By Michelle Gillan Larkin
We’ve all been to those fun-filled birthday parties at the indoor jungle gyms and bouncy houses, and the kids always have a great, albeit sweaty, time. But if your child has a creative streak — one you hope to encourage or even unearth — or, if you’re just in the market for something a bit off the beaten path, check out these spots for an extra special soiree that will inspire the imagination and get the creative juices flowing.
Young at Art, Scarsdale
The Party Plan: Here, the philosophy is: All children have something unique to express and they should be encouraged to make art in their own way. As a result, there are a staggering number of ways for kids, 2 and up, to have an arty party, and they’ll get their hands dirty with an endless array of supplies. Suggest a project of your own, or go with decorative masks, jewelry, marionette puppets (yes, there’s a puppet show at the end!), cardboard pet houses, play castles, mobiles, or alien universes, to name just a few. And the best part? It all takes place on the floor, as creativity flows like a river when you’re not confined to a table.
The Bottom Line: $400 for a 90-minute party for up to 12 kids ($10 per head for more) that includes all art supplies and materials, musical entertainment, an instructor with a strong background in art, and an assistant. Parents provide food and drink, tableware, favors, and a plastic tablecloth for a picnic-style party. Sundays only.
1088 Central Park Avenue, Scarsdale; 914-723-9229
The Party Plan: Whatever the birthday boy or girl is into, and no matter how many candles on the cake, Jo-Ann can come up with a craft to celebrate the occasion. If he’s into football, party-goers can cut, stitch and stuff their very own plush footballs. If bling is her thing, bracelets can be beaded and strung together, and t-shirts decorated. The guest of honor chooses the craft ahead of time with help from a Jo-Ann associate who will offer ideas matching the theme of the party and bursting at the seams with creativity.
The Bottom Line: $125 for a two-hour party of up to 8 ($10 per head for more) including an instructor, materials for crafting and decorating a treat, setup and cleanup, and invitations. Parents provide food and drink, tableware, favors and a treat to decorate.
ARC Stages, Pleasantville
The Party Plan: If junior has a flair for the dramatic, or you hope to see his name up in lights someday, go for a theatrical celebration at ARC. Partygoers, beginning at age 4, will be kept on their feet and led through a variety of theater games that will have them moving like an emotion or character, pretending to pose in a family portrait of monsters or animals, and choreographing a dramatic dance party. Older kids will enjoy improvisation games. Kids of all ages cool down with an art project like creating a sock puppet worthy of a stint on Broadway. All this while keeping with the theme of the party.
The Bottom Line: $350 for a two-hour party of up to 15 ($15 per head for more) including two hosts, props, music, art supplies and a birthday poster signed by the party animals. Parents provide the food and drink.
147 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville; 914-747-6206
Scribble Art Workshop, Hastings-on-Hudson (or the comfort of your own home)
The Party Plan: Party like a … well, YOU get to decide at Scribble Art! If your daughter is a ballerina or dreams of a future career in fashion, then tutus, wands, wallets and jewelry making will be on the agenda. If your little guy envisions himself a superhero, everyone creates a cape and a comic book. There’s also an option to sculpt and paint, or build a board game, or make a mixed-media collage. If you have a better idea for kids ages 18 months and up, speak up, and Scribble Art will make it into a party. In all cases, little hands come together to decorate a welcome banner for the jolly good gal or fellow.
The Bottom Line: $295 for a two-hour party for up to 20, plus $5 per head for materials. Parents provide food and drink, tableware and favors. Bring the bash home for $200 for a 45-minute activity, plus the $5 per head material cost.
42 Main Street, Hastings; 914-693-3110
Over the Moon Music and More, Scarsdale
The Party Plan: There’s nothing sweeter than the sound of young voices raised together in song, which is why a party at Over the Moon will be music to your ears. A certified Music Together instructor will get kids, ages 1 to 5, singing, dancing and playing instruments to rollicking tunes from the official songbook, and the guest of honor gets to suggest a few personal faves. There’s also an art project option featuring collages, clay modeling, 3-D designs and more for those who already have a song in their hearts.
The Bottom Line: $695 for a 90-minute party of up to 15 that includes music or art instruction, pizza, juice/water, ice-cream cake and candles, tableware, balloons, favors, setup and cleanup, and a party host in addition to the music or art instructor. Plus, after the last candle is blown out, kids can hang in the play space for two more hours.
78 Garth Road, Scarsdale; 914-722-2025
Muse Paintbar, White Plains and Ridge Hill
The Party Plan: For your budding Botticellis and the artistic genius in us all, bring a dash of color to the celebration at Muse. Trained artists, experienced in working with kids, will guide painters, ages 5 and up, from blank canvas to masterpiece, one brushstroke at a time. No prior (or inherent) artistic skill necessary. And everyone takes home a 16 x 20 canvas. How’s that for a party favor?
The Bottom Line: $35 per painter for 10 or so kids ($30 for groups of 20 or more) for a two-hour party that includes art instruction, paint, brushes and smocks. Parents provide food and drink, tableware and favors.
84 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains; 914-506-5900
265 Market St., Yonkers; 914-618-5400
Michael’s, Hartsdale, Pelham Manor, Port Chester and Mohegan Lake
The Party Plan: When it comes to crafting festivities at Michael’s, the sky’s the limit. Whether the guest of honor is a boy or a girl, whether she’s 4 or he’s 14, artsy or fartsy, there are so many opportunities for creativity they practically ooze out the door. From masks of animals, monsters or superheros, to pirate costumes, princess frames, decorative art journals, and fairies fashioned from clothespins, it’s almost a guarantee that crafting will become contagious and everyone will get bit by the creativity bug.
The Bottom Line: $120 for a two-hour party for up to 8 kids ($10 per head for more) that includes craft supplies, invitations and thank-you notes, a party bag for the birthday kid, and an instructor to lead the crafting. Parents provide food and drink, tableware and favors.
319 N. Central Avenue, Hartsdale; 914-946-1872
840 Pelham Parkway, Pelham Manor; 914-235-2730
27 Don Bosco Place, Port Chester; 914-937-3060
3131 E. Main Street, Mohegan Lake; 914-528-0572