Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kids Birthday Party Ideas in Howard County MD

I am really sure other parents are as sick as I am of inflatable bounce house birthday parties.  It's not to say kids don't enjoy them, but they are so repetitive and unimaginative, I'd rather shave with a dull razor than go to another one...but alas, there will be many more.    To help parents combat the urge to take the easiest route, I'd like to work on a list of alternative, creative and even a few unique ideas, so here are some of the most fun alternatives that I know of. (Please also see my post about what to give out as party favors)

Here is a list of 25+ slightly more creative ideas for places to have children's birthday parties.  Since I live in Howard County Maryland, this list pertains specifically to this area, but many of the things in the list would apply to anywhere USA--you just have to look around for a similar venue in your area.

Let me know what you think of this list! Comments and ideas are very welcome!

Paid Facility Use Parties:

1) Bowling parties (Duck pins are better for younger kids if there is a duck pin alley nearby.  Those are rare.  Around here I know there are duck pins in Silver Spring and Mt. Airy.)

2) Craft parties: Michael's craft store parties (price depends on craft chosen) are relatively popular and their stores all seem to have some sort of party room.  There are also several pottery painting businesses around.  The parties center on the kids creating and/or painting a piece of pottery.  In Ellicott City  there is the Pottery Stop which is a combination coffee shop and ceramics studio--they have a party room, but it is relatively small.  The added bonus is that the item the kids paint is also the take-home gift/party favor.

Pool Party Birthday Invitation
3) Indoor pool parties at Kid's First Swim School. About $250 for an hour of swimming and an hour of party room use.  There are also other venues that offer kid's pool parties.  The Columbia Association has a wonderful indoor splash park and is well recommended and if you're a member of Lifetime Fitness, they also do a good job (see below) and offer a competitive package.  Kids love pools and especially if you have a winter birthday, an indoor pool party is a welcome reminder of summer fun.  Party favors might include swim goggles or water toys.

4) Ballet and dance parties. About $130 at Joyful Motion Dance Studio in Savage Mill.  This is a no-brainer for young girls, but boys can have fun at dance parties too.  Most of the time, the gyms will give you a choice as to the style of dance you'd like the kids to learn as part of the celebration so instead of ballet you might do a jazz or even hip hop birthday.  For ballet parties, girls will enjoy dressing up like prima ballerinas.

5) Gymnastics parties - There are plenty of places to hold gymnastics parties.  One of the best experiences I've had was at My Gym in Columbia, MD.  The staff was attentive and the kids had a great time--unfortunately their prices are kind of high.  Here is a recent pricing flyer (as of March 2014-click to enlarge):

6) Build-A-Bear-This will cost you about $20/kid and they have a six kid minimum. Very good experience  with four and five year olds.  There is a build-a-bear location in Columbia Mall.

7) Lifetime Fitness Parties (rock wall, swimming, basketball etc) - Cost is about $275 for 2 hours including pizza and drinks.  The fee covers 12 guests.  Additional kids are $20/each extra. (Prices can vary by gym location!)  Extra pizzas for adults are $10/each. Two party coordinators are included and they do a great job of making sure everything is going well...they even set up your decorations for you (you have to provide decorations, plates, napkins, party favor bags, etc). If you are a Lifetime Fitness member, I would recommend the parties there.  (Read my review of lifetime fitness).

Here is the information sheet Lifetime Fitness gives you when you want to book a party:



8) Nature Centers and Farms (ie-Robinson Nature Center), Howard County Conservancy or the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD.  Clarks Elioak Farm in Ellicott City is also very popular.  In the fall you could consider an apple or berry harvest party at Larriland farm--check the harvest calendar to see what is ripe.  Educational and fun--plus the pickings are the party favor.

9) Circus School Party - In Columbia, MD there is a "circus school" that seems to have some pretty cool party action happening.  There is a 15 kid hard limit for this venue.  This is an excellent choice for a great party.  My 7 year old had a party there and we were very impressed.  Greg, the owner is a former Ringling Brothers Circus clown and really makes it fun for the kids.  Highly recommended.

10) Earth Treks- This rock climbing facility offers kids birthday parties -- locations in Rockville, Columbia and Timonium.  Pricing as of this writing is $225 for 1-10 participants and $325 for 11-15 participants at the Columbia, MD location.  (Lifetime fitness also offers rock climbing parties but you have to be a member)  Earth Treks has a few "party rooms" that have their own climbing walls.  I've been to a party here for five year olds and it worked very well--the kids had a great time.  They provided four climbing instructors who put the harnesses on the kids and belayed them.  Very nice.

11) Roller Skating - The Laurel Roller Rink and the Supreme Sports Club Skating Arena both offer great kids birthday parties.  Supreme Sports Club offers private skating parties for $600.  Regular parties held during a public session are more like $250 and include pizza and cake for 10 kids.

12) Ice Skating - There are ice rinks around the county, but two in particular stand out.  The Gardens Ice House in Laurel, MD and the Columbia Association Ice Rink in Columbia MD both offer parties.

13) Laser Tag - Shadowland in Ellicott City and LaserXP in Laurel.   This is always a favorite with kids of any age.

14) Indoor Miniature Golf (older kids): Monster Mini Golf in Jessup.  Pretty loud and kind of scary for a young kid in there, so check it out and see if it is appropriate for your child first.

15) Sports center parties.  There are a variety of venues where you could have an indoor or outdoor soccer, lacrosse or basketball party.  For example, in Howard County, MD there is the Soccerdome which allows you to rent a field and let the kids play soccer for an hour and then has an area for pizza and cake.

16) Terrapin Adventures - These outdoor adventure parties are very cool.  Kids must be at least 8 to be able to participate in a party here. (Also see Sandy Spring Adventure Park)

17) Pirate Party on the Urban Pirate boat that sails from Baltimore.  There is also a pirate boat that leaves from Annapolis.

18) Tea Party-Tea Parties at home are always fun, but for something more sophisticated, you could try Tea on the Tiber Victorian Tea Room in Ellicott City. (An interesting experience for a regular visit as well--try out  high tea one afternoon.)

19) Rumor has it that you can book a party at the Rainbow playground equipment show room in Columbia: http://swingsetsbaltimore.com/promotions/

trampoline party
A skyzone jump "room"--each child gets their own square of
Trampoline.
20) SkyZone - Indoor trampoline park in Columbia MD.  This venue has some similarities to the overdone JumpZone inflatable parties, but this is a bit different since they have actual trampolines.   They have created a very slick venue which looks engaging and fun.   Cost for a party on weekdays is $21/jumper. On weekends is $24/jumper.  There are packages starting at $330/party.  They have party rooms for each birthday party.  Be sure and check the reviews as there seem to be a high proportion of unhappy customers.  So far I have been to two parties and I thought it was okay overall.  My main reservations are safety issues and the fact that in both cases I got the feeling that the party itself was kind of like a production line--I always got the same feeling at JumpZone! parties and Pump It Up..  They are setup so that each kid basically gets their own trampoline to make things a bit safer but even so, someone was taken away in an ambulance during the first party I went to.

college park aviation museum for birthday fun
21) Airsoft - For ages 11 and up an airsoft indoor paintball course is loads of fun.  Located in Rockville, it is a bit of a trek from Howard County, but might be worth the trip.  Rumor has it that there is also an airsoft location in Beltsville, but I can't find any information about it.

22) Museum Parties outside of Howard County: Okay, these museum birthday parties aren't in Howard County but what cool places for a birthday celebration. The Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery Children's Museum, The B&O Railroad MuseumCollege Park Aviation Museum--if your child loves airplanes, this is the place to go!

23) Movie Theater Birthdays - Kids love going to the movies--especially 3D movies that really bring in all the senses.  Some area theaters have party packages and even party rooms. A very good example of a movie theater with a party room is the Arundel Mills Cinemark Egyptian theater.  You could even roll an Egyptian theme into the party if you wanted.  Even if you decide not to use the group rates or party rooms, you may need to contact the theater when planning so you'll know what choices will be available on the date of your party.  The movie itself can also become the theme of your party (ie-Transformers or Disney Princesses).

24) Whole Foods Cooking Party - The new Whole Foods in Columbia, MD is going to have a culinary center which can be rented out for kids birthday parties.  They provide a host who will help the kids through making a pizza and pretzels.

25) American Girl Doll party - Okay, not in Maryland and possibly not even very convenient for most Marylanders, but in Tysons Corner Mall they have an American Girl doll store and you can have a birthday party there.  I don't have any suggestions on the logistics of getting classmates and friends out to Northern Virginia, but I have heard good things about parties there.

26) Dave and Busters - This place is really busy with lots of things to do.  The Arundel Mills location has bowling and lots of games.

Home Birthday Party Ideas

If you have room at home (or a relative's home or decide to rent a party room such as at the North Laurel Community Center) there are lots of great ideas for home-hosted parties.  For example hiring a magician, having a princess tea party or having someone bring in farm animals, etc.

Here are some entertainers that I have seen that do a good job with home parties:

Science Themed Parties- There are a few performers you can get. I recently saw a show by Eric Energy.  He did a pretty good job with "science-tainment"... you might also try doing this yourself if you're ambitious--see Bird's Party blog's Mad Scientist Party how-to. If you like animals, you could have Reptile Wonders/Nature Center On The Go bring all sorts of interesting animals to your home.

D's Magic - Great magic show complete with rabbit and balloon sculpture.  Very entertaining.
Magic show for a Maryland Birthday Party


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1 Responses to “Kids Birthday Party Ideas in Howard County MD”

Leeann said...
August 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Thanks for these ideas!


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