. Buy small canvas totes at the Dollar Store, sparkle glue, felt, etc. and have them decorate their own tote. kl

I don't know if you or your daughter ever watch Project Runway but they have some fun ''competitions'' to see what outfit can be made out of recycled materials (bags, tin foil, etc), natural materials (leaves, moss, etc) and the stand-by bridal shower material - a roll of toilet paper. Seems like it could be fun to have the girls get into groups and make outfits out of household items. With supervision, what about making duct tape purses or some other object. Inexpensive and creative! Or go to Michael's (in Emeryville) and get t-shirt paint, glue on ''jewels'', glitter and the like and have a plain white t-shirt for each of the girls to decorate and take home? Or you could get inexpensive canvas bags that the girls could decorate with above materials? Fun theme for a party! - love the creativity!

I did this once for my then 10 year old at a place called Pure Girls in Pleasanton. I think they have since closed, but essentially, they had a ramp with curtains (should be easy to build - just use curtains around am existing doorway, and add a long runner or series of rugs). The girls did their hair and makeup - again, if another mom can assist you it would be great. They can choose what haristyle they want, add some basic makeup if you are comfortable with it, and give them a trunk filled with clothing and accessories so they can be creative. If you have a mike (even a $5 one from the drugstore), you can announce the fashions as theu model on the ramp. It was great fun - add some music for more energy! Timi

try apparel arts in san francisco. they hold multi-day summer camps for kids and seminars for adults. you could call them up to see if they would host a party or you might be able to hire an instructor to have a mini-session in your home. a non-sewing mom

Place for 12-year-old daughter's party

Dec 2009

Hi. I'm looking for a place for my daughter's 12th b-day. Something different. There is a place in Santa Clara that is fantastic called Sky High, wall to wall trampolines, trampoline dodge ball etc. but it is quite expensive and far to drive so many girls. Any suggestions of something like that closer to berkeley? Thanks.

I have a boy, but one place we went that all the 12 year olds thought was way cool was the laser tag place in Concord. My husband and I took the boys to Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner, which is quite close by, then on to Laser Tag. Don't know if the girls would enjoy this so much but speaking as a woman in her late 40s at the time, I had a blast. Dianna

My daughter had a rock-climbing birthday party at Berkeley Ironworks that all her friends seemed to enjoy and it wasn't that expensive. mom of an adventurous girl

Birthday Party setting for 11 year old girl

Sept 2008

I am looking for a birthday party setting for my soon to be 11 y/o dtr. Her preference is a setting like Circuits in Alameda, but quite frankly, I would prefer a cheaper setting. The weekend rate for Circuits can be 270.00--It is an arena that offers jump house stuff, Wii games, arcade games etc...Any ideas out there for something along those lines available for less....even a little less would make me happier. Thanks! Budgeting Parent

Possible ideas: An ice skating party (Dublin Ice Skating parties run about $110. Bowling parties run about the same for one game, perhaps a little more for two games. Also, ceramic painting (Alameda town center) are also reasonable depending on how much you choose to spend on items. Indoor rock climbing in Berkeley is another idea. Another 10 yr old Mom

I went to a wonderful party in the Hayward Hills last weekend. I'm not sure of the cost, but I'll included the phone number and email from the card. The business is call Sables Saddle @ High Five Stables in the Hayward Hills. The stable was clean with happy, healthy and well cared for horses. The kids at the birthday party first learned how to brush and clean the horses hooves. Then they all fed Sable the horse a carrot, watched her get saddled and each child was lead around the arena by Mary the owner of the business. What a great time for everyone even the parents. I would highly recommend that you look into it as a party choice. Mary Celaya 510-314-0258 or email sablessaddle [at] anon

2004 - 2006 Advice

Birthday party for twin 10-year-old boys

March 2004

Can I get some recommendations or fun birthday party ideas for my twin boys soon to be 10 in late March? I'm interested in something outdoors-hiking at PT. Reyes, Mt. Diablo, staying overnight on the Coastside-something along those lines. Mom

We had fun taking a a few 8 year old boys (and a few 11 year old siblings) on the ferry to Alcatraz. You can either book an ''Alcatraz Kidz Tourz,'' including night tours, or just go on your own during the daytime for the regular tour. The website is: I believe I learned about the Kidztours on Berkeley Parents Network. All ages of kids loved it. Diane

Try the Pt. Reyes youth hostel. Think they have an extra cottage for groups. Outdoorsy

Hi Mom, The Oakland Zoo has a Bedtime with The Beasts program in March. I think there are 3 programs for the month of March. You can always check online at and go to ''news and events'' and then ''calendar of events''. It's really a fun event. Your kids can spend the night in the zoo and everything. There is also a Family Sundown Safari that is for the whole family. Check it out. These are both really great events. ankie

10-year-old outdoorsy twins

March 2004

Can I get some recommendations or fun birthday party ideas for my twin boys soon to be 10 in late March? I'm interested in something outdoors-hiking at PT. Reyes, Mt. Diablo, staying overnight on the Coastside-something along those lines. Mom

We had fun taking a a few 8 year old boys (and a few 11 year old siblings) on the ferry to Alcatraz. You can either book an ''Alcatraz Kidz Tourz,'' including night tours, or just go on your own during the daytime for the regular tour. The website is: I believe I learned about the Kidztours on Berkeley Parents Network. All ages of kids loved it. Diane

Try the Pt. Reyes youth hostel. Think they have an extra cottage for groups. Outdoorsy

Hi Mom, The Oakland Zoo has a Bedtime with The Beasts program in March. I think there are 3 programs for the month of March. You can always check online at and go to ''news and events'' and then ''calendar of events''. It's really a fun event. Your kids can spend the night in the zoo and everything. There is also a Family Sundown Safari that is for the whole family. Check it out. These are both really great events. ankie

2003 & Earlier

Cool birthday party ideas for 11-y-o

September 2003

I'm looking for ideas for my son's upcoming 11th birthday. Since his birthday is in December, we're hestitant about planning an outdoor event. At 11, he's outgrown a lot of the more traditional things to do. We're hoping to find something that he and his friends will think is ''Cool''. thanks... hb


  • Berkeley Iron Works
  • Birthday Party Ideas (website)

    Indoor 11th Birthday Party Ideas

    December 2002

    My son turns 11 in January, and we're searching for indoor birthday party ideas. In the past couple of years we've done small-scale sleepovers, so we feel he's overdue for a big, fun party. He really enjoyed playing laser tag down at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Does anyone know of a laser tag facility within 45-minutes' drive of Berkeley? Any other ideas for a fun party place that can handle pre-teen boy energy (other than the over-used Albany Bowl)? Maria

    To the writer seeking laser tag for 11-year-old party: Q-zar has laser tag places in Concord and in Pleasanton. We have been to both. I prefer the one in Pleasanton--there's a world of shopping out there if you are not participating in the games yourself--but they are both pretty similar in terms of what you get. The Concord place has a web site at Cynthia
    For my son's 13th birthday we took him and a small group of friends to the Spaghetti Warehouse in Concord, then walked the one block to the Q-Zar laser tag place. It was lots of fun and at least cheaper than the Metreon in the city where we had gone the year before. The Metreon is fun, but very much designed to suck as much money out of you as possible. I don't have the address info for the laser tag place, but a web search should turn it up. Good luck Dianna
    We took our 11 year-old boy and his friends to the batting cages in Emeryville for his birthday and it was quite a hit (ha ha). They have several different ''cages'' with different speed balls, etc. and they also have a indoor basketball court and balls which we used for an adult against kids game. They have other stuff like an air hockey table and some video games, and there is a ''party room'' for doing cake and presents. I can't remember the exact name of the place but I'm pretty sure it is on Hollis St. in Emeryville, a little past the Emeryville Public Market and movie theater area. Suzi
    There is Q-Zar at 2295 Willow Pass Road in Concord. Their phone number is (925) 521-9663. Annie
    we once had a party for my son at pt. pinole regional park - - asked kids to bring bikes to ride, and we had a picnic. they had a great time riding off that energy!

    another idea -- take amtrak down to san jose, and visit the tech museum of innovation. the kids love the train ride, especially once they find the snack bar! it is fine for them to wander around, and there are seats with tables so they can play games etc. on the way. and the tech museum has lots of very cool things to offer. it's maybe a 1/2 mile walk from the train station. the whole trip makes for a long and satisfying day.

    or, berkeley iceland is a good place for energetic kids, even if they don't yet know how to skate -- most can get the gist of it pretty quickly! and most kids who have skated before also fall. add some hot chocolate from the vending machine, and a good time had by all.

    but albany bowl is also wonderful, especially if you get adults involved -- the kids can look pretty good next to some of us, you know?


    Recipe for 11-year-old's Birthday Party

    Not long ago my younger son had his 11th birthday. My sister was complaining about throwing toddler parties, so I thought I'd give her an idea of what she has to look forward to. This easy recipe makes one sleepover birthday party.

    6 boys (aged 11-13 years)


    • 4 sixpacks of sodas
    • 2 quarts orange juice
    • 2 gallons milk
    • 1 cup coffee (this kid was weird)
    • 1 package pretzels
    • 2 packages chips
    • 1 dozen apples
    • 4 peaches
    • 1 large bag of carrots
    • 1 med size jar peanut butter
    • 2 large pizzas
    • 1 large birthday cake
    • 1 dozen fudgesicles
    • 2 dozen pancakes
    • 4 frozen waffles
    • 1 dozen bagels
    • 1 large pot of leftover spaghetti
    • any other leftovers on hand


    • 3 packages of water balloons
    • 8 squirt guns (preferably supersoaker variety - have kids bring them)
    • 2 garden hoses with faucet connections
    • 8 towels
    • 1 gory movie (rent)
    • 2 Japanese animation videos (rent)
    • computer and games - at least one
    • video game system and games (borrow)
    • birthday presents (kids will bring)

    Party will run itself! Just do the following:

    • Leave food out where they can find it.
    • Make sure outdoor entertainment doesn't come inside, and vice versa
    • Place food, entertainment, and sleeping bags as far away as \tpossible from where you plan to sleep.
    • Next morning, withhold all food and entertainment for 30 minutes \tbefore departure time (for clean-up).

    More Ideas

    Sept 1999

    A friend of mine had a great idea for a bday party. She bought Chinese takeout for dinner, rented a minivan (since she doesn't have one) and took the kids to a drive-in. her husband brought their own car so that they could have all the kids in the minivan and park next to them and not have to hear all the shrieking and carrying on (it was a bunch of 11-year-old girls). then she drove the kids home for a sleepover. If you have a mini-van, it is pretty cheap, since usually a drive-in price is per car, not per person. just some clean-up the next day! And the kids had a blast. I went along too, and thought it was about the best idea for a party I had seen. The trick is to find a drive-in a safe area with age-appropriate movies.

    Sleepovers are always popular, and I've always been of the mind that the kids will have fun no matter how much you spend, so why spend a lot? it doesn't have to be a competition. Pizza and videos and maybe some activities or crafts and voila. One party I had (for girls) involved beading - i went to the bead store on Shattuck, picked out a bunch of different beads (be careful, it can add up quickly!) and wire, and had the girls make their own jewelry. they had a lot of fun, and I was chasing beads around my floors for a couple weeks. One year I tried scrap-booking - i took a bunch of pictures of the girls when they came to the party and tried to get them developed at a 1-hour place so that they could make their own scrapbook pages of the night's activities. that didn't quite work out, because what I didn't realize is that all the 1-hour developers shut their machines off around 7-8:00 pm, so I wasn't able to get the pictures done until the next morning. A little planning goes a long way!

    One of my friends had the girls (age 8 or 9, I think) make sock dolls out of toddler socks that turned out to be really cute and the girls had a lot of fun making them. I like the idea of the kids doing a craft and creating their own take-home party favor, and doing something creative or physical as opposed to passive entertainment.

    Another fun BD party is ICELAND in Berkeley or the skating rink in downtown Oakland. I did a BD party for my daughter (12 years) at Iceland and all the kids had fun. I think it ran around $5-6 per kid, including skate rental, if you had a group of at least 10(?). you can bring your own cake, but no other food - you can buy sodas from their machines. I was surprised to have 2 of the kids not want to skate at all, but who asked me for money for the video games - you might want to think about what extras you want to pay for up front, if you go this route. Nancy

    Try Hilltop YMCA (either swimming party, gym party or combination) or Albany Bowl. We've had parties at both places (swimming for 7 year old girl, bowling for 8 year old boy) and both were fun and successful. The price is probably more than $100, but with the bowling, if you have the party part at your house and just bowl, you can certainly keep the costs down. Of course, this time of year, you could do something outside, like a kite flying party at the Berkeley Marina kite flying park, or maybe even an outing to Lake Anza at Tilden Park (and just pay the admission fare for the kids). Good luck and enjoy! Helen
    I remember a fun party at Albany Bowl. They have a party room, no charge. I also think it is possible to get alley bumpers so the kids are not too frustrated with their bowling. Perhaps other bowling places offer something similar.

    Years ago, there used to be puppet show up at the Nature Center in Tilden and we scheduled a party around the show. The kids got to go to the Little Farm and or the Nature Center. We had a picnic on the grass out back. Mostly the kids just ran around. Sometimes, you can also arrange for them to bring out the stuffed owls and live snakes etc. No charge.

    Swimming is another option. One can rent Albany Pool and probably others. That's all for the moment. Sgerry

    Pool parties are great: Albany Pool, Strawberry Canyon Pool, El Cerrito Pool. Bowling at Albany Bowl. Take them to Iron Giant (this film has heart and great animations!) Iceskating at USA ice in Oakland or the Berkeley rink. Good luck! Dorothea

    More Suggestions

    Jan 1997

    Re: Birthday parties for 11 year old: one thing you didn't mention is a pool party. I think you can arrange for one at the Berkeley YMCA for about $75. If the weather is nice on the weekend you want to have the party (and you are right that you can't count on this), a kite flying party at the Berkeley Marina is a very cheap option. It might be possible to have a pool party at the Albany pool ; you'd have to contact them about this.

    I've noticed before that there is a real dearth of parks with covered areas around here. I guess they are more common in areas with hotter summers. You might try calling Live Oak park and see if you can reserve one of their rooms for a party.

    Good luck,

    I understand that Albany Pool will let you rent the pool for an hour, unlimited guests, for $35.00. Great in the winter because it's indoors.
    From: Dawn
    Subject: Re: Suggestions for 11 yr old birthday?

    Last year for my daughter's 11th birthday we held an overnight, with the main attraction being a trip to the 10 pm Laserium show in SF (the particular one was LaserRage, but I don't think they show that any more). We provided the usual cake, ice cream etc (and had a contest to see who could eat their cake most neatly with NO HANDS), as well as breakfast for the kids. We asked the parents to pay for the show itself ($5 each for the kids; $7 for any adults who wanted to go). The kids agreed that this was one of the best birthday parties they'd ever been to.

    Editor Note: Laserium closed in the early 2000's. See this page