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Seven Great Ideas for Kids’ Birthday Parties in Washington DC

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Every time Elizabeth’s birthday approaches, I start getting anxious. Where will we hold her birthday party this year? I bet this sounds very familiar for a lot of parents… Like me, you are desperately searching for kids’ birthday parties ideas.

Elizabeth was born in mid-November, and in Washington DC this unfortunately means zero control over the weather. It could be pouring down rain, or it could be nice weather in the upper 60’s. Nobody knows.

In some years, we’ve taken a chance, hoping that weather would turn out good. In others, we held parties indoors.

Below I describe some ideas for birthday parties in the DC metro area which we had experience with, including advantages and disadvantages.

List of kids’ birthday parties ideas

Pump it Up!

This is a much beloved and highly popular choice. Every year, we end up going to a few Pump It Up parties. Kids like bounce houses, so naturally they have a lot of fun. During such a party, kids spend some time playing in different rooms and finally have a birthday celebration in a party room.

There are several advantages of holding a party at Pump It Up. Since the party is held indoors, you don’t have to worry about the weather. These parties are great for kids of any age, even the smallest ones, so you can invite a diverse group of kids. Pump It Up offers several packages and the experience is fully customizable. Also, parents do not have to manage the party in any way, everything is perfectly orchestrated by the Pump It Up staff. So, if you are looking for a turn-key experience, Pump It Up is perfect. Finally, the kids are going to have a blast at this party, no question about that.

On a negative side, Pump It Up is a little far away from DC. If there is a lot of traffic, it might take an hour to get there, depending on where in DC you live. Also, your party will likely not be very unique. A few kids from your class will probably have it in the same place.

Birthday celebration at the Pump It Up

Imagination Stage

Imagination Stage offers an interesting birthday concept. First, you and your guests attend the performance which is currently airing in their theater. As a host, you have to purchase tickets for your guests. After the performance, you get a chance to celebrate the birthday in the party room. You pay for the rental of the room and bring your own food.

I personally like this concept a lot as it is quite unique and there won’t be too many other kids holding the party at the Imagination stage. I also like the fact that kids at the party participate in a cultural activity and learn something useful. During our party, we watched an interactive show about spies, which incorporated a lot of interesting information about science. Kids who belong to the birthday party end up sitting together in a row assigned to them, so it’s a really nice experience.

On the negative side, this type of party is quite intense for parents. You have to bring all the food, set up the party room, then clean up. It’s also possible that there won’t be a new show airing around the date of your child’s birthday. In addition, some guests might not show up, while you cannot refund their tickets. Finally, you have to see what is the recommended age to watch the show. It wouldn’t make sense to invite babies and other small kids as they wouldn’t understand much.

Birthday party at the Imagination Stage

Picnic at the Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek park offers a great opportunity to hold a birthday picnic for those kids whose birthday is in the warm months of the year. A big advantage is low cost. You don’t need to pay for room rental like you do with various indoor facilities. It’s also a good change of scenery from playgrounds where kids spend most of their time. In case of rain, you are still protected. Just make sure to pick the grove which has a roof. Some of these need to be reserved ahead of time, it’s better to do this early. Our favorite spot is near Peirce Mill. It’s easy to get to and there is plenty of parking available.

Ducks in the Rock Creek Park

Gymnastics Party

I think having a birthday party at the gym is a great idea. It’s somewhat similar to the concept of Pump It Up, but it’s more unique. Kids get an opportunity to exercise, run, jump and so on for some time, and then get taken to the party room. Some guests might enjoy the gymnastics party so much that they will eventually want to try a class.

The Dynamite gymnastics center offers packages for birthday parties. There are three packages and you can select one which is best for you. The one downside is that packages get sold out quickly, so it’s recommended to book at least 2 months in advance.

Dynamite gymnastics center

Roer’s Zoofari

Roer’s Zoofari is a very fun and popular zoo in VA where you can feed the animals. What I like about this zoo is that it’s much smaller than the National Zoo, but you still have plenty of stuff to do without walking long distances and getting tired. Much better for smaller kids and tired parents.

The Zoofari offers birthday packages which can be easily booked online for groups of 10 people or more. Each guest is able to go on 3 experiences (e.g., feed the barn animals, ride the tram around the Zoo, feed the turtles or birds). Smaller groups will need to just purchase entrance passes for all the guests. The birthday is celebrated in the picnic pavilion. This type of birthday party would be quite unique and a lot of fun for the kids.

Some potential disadvantages of this party venue are as follows. While the pavilion has a roof, it still would not fully protect the guests from bad weather. In addition, it’s definitely not fun to walk around the zoo in cold, rainy and windy conditions. I would suggest this option for a warmer time of the year. Also, the zoo is a bit far from DC. Depending where you live, it might take 45 minutes- 1 hour to get there.

Roer’s Zoofari

Princess Parties in DC

If you want to have a unique birthday party, I highly recommend Princess Parties of DC. You get a Princess of your choice to come to your party and do different fun activities with kids. This saves you a lot of headache when it comes to entertaining kids. You just need to pick the Princess on the website, and she will come to the location of your choice. We had invited Elena of Avalor and were very happy with the outcome. She did a lot of fun activities with the kids and we didn’t need to worry about entertaining our guests. The customer service is also excellent and you don’t need to book too much in advance as there are multiple princesses to choose from.

Birthday Party with Elena of Avalor

Other kids birthday parties ideas

If you are not concerned about cold or rain, you can just hold the party at one of your favorite playgrounds. This is always easy and fun.

If the party is during winter months, you can check with various venues near you and find a party room which you could rent. Many condominiums have a community room which could be used for this purpose.

A good idea is to add some activities to make such a birthday party more fun. For example, you could include inviting a magician or a face painter. Many people also have a piñata at the party.

Simple and easy food ideas for kids’ birthday parties

In terms of food for kids’ birthday parties, I am a firm believer in individually wrapped snacks. It’s always hard for kids to resist the temptation of taking some chips or cookies, fiddling with them, and putting them back, if they are on a large platter. So, we usually buy a few boxes with a variety of individually packed snacks (Goldfish, chips of different kinds, Oreos, Ritz crackers etc.) Each kid grabs the bag he or she likes the best, and there is no confusion/mess. We also buy Motts or Apple & Eve juice bottles or boxes (apple and fruit punch). Simple and easy. If some packs are left over, we can just take them home and use for my daughter’s snacks in the next few weeks.

When it comes to the main course, cheese and pepperoni pizza is an obvious choice because it works for most of the guests. A significant downside of serving pizza is that pizza gets cold quickly, especially when your birthday is in the cold months of the year. One possible substitute of pizza could be crepes with different fillings (Nutella, jam, cheese). They don’t need to be served hot and both kids and parents usually like them. Crepes can be either home-made or ordered from a restaurant, such as Crepe Lena.

Of course, you can also go for something even more interesting and offer a menu of food from your country using a catering service. For example, one of my friends organized a Spanish-themed birthday party, which was an absolute delight. At one point, I ordered Ukrainian food for my daughter’s birthday party. Everyone enjoyed it.

In conclusion

Every kid greatly looks forward to their birthday. For example, my daughter starts talking about her birthday and potential choices for a birthday party venue a few moths in advance. Birthday, birthday, birthday… It’s always on her mind. Naturally, I want to make sure she can invite all her friends and have a really special party.

I hope you find these ideas useful for your kids’ birthday parties as well.

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