It’s Party Time!
by Sara Tiller
As parents, we want our kids to feel special on their birthdays. So it’s easy to get caught up in planning the perfect party. Before you know it, you’re worrying about one-of-a-kind cakes and Pinterest-perfect decorations. Will a simple bounce house be enough for the kids?
If you find yourself treating birthday parties as a competitive sport, you’re not alone. Over–the–top kids parties are getting more popular. One survey party company found that one in seven parents spent more than $1,000 on their child’s birthday!
Expensive parties and sky-high expectations aren’t a recipe for enjoyable party planning. Parents often find themselves worrying about the party instead of enjoying it. When you’re stressed out, it’s hard to enjoy your child’s big day. What’s worse, a parent’s stress can make the birthday less fun for your child.
So cut down on the stress of party planning by putting yourself in your child’s shoes. What are the memorable events at their friends’ parties? What do they have the most fun doing?
Pinterest-perfect decorations probably aren’t at the top of their list!
Get your child involved in the planning to connect before the party. The things your child wants – and what they don’t care about – might surprise you. Once you know what you both care about, focus on those parts of the party.
Focusing on the most enjoyable parts of a birthday is a great way to cut down on party planning stress. If you love baking, making and decorating your child’s cake might be a great idea. If not, buying a cake may be a better idea. Costco offers sheet cakes with a variety of popular decorations. Princesses, dinosaurs, and beach decorations are sure to be a hit with the kids.
At the same time, cut down on the parts of party planning you dislike. If you hate cleaning, consider having the party away from the house. Many parks and beaches are free; you can reserve picnic tables at other sites for a small fee.
If you’re short on time, many places on Oahu offer party packages for kids. The Children’s Discovery Center in Honolulu is a popular location that offers party packages. Their “Birthday Bash” package includes pizza, juice, crafts, and admission to the discovery center. The Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium are also popular birthday party spots. You might look at other places that offer party packages, like the Wet‘n’Wild Water Park.
There are many other ways that you can cut down on party planning stress. Here are more tips to help you focus on your kids and enjoy the party planning process.
Babies and Toddlers
Most babies and toddlers won’t remember their birthday parties. But these first few birthdays can be a big deal for mom and dad. Get a friend to take pictures or videos at these parties. This way, you’ll be able to focus on your baby.
Remember to think small and simple when you’re planning birthday parties for young kids. Separation anxiety kicks in around this age. Most one-year-olds want to stick close to mom and dad. Toddlers and preschoolers can also get overwhelmed easily. Small parties can help them feel comfortable.
- Plan birthday parties for right after your child’s nap. This way your toddler will be refreshed and excited to celebrate.
- Consider a drop in, open house style event. This allows other families with young kids to work around their schedules. It also helps keep your baby or toddler from getting overwhelmed.
- Skip party favors. At this age, party favors tend to be a choking hazard.
- Keep party food simple. Chicken nuggets, pizza fingers, and fruit are all great choices.
- Choose cupcakes as an easy-to-serve alternative to cake.
Elementary School Children
Once your child starts school, birthday parties can become more than you bargained for. In some places, it’s common to invite your child’s whole class. If you want a smaller party, consider handing out invites outside of school. You can also use evites, or simply text other parents, to make this easier.
Finding and sticking to a simple theme can help cut down on party planning stress. Good themes could be a favorite sport, animal, or color. These themes are broad enough that you’ll be able to find related decorations easily. They’ll also help to make the day memorable for your child. And because they’re classic, your child is likely to be interested in them for a while.
- Decide on a reasonable number of guests. A good rule of thumb is your child’s age, plus one.
- If your child has a close friend with a birthday around the same time, team up with his parents to have one big birthday party.
- Think of party planning as a way to connect with your child. Find age-appropriate things you can do together, like decorating cupcakes or making goody bags. Including him in the party planning can also help you manage his expectations.
- If the birthday boy has siblings who might get jealous, make sure that a close friend or your spouse is around to provide backup. They can keep an eye on the kids while you take care of the sibling.
- Avoid competitive games, since young kids tend to feel bad if they don’t win. If you’re worried about bad sportsmanship, offer crafts as an alternative to games.
As kids get older, it’s more common for parents to drop them off and pick them up after the party. Make the party more enjoyable to you by enlisting a friend to help you watch the kids. Make sure parents know when they should be back to pick up their kids.
- Consider throwing birthday parties every few years, and alternating them with other fun events like sleepovers.
- Request RSVPs and include a date that guests should reply by. That way, you won’t need to feel bad about following up when no one has replied.
- Older kids often know what they want at their parties, and are old enough to help plan. Pick two or three things that you both enjoy, and focus on planning those. If you and your son love games, spend some quality time together picking out games to play.
- If you’re worried that kids will get bored, have a few extra party games on hand. A scavenger hunt, balloon stomp, or photo booth with props from the dollar store are all fun and affordable ways to keep the kids entertained.
- Plan the party for after lunch to avoid making lunch for all the guests. You can set up a table with self-serve snacks, juices, and water instead. Planning a party without a meal can also make the day easier on kids with allergies.
Directory of Party Venues and Entertainment Vendors
Barbers Point Bowling
Looking for an exciting and affordable place for your next special event? Barbers Point Bowling Center is the place for you! For birthday parties and other celebrations, bowling parties are fun for all ages. Their hourly standard party rate includes unlimited bowling with additional party upgrades available, such as Glo Bowling and a private room for you and your guests to use. Food and beverages can also be purchased at their convenient snack bar, The Prop Stop. Just give them a call and reserve a date! For more information, visit their website at barberspointbowling.com.
Bay View Mini-Putt
Bay View Mini-Putt & Zipline is the perfect venue for all types of occasions and celebrations, including graduations, baby luaus, company retreats, birthday parties, fundraisers, retirement parties and more. Located in Kaneohe, they offer wholesome fun for everyone, for those who are young and those who are young at heart. Receive special discounted rates on mini golf and zipline when booking a party of 10 people or more! You are “good to go” with Bay View Mini Putt. They offer several large and private party areas with catering options available. For more information, go to bayviewminiputt.com.
Ben Franklin Crafts
Ben Franklin Crafts is a one-stop shop for decorating your next birthday party or event. Stocked with party essentials for every occasion as well as crafting supplies, you can make your next party a unique one to remember for years to come. Ben Franklin also offers lei-making crafting classes and books, so you will never have to purchase a standard lei from the store again! To check out everything Ben Franklin Crafts has to offer for your next party or event, visit one of their four locations on Oahu or visit their website at benfranklinhawaii.com.
Big City Diner
In addition to being a local favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Big City Diner can also cater for your next celebration. They have a private event room for 20-50 guests at BCD-Windward Mall and an outdoor private patio at BCD-Pearlridge, both with free parking. There are a variety of fresh buffet options, or if you want to create your own menu, Big City Diner also provides individual platters for the majority of the items on their menu. Six bento combinations are also available for parties, which makes planning, mealtime, and clean up easy! For more information, call their catering director at 808-657-7711, or visit bigcitydinerhawaii.com.
As Hawaii’s first and only rage room and splatter art studio, Break’N Anger in Kakaako offers a unique and exhilarating option for your group’s next birthday party or event. Unleash your frustrations in their Smash Labs, where you can smash glassware, electronics and large appliances with a crowbar or sledgehammer. Or discover your creative side in their Splatter Art Studio, where you can throw paint around on the walls and canvas to create a work of art. No matter what your mood, Break’N Anger has got you covered for a memorable experience in Honolulu. Book online at breaknanger.com.
Chuck E. Cheese’s
Chuck E. Cheese’s, where “A Kid Can Be a Kid,” specializes in birthday parties where the birthday child is the center of attention. They have 4 tiers of party packages to fit every family’s budget and needs. To book a party, there is a minimum of 10 people. If you’ve been to Chuck E. Cheese’s before, it’s worth another visit because the memories made here last a lifetime. To make a birthday reservation please contact the stores directly; Honolulu (808-851-7400), Pearl City (808-455-1448), Kapolei (808-762-7414). Let them take care of all your birthday party needs!
Digitoons Hawaii draws all over the island at many of Oahu’s finest venues and rockin’ parties. Digitoons can create quick-sketch cartoon color drawings of you and your guests in about 5 minutes each! Hand-drawn on an iPad, this allows for quick coloring and multiple natural-media brushes (i.e., hair, airbrush, light pen, bokeh, etc.). Guests are mesmerized as drawings take form in seconds on the large display monitor. 4”x6” color photos are printed out on an industrial high-speed printer and can be airdropped or downloaded via a QR code. People tend to reserve services at least 3 months in advance, so be sure to book early. Visit digitoons.com for more information.
Experience an adrenaline rush at Drift Zone! With two locations, (Ka Makana Ali’i and Pearlridge Center) Drift Zone’s party packages include track time, head socks and helmets, with package upgrades available such as cosmic drifting and your own party room. Your designated party host can help plan your event and provide private space and track time for your group. They also allow outside food and beverages. Both children and adults ages 3-103 can experience the thrill of drifting at Drift Zone! To make a reservation, call the reservations team at 808-388-8844. For more information, visit their website at driftzoneint.com.
Located on the North Shore, Gunstock Ranch is the perfect spot for family-friendly activities and beautiful venue spaces. They cater to all types of events, and they don’t limit the number of guests you can invite. You can even bring your own food! Their amenities are unique and exciting, including a petting zoo, pony rides, a playground, and a campfire pit. Additionally, Gunstock Ranch offers specialty packages such as group trail rides and off-road UTV tours. This is also a great field trip destination! To book a party and for more information, contact their event specialist at 808-341-3995 or visit gunstockranch.com.
Hawaii Academy offers children and adults the opportunity to participate in fun, highly active and quality parties in a safe and educational environment. Guests can jump, swing, tumble and climb at the best-equipped rebound facilities in the Pacific! With gyms in Honolulu (Kalihi), Pearl Harbor (JBPHH-military only), and Waipahu (Lighthouse Outreach Center), their highly qualified instructors will teach fundamental gymnastic skills, facilitate games, and supervise obstacle courses tailored to your group. A typical party includes 90 minutes of gym time and 30 minutes for eating. You are welcome to bring your favorite foods and decorations; they will provide the tables, chairs and cleanup. For more information or to make a reservation please call 808-842-5642 (Honolulu), 808-422-2223 (Pearl Harbor), or 808-676-2222 (Waipahu).
Hawaii Dance Bomb
Hawaii Dance Bomb offers facilitated Silent Disco Parties for children aged 5-12, where everyone wears headphones and grooves to the music without disturbing neighbors. You can choose to have staff help you set the party up, or you can run the party on your own with headphone delivery available anywhere on Oahu. Kids are sure to be engaged with up to 90 minutes of interactive games, an amazing DJ, dancing, disco and laser lights. Parents are free! Silent Disco Parties are wireless so they can be held inside or outside. For more information, visit hawaiidancebomb.com. See you on the dance floor!
Keiki Kicks provides a unique experience for keiki to be introduced to the game of soccer by offering fun birthday parties, where they provide the soccer gear (balls, goals, cones, etc.) and a coach to play fun soccer games. Parties are customizable to accommodate children ages 1 and up. Parents, aunties, uncles, and grandparents can join their keiki on the field or cheer them on from the sidelines. To help make it a special day to remember, they will come to you with the entertainment. Visit keikikicks.com or contact them for more information.
Keiki Kingdom is the biggest indoor playground in Hawaii, offering a multi-level play structure, separate area for younger children, party rooms, slides, climbing walls, ball pits, sand box and much more. It is fully air-conditioned and supervised by trained staff to keep your kids safe and happy. Keiki Kingdom’s main indoor playground is for children 13 years and younger, and toddlers have a special gated section with fun activities specifically designed for them. Reserve a party room or buy-out the entire facility to celebrate your child’s next birthday or other event! For more information, visit keikikingdom.com.
Knockerball Hawaii is your number one source of fun activities for kids and adults! They’ve got you covered for the next birthday party, BBQ, fundraiser or team-building event. Any type of event can be taken to the next level with Knockerballs. Already having your party at the park or another venue? No worries, they come to you! Knockerball Hawaii will deliver and set-up the balls, provide fun games to play, run the games if you like, and take them away when you are done. Try “Knocker Soccer,” other exciting Knocker games, or just get in the ball, roll around, and make some memories. Visit knockerballhawaii.com for more information.
Create an unforgettable occasion by offering fun and creative additions to your next event with the help of Magical Touch. Face painting, glitter tattoos, balloon twisting, magicians, and more; there are attractions available that will appeal to everyone in your group. With a wide selection of quality party entertainment, Magical Touch offers activities for all kinds of events including birthday parties, baby showers, fundraisers, holiday parties and more. Last-minute reservations are welcome! For more details, go to partyentertainment-hawaii.com.
From pony rides and petting zoos, to costumed characters, party games and more, Paniolo Parties is a great option for your next event. They also offer carriage rides – perfect for cowboy or princess themed bashes – magic shows, clowns, and face painting. Coming from Los Angeles where their sister company, Fantastic Parties operates, Paniolo Parties can customize any event, from children’s birthday bashes and holiday parties to corporate events and more. Visit panioloparties.com for more information.
With a great atmosphere for children and families and catering options that everyone will enjoy, Restaurant 604 is the perfect venue for events and large groups of 20 or more. With both indoor and private outdoor seating available, you can choose the ideal environment for your party’s dynamic. The banquet hall can accommodate up to 120 people, perfect for baby showers, grad parties and other large family-friendly events. For more information, email them at email@example.com or visit restaurant604.com/groups.
Sea Life Park
Make your child’s birthday extra memorable and fun this year by celebrating at Sea Life Park. Enjoy access to all the park exhibits and shows, eat a special birthday cake, and celebrate in your own private party area. They will take care of all the planning and preparation so that you can simply celebrate alongside your child, stress-free! Make the day extra special with the Dolphin Aloha Experience package or visit Storybook Station’s new “Tails and Scales” mermaid makeover bar! Kamaaina discounts are available. Browse Sea Life Park’s birthday party packages to find the perfect one for your group at sealifeparkhawaii.com/groups.
Storybook is Oahu’s trusted source for all your party entertainment needs, with over 350 high quality character hosts to choose to match your theme, skilled face painters, balloon artists, glitter tattoos, caricature artists, stilt walkers, assembly packages, mad science parties, foam and bubble parties, glow parties and more! Need a venue or a unique idea for your little one’s big day? Visit their Fantasy salon and all-inclusive party venue, Storybook Station, located inside the Windward Mall. Your little ones can transform into fairies, pirates, mermaids, dragons and more, by getting a detailed fantasy makeover performed by one of Storybook’s fantasy stylists. Visit storybookentertainmenthawaii.com to learn more.
Sweet Land Farm
Nestled on Oahu’s north shore is the island’s only certified commercial goat dairy farm and the most adorable place you’ll ever visit. Sweet Land Farm’s mission is to educate our youth about the farm and the importance of agriculture to our island. Visitors leave the tours stimulated by the experience and captivated by the friendly goats. They are open to the public on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no farm entrance fee. Sign up for a tour at the farm store, where you can also find delicious homemade goat cheese, cheesecake, and other goodies. For more information, visit sweetlandfarmhawaii.com.
Touch Grass Oahu
Give your kids the gift of outdoor fun for their next birthday party with Touch Grass Oahu! With 3 keiki-friendly activities that can be enjoyed on their Waimanalo Farm, your little riders can experience the exhilaration of riding an off-road quad/dune buggy, enjoy a game of Gelly Ball, and then cool off on the refreshing waterslide. Party packages include 4 hours of use on our private oval off-road track, 2 acres of land, riding and/or Gelly gear, picnic pavilion, 50 lbs. of ice, gas grill and staff support. To learn more, call 808-688-3714 or visit touchgrassoahu.com.
Wet N Wild
Celebrations are meant to be fun, and with Wet ‘n Wild’s group packages, you can relax and enjoy your day at the water park as everything is taken care of! Whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary, family reunion, graduation, or any other special occasion, Wet ‘n Wild caters to all types of group celebrations and events and can provide the flexibility to help you create your own perfect party. Visit wetnwildhawaii.com for more information.