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Hot Ideas for Cool Parties

Whether inviting your child’s closest friends to an at-home shindig or taking the show on the road for some educational fun, here’s a hot list of cool birthday party ideas.

Cool Characters

When Jayne Bloom of Cherry Hill, NJ plans birthday parties for her three sons, ages 4-8, her goal is to make them memorable. For her son’s 6th birthday, she hired an entertainer from Mad Science, who transformed her home into a workshop where the kids made liquid ice and slime.  She says her son is  “a really inquisitive kid who loves to do science experiments. At school his class was doing science so I knew his friends would like it.” They did.

Mad scientists, princesses, pirates and other entertainers make parties fun for everyone. “The best parties are the ones where you have the kids, parents, grandparents, neighbors, cousins and friends,” says Joe Consiglio, who entertains as Silly Joe Sings.

Jayne Bloom hired Mad Science to entertain at her son’s  birthday party.Entertainer prices range from $225-$665 for one hour and 20 children. They will come to party centers, too, though you’ll pay for theappearance and the site.

Favorite Activities

Kathleen Ballard of Wyoming, DE loved the party she had for her son Nicholas, 10, at Master John Godwin’s Korean Martial Arts Institute, which provides party packages from $200-$400 at eight area locations. “The kids just went wild,” says Ballard. “It was nice watching them burn off their energy and have such a great time!”

You can often find a party site to match your child’s favorite activities, such as gym, skating, bowling or cheerleading. Or consider a range of activities. For example, Philadelphia Sports Clubs offer a variety of party activities at six area locations. Costs start at $290 fornon-members.

Dance parties are a hot trend, even for the toddler set. For example, The Groove Lounge in Voorhees, NJ has dance, karaoke and game show parties starting at $550.

Hip At-Home Parties

Of course, you don’t need to leave your home for a fun party with plenty of action - the only limit is your imagination. Scavenger hunt parties are way cool, and inexpensive. Tie-dye parties are also popular, though messy. Or, create a theme to match an interest, such as superheroes or princesses. As the Olympics approach, you can create your own mini-Olympics at home or in a local park. Plenty of websites, such as www.birthdaypartyideas.com offer suggestions for themes, decorations, games, goody bags and more.

You can also create a unique yard party. Set up stations that include a wacky sprinkler, sidewalk chalk, bubble fun and a bean bag toss. You can find lots of other outdoor game ideas at About.com.

Museum Magic

Have an educational party at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where themes range from dinosaurs to rockets to snot (really!). Costs range from $325-$632.

If your child loves things that fly, check out The American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, PA, where a hands-on party program about helicopters and flight costs $225.

Add a bit of nature to your child’s special day at places such as the Camden Children’s Garden. Admission for kids ages 2-11 is $4 per child plus $70-$80 for the Butterfly Tent, where parties are held.

Terri Akman is a contributing writer to  MetroKids and South Jersey mom of three.

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