25 birthday party ideas

Whether you're on a shoestring budget or the sky's the limit, we've got 25 birthday party ideas your kids (and their friends) will love



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  • Photograph: Thomas M Kubik

    Little Beans Cafe

  • Photograph: Maggie Rife

    Bubbles Academy

  • Photograph: Melissa Salvatore

    Heritage Little's

  • Photograph: Marina Makropoulos

    Roots Pizza

  • Pied Piper Parties & Playschool

  • Pump It Up

  • Easel Art Studio

Photograph: Thomas M Kubik

Little Beans Cafe

Planning birthday parties for little ones can be stressful. The temptation to throw up your hands and tell your kids' friends to just meet at the local playground, or to just flash mob a kid-friendly restaurant is strong. And what if you want to avoid that frosting-smeared hellscape where a creepy animatronic mouse resides? Relax, there are tons of other birthday party ideas out there. We've picked spots that will allow you to create the perfect party that children—and adults—will enjoy.


Ravinia 200 Ravinia Park Rd, Highland Park, 847-266-5087
Summertime soirees find a musical home at the open-air fest where little jammers can jump around. Past kid crowd-pleasers have included the Dirty Sock Funtime Band, Justin Roberts and, of course, Ralph’s World. $20, $25 or $30 per person; all packages include tent or lawn setup with table and chairs, pavilion tickets, lunch, balloons and gift for the birthday child. ($25 gets you goody bags, $30 adds a personalized birthday cake). Cost-saving tip Bring your own snacks for grown-ups to avoid the $5-per-adult extra charge for lunch.

ComedySportz 929 W Belmont Ave, 773-549-8080, ext. 223
Give kids 11 and up the giggles with an intro-to-improv workshop from the funny folks behind this competition-style comedy show. Your kid is sure to be the class cut-up after getting schooled by the pros here. $500 for an hour-long workshop for up to 15 kids and one-hour use of the theater for cake. Cost-saving tip Bring partyers ages 5–9 to the Saturday-afternoon comedysportz4kids show for $8 per person; you’ll still get use of space for cake and presents for 30 minutes.

Le Ballet Petit School of Dance 4630 N Francisco Ave, 773-463-3385
This not-for-profit gem of a dance studio is a perfect party place for kids who want to get their groove on. The school provides tutus and fringey costumes for an hour of private dance instruction in ballet, jazz or hip-hop. In nice weather, indulge post-party pleas to hit the playground across the street. $150 for a two-hour party including an hour-long private class for up to 25 kids, plus a party table with setup. Worthwhile add-on No time to run to Party City? Tell the staff what paper goods you need; they’ll shop for an agreed-upon fee.

Children’s Museum of Immigration at the Swedish American Museum 5211 N Clark St, 773-728-8111, ext. 26
Party kids get private access during normal hours to this Andersonville kids’ museum, where they can board a replica steamer ship on a “trip” to America, “milk” the wooden cow and row a Viking ship. Celebrate with your own spread in a small adjacent classroom (setup and cleanup are your job). $175 (members $125) for three hours for up to 20 kids (30 guest max). Worthwhile add-on Museum staff will lead a themed craft and game (Pippi Longstocking, Viking or Pioneer) for an additional $5 per kid.

The Wright 3 Tour of the Robie House 5757 S Woodlawn Ave, 708-848-1978
On this tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1910 Prairie Style stunner the guides are kids themselves, trained fifth through tenth graders who share the home’s secrets, ghosts and coded messages from author Blue Balliett’s young-adult mystery. A $200 minimum ($12 per child, $15 per adult) includes 90-minute private tour, plus time for cake in the Robie playroom and a Pentomino block workshop. Worthwhile add-on Send partygoers home with $7.95 Frank Lloyd Wright coloring books from the gift shop to save yourself goody bag hassles.

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