Birthdays on Any Budget

Birthdays-feb16-1Whether you need to save or want to splurge, we’ve got plenty of recommendations for fun birthday party locations all over the Portland metro area.

Nothing can cause as much parental anxiety as trying to plan a birthday party for your kid. Your special, funny, wonderful kid. You may feel that unless you have some Brit + Co craft skills (and the bankroll of a digital media darling), you can’t even come close to the kind of party your kid deserves. Take a deep breath and remember that your kid probably won’t care about intricately handcrafted favors or perfectly replicated Pinterest snacks. Friends, fun and his parents enjoying themselves will probably be his best memories. So this year, let someone else do the heavy lifting. We know about a slew of great party spots that keep it easy for you — no matter what your budget.

Thrifty fun: $125 and less

Rollerskating is a classic kid party tradition and what better place to lace up than Oaks Park? $125 will cover eight guest admissions, rental skates, 30 minutes at a reserved table, a photo with Chipper the Squirrel and a special gift for the birthday kid. Plus, enough ice cream, cotton candy and soda to keep the skaters energetically rolling around the rink.

Birthdays-feb16-3Get your roll on at Wilsonville Lanes. For $64.95, five guests bowl for 2 hours. They also have a game room and their party package includes $5 game cards. Wilsonville Lanes makes it easy on parents by also including party supplies and printable invitations. Get pizza, soda and an extra half hour on the lane for just 20 bucks more.

Long before Minecraft there was the arcade. Take your kids on a trip back to your childhood with an arcade and pizza party at Milwaukie Bowl. Two large pizzas, eight $5 arcade cards and unlimited soda will run you $60.

For a party with the works, head to Pietro’s Pizza in Beaverton. Your kiddos and friends will get pizza, soda, ice cream cones, four game tokens — and be able to burn off their meal with some laser tag. Table decorations are also included at this Pacific Northwest institution, and they offer the choice of several themes from Frozen to Spiderman to Minions. Ten guests will run about $120.

Kick it Up: $250 and less

An archery party at Trackers Earth is sure to score a bull’s eye. Knowledgeable staffers will teach up to 10 partygoers form — and safety — at the indoor archery range. You’ll also have access to a cozy party area with tables and chairs — and staffers have been known to stick around and tell campfire-quality stories to spellbound guests. $149 for 90 minutes.

Birthdays-feb16-2For active kids 5 and younger, JJ Jump in Clackamas offers the JJ Jump’n party package for $210 on the weekends. Up to 16 kiddos can bounce themselves silly for an hour and 15 minutes. Then the birthday jumper gets a chance to snag cash and prizes in the Ca$h Cube. The party wraps up in a party room where a hostess helps with cake (provided by you) and presents. (They clearly know cake should definitely come after jumping!) JJ Jump also throws in paper goods and printable invitations. And they close the facilities to the public, so you’ll only be sharing the equipment with up to one other party. Pizza must be purchased through JJ Jump (for an additional fee), but outside cold food is allowed.

Send your birthday kid and her friends flying through the air with the greatest of ease at an Echo Theater Company party. Instructors will teach trapeze, acrobatics and the workings of physical theater. (Imagine the photo ops!) They can even accommodate kids younger than 4. A 90-minute class for up to 10 kids, and 30 minutes in the party area runs $240. They will provide a table and chairs for post-class partying, but everything else needs to be brought in.

Artsy kids will love whipping up creative projects at The Craft Factory. Each child gets a craft base and unlimited embellishments. The price is $175 for up to five guests. The Craft Factory also supplies decorations, plates, silverware and napkins during the hour-and-a-half-long party. They also can host larger parties for an additional cost. Be sure to check out their page of party extras if you want to splurge on face painters or puppeteers.

Encourage your little scientist’s curiosity with a party at Art of STEM. Their cool science technology-engineering-math-art themed projects actually teach kids about things like how magnets work or how to build a wind-up toy through reverse engineering. Along with the party project and STEAM specialist as host, the basic party package includes servingware, games, themed decorations, and set up and clean up. It runs $225 for nine to 12 guests. You can also add munchies like pizza and cupcakes (or have them handle everything) for an additional cost. Best for ages 5 and older.

The Sky’s the Limit: $250+

If your little can’t get enough of the princess stories, she’ll flip out for Amazing Fairytale Parties’ cast of characters. They’ve got princesses and superheroes and fairies to boot. Their Ruby Slipper package gets you two hours at their party boutique with a party hostess, one hour with one character, music, movement, storytime, games, face painting, the happy birthday song and photo ops. It covers 12 kids and costs $500. (They also do home parties, which will save you a bit, but then you’ll need to handle set up and clean up.)

Shanghai Party Bus knows how to cater to adults, but they can easily do a kid-friendly excursion. Say a doughnut- and ice cream-tour of Portland? Or maybe your teen hitting the big 1-6 would be thrilled to cruise to an all-ages concert venue with a bus chock-full o’ friends? Starting at $125 an hour, four hours minimum.

Growing the next Gabriel Rucker? Treat your little chef to a cooking party with Turnip the Heat Cooking School. Best for kids ages 6 and older. Starting at $350, up to 10 students will learn to create a three-course meal, then eat their creations. The birthday kid can give menu input. Some previous menus include a Japanese theme with sunomono salad, sushi and sweet mochi dumplings, or meatball mania with pasta sauce, salad and dressing, and kid-friendly tiramisu.

While writing this article managing editor Denise Castañon was in the midst of major milestone birthday party planning, her 40th and her son’s 1st. She lives in Southeast Portland, but is looking forward to zooming around all four quadrants of the city on a party bus for her birthday.

Denise Castañon
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