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FOR AGES 1-5
Magicians & Entertainers:
Whether you’re looking for entertainers who can put on magic shows, run fun quizzes or dress up like princesses and dragons, there are plenty of reputable companies out there guaranteeing a good time for little ones. Mr Marvel has put on children’s parties for the likes of the BBC and Goldman Sachs, while Mr Lolly comes with more than 28 years’ experience in entertainment. Most can be booked by time and headcount, and can supply their own decorations, props and more.
Soft play has to be one of the easiest children’s parties to throw – and it’s great for little ones who are still developing their spatial awareness skills. Bertie & Boo can host small groups at their own Adventure Island space, which includes 40 minutes of interactive play, while Rock It Inflatables offers everything you need to set up your own soft play area at home. Some, like Play Shack, will even let you pay on the door – great if you’ve left it all a bit last minute, or just want to do something casual with a couple of mum friends and a cake.
Petting Zoos & Farm Trips:
Younger children will love the opportunity to get to know some furry friends – whether that’s down on the local farm or with a petting zoo that comes to you. Safari Pete comes highly recommended (he promises interactions with toads, meerkats, owls, and more), while the Animal Club can organise birthday parties by theme – be it pony parties, bunny parties or even puppy rooms. Plus, they can also cater to special needs and children as young as two.
Bespoke Decorations & Food:
At this age, it’s possible all you need is a couple of decorations and some food for the children and adults. If that rings true, there are several companies worth having on your radar – some of which provide communal grazing platters, and others that go all-out to help you decorate your home from top to bottom. Sharky & George do it all – from bespoke mega parties to just the essentials. They can even help you set up a virtual party if you want to include long-distance friends and family.
FOR AGES 5-9
Imagination & Dress Up Parties:
Are your children obsessed with princesses and pirates? Perhaps they want to see live circus acts? Or maybe they’d love a visit from some of their favourite book or television characters? There are lots of companies out there that can make their dreams come true – The Golden Hinde takes groups of kids onto a real pirate ship, Lucy Sparkles entertainers come in costume with some exciting props and Little Rascals can organise treasure hunts, bubble parties, dancing games and more.
To keep little ones occupied, an hour or two is usually best spent in the kitchen. You can book entertainers to come to your house to run cupcake decorating classes, visit Spun Candy or Biscuiteers to children with a sweet tooth, or spend a select Sunday in one of Gordon Ramsey’s kitchens learning how to make pizza. Best of all, they’ll each have something to tuck into or take away at the end.
Art & Crafts:
If culinary parties aren’t quite your thing but you like the idea of keeping a group occupied, then arts and crafts might be more suitable. Spend a morning or afternoon painting pottery or ceramics, or get in touch groups like Sublime Science and Captain Fantastic that can organise fun activities with science experiments and even slime. The latter can even include disco lights, a puppet show and bubbles for younger children.
Educational & Historical:
In the UK, we’re lucky to have so many museums which are free to the public and lots of them offer to run group excursions or birthday parties. The National Army Museum in Chelsea specialises in parties for under-eights, while the V&A runs a series of youth events for groups to book into. The Science Museum can host larger informal educational groups, and the Post Museum even lets under-eights dress up as mini post people and explore secret underground tunnels for an hour or two.
Water Sports & Swimming:
Anyone with children of a certain age will know that for smaller groups, where health and safety can be managed, it doesn’t get much better than an afternoon at a water or swim park. Certain venues can be hired out entirely (if budget allows), while others run dedicated youth sessions where kids can run riot. To take it a step further, take older children to Thorpe Lakes to enjoy a range of outdoor water sports – great for anyone with a summer birthday.
Discos & Karaoke:
We can’t think of many tweens who wouldn’t enjoy a disco party or karaoke night. The good news is there are any array of companies out there offering just that – either at their own venues or in your own house or a venue of your choice. Want to keep the noise down at home? A silent disco means kids still get all the fun, while the adults can relax in the kitchen or on the side-lines in peace.
Laser-Tag & Paint-Balling:
One for older boys, paintballing and laser tag always go down well – throw in a pizza afterwards and the day is sorted. Visit Paintball.co.uk to see which nationwide site is closest to you, while companies like Bunker 51 throw in 45 of minutes of birthday cake, snacks and party bags at the end.
Bowling & Ice Skating:
An oldie but a goodie – there’s lots of fun to be had in an afternoon spent bowling or ice skating. Queen’s London comes recommended time and again for ice skating, while All Star Lanes offers specific packages for teens covering food and beverage, including mocktails and bottomless soft drinks. For something outside London, Namco Funscape has bowling centres up and down the country.
Sleepovers & Overnight Trips:
Most girls we know would love a sleepover with their friends – and there are companies out there who will come to your house, install the dream set-up, then dismantle it the next day and take it all away. For something a bit further afield, book into one of the Dino Snores sessions at the National History Museum or reserve a place at the Chessington Safari Hotel for a really special occasion.
Adventure & Theme Parks:
For more adventurous types, there are plenty of activities tweens will love. Whether it’s climbing, trampolining, or taking part in an obstacle course, there are companies with centres nationwide promising hours of fun – and minimal faff for parents.