25 birthday party ideas
Whether you're on a shoestring budget or the sky's the limit, we've got 25 birthday party ideas for budding Batalis, Beckhams, Beyoncés and every kid in between.
Wishcraft 2312 W Roscoe St, 773-348-9474
This cheerful Roscoe Village storefront personalizes parties from start to finish. Chat with the owners ahead of time to tell them what makes your child tick (he raves about robots or she’s bound for a life in theater) and they take it from there with custom invites, birthday banners and an art project to suit your kid’s style (recycled-water-bottle robots, for example). $395 for a two-hour party for ten, $450 for up to 15, $525 for 20; $15 per additional child . Includes invites, paper goods, art project and embroidered T-shirt for the b-day kid. Cost-saving tip Scrap the custom invites and personalized tee, and bring in your own paper goods to slice $70 from the price.
Make-A-Messterpiece The Glen Town Center, 2050 Tower Dr, Glenview; 847-730-5275
An instant hit when it opened last year, this North Shore hub of kid creativity has two identical party rooms. Two standard birthday activities—Bubbleology (paint-infused bubbles pop on paper, resulting in bubbly works of art) and canvas creations (kids go to town with paints, markers and crayons)—keep little ones happy (and messy, though long-sleeved smocks help keep clothes pretty clean). Bonus: Grown-ups can use free Wi-Fi in the Club M lounge. $350 for a 90-minute party for up to 20 kids includes two activities above plus party room rental ($10 per additional child). Cost-saving tip Skip an additional $5-per-kid cost for food (pizza, chicken fingers, quesadillas and the like) and just bring a cake.
Team Blonde 7442 W Madison St, Forest Park; 708-771-5590
Blond-tressed duo Jayne Ertel and Heidi Vance’s studio hosts birthday bangle-making parties (think beaded bracelets, pendant necklaces) that score big with little design types. The adjoining ecofriendly spa offers polish changes to spruce up crafters’ nails. Down the street, Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor keeps the party going with a deal for an ice-cream cake, cupcakes or build-your-own sundaes, plus soda, balloons, a staff person and party room for an hour. $20 minimum per child for one or two jewelry creations or polish service; 25-kid max for 45 minutes to an hour of activity, plus time for cake. Brown Cow package is an extra $7 per person. Cost-saving tip Forgo the ice-cream parlor add-on and bring your own treats to the salon.
Sister-Arts Studio 721 W Wrightwood Ave, 773-929-7274
Donna Palicka customizes art projects (decoupaged boxes, scrapbooks, Uglydolls). Her bargain bashes include painting hand-carved wooden figures—everything from elephants to cats to fish—to please both girls and boys. $10 per person plus $5 for each painting project for up to 12 kids. $50 fee for assistant for additional kids (up to 20). Palicka recommends a 90-minute party for kids under six and two hours for older kids. Worthwhile add-on If your child pooh-poohs the painting, she might prefer hand-sewing her own stuffie ($10 per child).
Inside Out Art Studio 2005 W Montrose Ave, 773-697-5012
Master mask maker Jeff Semmerling opens his Lincoln Square art studio to partyers ages seven and up to make their own creations (from a kid-sized basic form) or other crafts (puppets, sculpture, jewelry). You’re welcome to bring your own food and party decorations. $200 for 15 kids max. Worthwhile add-on Older ones can tackle more complex puppet or mask projects—Semmerling will work out a price with you.