The third in our series of birthday party venues features spots that flex your kid’s creative muscles — whether that’s in an art studio, in the kitchen, during storytime, in front of a pottery kiln, with a rock band … the list goes on. Check it out below!
Bella Mosaic Art
What to expect: Bella Mosaic in Mt. Airy does clay parties, mosaic parties and fused-glass parties — though owner Jessica Liddell says that the mosaic parties are the most popular. Shindigs run about 1.5 hours, with one hour for the project, and then the last half hour for presents, pizza, cake … whatever the parents want to bring. Generally speaking, parties are aimed at kids five and up (although Liddell says that she has done a few preschool parties that have worked out fine, with parents staying to help their kids with the projects). Everything is non-toxic, and generally not too messy … although this isn’t the place for a fancy party dress.
The breakdown: A partier gets the whole studio and backyard area — nothing else is going on at the time of your party. Kids have a choice of projects and a whole bunch of different materials to use in their mosaics. Usually once the children finish their own art, they work together as a group on one big piece that the birthday girl or boy takes home.
The pricing: Mosaic parties start at $225 for up to 10 kids. There’s an additional supply fee if you choose ceramic or fused glass parties.
You should know: Liddell also does a lot of adult parties — that’s baby/bridal showers, mom’s group, birthdays and fundraisers, all BYO-style. A nice break from just the usual girls night out, no?
Philly Art Center
What to expect: Arts and crafts, folks! The Art Centers — both in Fairmount and Queen Village — offer the whole shebang … everything but food. That means they provide set-up and clean-up; two awesome teachers; 1.5 hours of arts and partying (about an hour of art; 30 minutes of eats); the projects and the supplies, plates, forks, cups, cake cutter, juice boxes, party hats, blowers, gift bags, serving bowls, decorations, table cloths, etc.
The breakdown: Packages are arranged by ages (from babies and toddlers to kiddos to ‘tweens), and themes (of which there are too many to list, from Pollack Painting to Wearable Art to Painting Pottery.) The range of choice is truly awesome — check the site for the newly expanded options.
The pricing: Most parties for up to 25 kids start at between $365 and $395, depending on theme and the kids’ ages, but you can add on any number of things listed on their a la carte menu. (E.g. t-shirts for decorating are $4 apiece; colored pencil packs for party favors are $2.50 apiece.) You will want to call to talk details before you make a deposit.
You should know: If your kid has a good time, both centers offer camps, lessons, classes and after-school programs year-round. A party is a fun way in.
What to expect: The increasingly popular clay and pottery studio in Port Richmond that focuses on clay education for kids and adults (owner Keith Grabowsky has an MFA from U. Arts with a focus in ceramics education), and does an awesome birthday party. Generally speaking, kids four and up tend to do best with Yay Clay parties, but Keith is happy to welcome younger ones, too: “Under four, and it’s a lot of parents holding hands and doing projects with the kids,” he says. “That’s totally fine with me, but just so parents know that they might be expecting a party for the two-year-old, but it ends up being a party for you.” The clay the little ones used (until about 5 or 6) is not very messy, and non-toxic (“If they eat a little, it’s not the end of the world”), and kids can take it home that day. Older kids use the “real” clay and glaze it; the Yay Clay artists/employees fire it in the kiln and a parent picks up the pieces at a later date. Parties usually run about two hours.
The breakdown: There are no real packages or set themes here — they stress flexibility. Keith has built parties around all sorts of requests, including World of Minecraft, Cinderella and Star Wars (our pals at Hipster Henry were the Star Wars crew!). You can bring your own food or ask Yay Clay to plan food; you can BYO for parents; you can ask for help with favors (or not): It’s all up to you.
The pricing: It’s $30 a kid for 10 kids or less, and $25 a kid for 15. More kids than that, and they’ll pricing handle on a case-by-case basis — and Keith says he’s happy to do what he can to work within a budget.
You should know: There’s also an arcade and–even better– a movie projection screen in the studio that’s yours to use for the party, so your kids can have their favorite movie playing in the background or running during the “wind down” party of the party.
Little Baby’s Wordplay Theater
What to expect: This awesome little spot in Grey’s Ferry known for magical story times (they’re called storyplays, and often include little shows, songs, rhymes, puppets and more fun) specializes in birthdays for little ones aged one to four. The birthday kiddo gets a special themed storyplay — and trust us, these things are absolutely enchanting to little ones.
The breakdown: You get the space for 90 minutes, and a 30-minute storyplay. Parents are welcome to bring their own food and cake and etc. (although make sure it’s easy prep, as there is no kitchen!) There’s a water cooler onsite, and cups are provided. The place holds up to 30 people total.
The pricing: First and second birthdays are $200; third and fourth are $225. You’ll need a $100 deposit to hold the date.
You should know: If you’d rather do a home party, you can also pay $150 to bring the 35-minute storyplay to your house (if your house is in Center City).
What to expect: How’s this for a change? Lore’s — the beloved chocolatier in Old City — offers a whole chocolate-making adventure with a group of 10 to 15 kids. The partiers actually get to mold the chocolates and send it down the production line, Lucy and Ethyl-style (not that they know who that is), all while wearing the cutest little aprons. It’s adorable, and yummy — and they get to take their chocolates home as favors!
The breakdown: Pretty simple, actually — parties are for kids aged 6 and up, and you are meant to bring your own snacks (outside the chocolate, obviously), but drinks and paper products are provided. Lore’s also provides you with customized email invites.
The pricing: The price starts at about $300 for all of the above.
You should know: Parties are held on Saturdays from September through May, and are available on weekdays year-round, based on availability.
Allen’s Lane Art Center
What to expect: There’s a whole lot of artsy variety at this West Mt. Airy spot, where birthday celebrations really run the gamut in terms of the arts. Parties — available on Sundays, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. — can revolve around one of five themes, and those branch off into details, determined by age groups. There’s basically music, performance, themed adventure and theater parties, which are designed for up to 20 kids; there’s also several different types of ceramics parties, designed for up to about 12. Most parties are 1.5 hours (one or two run to two hours), and various themes are designed to appeal from 1- to 5-year-olds, or 2- to 8-year-olds, or 4- to 15-year-olds.
The breakdown: Parties include the dance or ceramics studio, depending on your theme, a separate art studio for food and presents, and the kitchen. You can also use the outside playground. Allen’s Lane does NOT provide the paper goods or decoration.
The pricing: Parties range from $250 to $325, depending on the age of the kids and the theme; you’ll need $100 non-refundable deposit to save the date.
What you should know: There are special birthday party directors here to guide you through the process — check out the site for the form that will allow you to set something up. They’ll also do the non-ceramics themed parties at your house, if you’re interested in a home party.
The Expressive Hand
What to expect: Pottery painting, y’all. At this Bella Vista studio, each kid gets a piece of pottery to paint — and the folks at E.H. do the set-up, clean-up and teaching in semi-private party area. Parties run 1.5 hours, with 45 minutes of painting and 45 reserved for cake and gifts.
The breakdown: You bring the food, drink and paper goods; they do everything else — namely, the instruction and the supplies. Each party-goer — you can have up to 14, max — gets one piece of pottery to paint. Also, the birthday boy/girl gets a special keepsake birthday plate!
The pricing: It’s $250 for up to 10 kids (plus tax and 15 percent tip) — each additional kid (up to 14 kids) is $20.
What you should know: Parents (well, parents who aren’t hosting) are encouraged to drop their kids off. And if you’re hosting, remember that tip for the staff!
What to expect: Nest — located in the midst of the gayborhood — offers all kinds of parties (see: our Active Parties list), with several creative-type themes among the offerings. There’s a musical party, with a live band, dancing and instruments aimed at kids of all ages; there’s a glitz-and-glamour party (for kids aged 3 and up) that includes special hair-dos and manicures, even a photo shoot; for kids 2 and up, there’s an arts-and-crafts option that includes an age-appropriate art activity.
The breakdown: All parties include a planner, and up to 16 kids total (including the birthday boy or girl). You get two hours in a private room, balloon decorations, set-up and clean-up, customized email invites, discounted parking at a lot nearby, all the paper goods (tablewear, napkins, etc.), candles for the take, 10 percent off a gift registry at Nest boutique, and a little giftie for the birthday boy/girl.
The pricing: Prices start at $325 for members and $400 for nonmembers, and there a whole bunch of add-ons, if you’re so inclined, from a musician ($100) to a face-painter ($180) and a lot more.
What you should know: If you need a little help the day of the party, you can hire a Nest sitter for $15 an hour.
Meets the Wee standards:
Photo credits: Upper right, photo courtesy Bella Mosaic; lower right, Lore’s Chocolates