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Boston Birthday Party Roundtable

Boston Birthday Guide | Boston Moms Blog

Disclosure :: This roundtable is brought to you courtesy of our many sponsors! Thank you to the venues and entertainers that choose to participate in this guide. 

Please check out our Birthday Party Guide!

We understand just how important the perfect birthday party is to you and your child. Whether you are celebrating big or small, there are memories to be made! But where do you start? Bring an entertainer to your home? Head to a great spot and party? Plan a themed celebration?

Making all the party-planning decisions can feel intimidating. Thankfully, we’ve done the work for you! We’ve rounded up some of Boston’s best and have them all here for you in our Birthday Party Guide and Roundtable. Our Guide details a variety of local venues, entertainers, and party planners. Our Roundtable, below, offers neat insights into how each of those party professionals can bring your celebration to the next level. Now let’s party!

Boston Children's Museum

BCM_logo_vertHow did you get into entertaining?

My mother always drew fantastical pictures on all of our cakes when we were little, and naturally I wanted to help. By my 13th birthday I had started decorating my own cakes as well as those for the rest of our family. With the passing of each year, the cakes, the food, and the decorations all became more and more elaborate. Finally, I discovered fondant, and it was down the rabbit hole ever after (literally — I made a tiered Alice in Wonderland cake for my sister that year). Before you knew it, I was running parties here at the Boston Children’s Museum while simultaneously planning my wedding, right down to making my own cake.

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

Planning birthday parties is like getting to play Santa. You get to make someone’s day extra special — a day full of all their favorite things and favorite foods. There’s nothing quite like watching a big smile break out on a kid’s face when they see a giant Thomas the Tank Engine balloon floating toward them. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s always cake!

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

Narrowing down the guest list! Is it a family party? A friends get together? School social? Where do you draw the line? There’s always one more person you can think of to add, but if you do, how many people would they bring with them? Do they have younger siblings who are likely to tag along? More often than not, it’s the day before your party and you’re still not quite certain how many people will actually arrive. In the end, just order a couple extra pizzas to be on the safe side, and don’t worry about it too much.

What should people know before booking with you?

Plan ahead! We have limited space for parties, and as such we recommend booking 2-3 months in advance if there’s a specific date you’re looking for — especially if your child has a birthday in the fall, when kids go back to school. Sometimes we can still squeeze in a party with only a week or two of notice, but we’re often already full.

What makes a birthday party special?

Every one of us is different and special in our own ways, so what makes a party special for one person isn’t always what makes it special for someone else. That said, there is one thing everyone agrees on: What really matters is getting to spend time with your loved ones. On your birthday you want to have all of your favorite people around you to help you celebrate. Without them, the most elaborate parties won’t be much fun at all. Kids love dressing up like superheroes, breaking open piñatas, and eating a mountain of cotton candy, but if their best friend or favorite uncle isn’t there, it just won’t be the same.

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

Parents should bring comfortable shoes and get ready to run around our Museum with their kids! We have exhibits designed for all types of fun! We have a room full of bubbles, a construction zone, and an art studio, to name just a few. Budding thespians can be part of our KidStage shows, and young scientists can meet our resident reptiles. Oh, and did I mention we have an authentic Japanese house as well as a three-story climbing structure? There’s far too many to list, so check out our website for a full list of all our fun and exciting exhibits and programs. In a nutshell, what everyone should expect when visiting us is a day full of play!

Stephanie Beach Magic

StephanieBeachHow did you get into entertaining?

I’ve always loved to entertain people with magic, and I decided to become a professional magician 10 years ago.

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

The kids. To see their excitement and wonder as I perform magic is the best thing in the world.

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

Assuring the parents that it is OK to video the performance and take pictures from behind me. It’s important to capture the looks on their kids’ faces as the kids experience the wonder of magic.

What should people know before booking with you?

I am a professional entertainer, not “just” a magician. You are going to have a wonderful show and share this experience with your children for a lifetime.

What makes a birthday party special?

I bring the experience of a live magic show right to your kids. Kids see magic on TV and movies, but to actually be part of the experience is a thrill for the kids.

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

A professional magic show that will delight and entertain you, your family, and your friends.

ArtBeat

20YearHow did you get into entertaining?

Our Artbeat store makes it easy for people of all ages to experience hands-on art, whether here in our studio or by finding kits and materials to take home. We’ve learned that when people make art together, they connect with each other in meaningful ways. What better way to celebrate a birthday or other special occasion? We have been in the business of creativity for over 20 years, and our parties have made thousands of kids happy.

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

When children choose the projects for their friends to make during the party, they’re learning a powerful way to share creativity and deepen friendships. Our art projects are quite different from most things they’ve seen before. With guidance in how to use materials, along with creative freedom in what they do, the projects are deeply satisfying — and memorable. Often we see the entire group of friends quietly chatting while they create something new together. They talk about what they like, share ideas, and encourage each other. And of course they laugh and have fun. The best thing about our parties is that an Artbeat party becomes a lasting memory for everyone.

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

Keeping kids entertained can be challenging. Because our parties are structured around a common activity and are guided in a way that keeps it interesting, kids join in with plenty of creative juice! For parents who want to make a birthday special without hijacking their home or exhausting themselves, an Artbeat party can be the perfect solution. All the mess happens in our studio, there’s time to serve cake and other refreshments, and then they return to a peaceful home.

What should people know before booking with you?

At Artbeat, our art party is an hour-long sit-down activity, so it’s important that the children be ready for that. We recommend that guests be age 5 or older; if you have one or two younger friends or family members coming, they’ll each need an adult to sit with them the entire time. Moms tell us our art party is the easiest party they’ve ever had, because we take care of everything. Artbeat supplies everything from invitations, party bags, favors, and balloons to paper goods for the refreshments.

What makes a birthday party special?

A birthday party is a celebration of you! At Artbeat, you choose the project; it might center around butterflies or beetles, robots or rainbows, penguins or peace signs — whatever your interest is. You may choose treasure boxes, lanterns, canvases, animal figures, or candles. Our parties are all about doing something you love to do and being with your close friends.

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

At Artbeat, each birthday child is a star. They get to pick out the project for their friends to make, and they can help show their friends how to do it, which builds confidence. Their friends also make a special surprise gift for them to take home. For parents: Imagine yourself relaxing and enjoying the party, knowing you’ve got everything under control, and that this birthday will be one they’ll always remember.

Gymboree

gym_pm_stacked_logo_awoltp_CMYK_fnHow did you get into entertaining?

Gymboree has been offering enrichment classes and parties for young children for 40 years. We have had locations in Massachusetts for over 20 years, and I have been a Gymboree owner for 19 years!

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

We love helping families celebrate their child’s special day, especially first birthdays, which we won a Parent’s Magazine award for! The parents really appreciate how we take care of everything so they can enjoy the party too.

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

Sometimes the parents don’t want to get involved with the activities, which can make some of them (like parachute time) challenging. At a Gymboree party, the parents are actively involved. Everyone gets to enjoy the fun!

What should people know before booking with you?

Our space and activities are appropriate for children under age 5. That’s why we concentrate on first through fourth birthday parties. Children 5 and older are too big for our equipment, which makes it hard for them to participate in all of the fun.

What makes a birthday party special?

Our birthday families have exclusive use of our space, with a fabulous Gymboree teacher to set up, lead all of the activities, and — best of all — clean up after they leave. Our equipment and activities are specifically geared toward mobile children under 5, so the parents can relax and join in the fun without worrying that their child is climbing on equipment that is too big or challenging for them.

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

We are focused on making the party fun for everyone who attends, no matter how young or old. The adults get to let loose and play along with their children. We lead a variety of fun games, dances, and activities, interspersed with free exploration on our playscapes, culminating with our signature parachute time featuring our world-famous Bubble Oodles.

Sugar Plum Parties

PrintHow did you get into entertaining?

I grew up entertaining people. From planning birthday parties for my family and friends to working for a wedding planning business in Southern California, I’ve always loved planning and throwing parties! From choosing a theme to decorating the venue to overseeing the event, it’s what I love to do. When the opportunity arose to be a part of Sugar Plum Parties, with my partners Sarah Towne, Ashley Shimabukuro, Lisa Davis, and Todd Giatrelis, I jumped on it as the perfect evolution to my entertaining career. Not to sound too corny, but it’s really what I’m meant to do!

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

The best part about hosting children’s birthday parties is seeing the looks of awe on their faces throughout the event. At Sugar Plum Parties we specialize in providing fully hosted events from beginning to end. The kids are busy being entertained almost from the moment they walk through the door and choose their costume, until the moment we finish the goodbye dance. Making little girls’ birthday wishes come true is definitely my favorite part of these events.

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

Most people don’t realize the planning and training that goes into running an event. All the parents see is the girls having fun with our party hosts. They don’t see what happens behind the scenes, and that’s just the way we want it! Our party hosts are mostly high school-aged girls who have to be continually managed and coached and trained to ensure each party runs smoothly. The actual party is the easy part! The prep is the most challenging.

What should people know before booking with you?

Get your reservations in early! In order to ensure you get the time and date you desire for your party, we recommend booking at least a month in advance. This is especially important if you have special requests, like an extra hour, or extra attendees, as time slots are limited. The other thing to know is that we are here to make sure your birthday girl has an amazing party! We are ready to go the extra mile to ensure your event is perfect — just sit back, relax, and enjoy the party while we handle the planning and hosting duties. It’s one of the aspects of Sugar Plum Parties that parents constantly comment on — their ability to enjoy the moment, without having to manage the moment, or worry about planning, and clean up, and hosting.

What makes a birthday party special?

Sugar Plum Parties are extra special because of the magical experience we provide for the birthday girl and her guests. Our 10+ themes provide something for almost every girl out there to fall in love with! Each party has at least two to three dedicated party hosts, depending on the size of the event. Each party host’s primary responsibility is to make sure every party guest has a great time, but especially the birthday girl. She receives a special birthday crown, is always the center of attention, is seated at the head of the table, and doted on from beginning to end. Each birthday girl is truly a princess for a day at Sugar Plum Parties, which is what every little girl deserves!

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

The biggest expectation that we meet for parents is providing a stress-free hosted event. Parents love that we handle every aspect of the party, from invitations to thank you notes and everything in between. We provide the venue, the cake, the favors, the entertainment, the supervision, and the magic for every party. All parents need to do is be present and enjoy! Parents can also expect a professional staff that is willing to go above and beyond to meet each party’s specific needs and to ensure each birthday girl’s happiness! Kids can expect to be entertained from beginning to end by a staff of enthusiastic, energetic party hosts. Kids can expect to dress up, get their hair and nails done, make a take-home favor, sing, dance, eat, and enjoy! Kids can expect to be wowed by a fully decked-out girly wonderland complete with a stage for singing and dancing (and a TV to watch themselves while performing), over a dozen crystal chandeliers, a disco ball, bubble machine, elegant themed table-scape, yummy food and drink, and fun galore! At Sugar Plum Parties we pride ourselves on providing the Simple.Sweet.Magical.™ experience kids and parents all love!

Answers from Allison Strock, Director of Franchise Support

Sky Zone

Logo Vertical copyWhat makes a Sky Zone birthday party special?

During a Sky Zone birthday party, you get to sit back and relax while we do the heavy lifting. Our party pro facilitators lead games and activities to keep kids engaged and even supply the plates, utensils, and quality catering from local vendors! We also have private courts available, and every group gets time in a private party room.

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

The absolute best part about organizing birthday parties is seeing how much fun each guest has on his or her special day. Helping parents stay organized by providing full-color invites, cakes, and pizza is also very rewarding for our events team.

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

The clean up (which we handle ourselves, of course)!

I’ve never trampolined before. Is Sky Zone for me?

Sky Zone welcomes new jumpers of all ages and experience levels! We have tons of activities that make flying fun and easy. We recommend open jump for individuals or groups looking to try trampolining for the first time. Each court has multiple trampoline squares, and we keep jumpers safe by making sure everyone gets a square to themselves at all times. We also have a foam pit filled with hundreds of foam squares for you to dive into, and a sky slam area, where guests take turns dunking at a trampoline basketball court.

What should people know before booking with you?

If you’re inviting children of different ages to your child’s party, please be aware that for safety purposes, we must separate jumpers based on age. We also encourage all jumpers to fill out electronic waivers before the party, to make check-in even easier. Our packages are two hours and 10 minutes and are all inclusive — the perfect amount of time to have fun and celebrate the special day!

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

We take birthday parties pretty seriously. When parents book at Sky Zone, they can expect a confirmation call a week before the party date, where any changes in food orders, group numbers, or party specifications can be made. The day of the party, a party pro will greet you and confirm all the details for your birthday kid’s big day. The party pro will also help check in all jumpers and keep them entertained for the entire party. You and your group will also be provided a private party room for snacking, hydrating, and post-jump time present-opening. Jumping on a giant trampoline court, ultimate dodgeball, diving into a huge pit of foam cubes, slam dunking with friends, and much much more!

Other than birthday parties, what else is there to do at Sky Zone?

It doesn’t have to be your birthday for you to get the VIP treatment at Sky Zone. We welcome walk-ins from individuals and groups, and also throw customized events for corporate teams, school groups, sports teams, and social clubs. Want your friends or family members to go head to head in a private ultimate dodgeball game? We’re in! Want your office to have a fun Friday full of team bonding? Give us a call. Just looking to tire your kids out before bed? Stop by for an hour or two of high-energy hopping. If you’re looking for healthy, awesome fun, Sky Zone is the place to go!

FMC Ice Sports

2015-2016 Boston Mom's Blog AdHow did you get into entertaining?

Ice rinks and fun go hand in hand, so it only makes sense for us to host parties!

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

Being able to provide a fun environment for kids to celebrate with their friends, share their passion, or maybe try something they’ve never done before.

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

Finding available ice time that works with each group’s schedule.

What should people know before booking with you?

In order to reserve our amenities, we take payment in full at the time of booking.

What makes a birthday party special?

The birthday child gets a special gift from us full of toys and other prizes!

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

Parents can expect a clean arena with a friendly staff to cater to their needs. Kids can expect to have a great time with their friends they won’t soon forget, and they maybe discover a lifelong hobby!

Jam Time

Jamtime_football logoHow did you get into entertaining?

My husband and I were working in the animation/visual effects industry in Los Angeles, which we loved, but we wanted to be closer to our families who were all on the east coast, where we both grew up. We had two kids and wanted them to go to school on the east coast, so we decided to move knowing we could not do our jobs in this area. We started researching businesses we could open and had dozens of ideas. We visited playspaces in the L.A. area with our little ones and always talked about what could be better or done differently. Between our film background, love of kids, and passion for wanting a better playspace for our kids, the idea for Jam Time and entertaining just grew from there!

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

I love everything about doing parties! I love all the planning, working with parents to bring their ideas to life, purchasing party supplies, and setting everything up, but my absolute favorite part is watching how happy kids are playing and celebrating! I love giving clients the best customer service and hearing how, “This is the best party EVER!”  And I love watching when a 1-year-old is eating birthday cake for the first time. I really do love everything about hosting birthday parties at Jam Time!

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

On weekends, when we have a full schedule of eight or nine parties, cleaning up that last Sunday night party is tough! We work so hard giving each family their own unique party with top-notch customer service and cleanliness, that by that last party we’re wiped! Plus, we need to turn our party room into our classroom for the week’s classes, so that party room must be spic and span! But we get motived by turning the music on really loud and getting to work!

What should people know before booking with you?

People should know that Jam Time gives the BEST parties for kids between the ages of 1 and 6! Everything we have at Jam Time is geared toward that age group. We are a playspace that focuses on imaginative free play, where kids can play the entire duration of the party. We can customize anything that people wish! And also, everyone should know that both kids and adults must wear socks at Jam Time!

What makes a birthday party special?

Our personal touch and customer service at Jam Time are superb! When booking a Jam Time party, we do EVERYTHING and with a super big smile! Every party at Jam Time comes with all setup, cleanup, all paper goods for kids and adults, decorations, drinks, and even a visit from JT the Moose our mascot!

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

Both parents and kids can expect to have the BEST PARTY EVER! Parents can expect a stress-free party where they can socialize and actually enjoy the party knowing our party staff will take care of the entire party flow, pouring drinks, cutting cake, cleaning up, etc.  Kids can expect to run, bounce, play, laugh with their friends, and enjoy birthday cake!

Plaster Fun Time

PFT Logo No_Tagline_flatHow did you get into entertaining?

Plaster Fun Time was founded over 20 years ago and grew from a single store in Reading to nine stores across the Boston area (and more coming soon)! We got started as a side project of the founder’s mom, who was a teacher and wanted a fun and less structured environment where kids could express their creativity. It was the repeated requests to host birthday parties that led us to open our first store.

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

Sharing the special day of the birthday child with his or her friends and EVERYBODY getting to be creative and have a special creation to take home. For us, the best part is being part of a special memory that will last forever. We hear from parents all the time reminiscing about the fun they had at THEIR Plaster Fun Time party!

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

Without a doubt, it is timing. Our dedicated party hosts are experts at keeping kids of all ages engaged and having fun from beginning to end, while starting on time and getting to the after-painting time (food, cake, etc).

What should people know before booking with you?

We’ve done this before — many thousand times! We’ve managed parties of four to 84 and have seen it all. Your child’s party will be in good hands.

What makes a birthday party special?

Definitely the guests and an environment that lets them interact. While we think we host great parties, the really memorable moments are the interactions between the birthday child, the party guests, and in allowing them to share their creativity. We create the opportunity, but the kids themselves and their relationships make it special.

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

Parents: We take care of hosting, cleanup, pizza (if you want), and keeping the experience stress free for the parents. Sit back, relax, and enjoy watching the party! All you need to take care of is any paper goods you want, plus any drinks, treats, and/or food you want to provide. It’s entirely up to you and is designed to fit any budget.

Added bonus: Since the party guests will be taking home a balloon and their special creation, party favors/gift bags are definitely not necessary!

Kids can expect to get their hands dirty (in a good way) and have fun with their friends. The birthday child also gets a special gift to keep: A customized painter’s cap signed by all of their friends!

Little Lovage Club

1499570_241508766012058_1923592288_nHow did you get into doing birthday parties?

We have always offered classes during the week, and when we had availability in the schedule on weekends, it made sense to offer parties. Many of our customers live in the city with smaller apartments, and there are few spaces in the area where you can hold big gatherings. We started out offering basic space rentals, where families rent the space and can bring in their own entertainment, food, decorations, etc., to offering themed parties, where they pick a theme and we provide everything for them (party favors, food, cupcakes, decor, open play, and setup/cleanup, as well as additional add-ons they can pick from). This has become very popular, as so many families want to have a beautiful party but don’t have the time or energy to put it together. You can check out our blog to view some of our parties at LLC. This summer we received the Best of Boston 2016 by Boston Magazine for Best Birthday Party Location for Kids!

What’s the best part about doing birthday parties?

We love seeing how much fun the children are having during the parties, but it’s also great that the parents can relax and enjoy themselves. Many of the children and families remember their birthday parties forever, so we’re honored to be a part of their special day.

What’s the most challenging part about doing birthday parties?

We love doing it all — there isn’t anything we see as a challenge!

What should people know before booking with you?

Parents should know to book your party ASAP! We fill up very quickly, especially in the colder months when people can’t have parties outside. Also know that we offer the basic space rental, where parents bring in everything they’d like for the party, and the themed party option, where we do it all for them. Lastly, we offer custom parties, where parents create an original theme, and we will make that theme for them. We work closely with families on custom themes to bring their vision to life.

What makes a birthday party special?

Children and families remember their birthday parties forever. It’s a wonderful day for children to have fun, let loose, and be surrounded by people who love them. It’s also special for parents to celebrate their children with their guests. We try to take as much stress off the parents so they can enjoy themselves just as much as the children do!

What can parents expect from you? What can kids expect?

Our parties are intimate, boutiquey, and flexible. We try our best to accommodate as many requests as possible. We love hearing new ideas, new themes, new activities. The sky is the limit with us!

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