Category Archives: Birthday Parties

Your Kids’ Birthday Party Checklist

happy holidaySo you have to plan your child’s birthday party. It can be overwhelming just to think about it. Where are you having it? What theme should you choose? Where should you get the cake? The list of questions to answer and the amount of things to do seem endless—and if you’ve never put together a birthday party before, you may not know all of the details that need to be decided or all of the things that need to be done. To help you with this daunting (but fun!) process, check out our comprehensive kids’ birthday party checklist to help you get you through your first birthday party planning experience.

Choose a date. This one’s simple. You can’t plan a party until you know when you’re having it! Start thinking about the date and time at least three months in advance, especially if you’re hoping to have the party at a popular venue or if you’re inviting out-of-town family. Make sure to choose a date and then a backup date or two—just in case. Some venues book as many as six months ahead of time, so the sooner you can confirm a date, the better.

Make a guest list. How many kids and adults will you be inviting? This number may determine venues you can and cannot choose due to the size of your party.

Decide on a venue. Once you know your date and number of guests, it’s time to figure out a venue! Using Kidz Central Station’s Best Kids’ Birthday Party Finder, you can quickly and easily search for the best party for your child using the criteria most important to you: neighborhood, type of party, number of kids, themes available, budget, and more! If you’ve decided to host the party at your home, you can search the site for entertainers who will come to you.

Find entertainment. If you’ve decided on a venue that provides entertainment, (i.e. The Art Farm in the City or 92Y) you’re all set unless you plan on bringing in outside performers for face painting, special treats, etc. If you’re hosting the party at your apartment or a party room, you may want to find an entertainer to engage the kids in music, art, or another activity for a portion of the party (i.e. Music with James). If you do plan on hiring entertainment, choose immediately after booking a venue to ensure your entertainer of choice is free on your party date.

Send out invitations. While some venues provide invitations as part of their party packages, many other do not. These days it’s easy to send out email invitations and track responses using sites like Paperless Post and Evite. If more traditional snail mail invites are more your style, you can personalize invitations with photos of your child on sites like Minted and Tiny Prints, order unique invitations from sites like Amazon or Etsy, or head to your local party store to check out the selection.

Choose decorations/theme. Now comes the fun part. What are your child’s interests? Sesame Street? Frozen? Pirates? Princesses? Some venues, like Creative Dream Parties, can customize your party to include your child’s favorite TV/movie character or interest. It’s important to ask your venue if they can accommodate special themes, or if you will have to bring your own special decorations.

im1.shutterflyPick a cake. For many, the birthday cake is really important (and a source of stress). Factors such as taste, type, themes available, delivery options, and price can make it hard to choose the perfect cake. Grocery stores tend to have the most reasonably priced cakes, but may not be able to accommodate certain themes or have a huge variety of cake options. On the other hand, many boutique cake bakeries create extraordinary cakes to fit any theme or taste, but the cost may break your budget. Whatever route you choose, many bakeries need a fair amount of lead-time for your order, so decide on your cake early in the planning process.

Decide on food/paper goods. If you’re planning to serve a meal or light bites, you can decide this step a week or two out from your party. Many venues provide food for the kids—often pizza, water, and paper goods—and many others make you bring in your own. And, most places DO NOT include food and paper goods for adults, so you’ll have to decide on how much you want to cater to parents. Catering from a local grocery store or restaurant, or platters from Costco (or a similar store) are popular options, but if all else fails, call your local pizza joint and have a few extra pies delivered.

Don’t forget the favors! You can go crazy with party favors or make them simple—it all depends on your preference and budget. Party favors can be as simple as a little baggy filled with bubbles, crayons, candy, and other little treats, or can be as elaborate as personalized snack cups, placemats, or books. The kids will be happy with whatever you decide, so don’t stress about it.

Book or designate a photographer. Hiring a professional photographer is a great way to ensure that all of the important party moments are captured—especially for a first birthday. Photographers can be costly, however, so if a professional isn’t in the budget, designate someone at your party—a family member or friend—to be in charge of the picture taking. It’s impossible for the party host to also be in charge of pictures, so take the pressure off yourself and give the responsibility to someone else.

Think about tipping. Although certainly not mandatory, tipping those who took part in making your party a success—be it the coaches at a gym party, a musical entertainer, the people who set up the food—is always a nice gesture. Decide if and what you want to tip ahead of time so that you don’t find yourself scrambling at the end of the party to decide on an appropriate amount or find the right change.

Can you think of anything we’ve missed on our birthday party checklist? Let us know if there are any other musts when planning a child’s birthday party!

 

Introducing NYC’s Best Kids’ Birthday Party Finder!

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 1.43.09 PMAfter months of planning and excitement, we are thrilled to announce the launch of Kidz Central Station’s newest tool for busy NYC parents: NYC’s Best Kids’ Birthday Party Finder! As a team of parents who have planned several birthday parties ourselves—calling up tons of party venues to get the details, thumbing through local magazines and papers to get the scoop, and asking all the friends we have about their experiences— we knew there had to be a way to make it easier to plan a child’s birthday party. NYC has so many great party venues to offer, and so often we don’t even know about the local gem right around the corner! We wanted to find a way to make it easier to find the right party for you and your child—but with less hassle and less stress. So the idea for NYC’s Best Birthday Party Finder was born.

Building on the success of our platform for finding and enrolling in classes, camps, and other activities, we built NYC’s Best Kids’ Birthday Finder so parents can search for the best birthday party for their children by the criteria most important to them: age, location, party type, budget, number of kids, themes, and so much more. Instead of having to Google things like “best kids’ birthday party NYC” or “NYC party for a 2 year old” you can come to the site, narrow your search, and find out what makes the various birthday parties offered on our site so great. You can learn about everything from the maximum kids a venue can hold to if alcohol (for adults!) is allowed at the party. All of the things you can’t find by simply searching online and end up having to ask questions about.

kids on bithdayOnce you find the right party for your child, you can quickly and easily request a party date and more information. Someone will then get back to you about your request—instead of you having to call every place under the sun. Sound good? We think so. So check out NYC’s Best Kids’ Birthday Party Finder and take a look around!

We welcome your feedback! Email us at info@kidzcentralstation.com and let us know you think about NYC’s Best Birthday Party Finder!

Birthday Party Panic! 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

UnknownYou know the moment.

A well-meaning Auntie/Uncle/ Bubbe/Teacher/Doorman innocently asks, “So, what are you doing for Little Susie’s birthday coming up next month?” Immediate panic ensues, because you kind of forgot and you have no idea, and there are 50 other things you planned to do this week instead.

Don’t freak out. Here are 5 ways to ensure a fantastic birthday party:

  1. “I Want Candy” (and I want it Vegan, Nut-Free, and Sans Gluten)

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Whether it’s mini cupcakes, an assortment of cookies, or Fudgie the Whale, every birthday party needs a special birthday treat. With a variety of food allergies these days (and food aversions being pretty commonplace among kids of all sizes), it’s nice to offer a couple of treat options, including a gluten-free or nut-free choice—especially if you know one of your guests has a food restriction. Parties can be a bummer for kids who can’t enjoy what their friends are enjoying, so it’s nice to make sure everyone has something to indulge in after the candles are blown out. Make it at home, have it delivered—as long as it’s sweet and you can stick a candle in it, you’re all set!

  1. “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” (Get This Party Started)

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Some parties are all about the music, especially the ones thrown by us here at Rockstars! Any type of party gets a rockin’ boost when you have music playing in the background. Not only does it loosen up your tiny guests and make them feel festive, it encourages dancing and singing too. Whether you choose the soundtrack to the latest hit movie or a live band, nothing brings kids together like boogie-ing down and pretending to be their favorite singers!

  1. “The Right Stuff” (Fun For Everyone)

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Some birthday parties are all about the main activity—maybe it’s an indoor rock climbing adventure or a paint your own pottery afternoon. But all parties can benefit from some downtime activities for in between the big fun. Think about having some coloring pages, building blocks, or simple board games for kids who need a break or want something a little more relaxed. Parties can be overwhelming for little ones, and a truly rockin’ birthday party means everyone is having fun!

  1. “Let The (Grown-up) Good Times Roll” 

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You’ll most certainly be focused on the happiness of your tiny guests, but don’t forget about the grownup ones who brought them. Kids’ birthday parties can be a great way to meet other parents and maybe even make new friends. So if you can, make sure there’s a comfortable area where parents can hang out (within eyesight of their kids, of course), and perhaps even offer an adult beverage or two! You’ll be glad when they return the favor.

  1. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (Party Favors They’ll Want To Keep)

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Party favors are a great way to thank your guests for celebrating with you and your birthday star. Why not come up with an easy on-theme craft project that the birthday boy or girl can help you make? This is a great way for you to get excited about the party together and to send your guests on their way with something meaningful and handmade. If you are the anti-Martha Stewart or just don’t have time to do anything beyond stuffing goody bags, check with your activity provider about ideas they might have or favors they can include at an additional cost. When in doubt, keep it simple. Favors are fun, but the real gift is in the memories you create at your fantastic party!

Birthday Places for Kids – NY Birthday Show Top Picks

Ahhh birthdays. Once you hit 30 or become a mom they just don’t matter anymore – I sometimes have to remember my age when people ask – I just started saying – early thirties 😉

But now birthdays have taken on a mutant form for kids – long gone are the days of cute little family get-togethers at home. They have morphed into enormous events that fall right below planning your wedding.

So much so that I even wrote an e-book to help you get started and try not to spend more than a four-year college fund. (you can download it here).

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So when Queens Mamas threw a Birthday Show – I knew I had to swing by and see just what options were out there. Yes, a lot are extremely expensive, but here in NYC – you expect to be paying top dollar for quality, custom items. Don’t we do that everyday?

Here were my favorite Birthday Places for Kids (on my radar for next year’s birthday):

birthday places for kids

Big Apple Circus
(running through January 12th if you have a birthday coming up!) – if you’re a last minute planner and you have the holidays AND a birthday coming up – save yourself the hassle and just book the circus – even adults will love this venue!

Young Chefs Academy
This is actually out by me in Queens but their birthday classes look AWESOME – they were also ranked as Parents Magazine top 10 birthday chains! Think get messy, get healthy, educational and delicious all at the same time and you have a happy group of little kids! This is for older kids – at least 4-5 years and up, but I already have it booked in memory for Maximo in a few years and I can’t wait.

Coney Island Luna Park 
I think it’s written in your genes as a New Yorker to just love Coney Island. After Hurricane Sandy, they really revamped and opened back up this summer bigger and more fun than ever. Luna Park is great for any age as they have little kiddie rides and big kiddie rides. You also get the boardwalk, beach, and Nathan’s. Sounds like an awesome summer birthday party location to me!

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Again this one is only due to the holiday season – but they BOOK birthday parties – and if my birthday was in December as a kid, well I’m just saying – a skate party on the ice in the city is pretty hard to top. Plus, they had fake snow falling at their table…now I am excited for winter! You can get more information on booking parties on their website.

birthday places for kids

Gymboree (Lexington Ave location) ok this one wasn’t at the show but Maximo LOVES this indoor playground. I am including it because it’s indoor – if it’s raining, it’s too hot in July or your birthday is in January – maybe you want to book something indoors for the little ones. Plus, they have multiple locations around the city so you can be sure to find one close to your neighborhood.

Crumbs
Who DOESN’t love crumbs??? And now they have Colossal cakes – but I think a more appropriate name for them this time of year is monster-size cupcakes (aka cakes that look like monstrous cupcakes). They have pretty much every flavor combo you could dream up, and bring enough for the grown-ups. I will probably steal Maximo’s piece if it’s Crumbs. #sorrynotsorry

Carlos Bakery
Did you know Buddy now has a Manhattan bakery location? (located by the 42nd street Terminal) And they also deliver – so if you decide to get a cake that looks like this, you won’t have to tote it in a cab.

birthday places for kids

The Nature Company
This one might be more for the boys, or if you’re a tomboy mom like me, maybe you want to get your kids hands dirty with things they don’t see everyday in the city – like snakes. Okay, well, the ones that MIGHT flush up your toilet DON’T count!

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Maximo loves animals and getting to pet and learn about different types is always a win in my book! I mean, we DID book his first birthday at the zoo! The Nature Company will come to any venue (including your living room) for your party – so why not! Who doesn’t want snakes and lizards in your home! Just don’t tell your neighbors!