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Stress Less and Party More: 40 Birthday Fun Zones Away from Home

One simple strategy will minimize birthday party preparation, clean-up and costs: Having your birthday party somewhere else besides home. Any birthday party can get expensive, and you might think having a party away from home would double the cost. But believe it or not, the amount you spend often goes down when you have the party away from home, not up.

Consider the full package deal offered by the venue before you lift a finger to help. Once you factor in all the food, favors and serving items you won’t have to buy, you just might save yourself a bundle of time, energy and headaches. Get the details on exactly what will be provided in advance, so you don’t duplicate any efforts, in filling in the gaps.

If the venue does not cover every detail, this can work fine. Bring the cake? No problem. Order a few pizzas? Easy. Bring some goodie bags? If that’s all you have to do for this party, you are going to love it.

Some of your favorite birthday party memories may end up coming from the party where you did the least work. You send the invites, show up and watch everyone go home with big smiles on their faces. No smile will be as big as the one you have on your face when you return to your nice, clean home.

Here is a full rundown of birthday party venues that often host parties away from home. Before you write off any candidates, be sure to search online, check out the Birthday Party Guide online on this site or the print edition of the Calgary's Child Magazine Jan-Feb 2014 issue, and call to double check. Birthday parties are big business, and businesses often add birthday party hosting after opening day, once services are established.

So, go ahead, ask your friends and neighbors for ideas but remember, nothing beats being the first family on the block to discover a cool new party zone no other family has tried yet.

Ready, set, party! Locations are listed here are from youngest appropriate age to oldest:

For younger children:

1. Doll stores

2. Pet stores

3. Building blocks stores

4. Stuffed animal stores

5. Nature centres

6. Toddler gyms

7. Indoor soccer fields

8. Bouncy house places

9. Children’s museums

10. Yoga studios

11. Karate studios

12. Farm or petting zoo

13. Science centres

For school-age children:

14. Dance studios

15. Tea stores

16. Pony riding barns

17. Family fun centre

18. Gymnastics studio

19. Indoor pools

20. Zoos

21. Bakeries

22. Children’s theatres

23. Garden centres or greenhouses

24. Cooking schools or studios

25. Pottery studios

26. Ice cream parlors

For tweens and teens:

27. Bowling alleys

28. Rock climbing places

29. Ice rinks

30. Movie theatres

31. Waterparks

32. Pizza places

33. Music studios

34. Hobby stores

35. Roller skating rinks

36. Karaoke spots

37. Craft stores

38. Shopping malls

39. Basketball courts

40. Nail salons or spas

There are few things Christina enjoys as much as throwing a birthday party her daughter’s friends will still be talking about months later and doing it all on a totally reasonable budget.  Her latest book is The Writer’s Workout from Writer’s Digest Books.

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