Advice for Birthday Party and Entertainment at Codornices Park

Planning on throwing my 4 year old her first real birthday party in September at Codornices Park after realizing the guest list was over 50 people and our small, humble home wouldn’t cut it as a venue. My girl is a social butterfly and has a lot of “best friends”.

I’ve been to this park a couple of times (we live in the Rockridge neighborhood so there are other parks that are more convenient for us) and it just feels magical and like there’s something for everyone. The reservation page has two picnic sites and I’m not sure which one is better. Any tips? My concern is that the tables are too far away from the playground and parents won’t be able to monitor their children if our main setup is far away. I know some people pop up a tent on the grass near the playground but if we can get in trouble for doing that, I don’t want to risk being shut down.

As far as entertainment goes, I was going to obviously rely on the playground and amazing slide but was also thinking of hiring one of those bubble shows. Does anyone have someone local they can recommend? Or any other entertainer they love? Or any other activities for 4 year olds (and younger) that we could set up at the park. Was thinking soccer balls/nets, some ribbon wands, and a beading station at the big tables (out of reach from the babies).

This is my first time hosting a toddler birthday party and I’m having some anxiety so open to hearing any suggestions, especially from folks who have hosted a party at this park. Thanks in advance!

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We hosted our kiddo's 1st birthday party here--so entertainment wasn't as much of an issue! We did reserve a picnic area as a backup but yes, they are kind of far from the playgrounds. We just sent someone that morning, around 8am, to stake out an area under the trees near the playground, with a couple folding tables and picnic blankets. No one bothered us about it and that seems pretty typical at that park. Not sure about a tent but I think probably no one would hassle you about it. 

We hosted our son’s first birthday party at Codornices last October and had a fantastic time! We also live in Oakland but love that park so much! We decided to set up our party on the grassy area near the playgrounds as we also felt the picnic tables were too far away from the play areas in addition to not being an ideal setup for a bunch of 1-year-olds. We had about 50 guests, set up a canopy tent under which we served food and cupcakes, laid out a few blankets, and put out a play tunnel and had some balls and other simple toys for the kids to play with. Our guests brought their own picnic blankets to lay out as well. We were not the only birthday party on the grass that day (a Saturday midday in October) but there was plenty of room for both parties without feeling crowded, and the other one had a similar setup, but also with balloons and music. This seems to be a common occurrence at Codornices and no one bothered us about it, nor have I ever seen anyone else get in trouble for it. 

I don’t have any insights to share regarding additional entertainment, but it seems kids have endless fun at this park even without special arrangements. Maybe encourage your guests to bring a piece of cardboard for the concrete slide if that feels like an age-appropriate activity for 4-year-olds. 

I hope you all have a wonderful celebration for your 4-year-old! 

I've been to a few kid parties there in my day (6-10 years ago). I think the biggest issues with that park is 1) that there is only one (poor quality) toilet, and 2) somebody will get injured on the slide. So would recommend bringing a complete first aid kit if you decide to do it there. You are also correct in that the tables are far from the playground so kids will wander etc., plus there isn't convenient parking for you and all your party supplies, plus all the guests. 50+ is a ton of people for any party, much less if half of those are 4 year olds. A lot of people to feed plus a lot of chaos. If you are for sure set on a big guest list like that, the successful preschool parties in that size I've seen have rented out an indoor playspace for exclusive use - fewer variables and more paid staff. However, ask yourself if it's worth "anxiety" to throw a huge birthday party your child will not remember!

Hello!  Mom of a 4yo here and we just went to a birthday party hosted at one of the picnic tables (above the slide) in Cordonices.  My feedback:  Don't do the picnic spot!  It was SO HARD to wrangle most of the kids to be anywhere close to the food/cake/presents/drinks/parent sitting spots.  They just went downhill to all the fun stuff or into the bushes/paths and we (parents) were running all over the place. It was exhausting.  I made us leave early, and I love parties!

I don't know the rules and haven't seen a big party there, but I saw smaller groups on the main lawn or over on the side under the trees near the gated little playground having parties.  That looked much more do-able.  

We rented the back picnic area for a baby shower. It was wonderful. Lots of space and forested and cool just in case it’s too hot. Because it was a baby shower and not a birthday  there weren’t tons of little kids but there were a few including my son. Even though the back picnic area is not directly next to the playground, it’s a perfect place for cake and gathering. I imagine the kids will spend most of the time on the playground supervised by their parents and will probably be easy to round up during cake time and fit a bubble show and games? But yes parents won’t be able to hang at that picnic area and also supervise kids on playground …

I have never done a party there so I can't comment on that. If you want to hire a bubble person, they can't really do a show outside because it's too windy but they can set up bubble play for the kids and sometimes put the kids in bubbles (if not too windy) and blow some big bubbles for the kids to chase. It's fun and kids love it but not cheap. You can also set up your own bubble play stations if that feels feasible to you. I can recommend two bubble people if you want.

I've been to parties at Cordornices, but never for more than 20 people. If you are there at a busy time, you are going to need to ask your friends to be sure to leave space on the playground equipment for other people, and to supervise carefully, because it will get pretty crowded. A bubble show might be nice, but again, you need to consider other users of this popular park. You might be better off at the Little Farm area in Tilden. We had a birthday party there once, and there is more space.