How to Throw the Perfect Kid’s Party

Five children having fun at a birthday party

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.

Older Children

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 a unique place for your next special event? Look no further! Barbers Point Bowling Center is the place for you! They have party rates available along with a private party room for you and your guests to use. Just give them a call and reserve a date! Visit their website at or call 808-673-2695.

Bay View Mini Golf

Looking for a venue for your next big party? Bay View Mini Golf is the perfect venue for all types of occasions and celebrations such as: graduations, baby luaus, company retreats, birthday parties, fundraisers and retirement parties. Ask about a discount when booking a party of 10 people or more. Receive special discounted rates on mini golf and zipline when booking an event. You are “good to go” with Bay View Mini-Putt.  They offer several large and private party areas. For more information, visit or call 808-247-6464.

Big City Diner

Voted “Best American Food” in Hawaii by readers of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Big City Diner has something for everyone! In addition to being a local favorite for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Big City Diner will cater your next birthday party! We have a private party room for 20-50 guests at BCD-Windward Mall and an outdoor private patio at BCD-Pearlridge too. There are a variety of great 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 our Catering Director, Jody, on her mobile phone at 808-657-7711 or email or please visit

Chuck E. Cheese’s

Chuck E. Cheese’s, where “A Kid Can Be a Kid,” offers wholesome family fun in a well-maintained facility. Chuck E. Cheese’s specializes in birthday parties where the birthday child is the center of attention. They have 4 tiers of Birthday packages to fit everyone’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. Outside food and decorations are not allowed. 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 party needs!

family having fun riding horses at Gunstock Rach
Gunstock Ranch

Gunstock Ranch offers family-friendly activities and beautiful venue spaces, perfect for your next event. They were named Honolulu Family Magazine’s 2016 Best Party Spot for a Paniolo Party, and they live up to the title as one of the best places to host a party on the North Shore. Whether it’s a birthday or graduation party, family reunion, or work retreat, you’ll find the perfect fit for you and all your guests. They don’t limit the number of people you can invite, and you can bring in your own food as well. Some of their unique amenities include pony rides, a petting zoo and a campfire pit. They also offer specialty parties including group trail rides and their All About Horses party. Gunstock Ranch is also a popular field trip destination and offers horseback riding, hiking, team building, horse shows and crafts.

All parties are booked through their event specialist by calling 808-341-3995or by emailing They guarantee that you’ll have a memorable and, most of all, a fun time when you choose Gunstock Ranch for your party. Visit for more information.

caricature of a family of four

Caricature artist Tiki has drawn at many well-known amusement parks and venues across the world – including Magic Mountain, Universal Studios, Tokyo Disneyland, and Sea Paradise, among others. He’s even drawn for a Hawaii Five-O! He is now available for hire at your next party, corporate event or wedding reception. Guests will be amazed as he draws them in color on a digital tablet (like the IPAD) within minutes and then prints them out in seconds. Party package includes: free online downloads from the Drawing Gallery, 4×6” Color Printing on site, and large screen projection for your guests to watch. Unique party entertainment, fun for all ages! For more information visit, or call 808-203-4221.

catamarans sailing on Oahu's waters
Hawaii Nautical

Hawaii Nautical is one of Hawaii’s largest ocean-activity providers, with a fleet of vessels island-wide serving harbors across Oahu and the Big Island. Hawaii Nautical’s dive masters respect the ocean and the ecosystem, and follow strict guidelines so that all marine mammals and wildlife are protected. They also honor the host-culture and support the local communities in which they operate.

Every December through March, thousands of Humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii. Come see these beautiful mammals on an eco-friendly whale-watching excursion. They also offer a variety of other activities, including snorkeling, sunset cruises, scuba diving and more. Hawaii Nautical sells top-of-the-line snorkel gear, as well as everything you need to make your beach or pool day the best.

Call 808-234-7245 or visit for more information.

KEY Project logo
Key Project

Kualoa-He’eia Ecumenical Youth (KEY) Project was founded in 1968 through the efforts of churches, community residents, and social service agencies. KEY Project has a multi-purpose community center with facilities to meet the needs of the community. With commercial kitchen use, computer lab, banquet hall, and more, KEY Project thrives on hosting community events, offering facilities-use to partner organizations, and programming to bring the community together. Visit to learn more or call 808-239-5777.


For your next birthday party, bring the kids to Gymboree Play & Music. Inside you’ll find a unique play environment with slides, climbers, inflatable pieces and a variety of equipment to jump, climb and crawl through. Throw in an enthusiastic Gymboree teacher and your children and their friends will play, laugh, sing and have the best birthday party ever! Clean up is easy. Just walk away. For more information, call Pearlridge at 808-486-7529.

Knockerball Hawaii

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. Already having your party at the park or another venue? No worries, they come to you! Try “Knocker soccer,” other exciting Knocker games, or just get in and roll around. For more information, visit, or call 808-388-0587.

kids having fun at Hawaii Academy
Hawaii Academy

Hawaii Academy has been hosting quality birthday parties for over 20 years. They offer children and adults the opportunity to participate in fun, highly active events in a safe, 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), and Waipahu (Lighthouse Outreach Center), their highly qualified instructors will teach fundamental gymnastics skills, facilitate games, and supervise obstacle courses tailored to your group.

Their 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. Parties can be held on Saturdays, Sundays and days there are no instruction.

For more information or to make a reservation please call 808-842- 5642 (Honolulu Gym), 808-422-2223 (Pearl Harbor Gym-military only), or 808- 676-2222 (Waipahu Gym). To learn more, visit

Magical Touch

Check out the widest selection of quality party entertainment.  Create an unforgettable occasion by offering fun and creative additions to your event.  Face painting, balloon twistings, magicians, and more; there are attractions that will appeal to everyone. Magical Touch offers activities for all kinds of parties and events such as birthday parties, baby showers, holiday parties and more. Reservations are always available.  Visit or call 808-688-4555 for more details.

Kids City

Kids City, the popular indoor luxury playgrounds, offers party packages at both Ka Makana Ali’i (808-393-7909) and Ward Center (808-888-2700) locations.  They offer private room rentals, where your children get to explore, innovate, and interact with tons of play sections.  Designed for children 7 months old to 13 years, there’s something fun for all ages.  You can take a virtual tour of the facilities and make reservations on their website at

Paniolo Parties

From pony rides and petting zoos to costumed characters and party games, Paniolo Parties is a great option for your next party. They also offer carriage rides, which are perfect for cowboy or princess themed bashes, magic shows, clowns and face painting. Coming from Los Angeles where their sister company, Parties Fantastic operates, Paniolo Parties can customize any event, from children’s birthday bashes and holiday parties to corporate events. For more information, visit, or call 808-678-8000 or 714-269-9531.

Pigtails & Crewcuts logo
Pigtails & Crewcuts

Pigtails and Crewcuts is more than just the best keiki barbershop around. They also do parties and special events! Pigtails and Crewcuts Hawaii now offers outdoor parties in addition to their traditional salon birthday events. Pigtails and Crewcuts will come to you, with party packages that include party helpers, nail polish, glittery braids and updos, tattoos, makeup, hair tinsel, feathers and more. Their traditional parties at Pigtails and Crewcuts will pamper your birthday princess with hair styling, manicures and makeup. She and her guests can also dress up like divas and strut their stuff down the red carpet. Pirate themed parties – complete with a treasure hunt – as well as wild cowboy parties are also available for your little ones. Check out their shop in the Moanalua Shopping Center. They also offer ear piercing at the salon! For reservations or more information, call 422-4300, or visit

Storybook Entertainment Hawaii

Storybook is Oahu’s trusted source for all your party entertainment needs. We have 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 our new 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 our fantasy stylists! Visit or to reserve your next party.

Razor Sports

Experience an adrenaline rush at Razor Sports. Both children and adults can experience the excitement of drifting at the Ka Makana Ali’i location. Razor Sports offers party packages that includes track time, head socks and helmets along with different package upgrades. For more information, visit their website at To make a reservation, call the reservations team at 808-388-8844.

goats at Sweetland Farm
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 10AM to 2PM and on Saturdays from 9AM to 2PM. 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. Call 808-228-6838 or visit for more information.

two females smiling inside Tea at 333
Salon and Spa 333

Celebrate your next birthday party or event at Salon and Spa 333’s new event space, located in the Waipahu Plantation Marketplace. “Spill the Tea at 333” provides guests with the best afternoon tea service on the island. You can book parties with up to 20 guests or groups as small as 1-2 people. Each afternoon tea service includes food and beverage. To find out more and book your reservation, please visit or call 808-888-4333.

a luxurious outdoor picnic
Sparkle My Creations

Create each experience with the spirit of aloha! Sparkle My Creations has the best designs and setups for your keiki’s birthday or other celebration! We customize themed table designs, goodie bags, balloon installations and more. You can even add a live vocalist and band to your party package! Sparkle My Creations can also create customized gift boxes and photo shoots for any celebration or event.

We offer in-home services and affordable rates for kama’aina. Email us today at or you may visit our website at for booking, prices and more information.

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