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Gift Ideas for Brainy Kids

Updated 8/02/20

This is a list of 80+ educational gift ideas for brainy kids for any occasion, including birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays updated for 2020.

There are plenty of great birthday gifts and Christmas presents out there to help smart kids of all ages get smarter…and lots of presents that will be a waste of your kid’s time and your money. I hope this list of educational math, engineering, and science gift ideas will help you find better options. Below are my suggestions for the best gifts for smart kids.

Each educational present idea includes a link to the item on Amazon.com, suggested age levels, and dollar signs to indicate the relative expense of each gift.

I have highlighted the costs of the gifts as follows:

  • $ – One $ sign indicates an inexpensive present of less than $30.
  • $$ Two $$ signs indicate a moderately expensive present of $30-100 dollars.
  • $$$- Three $$$ signs indicates gifts costing $100 or more.

Quick Gift Index By Child’s Interest:

All of the present ideas on this list have been handpicked because they are good for kids’ brains, develop smarts, creativity, and are at least to some extent educational and good learning toys.

I have direct experience with many, if not most of the items on this list, others have come highly recommended. If you have any ideas to add to this list of presents for smart kids, please send me your comments below.

[BTW, if you have a birthday party coming up, here are some suggestions for fun places to have the birthday event and some ideas for virtual birthday parties!]

Gift Ideas

My “Gifts for Gifted Kids” Top Toy Picks of the Month

  1. Augmented Reality Anatomy T-Shirt
    Might not quite be great for the squeamish, but this is a really cool idea and a great implementation. Point a smartphone at this t-shirt and get a human anatomy lesson like none-other. Great science gift!
    Cost: $
  2. Mini Drone
    This is really fun, and easy to fly. It’s an indoor mini drone for beginners that will teach your child the thinking and basics needed to move on to more advanced drones. I have found it to be pretty indestructible…And the price is right too!
    Ages: 7+
    Cost: $
  3. Ken Jennings Books
    Ken Jennings has a great series of books call the Junior Genius Guides. There are currently six books. They are great. Titles include Outer Space, Ancient Egypt, U.S. Presidents, Greek Mythology, Human Body and Maps and Geography. These books are witty, memorable and entertaining.Gifted kids who don’t always enjoy non-fiction books will still enjoy these while learning all sorts of useful facts to impress their friends, parents and teachers. Several years later my kids still occasionally quote information from these books. Available as a box set. Also, check out Ken’s other books such as “Because I Said So.” I would recommend this as a gift for gifted 6 year olds.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-10
  4. Laptop Stand Desk 
    While clearly not a fun gift, this one is practical, and inexpensive for what it is. With virtual learning becoming so prevalent, kids, especially older kids may want something a little more “adult” to keep their laptop on while they work on schoolwork. We purchased one of these, and it’s pretty good for the price.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 12+
  5. Sphero Mini
    Programmable robotic ball that helps kids learn to code while playing games. Also check out the larger sized Bolt version of this excellent, fun toy.
    Age: 5+
    Cost: $$
  6. FamZoo.com Financial Literacy Debit Card
    Okay, this one is a standout in this list of gifts because this one is a gift that keeps giving, and can really help families by changing the way you give allowance and rewards. It’s a debit card for each kid in your family. You can transfer money to their cards when they earn it or on a regular basis automatically. Kids can even setup an account for charity. Check out my FamZoo review or go directly to FamZoo.
    Age: 5+
    Cost: $ – $$$
  7. Lego Boost Creative Toolbox 840 piece lego kit. Robotics. Need I say more? If your super-smart kid is interested in engineering, coding, and/or legos, than this could be a perfect gift.
    Cost: $$$
  8. Riddles and Trick Questions for Kids and Family
    This book is fun and really gets everyone thinking with great brain teasers and puzzles. Great low-cost gift that any brainy kid and their family would enjoy. When my girls were 7 & 8 they loved this book. We got alot of mileage from it and others like it such as “Difficult Riddles for Smart Kids.”
    Cost: $
    Ages: 7+
  9. Moody Goat Terrarium Kit
    Inexpensive terrarium kit that glows in the dark. It is also a bit of  a craft. Fun to assemble and a great STEM experience.
    Cost: $
    Ages: 4 – 7
  10. Rocketbook Everlast Fusion
    This is a great birthday or back to school gift for gifted 11 year olds and older kids (High School or even adults who have lots of meetings or anyone who takes lots of notes). Much more than just a notebook: this is an erasable notebook that is supported by an app that is used to take photos of the notes and send them to the cloud for permanent storage and organization. For a lower cost option, look at the original Rocketbook Everlast or Read my full review.
    Cost: $$
  11. The Zoob Builderz STEM Challenge Kit
    This was better than I thought and my whole family really enjoys it. Basically this is a “build-it kit” with lots of parts that fit together, wheels, rubber bands, and string. They give you challenges, such as build a car with a retractable roof, with little guidance, and you have to figure out your own solution to build the car and the roof with the parts provided. This is a great engineering toy for kids because it’s so flexible.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: The ages for this kit are 6+, but don’t be put off by that if you have an older kid. I’d say up to 9-11 years old (or possibly beyond) would like to have this as a gift.
  12. Aerogarden Hydroponic Garden
    Kids love to grow plants, especially when the results are edible. Aerogarden has some great options for kids or the whole family to learn about plants and enjoy some fresh herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, or flowers.There are several levels/options that are available. Gardeners age 6 and up might enjoy the Herbie pizza activity kit.

    There is also a nice 3-pod solution or 6 pod solution available. You may also be interested in the more advanced ultra kit.

    Cost: $$- $$$

    Suggested Ages: The ages for this kit are 6+. The Herbie kit is specially made for kids, but the other kits are great gifts for kids 10 and up.

General Gift Ideas for Smart Kids

  1. Walkie Talkies
    This is a great gift, that can be relatively practical. There are loads of different walkie talkies on the market. Just know that most of them DO NOT have the reach that they advertise–not even close unless it’s line of sight, mountain-top to mountain-top. Even so, these are relatively inexpensive and great fun, even if it is just local fun. This set is pretty durable.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-12
  2. Amazon.com’s monthly STEM kit for kids
    This looks like a great idea, but I haven’t tried it out yet. Amazon will send your child a STEM toy each month for $19.99. You can select their age range (3-4, 5-7, 8-13 years old) and the rest will happen automatically.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: Ages 3-13
  3. Magic School Bus Science Kit Club
    The Magic School Bus Science kit has lots of great science activity that will keep your child busy and engaged and they will love getting a monthly package with great experiments.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages: 5-12+
  4. Globes
    Globes and maps of the earth are a must have for any smart kid. Here is a decent globe… If a good globe is out of the budget, consider getting a Painless Learning World Map Placemat which is guaranteed to spark interesting mealtime conversations.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 3-7
  5. Ravensberger Secret codes
    Project kit to learn the basics of cryptography. They learn to crack codes and the secrets of basic secret messaging. A cool activity set, for less than $13. When you follow the Amazon.com link, you’ll see other Ravensberger gifts in the “people also bought” carosel area–many of those are worthwhile gifts as well.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8-13
  6. Lab Coat
    Who doesn’t look smart wearing a lab coat. And they offer special insignias for doctors, vets, STEM, and Rocket Scientist… Basic coats cost about $16 on Amazon, but you can go up from there. My girls had fun with these, and used them for Halloween costumes more than once.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6-10
  7. A custom made puzzle
    Take a photo of the boy or girl doing a puzzle, then have a puzzle made on Amazon based on that photo. For a few years, I had a tradition going where I had a photo of my girls doing a puzzle in which they were doing a puzzle, doing a puzzle…kind of fun but it got too difficult to work out the detail in the photos because they canvas is a bit small. Nevertheless, a fun and unusual gift!
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 5-9
  8. Educational Placemats
    Let the super-smart kid in your life squeeze in some extra learning while they eat. It is surprisingly effective and I have to say that some of these mats are true works of art. There are a large variety of these with maps, presidents, periodic table of elements, bugs, planets, weather, types of butterflies, rocks/geology, astronomy, multiplication tables. My kids learned alot from having these placemats around. Still today, even though my daughter is 12 years old now, she still remembers facts she learned when she was a toddler of 3 or 4.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 1 – 7
  9. Classic Games
    These two classic games allow for some family fun and keep your child thinking: Chinese Checkers and Scrabble. You may also want to check out TwixT.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 8+
  10. LED Backpack – PIX Programmable LED Backpack 
    This gift is definitely pricey, and I haven’t actually had a chance to get my hands on one, but I know plenty of kids who would have a great time customizing their backpack digitally with LEDs that can display millions of colors. Sky’s the limit on what could be displayed: Favorite bands, logos, sayings, perhaps even equations for some of the truly math nerdy children I know. It even does animations. It’s roomy, can hold a laptop.
    Age: 8+
    Cost: $$$

Non-Fiction Books

There is no shortage of great books for advanced kids.Here are some book ideas for kids of various ages. Depending how advanced they are they may benefit from any of these.

  1. Ken Jennings Books
    Ken Jennings has a great series of books call the Junior Genius Guides. There are currently six books. They are great. Titles include Outer Space, Ancient Egypt, U.S. Presidents, Greek Mythology, Human Body and Maps and Geography. These books are witty, memorable and entertaining.Gifted kids who don’t always enjoy non-fiction books will still enjoy these while learning all sorts of useful facts to impress their friends, parents and teachers. Several years later my kids still occasionally quote information from these books. Available as a box set. Also, check out Ken’s other books such as “Because I Said So.” I would recommend this as a gift for gifted 6 year olds.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-10
  2. Almanacs
    Another one of my favorite choices are Kid’s Almanacs. ❇ National Geographic Kids Almanac and National Geographic Kid’s Infopedia are both are great for kids who read starting from 5 or 6 years old. My girls found these very engaging. One of them picked up the almanac periodically to learn a fact or two, the other read it several times cover to cover, and even got her friends reading them too. An inexpensive and worthwhile birthday, Christmas/Holiday gift!You may also want to look for other similar books from National Geographic such as “National Geographic Kids Why?: Over 1,111 Answers to Everything,” I haven’t actually read this one, but it looks very interesting. I think my kids would probably like it alot. You may also want to look at “National Geographic Brain Games” and the “National Geographic Weird But True Collector’s Set.”
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-10
  3. Chess Book and Chess Set
    There are some great chess books for kids. It’s never too early for any kid to learn how to play this classic brain game. You might consider pairing this book with a new chess set such as this decent quality wooden chess set. If your child is already a chess fan, and you want to get something fancier, there are giant chess sets that use pieces like these for outdoor chess ($$$).
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6+
  4. Logic Puzzle books

    Your young genius may also enjoy the Perplexors series of logic puzzle books. They recommend ages 8-10 for this book, but they have several levels. These are fun, interesting and inexpensive. See more logic puzzles below.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Age: 8-10
  5. Analogy Challenges
    This is a great educational gift suggestion. These books come in several levels.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Age: 7-10
  6. Greg Tang Math Books
    For younger kids who are just starting to learn math concepts, there are some great books by Greg Tang. For example, “Math Potatoes: Mind-Stretching Brain Food” and “The Grapes of Math” provide simple, but helpful math riddles for kids to do. These are fun, interesting books and as a former elementary school math teacher, I definitely recommend them–they surely help kids think about math in a different way, and many kids will find them really enjoyable.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 5-9
  7. Drawing Books
    There are some very good books that teach drawing skills–very important for the future inventor. I especially like this one, that teaches you how to draw in 3-D / Perspective drawing.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 7-13
  8. Make Your Own books
    If your child is a literary genius who would rather write than read, they may like to get started with these short blank books. They make a nice keepsake too. My kids had a great time with them. I will say that it got to be a bit expensive to keep ordering more.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 5-8

Best Gifts For Smart Toddlers

Here are a few gift ideas for the youngest children. Given a chance, and some encouragement, kids can learn quite a bit from some of these.

  1. Busy Board – For the youngest toddlers, the busy board is a time tested idea. This one has plenty of gadgets to keep your child busy.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested ages 1+
  2. LeapFrog DVD series
    These are great for teaching kids to read, and they really like to watch them. There is a whole series to meet kids where they are at on the road to learning to read (and math too!). BTW, if you’re interested in teaching your kids to read early, consider Hooked on Phonics. BTW, you may also want to have a look at my list of educational kid’s TV shows for other worthwhile entertainment.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 1-5+
  3. Pengoloo
    This game is great for memory skill development, color recognition and more. A fun, very good gift for toddlers. It’s really a game that people of any age can enjoy, but of course the best part is seeing your kids enjoying the game, especially when they beat the adults! I recommend this a top game for toddlers.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 3-6+
  4. Educational placemats
    As mentioned above, there are some wonderful educational placemats that make learning while eating fun. For example, this ABC placemat or this one on bugs and insects.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 1-8
  5. Periodic Table Building Blocks
    Well made, non-toxic blocks with periodic table of elements on them. You may need a chemist to go with these for maximum educational value, but they’re cool, nerdy, and probably will result in someone learning something about the elements.Cost: $$
    Suggested ages: 2 years+

Gift Ideas for Gifted Older Kids

Microscopes

Microscopes are a staple of brainydom. Try to get a decent one though–in my opinion, there is nothing worthwhile under the $75 range, as far as I know. The very cheap microscopes are just frustrating and fall short. They all have issues with lighting and don’t do well with magnification–that means they’ll be abandoned after a few uses.

  1. Carson BugLoupe 5x Magnifier (HU-55)
    My only exception is for younger kids: there is something called a “bug microscope” which lets kids magnify a bug from the top and bottom as it walks around in a small container, these are only $10-15, and are great fun for some kids.Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 3-6
  2. Mobile Phone (Android & iPhone) Microscope Attachments
    This clever device is definitely cool and practical and giftworthy. You can attach it your mobile phone camera so you can view objects and take a photo. Gets pretty good reviews. Another example is a quick attach microscope that you can add to your iPhone. It gets good reviews, but I really don’t know if this works that well.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6+

Otherwise, if you’re on a budget, please read the reviews on Amazon and find the best microscope you can for your price range–you AND your smart child will benefit. Here are some of my favorite general science microscopes:

  1. AmScope B100B-MS Microscope
    I know this one is a bit pricey at about $200 but it is a reliable, good scope that can really do some very good magnification – AmScope B100B-MS 40X-2000X Biological Binocular Compound Microscope with Mechanical Stage
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 5-15+
  2. Celestron 5 megapixel Infinaview
    Another great microscope is the -I LOVE THIS MICROSCOPE! It has a great LCD screen so your kids can see what the magnifications are easily. We have this microscope and I can tell you it is super fun. I got it for my daughter when she was 6. She still uses it sometimes — now she’s 13.

    Once you have something on the scope you can snap an image of it with the press of a button. I really love this microscope, but note that it is meant to look “at” things–this wouldn’t be good for looking at cells–more for examining bugs, coins, fabrics, foods, etc…”close up.”  It comes with a rechargeable battery which makes it great to carry around to various places for microscope fun. I know this is a bit pricey, but it is very good. This is a such a great science toy for boys and girls of all ages. I am recommending this for gifted children age 4 and up.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 4-17

Climate Science, Astronomy and Telescopes

  1. Telescopes
    A relatively pricey venture for a good, worthwhile telescope. Also, if you live in an urban/suburban area, it may be difficult to get the most from a telescope due to light pollution. Expect to spend more than $100 for a good one. For example, here is a well rated telescope in that price range: Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope – any budding astronomer will prize such a fantastic gift.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 5-17
  2. Weather Forecasting and Climate Science
    There are a few interesting kits to be had in this category. For example, Weather Station Science Kit seems like a great gift for a kid who’s interested in meteorology.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8+

Biology Science Gifts

  1. Thames & Kosmos DNA Experiment Kit
    Educational kit that teaches quite a bit about DNA, including building a DNA model.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 10-15
  2. Anatomy
    Skeleton Floor Puzzle, Squishy Human Anatomy and visible man/human body model These are great learning toys. My kids love the squishy human toy. I didn’t figure they would keep using it, but actually they return to it now and then and it makes a cool display toy too. Really “adds some science” to their room.
    Suggested Ages 7-10] Cost: $
  3. Anatomy placemats
    These are also good, but some people might not like having an anatomy lesson at the dinner table–I think it’s a great opportunity for a child to learn about the human body.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 7-12

Building, Engineering and Robotics Gifts

  1. Meccano Robot Kit
    This is really fun and a great introduction to robotics. It does require some assembly but my 9 year old really loves it so that could be worth it and part of the educational value. You program this robot by training it’s limbs and also get it to move and record your voice via an app. The robot recognizes thousands of phrases through it’s voice recognition software.Cost: There are two versions, the MeccaNoid G15 2.0 2nd Edition (Cost: $$) and the four foot tall Meccano MeccaNoid G15 KS Cost: $$$. There is also an expansion kit that looks like even more fun.
    Suggested Ages Boys and girls 8-10+ years.
  2. Architectural Engineering Kit
    Science experiment & model building kit. Twenty models of structural elements and real-world buildings! Learn architectural design with this Thames and Kosmos award-winning gift.
  3. Remote Control/Motor for paper airplanes-I wish they had this when I was a kid. The PowerUp 3.0 is basically a rechargeable, remote control motor that you can attach to any paper airplane. This means you can experiment and tweak the design, try different papers, etc to see what flies the best and is easiest to control. You need a bluetooth enabled smartphone or tablet in order to control the device. Gets great reviews.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 8-10 years
  4. OWI Air Powered Car
    This is an interesting educational toy car that runs on compressed air. Note that there is alot of assembly required and some of it is a little bit complicated, but nevertheless, very worthwhile.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 10*-99 (Ten year-olds will probably need some help with assembly)
  5. Geomag 120 Piece Color Construction Set
    This looks like a very fun magnetic building kit. The pieces are larger than older kids, so they should be a bit safer for smaller kids. I’d still use caution to purchase this for kids under 5 (or if you have kids under 5 in the house). Looks like a fantastic kit.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 3+
  6. OWI Solar Powered Robot
    Two levels of building so beginners and more advanced kids can be engaged. It has 14 modes.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 8-15
  7. Engineering Toy
    Roominate and GoldieBlox are two excellent choices for girls (and boys). I highly recommend both of these engineering toys for kids ages 4-5 (or even 6-7) –my girls definitely enjoyed them. There are several great kits for both of them, so definitely search on Roominate and GoldieBlox on Amazon to see the variety and different price points for these gifts. They will pay dividends.
    Cost: $ – $$
    Suggested Ages 4-7
  8. Lego Mindstorms Robotics Kits
    This is a relatively expensive birthday, Hanukkah or Christmas gift but the payoffs are huge if your child takes to this. You’re brainy child will learn programming, physics and many more things that are going to be very important to the economy in their lifetimes. There are several different kits you can buy, for example the EV3 kit and the Boost kit, Lego Mindstorms kits are the de facto standard robotics kids used in teaching at K-12 schools. I strongly recommend this as a gift. This is the ultimate STEM teaching toy for girls and boys of all ages.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 7-16+
  9. KANO Kit 2018 Edition
    If the price for Lego Mindstorms is out of the question, there are various other robotics kits that can be great fun for kids. You might also consider a KANO kit 2018 Edition that teaches kids all about building computers using the Raspberry PI. I’d recommend this kit strongly for those super intelligent kids who’ve shown an interest in technology and engineering. Definitely a great present for the gifted who really want to know how computers work.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 7-16+
  10. Little Bits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
    Your kids might also enjoy Little Bits kits.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 8-11+

Chemistry Gifts

Chemistry Sets

Chemistry experiments are all kinds of fun for boys and girls…and a great way for parents to work with their children to learn chemistry.

There are varying levels of these kits:

  1. Magic School Bus kid’s chemistry kit.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-7 years
  2. Amazon sells more serious (and more expensive) chemistry sets
    The Thames and Kosmos set is a great set to get started with chemistry. Any curious kid will enjoy these classic experiments.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested ages 10-12+ years
  3. This a great middle of the road chemistry set
    Also from Thames and Kosmos, this is a more in depth chemistry set than the previous one. I would get this one for a more serious science-loving kid.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 10-15+
  4. This one is the ultimate set
    This is an even more serious chemistry set for teenagers / older kids who are ready to work through high school preparations for chemistry. This would be an amazing science gift for a kid who has a deep interest.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 12-15
  5. Happy Atoms set
    This is another great gift from Thames and Kosmos. It is a magnetic molecular modeling set, and is a rather serious gift for the serious chemistry brainiac. There is also a larger atom modeling set available ($$$)
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 10-17

Other Chemistry Brainy Gifts

  1. Beaker Mug
    This could be a fun gift for older kids who love Chemistry. It’s a mug that looks like a beaker–it even has a caffeine molecule on it.
  2. Hand Boiler
    Fun, novel gift. This is just a fun, nerdy present. Kills will love watching the liquid boil by the heat of their hands. They can learn about atmospheric pressure and liquids/gas.
    Cost: $
    Suggested ages 9+
  3. MudWatt – Grow your own living fuel cell – Clean energy from mud. This is a living fuel cell that feeds on mud (and other stuff your budding scientist may decide to put into it). This has on multiple awards and definitely has some great STEM lessons. Great smart gift for smart kids.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested ages 8+

Math Gifts

  1. Fractiles 7
    Award winning fun. This is somewhere between a math activity, a creative jaunt and meditation. Kids will enjoy creating fractal patterns with diamond and square magnetic tiles.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 8+
  2. Prime Climb
    An award winning math game. 2-4 person game uses multiplication and division. Manufacturer recommends it for ages 10+, but it should be okay for younger kids who are good at math.Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 10+
  3. Equate – The Equations Thinking Game
    Kind of like Scrabble for simple equations.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 8+
  4. Fun Math Books
    For younger kids who are just starting to learn math concepts, there are some great books by Greg Tang. For example, “Math Potatoes: Mind-Stretching Brain Food” and “The Grapes of Math” provide simple, but helpful math riddles for kids to do. These are fun, interesting books and I definitely recommend them.Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-8

Physics Gifts

  1. Physics experiment kit
    This looks like a very good physics kit with lots of interesting experiments.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 10+
  2. Bubble tools from Zome Tool…there are all sorts of interesting things you can learn from bubble kits…plus they’re just fun. Some of the zometool kits let the kids build geometric shapes and then the bubbles are framed by those shapes. Here is one example kit for about . The zometools are also great for just creating stuff. Check out the more advanced kits for intelligent 12 year olds and up and here is a more advanced kit for kids ages 6 and up.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5-9
  3. Sick Science Fast Physics Kit
    A fun way to learn about inertia and some other physics concepts. Smart kids will enjoy the activities in this kit.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 10+
  4. Chaos Machine
    A fun and interesting way to learn a bit about chaos theory
    Suggested Ages 12+
  5. Chaos Tower
    This kit offers some great Rube Goldberg fun + great physics learning from this kit.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 7+
  6. Car Engine Model
    This is a great brainy gift for kids who like building models, and especially if they are interested in cars and engines. This is a “working” model of an internal combustion engine (it runs on an electric motor). It’s meant for older kids, but could be a project a parent and younger kid could work together on.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 12+
  7. Plasma Ball
    This is somewhere between science and fun. Plasma balls are the staple of any smart mad scientist.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 8-11+
  8. Spherio Ball
    This is another toy that may be a stretch for educational, but it sure looks fun and could have some educational value in physics. It’s basically a remote controlled ball–kids can build mazes and use ramps to get it to do some really fun tricks.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 7+
  9. Kinetic Art Science Kit
    This is a great kit for kids interested in art, science, physics, or/and astronomy.
    Cost $
    Suggested Ages: 8-15 Year Olds

Magnetic games and toys

  1. Magnetic Toys
    Please be careful due to safety issues if you have young children in the house. Here is an example of a safe kit from Magformorers. Here is another one. Gearation Refrigerator Magnets also looks very cool and so does wall coaster.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 4-8
  2. Magentic Levitation base
    This is something an older kid might like. It basically “levitates” lighter metal objects (you provide those). It is pretty cool.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5-9
  3. Floating Globe
    This is basically a 6 inch globe that spins for quite a long time. Another cool but simple item kids of all ages would love. Here’s a video to give you the idea of what this miracle of physics actually is.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 8-11
  4. Magic Penny Toy – This is a bit unusual. Make sculptures and do activities using British pennies (US Pennies don’t work because of their composition). Teaches kids math, science, creativity…just fun.

Geology Gifts

  1. Geodes
    This brainy gift is great for any budding geologist. You get unopened geodes — kids can break them open themselves.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 4-9+
  2. Rock and Mineral Collection
    Kids who collect rocks will like this. Note that the packaging is not fancy, but the actual rocks you get are very cool and numerous.
    Cost: $
  3. Rock Tumbler
    There are a few of these on the market. The professional one from National Geographic is very well liked and they also offer a lower-end kit, this one is also rated well and somewhat lower cost. With patience, rocks can be polished exposing some real beauty…remember, it takes about a month to polish rocks and glass! This is especially good gift for brainy kids who are patient…
    Cost: $$
    Suggest Ages 6-15
  4. Metal Detector
    Great for beachcombing. There are a a variety of metal detectors kids might like–some of the ones that are meant for kids, just aren’t that good. This is a good compromise, but if it’s too pricey have a look at some of the other choices.
    Cost: $$
    Suggest Ages 6-14
  5. Crystal Growing Kits – These are always fun and interesting. There are several levels to these kits. This one is a bit more on the pricey side, but is more complete.
    Cost: $$
    Suggest Ages 10+

Geography Gifts

  1. Geography jigsaw puzzle.
    Learn about geography by doing puzzles. Other puzzles: World Map with Animals, 100 Piece World Map Puzzle, Magnetic Map of the USA (Ages 4+).
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 4-9+
  2. Geo-Cards
    This a great card game.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6+
  3. Globe
    Here’s a great globe that kids interested in geography will definitely like. Bonus idea: Inflatable, color-in/label globe.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5 – 14
  4. Levitation Globe
    This is not the greatest political globe, but still really cool because it floats magnetically.
    Cost: $$
  5. Maps and Geography
    A great book by Ken Jennings – Jeopardy! superstar Ken Jennings offers his insights about maps in this excellent book.
    Cost: $

Electronics Kits

  1. Snap Circuits – These are good for kids of all ages…Snap circuits makes various kits for several age groups, for instance the Snap Jr. kit is for younger children. If your super-smart kid takes to these kits, they’ll have an advantage for the rest of their lives. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6-16+ These are invaluable at any age for the budding engineer
  2. The Raspberry Pi learning computer – This credit card sized, $35 device is an excellent tool for teaching a child how computers and electronics work. Here is an article that explains the device better. This is probably something a parent would want to work on together with their son or daughter–at least a first. Having said that, I am sure there are plenty of genius kids out there who will know what to do with it. There’s plenty of information on the internet about this device and it has really become a standard.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 7-16+
  3. Makey Makey Kit
    This is sold as “an invention kit for everyone”, and it definitely is fun and cool. No wonder it’s an Amazon best-seller. Turn anything into a keypad for your computer (Mac or PC). For example, you could make a few bananas into a music keyboard.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 7+
  4. The Kano Kit – This is a very interesting kit for kids 6-12. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. Also based on the Raspberry Pi, it seems like a great way to get your genius child on the path to computer programming and becoming a “maker”. Definitely consider this gift if it’s in the budget Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 6-12+

Computers

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the idea of getting your favorite brilliant kid some sort of computer of their own.

  1. Tablet ComputersTablet computers are a good gift option — consider going with a cheaper Android tablet such as the surprisingly very low cost Amazon Kindle Fire.My girls both have one and they absolutely love it. My wife also has one and she loves hers too. It’s great for reading books, playing educational games (see my list of Amazon Fire Educational Games) and watching videos. Ours have lasted a few years.Many public libraries now offer free, downloadable e-books that will work with the Amazon Fire. Note that the Amazon Fire tablets do not allow you access to the Google Play Store–you have to use the apps that are on the Amazon App Store. There is a special “kids” version of the tablet that costs a bit more and has a few additional software features, plus it comes with a durable case…You may not need that though– the regular Fire does have the “Kids’ Free Time” app on it that lets you set limits for time and which apps they can use.We just have the regular 7″ Kindle Fire and it works great.Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5-16+
  2. Google Chromebook
    I am a huge fan of the Google Chromebook because it is so simple and malware/virus free. They are currently priced from about $150, most of the best values in Chromebooks are in the $200-300 range. ) for these. Recently some Chromebooks have been enabled for the Google Android App Store, greatly improving their usefulness. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is slated to have this enabled later this year.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 5-16+

Games and puzzles for smart kids

There are of course the usual suspects such as Chess Sets…but there are some other games for various ages.

  1. Perplexus line of mazes
    For example, there is the Perplexus line of mazes that come in various levels of difficulty. My seven year old loves the Perplexus Rookie and has spent hours working on solving it by getting the ball all the way to the end of the maze. Someone who enjoys puzzles like this might also like these Japanese puzzles.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 7-16+

There are other games I can recommend:

  1. Chess is always great for the developing genius mind. Aside from general Chess Sets for kids who already know how to play, there are some great learn chess kits and books that teach chess for kids as well. Your brainiac might also enjoy Chess Solitaire. Kids of all ages can learn to play chess. Very young kids learn to play chess, but I would say a learning set would be good for a kids who are 5-year-olds and above.
    Cost $$
    Suggested Ages 7-10+
  2. Othello and Scrabble Junior also make pretty decent gifts as well.
    Cost $
    Suggested Ages 5-10+
  3. Cool Circuits by Sciencewiz
    This is a cool looking puzzle game. Complete the circuit to light up the board. 2013 Puzzle of the Year. The game is marked as 8+, but I think some seven-year-olds could enjoy it too.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8+
  4. Melissa and Doug Suspend
    This balance game is even cooler than it looks. I know you don’t usually think of Melissa and Doug gifts for older kids, but you can make an exception here.
    Cost: $
    Ages 8+
  5. Pengoloo – This is a great memory game for people of all ages, but works fine for toddlers and up. Helps with memory and color recognition. Nice wooden pieces.
    Cost: $
    Suggested ages 4+
  6. Quardillions – Great strategy puzzle meant for one player.
    Cost: $
    Ages 7+
  7. LONPOS 3 Dimensional 505 Brain Intelligence Game – 505 challenging, fun 2d and 3d puzzles in a compact form.
    Cost: $
    Ages 5+

Logic Puzzles

  1. Marble Maze – One of my favorites. Learn about gravity and logic with this addictive and challenging gravity game. I strongly recommend this-my 6 and 7 year old both really love this and it is truly educational. I frequently give this gift for children’s birthdays. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6+
  2. Quoridor is another good one. It’s meant for kids who are six and up…and definitely something a brainy kid would enjoy.
    Suggested Ages 6-10+
  3. ThinkFun Tilt This interesting logic game is loads of fun and a bit challenging.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8-15+
  4. <Laser Maze – This is a logic game that uses a real laser. It’s got some things in common with the marble maze above. This is a fun single player game. The same manufacturer makes a two player laser game (ThinkFun Laser Chess).
    Cost: $
    Suggested ages 8+

Drones

  1. Mini Drone
    This is really fun, and easy to fly. It’s an indoor mini drone for beginners that will teach your child the thinking and basics needed to move on to more advanced drones. I have found it to be pretty indestructible…And the price is right too!
    Ages: 7+
    Cost: $
  2. Remote controlled airplanes and helicopters can be very educational and lots of fun. There are many levels of price to these…
    For example, the Holy Stone drones are easy to fly but the cheaper remote controlled drones, helicopters and planes can be just as great. Adult supervision is probably required, especially for younger kids. Try to find one with a video camera built in.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 6-16+

3D Printers

The 3D printer is the ultimate gift. Probably best for your older brainiac or with help from an able adult.

  1. MakerBob Replicator Mini+
    The MakerBot is a popular 3D printer that has lots of support from the community. You can print some amazingly cool things. Kids who learn a little 3D design software can create whatever they can imagine (and that fits on the small format printer). Expect to spend $750-$2500+ for entry level models (which can do quite a bit).
    Cost: $$$$
    Suggested Ages: 7-16+ (younger children will need the help of an adult, at least to get started with this)
  2. Da Vinci Nano 3D Printer White 3D Printer
    The da Vinci mini is an affordable 3D printer. It uses non-toxic PLA filaments to print on a 5″x 5″ stage. This would be a good introductory 3D printer, it’s relatively cheap, and it’s compact enough to put right next to your computer.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages: 8+ (with adult help) or 14+

Creatures, Fungi and Plants

Live insects:

  1. Butterfly gardens and Lady Bug Land or if you’re a little more daring, you could go for a pet hissing cockroach. We have never given our kids a hissing cockroach, but both of our daughters loved the butterflies and lady bugs.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 3-10+
  2. Ant farms from Uncle Milton or other manufacturers…there are some great ones out now that use gel instead of sand…and have lights built into them. Very educational and fun! Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 3-10+
  1. Rolly Polly Farms – This is a great idea. Comes with a voucher for rolly pollies.
    Cost: $
    Suggest Ages: 5+
  2. Live praying mantis – Chinese praying mantis. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8-12+

Other Animals and Plants, etc:

  1. Frog hatchery – Your child will receive a tadpole in the mail and watch it grow into an adult frog. Beware this is really a long term commitment–frogs can live many years. The frogs in this kit are aquatic which makes them a bit easier to take care of.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-10+
  2. Sea Monkeys or Triops This are cool, easy to care for pets. My kids loved having sea monkeys. Consider getting a wrist watch aquarium to transport a few of them to show friends. Fun, educational and interesting. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-10
  3. Worm Farm – This is a little different. Your favorite intelligent kid can observe earth worms in action and learn about their important place in our ecosystem by helping things decompose/compost. If worms are a bit much for you, you could just get this composting observation system…it’s a simple way to watch how things get broken down in nature. I’d say even younger kids, maybe even three and four year-olds can get something out of this, and if it is maintained, the worms can last for years. We’ve had ours going on six years. Sounds strange to some people, but worms are kind of amazing! Cost: $
    Suggested ages 5+

  4. Grow Mushrooms: A grow your own Oyster Mushrooms kit and a grow your own shitake mushroom kit. This is cool and unusual. Some of the kits use organic bases for the mushrooms…great news for your dinner table. It’s definitely fun and interesting for kids to see how mushrooms grow–a sort of different experience from some of the seed/plant kits you can get. I recommend this as a gift for kids of any age, but probably for most kids, the ones who are older than six or seven years old will get the most out of it.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 7-10+
  5. Grow plants: Amazon offers a Hydrodome where you hydroponically grow lettuce . There are also other kits which allow you to grow carnivorous plants, or cacti. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 3-9

Do you have a suggestion for this list? Feedback on one of the items? Please email me to let me know. I only want to feature gift ideas that are safe, educational, interesting, unusual, and fun!

Don’t forget to visit my ideas for birthday party places.

eroncohen.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Categories
Childrens' Birthday Parties kids activities Party Ideas

Host a Virtual Birthday Party for Kids

Time to get a little more creative on how to celebrate your child’s birthday in the time of quarantine. After the birthday party parade is over, here are some suggestions to help you host a virtual, online birthday party. Since virtual doesn’t require “local” the people mentioned below are from all over the USA including California, New York, and Massachusetts.

Birthday Party Performers

Apart Party – They hit the spot with this offering: Games, laughs, and magic fun.

Bubble Dad – Bubbles and birthdays, what else do I need to say. Bubble Dad will host a virtual bubble show with magic and more.

Circus Science Zoom Show – Greg May has been entertaining people for years, particularly in Howard County, Maryland. This former Ringling Brothers Clown has brought some science to his act and perfected it online for virtual kids Zoom parties. Greg is great. Sure to be fun.

Scott Dietrich Magic Show – Scott Dietrich offers to bring his award winning magic to your child’s birthday party virtually. Magic, animals, and even balloon sculpting.

Tricky Tim Magic Show – Tricky Tim’s magic offering looks like a load of fun. Save the birthday party and invite Tim!

Jumpin’ Jams – Virtual music birthday. This is a fantastic way to have some fun and bring music to your guests.

CyberJams – A rockin’ 45 minute virtual birthday party, sure to get kids’ attention. The birthday boy or girl will take part in a musical performance.

Chris Palmieri Puppeteer – How about a puppet show for some great fun. A memorable show from a world-class performer.

The Pit – Since you can’t really “go” anywhere to celebrate your kid’s birthday, why not go somewhere you wouldn’t probably go “virtually.” The Pit is one of those opportunities. A Broadway impromptu performance. How cool!

Robert the Guitar Guy – Add some live, personalized music to your child’s online birthday party.

Guardian Adventures – Take an online interactive journey with your birthday hero at the center of the story. Fight monsters and save the world along the way. Possible themes include: Medieval, Warrior Princess, Superheros, and Zombies.

Games

Virtual Game Truck Party – Let the gaming experts from Game Truck handle the fun. Gaming party with kids together online.

Classes

The Art Farm – Consider streaming a live, virtual class from New York City’s famous “Art Farm.” Choose from arts, cooking, music, and more.

STEM

IMAG Museum – This world-famous museum in Florida can help you with a fun and educational birthday party for the cost of a $25 (or more) donation. Host a STEM-wars party.

Mad Science – Entertaining virtual kids parties with science.

Science Guys of Baltimore – Live stream birthday parties that consist of a 35-40 minute show with experiments, bubbling potions, and explosions.

Other Great Live Online Parties

Sky Zone – Sky Zone is offering FREE virtual birthday parties. See their video so you’ll know what the party is like. Unfortunately, there is a waiting list for the parties at this time–but why not sign up, heck, have two parties.

By now, most people have probably figured out a video chat platform that works for them. But in case you want to host your own party, I might suggest Google Meet or Houseparty. Both are great choices for easy setup and universal access.

Categories
Childrens' Birthday Parties Featured Kids Birthday Parties Reviews

Kid’s Birthday Party Place Ideas in Baltimore County

Are you looking for some ideas for places to have your child’s birthday party in Baltimore County? If you need ideas, here is my list of birthday party places around Baltimore County and other areas of Maryland, including nearby in Howard County Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County for toddlers, kids, tweens, and teens.

[Looking for creative ideas for kid’s birthday parties during the quarantine? See my list of virtual birthday parties for kids.]

With each idea I try to include links to Amazon.com for some ideas for party favors and sometimes educational gifts that go along with the party theme.

Looking for some great birthday gift ideas for your girl or boy? See my list!

First, here are some of the more typical birthday party place ideas from around Baltimore County. These are popular and possibly done too often (I am purposely not mentioning bouncy parties–I am so tired of them!), but kids of the right ages will usually have a great time:

  • Laser tag
    laser tag party
    (Ages 6+)
    Red Zone Adventures in Lutherville is a great place for a fun birthday party. Although alot of kids have laser tag birthday parties–there is a good reason. They have a great time every time! This is a good kids party place for older kids and teens.
    Locations: Lutherville/Timonium
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: LED Bumpy Ring, Magnetic drawing tabletsMini LED carabiner Flashlights
  • Bowling
    birthday bowling party
    (Ages 8+)
    Bowling parties are a great idea for older kids. The younger ones who may have trouble handling the ball will enjoy it less, and may get frustrated, even with bumpers in place. I’d definitely, strongly recommend using a duckpin alley because the balls are smaller and lighter so it’s a better venue for birthdays, especially for the younger kids. There is one in Parkville that offers kid’s parties.
    Locations: Parkville
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: ✳LED Rubberband Helicopters ✳(I love these!) or Rocket Copters

[Need a great solution for your child’s allowance? Check out my review of FamZoo.com, a debit card for kids]

  • Movie Parties
    Cinemark movie birthday party towson md
    (Ages 4+)
    Kids love going to the movies. Most people don’t think of it, but you can host a great party at some movie theaters. A great example in Balt. County is Cinemark in Towson. The theater has a party room, and if you have twenty or more guests, you can even do a private movie screening. Pretty cool! With the right movie, this party is a good idea for any age, and it’s definitely a great party place for toddlers.
    Locations: Towson
    ✳Party Favor IdeasKid’s Card GamesMini Uno CardsPuffy Kush Balls
  • Pool Parties (Age Range 1+)
    Indoor and outdoor pool parties are always fun for kids of any age from toddlers to teens. Great for a 1st birthday party.
    If your child likes swimming they’ll probably love the idea of inviting their friends to a swim party. There are lots of options for outdoor parties in the summer, but winter/colder months will require some research.
    As far as I know, your best bet in Baltimore County would be the YMCA, for example I know that the Y in Catonsville offers birthday parties, but I am not able to find a page for this on the website.  They definitely have a great pool for indoor pool parties in Baltimore County.
    Kid’s First Swim School in Perry Hall, Cockeysville, and Dundalk offers parties that would be good for younger kids.  Same with Goldfish Swim School in Owings Mills. These are especially good for toddler birthday parties.
    Otherwise, you may want to consider places like the Columbia Association swimming pools in Howard County.
    Locations: Catonsville, Dundalk, Cockeysville, Owings Mills, Perry Hall
    ✳Party Favor IdeasWater ToysGogglesFlip-Flop KeychainsHawaiian Flower LeisHibiscus Flower Hair Clips
  • Gymnastics Parties (Ages 2+)
    These parties tend to work out great — especially for toddler birthdays and for other younger kids. Everyone has fun running, jumping, and playing on gymnastics equipment, not to mention it’s great exercise. There are lots of gyms that offer birthday parties in Baltimore County. For example Rebounders in Timonium offers great parties as does Gymboree on Rossville Rd.
    ✳Party Favor IdeasRibbon WandsNecklacesJump Ropes
  • Indoor Parkour (Age Range +)
    Kids love to climb. The Alternate Routes gym in White Marsh takes it to the next level with indoor parkour birthday parties. Kids will train in a simulated urban environment to overcome obstacles. In short, they’ll have a great time getting worn out climbing and jumping. Sure to be a great birthday party.
    ✳Parkour Party Favor Ideas: Lego Bricks, Jump Ropes, Create Your Own Bouncy Balls Kit
  • Wonderfly Arena (Ages 3+)
     This is definitely a fun kind of party for even the tiny tots to teenagers. Imagine a party in a hamster ball. Just keep in mind that keeping these giant balls moving is alot of exercise with lots of motion–meaning people who aren’t in the best shape or get dizzy might not have fun. They do have other party options though!
    Locations: Arbutus
    Wonderfly Party Favor IdeasSilly Putty Balls
  • Basketball Party (Ages 5+)
    If you’re child is into basketball, there are a few places around Baltimore County for a themed party. Freestate Sports Arena in White Marsh or Goals in Catonsville can host a basketball party.  Also see Coppermine Fieldhouse locations in Baltimore City for more sports party ideas.
    Locations: Catonsville, White Marsh, Mt. Washington
    Basketball Party Favor Ideas: Atomic Basketballs, Basketball Mini-Stress Foam Balls, Basketball Keychains
  • Chuck E Cheese’s (Ages 3-7)
    I am not the biggest fan of Chuck E Cheese, but I know many families like it. There is a location in Catonsville. Token prices are low—maybe around 20 cents each depending on which package you get. This is a great party venue for toddlers and younger children.

Looking for some great gift ideas for your girl or boy? See my list!

And here are some more unusual ideas. These parties are possibly more memorable because they are more likely to be “one offs” that none of their classmates or friends have already done:

  • Escape Room Party (Age )
    There are a few escape room locations in the Baltimore area. The one I have experience with is Breakout Games (Timonium and Columbia). They offer several types of games. I am told that the best choice for kids is Museum Heist. They have no party room, and there isn’t really a group rate. You can just visit their website and purchase the number of tickets you need.Please note that you have to have an adult in the party and the maximum number of people is 8. So the most you can have is 7 kids. Still this is a great party, especially for older kids (Younger kids might find it frustrating rather than fun).
  • Fencing (Ages 8+)
    I am not sure if there is a fencing club in Baltimore County, however in Baltimore City there’s Chesapeake Fencing Club and then there’s the Baltimore Fencing Center in Columbia in Ellicott City, MD . Both of which have a great facility for unusual birthday parties. Guests learn the basics of fencing and can get a little practice in at the party. If you’re looking a different kind of party location, this is your place.
    Locations: Ellicott City, Baltimore City
  • Pirate Party
    Pirate Birthday Party
    (Ages 7+) on the Urban Pirate boat that sails from Baltimore Harbor.
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Gold Pirate CoinsPirate Eye Patches, Bandanas
  • Nature Center Parties (Ages 2+)
    There are several choices around Baltimore County for Nature Center birthday parties. One of the best is Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills. They have an excellent offering at a reasonable price. Fun for children of all ages.
    Location: Owings Mills
  • Craft Parties (Ages 4+)
    There are lots of options for this. One easy one is to have your party at either Michael’s (for example the one in Owings Mills/Reisterstown) or JoAnn Fabrics (stores in Parkville and Cockeysville). You may also want to check out Social Studio in Roland Park/Baltimore.
    Locations: Parkville, Cockeysville, Baltimore
  • Pottery Parties (Ages 6+)
    Paint your own pottery is a great idea for a birthday party. Kids in kindergarten and beyond will enjoy paint parties with their friends. In the Baltimore area, one of the best places is in Catonsville — the Pottery Cove.
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Playdough, Magnetic drawing tabletsPutty Balls
    Locations: Catonsville
  • iFly (Ages 3+)
    An amazing new venue in White Marsh! Possibly the most unusual idea on this list, indoor skydiving would make for a wonderful birthday party place. Your boy or girl will never forget this birthday party! Be warned, this is a bit of a pricey option, at the end, each child will probably only get maybe 2 to 4 minutes of flying time. I would suggest that due to the amount of patience needed while waiting for your turn to fly, this venue is best for kids older than 7 even though toddlers are welcome.
    Locations: White Marsh
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Parachute Cord Bracelets, LED Finger Lights
  • Rock Climbing (Ages 5+)
    Earth Treks has an amazing facility in Timonium that makes a wonderful place to host a bdp. Your kids will also definitely enjoy ClimbZone in White Marsh. Lots of great things to climb there.
    Locations: Timonium, White Marsh
  • Toy Store Party at AmuseToys (Ages 2-6)
    In Pikesville (Baltimore County). Parties in the lab are great fun. This is definitely a different kind of place to hold a birthday party.
    Locations: Pikesville
  • Indoor Playground (Ages 3 – 7)
    Kiddie Crusoe might be a good party place option for younger kids. Large indoor playground & party room.
  • Roller Skating (Ages 8+)
    There are three rinks in Baltimore County that all offer roller skating birthday parties. For example, Hot Skates in Woodlawn and Skateland in Putty Hill offer a party that is currently under $100.
    Locations: Woodlawn, Putty Hill
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Glowing GlovesGlowing Bracelets, Light Up Finger Rings
  • Rent a pavillion at Local Park (Ages 2+)
    The tire park at the Hilton area of Patapsco State Park. This is a two acre playground made from recycled tires. Loads of fun and the nearby pavilions  for a barbeque or just to hang out and do a craft. This is an inexpensive party venue, especially if you want to have lots of children attend. This is a particularly great party location for the warmer months.
    Locations: Catonsville
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Sidewalk Chalk, Bubble Wands, Beach Balls
  • Fire Station Birthdays(Ages 3-7)
    Many people don’t even know that you can host a birthday party at some of the fire stations in Baltimore County (Pikesville).  I know quite a few kids who love fire trucks and love birthdays…so why not combine the two. It’s fun for the kids, and they get some fire safety tips too! My only caveat would be that an emergency could potentially cut the party short.
    As an alternative, there is a Fire Museum in Towson that provides a pretty good bdp experience. It’s an interesting place for both adults and children. Toddlers are likely to get a thrill seeing all the fire equipment.
    ✳A great gift to go with this birthday party would be a pair of walkie talkies. Here is one suggestion for a pretty good pair–but please read my caveats about them in my gift ideas for brainy kids blog post.
    Locations: Towson, Pikesville, and other fire stations around Baltimore County.
  • Zoo Parties (Ages 1+)
    Wherever you are in Baltimore County, the Maryland Zoo isn’t very far. They offer great birthday party packages, and it is sure to be a great time for kids of all ages. Toddlers will really enjoy looking at all the animals, and even 8-year-olds and 9-year olds will have fun. The zoo is relatively small, which is really a plus. They do a great job of highlighting the animals, habitats, and ecology. A great place for a Maryland birthday party.
    Locations: Baltimore City
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Zoo Animal Headbands, Cat Keychains, Magic Snake
  • Maryland Science Center (Ages 6+)
    As you probably know, the Maryland Science Center is in the Inner Harbor. They offer several birthday party options . If you’re near Towson, you may also want to have a look at Snapology’s offerings.
    Location: Inner Harbor/Baltimore City, Towson
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Invisible Ink Pens, Rubik’s CubesAnimal Sticker Sheets
  • Day Spa Parties (Ages 4 – 14)
    Towson is home to SparTea The Pink Door Day Spa For Girls. A great place to have a glamorous spa party for your kid! You may also want to check out Twinkle Twinkle Little Spa also in Towson and Posh & Play Kids Spa (in Nottingham)
  • Aviation Museum Party (Ages 5+)
    This is a bit of a different kind of party. The airplane museum in Middle River offers birthday parties that are interesting, educational, and fun.
    Locations: Middle River, Maryland
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Inflatable Airplanes, foam gliders
  • Port Discovery (Ages 2 – 8)
    (Located in Baltimore City near the Inner Harbor) – Always a popular place to take kids for any reason, Port Discovery makes a great place for a birthday celebration. Depending on the package you get, this can be a rather pricey place to hold your party, and you really need to plan ahead because they need 2 months notice in most cases. Still, this is sure to be a fun, memorable experience for your child and their friends.
  • Granite Rose Tea Parlour (Ages 11+)
    Located in charming Granite, Md in Southwest Baltimore County ) – If you’re thinking of an especially fancy birthday party venue, this might be the place for you. Hosted in an authentic Victorian house, kids will enjoy attending a “real” tea party.
    I think this would be a great party for 11-year olds, and older, but if say you are looking for ideas for 7-year olds…perhaps extra-well-behaved 7-year-olds, they might also find this party interesting.
    Party Favor Ideas: Tea Party Hats, White Formal Gloves, Friendship Bracelets
  • Trampoline Party (Ages 5+)
    (Timonium) – SkyZone is the place to go for a trampoline party. Great atmosphere, lots of options including “sensory” jump hours for quieter time for kids with special needs. I hesitate a bit on this one, because I am concerned about safety issues–people do get hurt at these kind of places and that can really spoil a good time, especially if it is a serious injury. Having said that, SkyZone does a pretty good job of making trampolines as safe as possible.
  • IKEA – (Ages 13+)
    This might sound a little odd, but for some kinds, a party at IKEA may be great for teens and older kids. Friends dine in the cafe, and then have fun checking out the rooms. Photo contest anyone? $5 or less cactus plants for party favors…$1 ice cream cones. What could be better?
    Location: Whitemarsh

Hopefully this list of party ideas helps you out. If you can think of any places I missed, please comment below. Don’t forget to check out my list of gifts for gifted kids.

If you’re reading this during the quarantine, you may be looking for some more creative birthday party ideas. See my list of virtual birthday parties.

Categories
Childrens' Birthday Parties Recommendations

Birthday Party Places for Kids in Montgomery County, Maryland

[See my list of online/virtual birthday party ideas here!]
Here is my list of birthday party place ideas for toddlers, children, tweens, and teens in Montgomery County, MD. 

I also include links to ideas for party favors that are available on Amazon.

[Looking for some great birthday gift ideas for your gifted girl or boy? See my list!]

First, here are some of the more typical birthday party place ideas from around Montgomery County.

  1. Laser tag (Ages 6+)
    laser tag party

    Shadowland in Gaithersburg is an fun venue for your party. Most kids seem to enjoy laser tag, and Shadowland’s birthday party packages make it easy for parents. Gaithersburg is also home to Castle Laser Tag.
    Locations: Gaithersburg
    ✳Laser Tag Party Favor Ideas: LED Bumpy Ring, Magnetic drawing tabletsMini LED carabiner Flashlights, LED Finger Rockets

  2. Duckpin Bowling White Oak(Ages 8+)
    birthday bowling party
    Bowling parties can be fun for kids. The key is to go to an alley that has duckpins rather then standard balls. This is because duckpin smaller balls are much easier for toddlers/younger kids to handle. There are obviously a few bowling alleys in Montgomery County, but I only know of one with duckpins: White Oak (near Silver Spring).
    Locations: White Oak
    ✳Bowling Party Favor Ideas: ✳LED Rubberband Helicopters ✳(I love these!) or Rocket Copters

[Need a great solution for your child’s allowance? Check out my review of FamZoo.com,a debit card for kids]

  1. Movie Parties (Ages 4+)
    Cinemark movie birthday party towson md
    With the right movie, a movie theater birthday party can be a fantastic choice. This can take a bit of planning and luck to be sure an appropriate movie is going to be playing when it’s time for your child’s birthday. One option would be the  Arclight Theaters in Montgomery Mall. The party goers could enjoy the movie and then a party in the mall at the Food Court.
    Locations: Bethesda
    ✳Movie Party Favor IdeasKid’s Card GamesMini Uno CardsPuffy Kush Balls
  2. Pool Parties (Ages 1+)
    Most kids enjoy a pool party. Whether it’s an outdoor party in the summer or fun at an indoor pool, kids of all ages will have a great time. There are a few options in Montgomery County including Rockville Swim and Fitness Center or Kid’s First Swim School in Germantown.
    Locations: Rockville, Germantown
    ✳Pool Party Favor IdeasWater ToysGogglesFlip-Flop KeychainsHawaiian Flower LeisHibiscus Flower Hair Clips
  3. Gymnastics Parties (Ages 2+)
    There are several gyms that offer birthday parties in Montgomery County. Examples are Little Gym in Silver Spring and Olney, My Gym in Potomac, Hill Gym in Gaithersburg.
    Locations: Silver Spring, Potomac, Olney, Gaithersburg
    ✳Gymnastics Party Favor IdeasRibbon WandsNecklacesJump Ropes
  4. Indoor Parkour (Age Range 7+)
    Kids love to climb. Bolt Gym in North Bethesda takes it to the next level with indoor parkour birthday parties. Kids will train in a simulated urban environment to overcome obstacles. In short, they’ll have a great time getting worn out climbing and jumping. Sure to be a great birthday party.
    Location: Bethesda
    Party Favor Ideas: Lucky Bambo, Jump Ropes (*or better quality jump ropes), hula hoops
  5. Chuck E Cheese’s (Ages 3-7)
    I am not the biggest fan of Chuck E Cheese, but I know many families like it. There is a location in Rockville and Takoma Park. Token prices are low—maybe around 20 cents each depending on which package you get. This is a great party venue for toddlers.
    Locations: Rockville, Takoma Park

Looking for some great gift ideas for your girl or boy? See my list!

Here are some other ideas that aren’t as popular. This will give your kid the chance to do something more unusual:

  1. Escape Room Party (Age 11+)
    There is an escape room in Rockville – A Game of Rooms. They offer several types of games. There is a conference room available for rent for parties, but there isn’t really a group rate. You can just visit their website and purchase the number of tickets you need. You need to be 11 or older to enjoy this birthday place. Keep in mind that the puzzles are very challenging and some might find it frustrating instead of fun.
    Location: Rockville
    ✳Escape Room Party Favor IdeasMini Magnetic Board Games, Mini Rubics Cubes, Mini Teaser Puzzles, Snake Twist Cube Toy
  2. Fencing (Ages 8+)
    If you’re looking for something different, try a fencing party. Contact Capital Fencing in North Bethesda. You might also try
    UR Fencing in Rockville. If you’re looking a different kind of part location, this is your place.
    Locations: North Bethesda, Rockville
    Fencing Birthday Party Favor Ideas: Lego BricksMake Your Own Bouncy Ball Kits, Atomic Soccer Balls
  3. Nature Center Parties (Ages 2+)
    There are several choices around the Montgomery County area for Nature Center birthday parties. Consider Black Hill in Boyds. They have several types of parties available. Bonus suggestion: Just over the Montgomery County line in Frederick County is Gaver’s Farm in Mount Airy – beautiful place to have a party, but only available in the fall!
    Location: Boyds
    ✳Nature Center Party Favor Ideas: Succulent Plants, Worm on a string
  4. Craft Parties (Ages 4+)
    Kids can have a great time at craft parties. There are several options for locations including Michael’s Stores and JoAnn Fabrics.
    Locations: Rockville, Wheaton
  5. Pottery Parties (Ages 6+)
    Paint your own pottery is a great idea for a birthday party. Kids in kindergarten and beyond will enjoy paint parties with their friends.
    Color Me Mine in Rockville is a great choice for this type of party.
    Locations: Rockville
    ✳Pottery Party Favor Ideas: Playdough, Magnetic drawing tabletsPutty Balls
  6. iFly (Ages 3+)
    An amazing venue in Gaithersburg! Possibly the most unusual idea on this list, indoor skydiving would make for a wonderful birthday party place. Your boy or girl will never forget this birthday party! Be warned, this is a bit of a pricey option, at the end, each child will probably only get maybe 2 to 4 minutes of flying time. I would suggest that due to the amount of patience needed while waiting for your turn to fly, this venue is best for kids older than 7 even though toddlers are welcome.
    Locations: Gaithersburg
    ✳iFly Party Favor Ideas: Parachute Cord Bracelets, LED Finger Lights
  7. Rock Climbing (Ages 5+)
    Earth Treks is a fantastic place to host a birthday party. The location in Rockville on Gude Drive is convenient for all of Montgomery County.
    Locations: Rockville
  8. Indoor Playground (Ages 3 – 7)
    ZavaZone in Rockville, Kidville in Bethesda, and Badlands in North Bethesda are two fun places for kids birthday celebrations. Both are in Rockville. Your child might also like the party options at BusyBees in Chevy Chase. If you’re in the north of the County, you may want to check out Adventure Zone in Gaithersburg. Although I have concerns about the safety of trampoline parks, this one has some other options too.
    Locations: Rockville, Gaithersburg
  9. Ice Skating (Ages 8+)
    Plenty of kids love to ice skate. The Cabin John Ice Rink is a
    great venue to host a birthday bash.
    Locations: Cabin John/North Bethesda
    ✳Ice Skating Party Favor Ideas: Glowing GlovesGlowing Bracelets, Light
    Up Finger Rings
  10. Rent a Pavillion at Local Park or Community Center(Ages 2+)
    Rent a pavillion at one of the local parks. Brookside Gardens or
    Wheaton Regional Park would be great choices. At Wheaton Regional Park, younger kids would enjoy the train ride and excellent playground at the park. There are several great themes for birthday parties at Brookside Gardens including a Wings of Fancy Butterfly party, a Garden Tea Party, Dinosaur party, and a Paint a Pot Party. You might also want to consider renting a room at the Thomas Farm Community Center.
    Locations: Wheaton
    ✳Outdoor Party Favor Ideas: Sidewalk Chalk, Bubble Wands, Beach Balls
  11. Fire Station Birthdays (Ages 3-7)
    Many people don’t even know that you can host a birthday party at some of the fire stations in Montgomery County (Potomac).  I know quite a few kids who love fire trucks and love birthdays…so why not combine the two. It’s fun for the kids, and they get some fire safety tips too! My only caveat would be that an emergency could potentially cut the party short.
    ✳A great gift to go with this birthday party would be a pair of walkie talkies. Here is one suggestion for a pretty good pair–but please read my caveats about them in my gift ideas for brainy kids blog post.
    Locations: Cabin John/Potomac, Rockville.
  12. Zoo Parties (Ages 1+)
    It’s a bit of a trek from most of Montgomery County, but the National Zoo is a prime idea for a birthday party. Kids could take Metro down to the Cleveland Park Metro Station and walk from there.
    Locations: Washington DC
    ✳Zoo Party Favor Ideas: Zoo Animal Headbands, Cat Keychains, Magic Snake, Invisible Ink Pens, Rubik’s CubesAnimal Sticker Sheets
  13. Basketball Party (Ages 5+)
    If you’re child is into basketball, there are a few places around Montgomery County for a themed party. Some of the Sport and Health Club Locations (Bethesda, Gaithersburg) can host a basketball party. You can also have a great time at Pat the Roc Basketball Skills Academy.
    Locations: Bethesda, Gaithersburg
    Basketball Party Favor Ideas: Atomic Basketballs, Basketball Mini-Stress Foam Balls, Basketball Keychains
     
  14. Day Spa Parties (Ages 4 – 14)
    There are some great spas in Potomac, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Rockville, and Silver Spring that can host children’s birthday parties. One option would be Cutesy Celebrations in Kentlands/Gaithersburg. They offer spa parties and tea party theme packages for kids.
    Locations: Around Montgomery County, Kentlands
  15. Imagination Stage (Ages 2 – 8)
    Why not have a dramatic birthday party with a show or class at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. This is sure to be great fun and it’s a one of a kind kids party venue.
    Location: Downtown Bethesda
    ✳Theater Party Favor Ideas:Tea Party Hats, White Formal Gloves
  16. Indoor Miniature Golf (Ages 8+)
    Monster Mini-Golf is an interesting place to have a birthday party for older kids. The place is dark, flashy, and rather loud in my experience, and I realize that for many kids this will be a plus. Since it’s also coupled with “monsters” it might be a little bit too creepy for younger kids, so I’d steer you away from this place for kids 7 or younger.
    Location: Gaithersburg
    ✳Miniature Golf Party Favor Ideas: Colorful Mechanical Pencils, Noise Putty, Active Flyers
  17. Music Birthday Parties (Ages 4+)
    There are some options for music-related birthday party fun. One venue suggestion is Bach to Rock in Gaithersburg featuring a two hour jam session for 7 year olds and older kids. They also have programs for kids 4 and older as well. 

Bonus Idea: For any birthday party, consider getting a photo booth. These can be great fun and provide lasting memories. Choose your  photo booth provider carefully. I’ve had great luck with Shelly’s Sweet Photo Booth (410) 961-2983.

Hopefully this list of party ideas helps you out. If you can think of any
places I missed, please comment below. Don’t forget to check out my list of gifts for gifted kids.

Categories
anne arundel county Childrens' Birthday Parties Party Ideas

Birthday Party Ideas Anne Arundel County Md

birthday party ideas in Anne Arundel County

SEE MY LIST OF 33+ IDEAS FOR KIDS’ BIRTHDAY PARTIES IN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD BELOW

Are you looking for a great place to host your child’s birthday party?

There are so many choices, but unfortunately, many parents return to the same old places again and again – for example, bounce houses.

Below you’ll find some other party ideas that may be a bit more creative. Please note that this is my own collection of birthday party place ideas – no business have paid to be on it. The list contains links to party favor ideas which are sponsored by and link to Amazon.com.

This list of birthday party ideas is mainly for people who live in or near Anne Arundel County, but if you live elsewhere, there are probably similar places near you!

(I also have a list of kid’s birthday party venues in Howard County, Montgomery County, and Baltimore County as well as other birthday party-related posts. For instance, I have a post about giving out party favors and gift ideas for intelligent kids!)

Where to have children’s birthday parties in Anne Arundel County:

    1.  Whole Foods Cooking Lesson Party (Ages 5+)
      whole foods kitchen annapolis md
      The the Whole Foods in Annapolis has a closed off kitchen area where they hold classes and parties. The kids will get a cooking lesson and learn about the store. If you’re looking to hold a baking birthday party, this is definitely the place.
      When I attended a party at Whole Foods Annapolis, we made guacamole in a bag, which was great for a party for 6-year olds. Older kids can make more serious culinary creations. Unfortunately, not available for toddlers.
      Location: Annapolis
    2.  Go Kart Speedway (Ages 5+) in Crofton Maryland.
      Crofton Md Go Carts
      Looks like a blast. This venue doesn’t really have a reservation system, so you just show up with your party and have a ball. This would be especially good if it’s a last minute party. There will be plenty of fun and smiles.
      Location: Crofton
      Party Favor Ideas: Balloon Racers, Balloon Helicopter Racers
    3.   Craft parties (Ages 4-10): Have your party at Michael’s Craft Store. Michael’s provides a party room where your group can do a craft together.
      Location: Bowie, Annapolis, Glen Burnie, Hanover
    4. Jewelry Making at Twisted Bead and Rock Shop (Ages 5+):  The twisted bead is located in Edgewater and has jewelry making options for all ages.
      Location: Edgewater
    5. Paint Parties (Ages 5+): Muse Paintbar in Annapolis hosts kids parties where they can paint on canvas or glasses.  The painted masterpiece is the party favor.
      Location: Annapolis Towne Centre
    6. Is your child a cat lover? (Ages 7+) Have a birthday party at Cats in Cups on defense Highway in  Annapolis. Cafe setting with a dozen or more cuddly cats to play with.
    7.   swim birthdayIndoor pool parties (Ages 2+) There are many places in Anne Arundel County where you can hold an indoor pool party. For example, at Kid’s First Swim School in Severna Park you can hold a party for about $250 for an hour of swimming and an hour of room use. There are also other venues that offer kids’ pool parties.
      For example, the North Arundel Aquatic Center is a great choice. They also have a party room and very reasonable rates for large parties. This is a great birthday party place for toddlers, but usually the parents are going to have to swim with their kids.
      Location: Severna Park, Glen Burnie
      Fees: $225-$350
      Party favor idea: Goggles and water toys
    8.   theaterLive Theater Parties (Ages 3+)   There are a few choices around Anne Arundel County and surrounding areas for live theater that kids would enjoy. One possible choice is Medieval Times in Arundel Mills Mall. Kids will enjoy the show and the amazing moves of the trained horses. Another place with great show opportunities for kids is the Children’s Theater of Annapolis, Annapolis Musical Theater, and don’t forget about the amazing performances at the Maryland Hall for the Arts. (Click here for more Children’s Theater ideas)
      Location: Hanover, Annapolis
    9.   rock climbing partyRock climbing parties (Ages 5+) There aren’t any notable rock climbing facilities in AA County. If Laurel isn’t too far away, consider a party at ClimbZone. The place is really fun with some very creative climbing walls including a giant book shelf and “Mount Rushmore”. You may want to check with the Pip Moyer Center in Annapolis, as they do have a climbing wall there. Also, see Big Vanilla, below.
      Location: Laurel
    10.  Ballet and dance parties (Ages 2-10)
      ballet
      The Annapolis Dance Academy in Arnold is a great choice for kid’s BDPs.
    11. Location: Annapolis
    12.   Gymnastics parties (Ages 2-10)
      Gymnastics BDP Places
      Severna Park Gymnastics does great parties for kids. Works well for girls or boys. Also, in Severna Park is We Rock the Spectrum, a perfect place for a birthday party for a child with autism…their value proposition sounds great: “Finally a Place Where You Never Have to Say I’m Sorry”
      Location: Severna Park
      Party Favor Ideas: Ribbon Wands, Necklaces
    13.   build a bear annapolis mallBuild-A-Bear (Ages 2-7) – Kids of love Build-a-Bear parties. The location in Annapolis mall does a great job with parties. Consider having snacks in the food court area before the party.
      Location: Annapolis Mall
    14. Bowling parties (Ages 5+) Bowling parties can be fun, but I would caution parents to steer towards older kids with this idea. Even with bumpers, the game can be frustrating for younger children. Definitely go for duck pins if possible. Although they are relatively rare, the bowling alley in Severna Park still has them. By the way, the Severna Park alley is a great environment and kids older than 7 are sure to have a great time there. My only complaint about this place is that the food choices just aren’t healthy. For example, their popcorn is full of chemicals. If you have a party here, you aren’t allowed to bring in your own food except for a cake. Glen Burnie also has a duck pin alley. There are certainly other bowling alleys in Anne Arundel County such as Crofton Bowling and Annapolis Bowl, but no duck pins there.
      Location: Severna Park, Glen Burnie, Crofton
    15.  Crofton Roller Rink birthday Roller skating (Ages 5+) The Skate Zone roller skating rink in Crofton has birthday parties starting at about $260. Another good choice is the roller skating rink in Odenton.
      Location: Crofton, Odenton
      Party Favor Ideas: Invitation Tickets
    16.   Ice skating (Ages 5+) The Piney Orchard Ice Arena is a great place for a birthday party year-round. Great deal! They have a party room upstairs, and accommodate quite a few people with skating for $200. For kids who don’t know how to skate, they have “walkers” to help them on the ice. Nice place. In the winter, there’s also the Glen Burnie outdoor ice rink.
      Location: Odenton, Glen Burnie
    17.   Music Birthday Parties (Ages 2-7) – School of Rock in Gambrills and Arnold offers music birthday parties.
      Location: Gambrills, Arnold
      Party Favor Ideas: Inflatable Guitars
    18. Paintball (Ages 8+)  Paintball parties can be lots of fun…there is a great paintball venue in Pasadena called Paintball Sports and Supply (Curtis Bay).
      Location: Curtis Bay, Md
    19.   soccer birthdaySoccer Parties (Ages 5+) This is a great idea for your soccer loving girl or boy. The Soccer Dome in Harmans is a great place to host a party.
      Location: Harmans
      Party Favor Ideas: Bouncy Soccer Balls, Soccer Whistles, Soccer Stress Balls, Soccer Birthday Candles, Soccer Key Chains, Soccer Pinata
    20.   horse back riding bdpHorse center parties (Ages 6+)   Mane Event in Pasadena offer birthday parties for your horse-loving child.
      Location: Pasadena
    21.   Terrapin Adventures (Ages 6+) (301-725-1313) This is a tree-top adventure park located in Savage, MD (Howard County). This place is really fun, and would be an especially good party in late spring or early fall.
      Location: Savage, Md
      Party Favor Ideas: Tickle Plant Seeds
    22.  pirate cruise birthday partyPirate Party  (Ages 7+) on the Urban Pirate boat that sails from Baltimore or the Chesapeake Pirate Boat that leaves from Eastport. This is a great idea for a warm-weather birthday.
      Location: Eastport or Baltimore
      Party Favor Ideas: Pirate Eye Patches, BandanasGold Pirate Coins, pirate masks
    23.  movies party Movie Theater Birthdays (Ages 3+)  Arundel Mills Cinemark Egyptian Movie Theater or Bowtie Theaters in Annapolis Mall are easy choices. They have party areas and offer group rates. Let the movie you watch dictate the theme of your party (ie-Peanuts or Disney Princesses).
      Location: Arundel Mills Mall, Annapolis Mall
    24.   like a carnival Dave and Busters (Ages 4+) Dave and Busters in Arundel Mills mall is a very popular party venue. Kids will have fun, but usually very busy there.
      Location: Arundel Mills Mall
    25.  fondue pot cookie chocolate turtle dessert The Melting Pot (Ages 7+) This is a great place to have a party with a small group of your child’s friends. This place is always a hit. Parties here are probably going to take at least 2 hours, so just collect parent’s mobile phone numbers and text them when dessert arrives to pick up their kids.
      Location: Annapolis
    26.  quiet-waters-partiesRent a pavilion at Quiet Waters (Ages 2+)  In the summer, Quiet Waters park is a great place for a party. Rent a pavilion and enjoy some time with kids running around. You could also consider renting kayaks or canoes there for added fun for older kids.
      Location: Annapolis
      Party Favor Ideas: Dolphin Necklaces, Tickle Me Plant Seeds, Fractal Succulent Plants
    27. Ecoventures – Animals and fun.
      Location: Millersville
    28.  Have a Lego birthday party (Ages 5-10) – Brikz for Kids -You’ll need to provide a space for this party, but this is definitely a cool way to go.
      Location: Crofton, Annapolis
    29.   Birthday Party Idea in Odenton AA CountyFire house birthdays (Ages 3-7) Consider having a birthday party at one of the firehouses in Anne Arundel County. These parties are exciting and fun, plus it is a wonderful way to support the local volunteer fire departments. For example, see the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company website.
      Location: Odenton and other fire houses in Anne Arundel County
    30.  Pottery Party in Annapolis Md Pottery Party at Clay Bakers (Ages 5-10) Clay Bakers on Main Street in Annapolis is a great place to hold a birthday party.  You’re guests will be able to socialize together as they paint mugs, plates, etc (whatever the hold chooses) and then they will be able to have their creation as a party favor memory (there might be a few days before they have a chance to put the items in the kiln). This is a great place for a party!
      Location: Annapolis
    31.   YMCA (Ages 3-10) – YMCA (formerly Big Vanilla) has a variety of parties including dance, martial arts, swimming, cheer leading, tumbling, and rock climbing for kids. Even if you’re not a member, I believe you can still have a party at this venue in Pasadena, Maryland.
      Location: Pasadena
      Party Favor Ideas: Sports Mini-Stress Balls
    32. Chuck E Cheese’s – I am not the biggest fan of Chuck E Cheese, but I know many families like it. There is a location in Glen Burnie. Token prices are low—maybe around 20 cents each depending on which package you get.
    33.   Miniature GolfMiniature Golf (Ages 7-10) – Night Hawk Golf Center in Gambrills/Crofton has a fun, 19-hole miniature golf course. They also have basketball and batting cages. Party packages are available.   Severna Park Golf Center also offers miniature golf. Younger kids can play, but the game may be frustrating for newbies.
      Location: Severna Park
      Gift idea: Home mini golf set
    34.   BaseballBaseball Park Birthday Parties (Ages 6+) – Obviously these three aren’t in Anne Arundel County, but an unforgettable birthday could take place at Camden Yards or Nationals Park. Another option, just as fun might be a Bowie Baysox birthday.
      Location: Baltimore or Bowie
    35.  Glam spa party for girls Lady Bug Kid’s Glam Spa (Ages 5+) – Hold a princess party with manicures, pedicures, and more in Crofton.  They have a party room, a stage, a candy bar. Sounds like a great place to hold an amazing party. You may also want to check out Pig Tails and Crew Cuts in Annapolis for a variety of parties for girls and boys.
      Location: Crofton
      Party favor idea: Clip on colored braids
    36. Wiggle Room – Located in Crofton, this new 3,800 foot indoor play space hosts fun parties with free gourmet coffee for the adults.
      Location: Crofton
    37. Bonus idea: Kids love to take photos of themselves with funny props and goofy expressions. Add a photo booth to any party for added fun. Sure to please kids of all ages. I’ve had good experiences with Shelly’s Sweet Photo Booth (410) 961-2983.

    Looking to have a birthday party at your house? See my birthday party theme ideas. Also, check out my review of the FamZoo debit card for kids.

Categories
Childrens' Birthday Parties kids activities Kids Birthday Parties Party Ideas

Kids Birthday Party Ideas in Howard County MD

Kids Birthday Party Ideas in Maryland.

SEE MY LIST OF 53+ IDEAS FOR KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTIES AROUND HOWARD COUNTY BELOW – UPDATED March 27, 2020.

Wondering what to do for a birthday party during quarantine? Consider an iparty. For example, Idea Lab has STEM iparties.

There are so many great location options for indoor and outdoor birthday parties for kids in Howard County. I have compiled a list of birthday party ideas–some of the party places are popular, but others more unusual, creative, and even a few unique ideas.

Please note that these are not paid listings–this is simply my own list of birthday party places. I have added the birthday venues here because I have used them for my own kids, been to a party there, or have it on authority from other parents.

There are few “negative” recommendations in the list below too–places that might be popular go-tos, but like the bouncy birthday parties mentioned above, they should be avoided.

Again, all of the recommendations are my own, and I am not paid by the venues listed.  This post does contain sponsored links to party favors Amazon.com. Hopefully you’ll find the party favor ideas helpful, but they aren’t related to why I chose each location.

(Please also see my post about what to give out as party favors and if you’re looking for some great gift ideas, see my post Gift Ideas for Brainy Kids!)

Since I live in Howard County Maryland, this list of indoor and outdoor places to have children’s birthday parties 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 party list–since this is one of the busiest posts on my blog, idea contributions are very welcomed!

I also have created a similar birthday place list for Anne Arundel County and party places for kids in Baltimore County as well.

List of places to have kids birthday parties:

  1. Nature Centers (Ages 2-10)
    Howard County Conservancy birthday parties are great

    Offers some great birthday party options that aren’t overdone.  Great for toddlers and older kids alike. Not many people have their parties at a nature center, but they’re really quite nice…and educational.In Howard County, we have two nature centers that offer parties:  Robinson Nature Center and Howard County Conservancy.
    There are lots of party options to enjoy. For example, a great fall birthday party idea would be a campfire party at the Howard County Conservancy.  A naturalist leads the kids through activities and making s’mores.Robinson Nature Center offers several different kinds of parties at different price points mostly for ages 2 and up.

    For instance they have a nature puppet theater party, a butterfly party, a nature hike party, or even a full-dome movie party in the planetarium which looks like it would be a blast!

    All of this means that these nature centers are a wonderful place for a 5th birthday party all the way up to maybe 10th or 11th birthday. Parties range in price from $325 to $400 at this writing and party rooms are available.

    ✳Nature Center Party Favor Ideas: Bamboo PlantsMiracle Grow Seed Pods, Tickle Plant SeedsBinoculars

  2. Farm Birthday Parties  (Ages 2-8)
    Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City is very popular. In the fall, you could consider an apple or berry harvest party at Larriland farm (Ages 2-12)–check the harvest calendar to see what is ripe.  Educational and fun–plus the pickings are the party favor. Clark’s Elioak Farm is definitely a great standby party venue for toddlers.

    Breezy Hill Farm (Ages 2-8) – Breezy Hill’s biggest draw is its alpaca herd, although they also have rabbits, goats, sheep and chickens. Take a tour of this working farm with your group.This will be especially fun for a toddler party, but certainly 8-year-olds and younger will have a great time…really this should be enjoyable for anyone. Alpacas are gentle, graceful animals and you may be able to get one to pose with your party group.
    Party Favor Ideas: Straw HatsTickle Plant Seeds, Succulent Plants

Need unusual gift ideas for the birthday boy or girl? See my list of educational present ideas for kids. (Opens in a new tab)

  1. Zip Lining and Tree Adventures (Ages 8 and older)
    Birthday Party Places in Maryland - Zip Line Party

    Sandy Spring Adventure Park and Terrapin Adventures. Outdoor adventure parties in the trees are very cool.  Kids must be at least 8 to be able to participate in a treetop party at Sandy Spring Adventure Park, but if you’re looking for a place that will keep older kids busy, this is for you.

    These are great parties for 13 year olds, even sweet sixteens…Sandy Spring Adventure Park is just outside Howard County, while Terrapin Adventures is in Savage, Md near Savage Mill.

    Kids will enjoy being challenged at both venues, however I think Sandy Spring Adventure Park has a more extensive course. Definitely recommended. Party packages at Sandy Spring Adventure Park may include party favors.
    Party Favor Ideas: Carabiners

  2. Craft and Painting Parties (Ages 4-13)
    Pottery painting birthday party

    Michael’s craft store parties (price depends on craft chosen) and Joann Fabrics Parties 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. Another great option is the Columbia Art Center. They have preset parties that look like great fun in a nice atmosphere. They have a variety of available party themes (even Minecraft!) and parties can be on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.

    In Ellicott City, there is the Pottery Stop which is a combination coffee shop and ceramics studio–they have a small party room.If you are bringing a small group of kids (maybe 5 or less), you may be able to just “drop in” to the store and make your own party there.

    You are allowed to bring in outside food although they do offer a few snacks and a full coffee/hot chocolate menu. There is a Qdoba restaurant next door to the Pottery Stop, so you can get quesadillas or tacos there and bring them into the Pottery Stop.Unless you setup a birthday party package, there are no reservations, so you have to be careful to pick a day and time when they aren’t likely to be so busy that you won’t find a table for your party. You may want to call and ask what the most strategic times to set your party, but probably the safest time is right at opening time.For example, we had a party there the weekend before Valentine’s Day in the mid-afternoon and it was quite busy, we were lucky to get a table for 4. Still, the children had a really good time.

    The added bonus is that the item the kids paint is also the party favor. Note that it takes a week for them to fire the kids’ creations in the kiln, so plan to come back and pick up the items and then distribute them back to their owners.

    If you’re in Laurel or Maple Lawn, or in the Northern side of Montgomery County, you might find Burning Down the House in Fulton a more convenient place for a pottery party. I’ve driven past it enough on Scaggsville Road, but I have never been there.Yet another option is Pinot’s Pallet in Elliott City. This is a great place to hold a painting party for kids (or adults!).

    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Playdough, Magnetic drawing tabletsPutty Balls

  1. Race Car Driving (Ages 5+)
    go-cart-birthday-party
    Autobahn Indoor Go Cart Speedway
      in Jessup Maryland. Looks like a blast with exclusive track time for your party.  Kids five and up will love this place.
    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Balloon Racers
  2. Indoor Pool Parties (Ages 2+)
    indoor pool birthday partiesKid’s First Swim School, Columbia Association, Lifetime Fitness, or Goldfish 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.

    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.  One tip would be to have one parent stay dry while the other gets in the pool with the kids–this way you have your bases covered.

    The Columbia Association has pool parties and I generally do NOT recommend parties there because of crowding at the Columbia Swim Center indoor pool. Although there are some fun aspects to the splashdown attraction, they do not control the number of kids, which can be no fun. I would only recommend this party for older kids on off hours.

    If you’re in Ellicott City, you may want to consider having your pool party at the Roger Carter Center. They offer reasonably priced party packages.

    ✳Party Favor Ideas: Water Toys, Goggles, Flip-Flop Keychains, Hawaiian Flower Leis, Hibiscus Flower Hair Clips

[Need an kid’s allowance and chore reward solution? Check out my review of FamZoo Debit Cards for Kids]

      1. Indoor Playground Party (Ages 2-7)
        Play Date Junction (Elkridge, Md) and Hyperkids (Snowden River Parkway in Columbia) Play Date Junction is part gym, part indoor playground, part learning kitchen. Hyperkids in Columbia is similar. These are both great places to host a birthday party for younger children.
      2. ballet BDPBallet and Dance Parties (Ages 2-10).
        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. Pricing varies about $130 at Joyful Motion Dance Studio in Savage Mill. Also, check with Turning Point Dance Academy in Elkridge, Md.
        ✳Ballet Party Favor Ideas: Flashlights, Jump Ropes, Streamer Wands, Lucky Bamboo Plants
      3. Gymnastics Parties (Ages 2-8)
        Gymnastics BDP Places
        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.
        You may also want to check out Top Flight Gymnastics on Redland Road in Ellicott City or KidsTime.Live in Laurel. These are great party locations for toddlers and younger kids.
        Locations: Columbia, Ellicott City, Laurel, other locations around Howard County
        ✳Gymnastics Party Favor Ideas: Ribbon Wands, Necklaces, Jump Ropes

            •  Build-A-Bear (Ages 2-7)
              build a bear annapolis mall
              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.  When we had our party there, we had birthday cake first in the food court.  We got to the mall early enough to reserve some tables for the party guests…and it worked out fine.
              ✳Party Favor Ideas: Bubbles, Squishies
            • Lifetime Fitness Parties (Ages 4+)
              They offer parties with a 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. The parties here would be appropriate for kids as old as 10-12 years old, even older teenagers.
              ✳Party Favor Ideas: Glowstick eyeglasses, Sports Scope Games, EOS lip balm.
            • Idea Lab Parties (Ages: 4+)
              Birthday Party Place - STEM Ellicott City - Route 108
              Have a STEM-related birthday party in Columbia at the Idea Lab. This is so nerdy. Lots of possible party themes for kids to have a great time: Jedi training, video production, minecraft, slime, cooking/baking…and much more.

              This is the place to have a nerdfest of a party. Located off Red Branch Road/Route 108 (near Shadowland).
              ✳Party Favor Ideas: Puzzle Cube Set

            • Bowling Parties (Ages 5+)
              birthday bowling party

              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.

              You can always go for the larger pin bowling allies but I think it is less fun with the kids even with the lighter 6 pound balls and gutter bumpers the kids still have alot of trouble.I especially don’t recommend the Normandy bowling alley that’s off of Snowden River in Columbia.  Although it is a relatively nice alley, all the above problems apply, but then as part of the package they give the kids tokens for the game room.  That leads to huge frustration as there aren’t really any games young kids can even play! New: MainEvent in Columbia mall. The place looks like fun.
              ✳Party Favor Ideas: LED Rubberband Helicopters or Rocket Copters

            • Rock Climbing Age Range (6+)
              ClimbZone (301-317-1970) in Laurel or Earth Treks (Ages 5+)

              Indoor climbing wall birthday party - climb zone
              The bookcase climbing wall at
              Climbzone

              ClimbZone (301-317-1970)

              Compared to Earth Treks, the atmosphere at ClimbZone is less serious and more fun. They have done a fantastic job of making it less serious but making the climbing walls into interesting sculptures and objects, rather than the same old walls. For example, they have a wall that looks like Mount Rushmore and another one that’s a replica of a gigantic bookcase. Kids love it.

              All of their walls have auto-belay so you don’t have to worry about having someone paying attention and belaying the kids. This is a huge advantage, especially because kids 6 and up will likely be able to hook themselves in to any wall and start climbing! They also have some bouncy houses and slides for younger kids. There are party rooms available in this very new facility.

              Earth Treks (Columbia Location – 410-872-0060)

              Earth Trek’s 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.

    Need unusual gift ideas for the birthday boy or girl? See my list of educational present ideas for kids. (Opens in a new tab)
              1. Roller Skating  (Ages 5+)
                roller skating party
                The Laurel Roller Rink (Laurel on Route 1 in Howard County – 301-725-8070) and the Supreme Sports Club Skating Arena (Columbia off Snowden River- 410-381-5355)  both offer great kids birthday parties.Laurel Skating rink offers parties that start at $110 for 11 skaters (additional skaters $11/each). This is a bargain and includes ice cream cups, plates, napkins and spoons. Plus skate rental for all of the party skaters, and a free pass to skate next time for the birthday girl or boy.  You can bring cake, but outside food isn’t permitted, so you may need to make arrangements for other food with the rink.
              2. Roller skating birthday party prices
                Laurel Roller Skating Center Birthday Party Prices as of March 2017

                Private parties are available as well, but at a much higher price point. A 2-hour session on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for up to 50 skaters/2 hours is $450+.

                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. They often have several parties going on at the same time and they don’t have a separate party room–they just spread the parties out over various areas of the roller skating rink.
                If you’ve got a girl between the ages of 10-13, they also offer a sleepover party. See below.
                Locations: Laurel, Columbia
                ✳Party Favor Ideas: Fishnet Gloves, Personalized Thank You Stickers, Glow Sticks

              3. Indoor Obstacle Course (Ages 6+)
                Ninjabe Birthday party review

                NOT RECOMMENDED because of safety concerns. This is a relative newcomer in Columbia. Ninjabe recently opened. It provides an indoor warrior obstacle course (think “American Gladiator”), inflatable obstacle course, small climbing walls, and there’s even a mechanical bull. Kids seem to find this place to be quite a bit of fun.
                They provide a welcomed place for parents to watch (or ignore) the goings ons- the “parent zen room.” It’s a party that includes a cardio workout. Party rooms and party hosts are provided. I thought the place was pretty good overall, but I couldn’t escape the “birthday party factory” feel.I don’t recommend NinjaBe because kids get hurt there. I recently requested information from Howard County Fire and Rescue and was told that from 10/10/2018 – 10/11/2019, they were called there 13 times. That’s just the ambulance calls — injuries that were bad enough to require paramedics. I know 2 people who have been hurt here–one required surgery for a broken ankle.

                There are definitely many more people who make their way to the emergency room without an ambulance. Just something to keep in mind when you sign the waiver for your child here or invite other people’s children.
                Location: Columbia, Maryland
                ✳Party Favor IdeasLED Bumpy Ring, Mini LED carabiner Flashlights

              4. Ice Skating (Ages 5+)
                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 a birthday party package.
                Locations: Laurel, Columbia
                ✳Ice Skating Party Favor Ideas: Squirmels, Friendship Bracelets
              5. Laser Tag (Ages 5+)
                laser tag party
                Shadowland in Ellicott City (410-740-9100) and LaserXP in Laurel (410) 833-6611).   Laser tag parties are always a favorite with kids of any age. Shadowland in Ellicott City/Columbia is located on Red Branch Road just off Route 108. They have four party rooms and do a good job of making the party easy for parents. The parties consist of two laser tag games that take about 20 minutes each, and the rest of the time in the party room for a total of two hours. There’s also a very nice arcade at this location.

                At LaserXP, you can actually buyout the whole place for your birthday party–expensive option, but one that isn’t available at Shadowland. They will typically have another birthday party going on a the same time as yours, and you will probably end up battling the other party in a game of tag.
                Locations: Laurel, Ellicott City/Columbia
                ✳Party Favor Ideas: LED Bumpy Ring, Mini LED carabiner Flashlights

              6. Lush Handmade Cosmetics Party  (Ages 7+)
                Who knew that Lush offered private parties? They look like loads of fun…lots of options including “Beauty School” and make a bath bomb. I am not actually sure what the minimum age would be, but I think probably seven year olds or older would enjoy this party.
                Location: The Mall in Columbia
              7. Indoor Miniature Golf (Ages 7+)
                minature golf
                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.
                Party Favor Ideas: Frisbees, For older kids: Drink Bags that Look Like IV bags
              8. Sports Center Parties (Ages 5+)
                There are a variety of venues where you could have an indoor or outdoor soccer, lacrosse or basketball party.  For example, in Jessup 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.  There is also the Columbia Association SportsPark. If your boy or girl is a baseball fan, they may like to have a baseball party at Professional Baseball Training in Ellicott City, Extra Innings in Elkridge.
                Human Soccer Ball Birthday Party in Columbia, Md
                For soccer fans looking for something a little different, there’s “bubble ball” at the Soccer Stop in Columbia, Md. What could be more fun for a birthday? The kids get inside giant inflatable balls and roll around the soccer field.
                Party Favor Ideas: Bouncy Soccer Balls, Soccer Whistles, Soccer Stress Balls, Soccer Birthday Candles, Soccer Key Chains, Soccer Pinata
              9. Karate Birthday Parties (Ages 6+)
                Harraday’s Karate & Fitness offers martial arts instruction birthday parties in Columbia near Home Depot.
              10. Pirate Party  (Ages 7+)
                Pirate Birthday Party
                Take a trip on the Urban Pirate boat that sails from Baltimore.
                ✳Party Favor Ideas: Gold Pirate CoinsPirate Eye Patches, Bandanas
              11. Tea Party (Ages 7+)
                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.)
                Locations: Historic Ellicott City
                ✳Party Favor Ideas: Decorate Your Own Teacups
              12. Indoor Playground Party (Ages 2-7)
                You can book a party at the Play -n- Learn playground equipment show room in Columbia.  I have never been to a party there, but  it sounds really fun. Weekday parties are $219 for two hours of playtime on the indoor playground. Weekend parties are $269. You can also book a party after hours for $369 on weekends. If you don’t mind traveling, there is a great indoor playspace in Rockville called Badlands.
              13. trampoline party
                A SkyZone jump “room”–each child gets their own square of
                Trampoline.

                Trampoline Parties (Ages 5+)
                SkyZone  and Launch
                Indoor trampoline parks 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.

                SkyZone has 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 $240/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–by the way, I always got the same feeling at JumpZone! 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 attended there.

                ✳Party Favor Ideas: Balloon Helicopters

              14. Escape Room Party at Breakout Games (Ages 10+)
                This is an unusual kind of birthday party. Your party must follow clues and solve mysteries to figure out how to “break out” of a specially designed room. Billed as a life-sized game of twists and turns, it’s sure to be a fun time!It’s possible to bring younger kids, but it may not be as enjoyable for them because they may not have the background knowledge needed to solve the puzzles. Contact Breakout Games to discuss possibilities for 9-year olds and younger.We tried the “Museum Heist” game with a group of 10-11 year olds.

                Solving the puzzles was definitely difficult and may even prove frustrating for some kids.Luckily, an employee watches over your progress and is able to give the group hints. Our group definitely needed more than a few, but even so we didn’t “break out.”
                You only get an hour, so when the time runs out, you’re done no matter how far you’ve progressed. I think if I took the same group back to play a second time (which I think they’d all be up for), they would do better on a different puzzle, now that they have the hang of the mindset needed to solve the riddles. BTW, an employee recommended we try “Kidnapping” next time we play as he felt that it is a solid game and may be more relatable for kids LOL.
                There is no party room, and there is a maximum of 8 guests–and one of those guests must be a responsible adult.If you decide to have a party there, keep in mind that other people can purchase tickets for the same game at the same time–so if you don’t want strangers, most likely adults, to join in your kid’s birthday party, you need to buy out the whole game.Ticket prices are about $28/each (There are no discounts for a large group, so a party of 8 will cost around $240 with taxes). You may be able to solve a puzzle to get a coupon code. By the way if you’re looking for food nearby, there is a Bertucci’s Pizza near the Columbia location.
                ✳Escape Room Party Favor IdeasMini Magnetic Board Games, Mini Rubics Cubes, Mini Teaser Puzzles, Snake Twist Cube Toy

              15. Airsoft Paintball (Ages 11+)
                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.
                ✳Paintball Party Favor Ideas: Compasses, Paracord Bracelets
              16. Museum Parties outside of Howard County (Ages 5+)
                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!

                college park aviation museum for birthday fun
              17. Movie Theater Birthdays (Ages 3+)
                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).
                Party Favor Ideas: Kid’s Card Games, Mini Uno CardsPuffy Kush Balls

              18. Whole Foods Cooking Party (Ages 5+)
                Some Whole Foods stores such as the one in Annapolis have culinary centers  which can be rented out for kids birthday parties.  They provide a host who will help the kids through making a pizza and pretzels.  Unfortunately, the Columbia, MD Whole Foods is one of the stores that doesn’t have a culinary center, however they do have a private cafe space that can seat 12 kids plus their parents.  For a party there you can pre-order party foods and cake.  If you have an event there (or anywhere else), take advantage of the healthy options that are available at Whole Foods and also consider alternatives to the standard party favors/gift bags. Chocolate Dessert Class party (Ages ?) I am still getting some details on the possibility of having a party in either Savage Mill or Ellicott City at a place called “Sweet Cascades Chocolatier.” They offer classes for kids and they are about $35/each child. It would definitely be a “sweet” party, especially if your child is into cooking.
              19. American Girl Doll Party  (Ages 4-9)
                Okay, not in Maryland and possibly not even very convenient for most Marylanders, but in Tysons Corner Mall in Northern Virginia, 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 to the party, but I have heard good things about parties there.
                Location: Tyson’s Corner, VA
              20. Main Event or Dave and Busters (Ages 4+)
                like a carnival
                These two places are really busy with lots of things for kids to do. Main Event is very new to Howard County, and has quickly become very popular. Dave and Busters is fun, the Arundel Mills location has bowling and lots of games.
                Locations: Columbia, Md or Hanover, Md
                ✳Party Favor Ideas: Uno Mini Card GameFrisbees
          1. Six Flags America (Ages 8+)
            Not in Howard County, but close enough that it might make a great birthday party. Definitely on the pricier side of birthdays, but if the guest list is just two or three close friends, it probably would be a wash.
          2. Hot Pot Restaurants (Ages 13+)
            Possibly a bit expensive, but a great experience for a few friends to get together and cook/eat lunch. You might want to check it out ahead of time to make sure it would appeal to your teen.

            There are several options in Howard County, including Urban HotPot which just opened at Columbia Mall, and HotPot and Roll next to Lotte in Ellicott City. This location has a fun conveyor belt with various items you can add to your pot.

            Party Favor Ideas: Chinese Takeout Boxes, Sun Glasses

          3. Tire Playground Baltimore CountyRent a Pavilion at Centennial Park (Ages 2+) During the warmer months, there is always a great time to be had at Centennial Park.   The cost is about $150-180 dollars. Even cheaper: The tire park at the Hilton area of Patapsco State Park. This is a two acre playground made from recycled tires. Loads of fun and the nearby pavilions go relatively cheap (in Baltimore County).
            Party Favor Ideas: Sidewalk Chalk, Bubble Wands, Beach Balls
          4. Have a Lego Birthday Party (Ages 5-10)
            Bricks for Kids specializes in mobile lego parties in Howard County.  Seems like a very great idea if you’re having a home party or if you’re having a party at some other venue and need something to do (see below for party venue ideas).
            ✳Party Favor Ideas: Lego Favors
          5. Fire Museum Towson Birthday Party IdeaFire Station Birthdays (Ages 3-7)
            Many people don’t even know that you can host a birthday party at some of the fire stations in Howard County.  You can learn how to make an inquiry about it here. I know quite a few kids who love fire trucks and love birthdays…and they get some fire safety tips too! My only caveat would be that an emergency could potentially cut the party short. As an alternative, there is a Fire Museum in Towson that provides a pretty good experience. A great gift to go with this birthday party would be a pair of walkie talkies. Here is one suggestion for a pretty good pair.
          6. AmuseToys ( In Pikesville (Baltimore County) (Ages 2-6)
            Parties in the lab are great fun.
          7. Music Birthday Parties (Ages 2-7)
            There are several music schools in the area that host birthday parties. A great option is Oleynka School of Music in Columbia. They work with several age groups. Parties include high-energy music activities and games including songs, dance, activities using instruments, hula hoops, balls, parachutes, followed by a one hour celebration in their Party Room.
            ✳Party Favor Ideas: Maracas, Egg Shakers, Echo Microphones
          8. Drama and Comedy Workshop Parties (Ages 5+)
            There are some great opportunities around for drama and comedy related parties. Guest can take part in drama or comedy workshops at places like Drama Learning Center in Columbia or Improv Comedy in Baltimore.
          9. theater medieval times partyLive Theater Parties (Ages 3+) There is some great children’s theater in the area. Check with Toby’s Dinner Theater to see if they have appropriate shows.  You may also want to consider a party at Medieval Times in Arundel Mills.  If you can travel further, you will definitely like Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Any of the above will surely provide a memorable birthday! BTW, see my article on children’s theater in Maryland.
          10. iFly (Ages 3+)
            Okay, this isn’t nearby (in Whitemarsh), but it’s amazing! Possibly the most unusual idea on this list, indoor sky-diving would make for a wonderful birthday party. Your boy or girl will never forget this party!
            Party Favor Ideas: Parachute Cord Bracelets, LED Finger Lights
          11. Bowie Baysox Baseball Party (Ages 6+)
            If your daughter or son loves baseball, they’ll love having a birthday party at Baysox Stadium. Another possibility is getting tickets to a Baysox, Nationals or Orioles game and making a party out of that (the Washington Nationals have a birthday party package, I am not sure that the Orioles do, but they do have group ticket rates and party suites)
          12. Fencing (Ages 8+) – The Baltimore Fencing Center in Columbia on Rumsey Road has a great facility for unusual birthday parties. Guests learn the basics of fencing and can get a little practice in at the party.
          13. Supreme Sports Club Girls Only Sleepover (Ages 10-13)
            This party is for girls only and involves spending the night at the Columbia Association Supreme Sports Club. It seems to include alot of fun, but the cost is about $420 for members and $480 for non members. I can’t find a direct link to information about this party, but if you’re interested, just call.
          14. Table Tennis (Ages 9-14)
            This is would be a great party for older kids. You can rent the facility although there are restrictions on food and drink near the tables.
          15. Youth Teen Center
            Rent the Youth Teen Center for parties for teens at the Barn in Columbia.
          16. IKEA Ages: Teens 13+ – Yeah, that’s going to sound strange, but it works for older kids. Start with lunch in the cafe, then the kids can go through the store taking photos of themselves in the various demonstration areas. Photo contest anyone?I recently did this with my 13 year-old and 6 of her friends and they had a good time. Party favors were cactus plants on sale for less than $5. They also got $1 soft serve ice cream cones.
          17. Horse Back Riding
            Horse Back Riding Birthday Party
            Misty Manor Riding Stables can do trail ride birthday parties.
            ✳Party Favor Ideas: Horse ears headbands

    Suggestions based on age:

    Party PlaceAge 1-4Age 5-7Age 8-9Age 9-10Age 11-13Age 14+
    Pool PartyYesYesYesYesYesYes
    FarmsYesYesNoNoNoNo
    Craft PartiesYesYesYesYesNoNo
    Pottery StopNoYesYesYesYesYes
    Autobahn RacingNoNoYesYesYesYes
    Baseball BirthdaysNoYesYesYesYesYes
    iFly3+YesYesYesYesYes
    Live TheaterYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Firehouse Parties3+YesNoNoNoNo
    Fencing PartiesNoNoYesYesYesYes
    Roller Skating PartiesNoNoYesYesYesYes

  1. 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, The Meeting Room in Clarksville, Occasions Banquet Hall in North Laurel, or Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City) 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.

  2. ✳Tip: For any birthday party consider getting a photo booth. These can be great fun and provide lasting memories. Choose your provider carefully. I’ve had great luck with Shelly’s Sweet Photo Booth (410) 961-2983.

    Here are some entertainers that I have seen that do a good job with home parties. For more ideas, see my other post about birthday party themes:

              • Science Themed Parties- There are a few performers you can get. One great choice is Mad Science–they have several performers that can come to your child’s party. I’ve seen Damu perform, he’s was fantastic. Request him if he’s available. I have also seen several shows by Eric Energy.  Eric did a pretty good job with “science-tainment”–he gets the kid’s involved in several science experiments that they are sure to love…a great party favor to go with this would a 10-pack of safety goggles.
              • You might also try doing a science party 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.  Reptile wonders has huge turtles, a Burmese python, bearded dragon and various skinks for your party guests to see and handle.
              • Magic show for a Maryland Birthday PartyD’s Magic – Great magic show complete with rabbit and balloon sculpture.  Very entertaining.
              • Another idea is to have a Lego robotics birthday party–the crew from The Great Adventure Lab will bring lego robots to your party and spend time teaching the kids how to program them.  Sounds like a great experience and an unusual party.
              • Have an art-themed party. A colleague and friend of mine bought canvases and paints for the party attendees. She put nails in her fence and attached the canvases so each child would have an easel.
              • Petting Zoo party – If it’s in the budget, get Leesburg Animal Park to bring their petting zoo to your home. Kids will get to learn about and pet llamas, turtles, chickens, snakes, goats, and more
              • Kids all love a face-painters. Try Pirate Girl.
              • hire a caricature artist for birthday partiesConsider a caricature artist. George Edwards charges around $200 for 3 hours of art.
              • For a special flair of sophistication, and to perhaps make your job as host a little bit easier, consider hiring on a little bit of light catering. For example, the Omelette Guys provide omelette and Belgian waffle stations as well as pasta stations.

Do you have any ideas to share?  Don’t be shy about letting me know.  Also, be sure and browse my blog for birthday gift ideas and take a look at my comments about party favors–please choose a healthy option, choose to do something different. Also, here is my list of birthday party places in Anne Arundel County.

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Childrens' Birthday Parties kids activities Kids Birthday Parties

Birthday Party Theme Ideas For Kids in Howard County Maryland

Looking for birthday party ideas for your child in Howard County, Maryland? Here are some themes and ideas to help you decide what type of party to have. [Looking for a special place to have your child’s party? Don’t miss my post with 50+ birthday party places in Howard County and birthday parties in Montgomery County.]

Since I have two children, I find myself at many different types of birthday parties lately–some of them original and loads of fun for the kids, and some of them…not so much. I have created this page to help parents out with some ideas, recommendations and resources.

Party Themes and Ideas

    1. Science Birthday Party: There are so many ways to have a science party. This is a wonderful idea for any kid, but will be especially popular with nerdier children. There are plenty of kits you can order for the party or bring in a science performer like Eric Energy. Party favors might include things like this Zanny Marble Kit from Amazon.com

Damu from Mad Science - science birthday party

        1. Who to hire:
          1. Mad Science: I recently saw a great show put on by Damu from Mad Science. He’s a DC Public School teacher with lots of talent and the kids love him. Be sure if request him if he’s available.
          2. Eric Energy: Eric is a popular birthday party performer in the area. He does a great job of getting the kids involved and talking up science!
          3. Harry Potter Theme Birthday party – There is so much you can do with this. Here are a few suggestions:
            1. Hire a magician, if you look you may find someone who is versed in Harry Potter spells. A great example is “Illusions By Vick” (443-540-9631) – He comes in character as Professor Snape and teaches kids about various spells.
            2. Get yourself some Harry Potter posters, or you may find some to download and print. Consider putting a “platform 9 3/4” on your front door.
            3. Serve butter beer
            4. Create “sorting hat” gift bags from paper bags…
            5. Create wands from chopsticks and hot glue.
    1. Talent Show Birthday Party: Kids are always willing to show off their talents, no matter what level they’re at. Why not capitalize on this by throwing a talent show party.
    2. Add to the fun: Create VIP Guest passes for the invitations or just send tickets along with each one. Make star shaped cupcakes. Get photos ahead of time from the parents so you can put up head shots of each kid who’s coming to the party.
    3. Who to hire to help: Catriona’s Castle Karen brings theater to your home or party location. A memorable and extremely fun party for your child!
    4. Painting Party: A step beyond your normal craft party. Purchase canvases and hang them on your backyard fence with nails, consider getting aprons and plastic palettes that guests can take as party favors along with their canvas. The main event of the party will be to have the kids paint a picture of their favorite animal.
birthday party idea - painting party
            1. Dinosaur Party: Kids will love this prehistoric party. The main event for the party will be a fossil hunt, which can be put together by the host or bring in a fossil expert. May be combined with a reptile party.
              1. Who to hire to help: Paleo Jim Fossil Hunting Adventures
      1. Reptile Party: This party works best if you have lots of live reptiles on hand. Don’t have lots of reptiles at home? See below for some ideas on who to hire. Make sure you get a cake that’s shaped like a lizard or snake!
        1. Who to hire: Reptile Wonder’s Nature Center on the Go
      2. Video Games Party: We know that kids love video games. So why not have a video game birthday party. You can hire Game Truck to come to your location. They bring a fancy truck with 4 gaming stations and an experienced game coach to make it all go.
        1. Who to hire: Game Truck
      3. Pony Ride Party: This has always been a favorite for kids. A pony themed party with actual ponies will be remembered for years to come.
        1. Who to hire: The Peppermint Pony
      4. Ice Age Party: Ice Age is a great movie to do a party theme from. Add some creative edges like freezing animal figures in blocks of ice and letting the kids find them and you’ve got some real fun.
Kona Ice snow cone truck for birthdays
        1. Who to hire: Kona snow-cone truck.
  1. Lego Party: Legos are great fun for kids. It’s easy to get lego-themed plates and napkins and perhaps even a lego cake! Start the party by having kids create balloon powered cars and maybe invite a guest who can bring in lego robotics kits for the kids to play with and learn!
    1. Who to hire: The Great Adventure Lab

Party Tips

Whether you’re having a birthday party at your house, or in a party, venue, you’ll need a party theme. Here are some theme ideas.

  1. For Any Birthday Party: Hire someone to do light catering. For example, kids of all ages would love a waffle or omelette bar. Give the Omelet Guys a call. It’s relatively inexpensive, so you’ll get lots of bang for your buck. Another great option would be to bring in someone to serve snow balls.
  2. For any birthday party: get a photo booth. These can be great fun and provide lasting memories. Choose your provider carefully. I’ve had good luck with Shelly’s Sweet Photo Booth (410) 961-2983.

Did I Miss Something?

There are so many great birthday party ideas! I’ve tried to list as many creative and helpful tips as I could here. Have any suggestions or ideas that I may have missed? Please leave a comment! Be sure and see my posts on gifts for brainy kidsparty favors and some great birthday present ideas for six and seven year olds and places to have birthday parties in Anne Arundel County, Howard County, and Baltimore County.

Disclaimer: Please check the references of anyone you may hire that is suggested here. Although these aren’t paid promotions, I do not know any of them well so can’t endorse them completely. If you do use anyone’s services, you do so at your own risk.

Categories
Childrens' Birthday Parties gifted and talented kids activities Kids Birthday Parties

Experiences Instead of Birthday Gifts Ideas for 6, 7 and 8 year-olds

Six and Seven Year Old Kids birthday gift ideas

Figuring out what to get a six, seven or 8 year old for their birthday (or for the Christmas/Hanukkah holidays) can be tricky.  So much depends on your budget and the child’s interests, but coming up with the perfect present isn’t easy.

Educational gifts like these(!) are a good idea, especially the ones that require participation with a parent or friend… but I always try to recommend that people look for experiences to combine with the gift, whatever it is.  I say this because even though children are used to expecting a tangible present, there is no better gift than their parents’ time.  Furthermore, if there is a birthday party with friends and family involved, they are bound to get their share of typical presents anyway.

A great example would be to take them to a children’s theater and see a play.  Then think of a gift that would coincide with the play’s theme or topic and get them something to go with that.  So for instance,  Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland often presents plays  that are based on children’s books –you could take your child to see the play and then present him or her with a copy of the book (or for a larger budget, perhaps a copy of the book on their new Kindle Fire Tablet).

It’s really the experience that they’ll always remember, and that’s why it is important to think about birthday presents this way.

Other experience ideas could be:

Ticket for birthday fun

– Tickets to a baseball, hockey or football game.

– A special sports lesson, maybe one that even includes mom or dad.  This could maybe be in the form of a mother and son tennis lesson perhaps with a new tennis racket to go with it. Or how about a father-daughter horseback riding lesson?

– Heading out to the coast and going on a whale watching boat ride for the day.

– Adopt a species or specific animal at the zoo.  Many local zoos have programs like this, but for example here is the program offered by the National Zoo in Washington DC.  When you adopt they send you a plush animal, certificate and photo.

– A year long membership to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  This is a gift that will keep giving experiences for long after the birthday is over.

– Spa day.  Again, this depends on the budget, but could be a really nice way for a parent and their kid to spend quality time together.

– Go on an outdoor/nature day trip.  This could be whitewater rafting, geocaching or a visit to an aerial adventure place.  For example in Maryland, you could go to Terrapin Adventures in Savage Mill – a crazy, high-flying, zip-lining good time your kid won’t forget anytime soon.

– Find a great class that you can take together.  There are so many examples, and some of them are more far-flung than others…for instance there is a trapeze school in Washington DC, how about a photography class together or you could learn to knit with your child: There are many ways to learn.  Have a look at Wool and the Gang–they offer kits to knit particular items.  You could also take lessons together at a craft store, for instance Michael’s occasionally offers knitting lessons.

pottery stop - paint pottery for a birthday experience

– Do another kind of craft together–either at home or elsewhere.  For example, The Pottery Stop in Ellicott City is a place where you and your child can select a plate, mug or other ceramic item and paint it while having snacks. There’s also a great place on Main Street in Annapolis called Clay Bakers.

– Instead of a gift per se, pick a charity to support with your child.  One wonderful family that I know of selected the Linus Project–a group that makes blankets for  homeless and hospitalized children.  Instead of people bringing gifts for the child they brought blanket making materials to the birthday party.  What a great way to teach a child compassion and a sense of pride in helping others–actually this extends to all the party guests and their parents.  What an especially a great idea if your family has enough “stuff”.  Why not give back?

Other ideas for presents

There are so many kinds of gifts to choose from…and again, it really depends on the kinds of things your child likes to do.  Here are a few more ideas for items that have done well in my household–I also have written a whole post on gift ideas for brainy kids (opens in a new window)–and really every kid is a brainy kid if the present is aligned with their interests–so definitely check out that post for a huge list of learning-enabled toys and gadgets.

My only guidelines would be to try to stay away from gifts that track or pigeonhole your kid.  This is especially true for girls.  Stay out of the “pink aisle” at Toys-R-Us if possible.  I would even suggest that if you wouldn’t get the gift for a boy, don’t get it for a girl either.  There are exceptions to this of course, again, this is especially true if your girl really loves to do hair or something like that, but I am just saying don’t quietly force them in that direction by thinking pink.  Instead spend money on things that really help prepare the kids for the future and don’t just waste time.

– Microscope: A good microscope such as the AmScope SE306R can be great fun for any child and can really open doors for them in science.   Microscopes help kids of all ages understand the world around them better and get them to ask questions and think like scientist.

If you decide to go this route and you can afford it, look for something better than the ones that are offered in the $20-30 dollar range if possible.  Although these are a good start, they will very quickly become a disappointment for kids who are really interested in them.  They tend to have poor quality lenses and poor quality lights making for a dismal experience beyond the basics.

The better ones tend to be more than $100 (and if you get really fancy, alot more than that).  The AmScope SE306R is still rather pricey, but for the features and functionality, that’s a pretty good price.  Most kids are curious–if it “really” works, they’ll think of many occasions to use it.

microscope magnified penny

Another great microscope that is especially good for younger kids (4-8+) is the Celestron InfiniView.  We have this microscope and it is so much fun.  It is more for looking “at” things up close rather than looking “through” them.  It has a stage that you can put objects on and then magnify them onto the LCD screen or your computer.  You can then take shots of what you see-for example to the left is a photo of a penny I had handy as I was writing this.  My girls LOVE this microscope.

– A Kindle: My kids read alot and they really love their ebook reader and checking out free ebooks from the library.  These are great presents and can be convenient for travel and medium-long drives.  Many of the public libraries now offer free downloadable eBooks for kids.

From the comfort of home you can get many great books from websites like Overdrive.com or Axis360. Check with your library to see if they offer free access.  Both Axis360 and Overdrive allow you to download 6 books at a time and you don’t have to worry about overdue fees because after the allotted checkout time, they just go back automatically.

You might also look into the Kindle Unlimited Program-unlimited book downloads for $9.99/month–sort of like Netflix for books. One thing to note is that you may elect to get a Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook that also acts as a tablet computer.  This can be a great idea or a bad one depending on your point of view.  Many times the book reading aspect of the tablet is forgotten in favor of video games…which isn’t that great.  On the other hand, tablets can be a boon to research and can be used for educational games and such.  (Some kids might even want to try to write their own apps for it using the MIT App Inventor program.)

butterfly kits for birthday present

– Insect pets: If the birthday is in spring or summer, a bug catcher kit can be loads of fun and educational.  You could also consider getting a Ladybug or butterfly kit.  These can be purchased from Amazon and typically come with coupons that let you order the insects online or by mail.  In other words, they’ll send your child caterpillars or the creatures that will eventually become ladybugs so they can watch them change and grow.  When they become adults they can be safely set free in the wild.

For more gift ideas, see my post about gift ideas for advanced kids.  Also, here are some related posts if you need ideas for where to have a birthday party or need party favor ideas.

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Childrens' Birthday Parties Food kids activities Nutrition Party Favors For Kids

What To Give Out as Party Favors at a Kids Birthday Party

kids birthday party typical party favors

There are plenty of parents who will join me in my unhappy feelings about the gift bags that kids are given at their friends’ birthday parties.   Of course we’re happy to share the joy of a family celebrating their child and the accomplishment of getting a year older.  And it isn’t that I am ungrateful for all the effort that the parents have gone to in order to have the party to begin with–I am.  I have done it enough to know what a pain it really is…but I have to speak up about the gift bags full of party favors that the kids get to take home with them from your typical party.

JUNK is the word that comes to mind.  Junk food and junk toys. Frustratingly useless stuff that should never even be manufactured is thrown into fancy paper or plastic bags and given out to the kids.

Lets talk about the junk food first.  I realize that many parents don’t give a thought about the ingredients in the cakes they buy at the grocery store, but wherever it came from, unless specified otherwise, you can be sure it is full of sugar (and worrisome chemicals–I won’t even get into the dyes used in some icings.).

It’s a cake, it should have sugar, right?  Well that’s true, but stores go way overboard, especially with the icings–it is really an unhealthy amount for an average sized piece.  And usually that cake is eaten at the end of the party.  So first the kids eat some sugary cake and then they are handed a bag full of candy with more sugar.

Aside from the behavior aspects of so much sugar, I just want to request that parents stop diabeating (to use a word from Urban Dictionary) our kids.  Diabetes is at an all time high, and it is so sad to see obese children–in many cases, it could have easily been prevented with healthier diets and exercise. What is given out at parties just goes to make giving out harmful foods normal, when it could just as easily go the other way.

With a little bit of creativity (and perhaps a homemade cake made from scratch) children’s exposure to sugar and chemicals in the name of a happy birthday could be greatly reduced.  BTW, if you actually stop and think about the taste of some of these cakes that everyone seems to think are so delicious, they really just taste like chemicals. Try it yourself the next time you get a chance to taste a grocery store cake. It’s not good.

party giveaway options

All kids look forward to and even expect to get party favors.  But can’t we change the tradition to omit the sweets?  My kids know that they can have something from that bag on the way home, but if I have anything to do with it, they never see the rest of the candy again…straight into the trash when they’re not looking.

Happily I can report that many times they don’t even want to try those candies.  So what a waste of money and effort for the gift bag giver, right?  It definitely doesn’t help that my kids usually are not happy with the limitations placed on their newly acquired desserts…making me the bad guy.  Lollipops, Swedish Fish, candy rings…nothing but sugar and chemicals…they weren’t necessary to begin with.  Lets find better things to include in those bags!

Then there are the toys.  I think most of the stuff comes either from the dollar store or maybe Oriental Trading Company.  Usually they break easily or never really did what it was supposed to do to begin with…the only useful thing I usually find in those same gift bags are pencils…but oddly, at least going back a few years, the pencils were being given out at party after party for my two and three year-olds…and since these were normal-adult sized pencils, they weren’t really something that my kids could make the best use of.  (I am happy to report I have a lifetime supply of colorful pencils stored away.)

Ok, so I hate to make a complaint without providing some ideas for solving the problem.  First, I think it is useful to point out that the parents probably wind up spending at least 3 or 4 dollars per gift bag.  That money could surely be spent in better ways–maybe on just one useful thing that goes with the theme of the party.

For example for a pool party, you might give away goggles, diving toys or maybe those pool noodles.  Maybe for a dinosaur themed party you could give away a book about dinosaurs or dino action figures.  For some parties, the gifts might be something from the party itself–for instance if you have a craft party, the craft the kids create would be the thing they take home or maybe they get a pack of sculpting clay.

How about a paint-it-yourself birdhouse?  Maybe even include some bird seed.  Another dea is to give away plants or crafts (or both) — for instance tree in a box – This option was very popular at my child’s 7th birthday party.  You can even get Giant Sequoia seeds.

Another idea is to go to Ikea and purchase live bamboo plants and if you want to get fancy but some of the 75 cent vases to go with them. Kids are surprised and really enjoy taking care of them and they’re really difficult to kill. This year we purchased a cactus plant for each kid who came to the party. They loved it! By the way, I saw the sale depicted below at Ikea on a recent trip (September 2019)…

Plants for Kid's Birthday Party Favors

If it’s in the budget, you could hire a caricature artist for the party. The party favor could be a caricature of each of the guests. This is truly fun for the kids, and in the best circumstances will be keepsake that the child will treasure.

Here are some possible suggestions for party favors instead of candy that wouldn’t be expensive, but at least go a bit beyond the usual junk:

  1. 10-pack of scjence safety goggles-These are a no-brainer for science parties…but wouldn’t be a bad addition to any gift bag.
  2. Bamboo Plants – Every kid loves plants. Bamboo is cool to look at and difficult to kill…making this a fantastic party favor.
  3. Tickle Plant Seeds
  4. Binoculars
  5. Straw Hats
  6. Playdough
  7. Balloon Racers
  8. Balloon Helicopters
  9. Water Toys
  10. Goggles – Swim parties or any summer parties would benefit from this.
  11. Flip-Flop Keychains
  12. Maracas
    Egg Shakers
  13. LED Rubberband Helicopters
  14. Rocket Copters
  15. Parachute Cord Bracelets
  16. LED Finger Lights
  17. Fishnet Gloves
  18. Glow Sticks
  19. Putty Balls
  20. Flashlights
  21. Glow Stick Eyeglasses
  22. Bubbles
  23. Neon Compasses or Square Compasses
  24. Echo Microphones
  25. LED Balloons
  26. Puzzle Balls
  27. Playing Cards / Uno Cards
  28. Mechanical Pencils (I know what I said about pencils above, but mechanical pencils have a special effect on many kids–for whatever reason they think they’re exciting and want to use them. Since you can get a 24 pack for less than 10 dollars, it can be a good deal for a worthwhile party favor!)
  29. Little Stampers

For other ideas, see my list of birthday party places in Howard, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County. I suggest party favors that go well with the party venue.

We’ve also recently been to a dolphin themed birthday where the hosts gave each child a hula hoop with an inflatable dolphin hanging in the middle.  At “Five Below” you can get a hula hoop for about $2.

Pineapple party favors - Creative ideas for what to give out at kids birthday parties.

There are lots of other clever ideas. For example, we recently went to a pool party where the hosts gave pineapples to each guest. The pineapples were decorated with sunglasses and Hawaiian Leis. This fantastic because aside from the novelty it gives kids a reminder that fruits can be fun and interesting.

Aside from things like that, I would recommend that parents try to stay away from giving any food at all in the party favor bags if you can.

And here are a few other resources:

This website has some homemade favor ideas.

Here are some ideas for places to have a birthday party. And if you’re looking for great gift ideas for brainy kids, I’ve got that too! You may also want to check out my Costco Review as well as my review of Lifetime Fitness.