Your kid’s birthday comes around once a year, leaving you with the annual task of coordinating, planning, prepping, and throwing them the greatest party EVER. (Let’s not even get started on clean-up…) Trouble is you’ve got a tiny apartment and a kid who grows an inch every time you turn your back. Just so happens they have similarly sized friends, and unless you seriously cut down the invite list, your apartment will be more crowded than Wal-mart at midnight on Black Friday.
When my family and I moved from a house to an apartment, I established a firm no-party policy for the new digs, mainly because our space lacked important qualities like square footage and parking opportunities. But despite my initial hesitation, I eventually gave in and decided to have a small celebration for our littlest.
We pared down the invite list to VIPs only, and contrary to my worst fears, it turned out perfect. A tiny celebration for our tiny toddler and her pint-sized friends. It was so perfect that I contemplated doing the same for my oldest child but as time passed, household clutter stacked up and our petite party venue started to feel a bit more claustrophobic than cozy.
We weighed our options and decided to relocate the celebration for the sake of our daughter, our sanity, and our studio. I was convinced I could still host a party that would still be fun for the kids and convenient for me.
And I did. It was a 10-year-old’s dream come true, the best part (besides the smiles that graced the faces of the party goers) being coming home to a clean apartment when all was said and done.
You don’t have to limit your party venue options to Chuck E. Cheese’s – I say it’s time to dream a little bigger. Here, I’ll start. Below are 17 ideas for hosting a big celebration when your home is small on space:
1. A hotel slumber party
To celebrate my daughter’s entry into tweendom we hosted a sleepover in a local hotel. The girls played games, watched a movie, and adorned themselves in temporary tattoos. The next morning we ate room service breakfast and the girls lounged out by the pool. I recommend booking two adjoining rooms and opening up the center door, which is not only cost effective, but extra spacious.
2. An art studio
If your little one has passed the age of painting bowls and tiny vases, a canvas will give them the perfect place to show off their developing artistic abilities. A great option for older kid parties is an art studio where they can get a professional lesson and take their creation home as a party favor
3. The movie theater
Remember how cool you felt when you sat in a movie theater without your parents? One way to give your tween a little of that autonomy they may be starting to seek is by sitting a few rows back while they watch a movie alongside their friends. Don’t forget popcorn and movie snacks!
4. Go-kart racing
Your kids aren’t old enough to drive a car (hallelujah), but they are the perfect size to take out that need for speed around the Go-kart track. Bonus – you don’t have to drive for once!
5. Sing at a recording studio / karaoke place
Seems like only yesterday your kids were making music with toy instruments and debuting at their first recital. Now they are asking for iTunes gift cards and trying to control your car radio from the back seat. Kids of all ages love music and will get a kick out of performing to their favorites alongside friends.
6. Nail spa
Do you have a little lady who loves to get pampered? A spa celebration is a great idea. Treat the girls to mani-pedis and maybe even a facial designed with tweens in mind. Snack on fruit, crackers, meats and cheeses, and sip on lemonade and infused water. All your daughter’s friends will be jealous of her relaxing and indulgent party.
Raising kids that care about the world around them is something very important for a lot of parents, myself included. I want my kids to know that the greatest joy can be found in making a difference. Whether it’s volunteering at an animal rescue, heading to the beach to do some cleanup before playing in the sand, or helping organize donations at a shelter, there are countless ways to lend a hand.
8. Play laser tag
Boys and girls alike will have a blast playing laser tag. It encourages friendly competition, physical activity, and a great challenge for all ages.
9. Restaurant party
Lots of restaurants have separate rooms that can accommodate larger parties or you can opt for patio seating if the weather is nice. Also save yourself the stress of making a cake, and let partygoers order their own desserts!
10. A dance studio
Pay homage to the fact that you’re raising a kid who isn’t afraid to “dance to the beat of their own drum.” Treat the kids to dance lessons! Besides, high school dances will be here before you know it, your kid has got to develop their signature dance move.
11. An amusement park
If you’re in the mood to splurge, an amusement park will guarantee you a day of fun! Snacks galore and adventure at every turn. Plus a ton of great photo ops!
A tried and true activity that parents can participate in too. Create a theme and encourage kids to dress up — Star Troopers bowl and so do rock stars!
13. Tea party
Even a big kid can enjoy an afternoon filled with tea, bite-sized sandwiches and desserts. Whether it’s dressing up in oversized hats and letting their silly side show, or keeping it simple and sophisticated, tea for two, ten or even twenty is a lovely way to celebrate a young lady’s big day.
14. Bounce house
These indoor abodes are filled with huge trampolines and the occasional ball pit beckoning jumpers to dive in. Your kid and their friends are sure to be jumping for joy at this party!
15. Mini golf
A round of mini golf is a great activity for day or night. Not to mention many miniature golf places tend to have other fun outdoor activities like batting cages and bumper cars.
If you try, you can still find traditional arcades like the ones that reigned supreme back when we parents were kids. Filled with old school classics like skeeball and new high-tech games, every kid will find something fun to do here.
17. The park
Some tweens are too cool for the playground, but that doesn’t mean you have to count the park out. Play a game of capture the flag or create a fun obstacle course. There are so many activities that are perfect for picnicking at the park.