I do a lot of shows and have seen a lot of people do really clever and creative things. I thought I’d record some of them here as advice for other parents!
First, don’t forget the matches for the cake!
If you hire an entertainer, the show works best to have the entertainer at the start. If you let the kids play, their energy levels shoot up while they run around – and that makes it hard for them to sit down for a show. It works out fine, it just makes the first few minutes extra raucous! I find it works best to start with the show, then cake and presents. After that, you can have me tie balloon animals or else just let the kids play for a while, and you’ve got the whole party! Whether you do balloons or not just think ahead to what they kids will do when they play – almost anything will work, including putting them in the yard with some balls. They will make up some games and have a blast. But if you have anything planned, that can smooth things out. You don’t need to over plan – just have something around for them to play with!
Any time works fine, the only advice I have there is that if you have a show around lunch then you’ll need to plan for pizza or something which is an extra cost – but is also quite popular. If you do order pizzas that works quite well, but order them well in advance – at LEAST the day before – and then follow up the day of the party with a phone call and check. I’ve been to a few parties where the pizza arrived quite late, so taking a few steps to avoid that is well worth it.
If this is a Star Wars themed party, or if the kids are Star Wars nuts, get some pool noodles. Cut them to about three foot lengths, and you have lightsabers that are safe to fight with. If you want to go the extra mile, save your toilet paper rolls, and you can have the kids make their own handles to insert the pool noodles into. Using some tin foil to wrap them in and different colors of electrical tape to hold the foil on and give it colors is pretty easy and fun. I have also seen people make Jello with a Han Solo action figure embedded in it for a Han in Carbonite treat – it goes over VERY well!
Most folks just do a party in their house – and that works very well. I’m geared to a typical living room, but can work with anything – and have! People also do parties in their yards which also can work very well and lets kids run around. But what if you don’t want it in your home?
First, if you have it outdoors, have a rain plan. That’s more important than you think – what will you do if it rains? You do NOT want to wake up that morning to a thunderstorm and have to tell your child their party is off. Worst case you can just fall back to your house – this doesn’t have to be complex, but just have a contingency plan!
I usually prefer indoors – there’s just less to worry about. If it’s crazy hot or rainy, no worries. The best place are libraries. If you have a library card, most libraries have a room you can reserve for free – you just have to clean up after yourself. Those rooms are GREAT! The Queen Anne library even has a stage in it! I’d start with that. This site has a list of all libraries with rooms:
and you can reserve a room here: http://spl.evanced.info/spaces
The King County library has a list of their rooms here:
When you find a room, don’t click the map, click the list of names on the left to go to a page that lets you reserve the room.
Many parks have rooms available too, and they are quite affordable. I’ve listed a few below, but the Park system now has a web page that lets you look near you:
Other places that have rooms – I’ve done shows in all these places and I recommend each one of these (or else I wouldn’t list it!). It just depends on which ones are convenient to you. Also use them for ideas to find places local to you – and then tell me about any places you find so I can add them!
Note that some of these have costs. If I know the cost I’ll add it, but none of them cost more than a few hundred. The town name has a link to the place in Google maps.
The Phinney Neighborhood Center in Greenlake – I love this place. I’ve done two locations there, the normal room that’s best is a preschool room that they rent for $40 an hour. I’ve also done the community hall for $50 an hour, but that’s larger than most parties would need. Rental information is here and rates are here. They also have great parking.
The Greenwood Senior Center is in Greenlake too, but is further north than Phinney. Their rates are are between $15 and $20 an hour with some rooms being higher – see the rates here. They are part of the Phinney Neighborhood Association.
The Queen Anne Community Center in Queen Anne. It’s a great location, and is right next to Big Howe park if you want to go play outside afterwards!
The Ballard Homestead in Ballard – about $250 if you get it during the day. It has a stage and lots of room! Everyone has to find parking on the street, though.
The Discovery Park Visitor’s Center in Magnolia has a really cool room, easy parking, and you can go to Discovery Park afterwards!
The Shelterhouse at Cal Anderson Park near Capitol Hill – it’s a standalone one-room building.
Pine Lake Community Center in Sammamish – it’s a friendly place with a fantastic room. Saturdays are expensive, but Sundays are affordable – see their rates here.
Juanita Community Club in Kirkland is $55 an hour on Saturdays – full rates are here.
Montlake Community Center is between Madison Park and Capitol Hill and has multiple meeting rooms