Every year for our daughter’s birthday, I strive to come up with a party that is unique yet affordable. We go to so many parties it's difficult to find something that hasn’t already been done, but it seems that the days of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey in your living room are officially gone. Today’s parties are action-packed, craft-oriented, and even educational! For fun party ideas throughout New Jersey, check out the NJ Kids' Birthday Party Ideas Guide. Here are some great ones in and around Somerset County.
Bridgewater Sports Arena (Bridgewater)
BSA is known for its ice rink, but it also offers birthday parties that involve laser tag, soft play, and /or arcade games in addition to ice skating or hockey. Party packages include everything---all food, paper products, the cake, and set-up/clean-up. Great for winter birthdays! Visit website for current prices or call (732) 627-0006.
Branchburg Sports Complex (Branchburg)
This facility offers laser tag and soft play parties, but also soccer, softball/baseball, jumping/bounce house, and multi-sports bashes. Prices are all-inclusive, with a party host, all food, paper products, arcade Funcards, and invites/thank-you’s. In addition, Branchburg Sports offers a “Hip, Hop, Dance and Bop” party, which incorporates music and fun props. You can also add extras such as goody bags, balloons or extended play time for an additional fee. Very unique way to celebrate the big day! See party brochure for prices and details or call (908) 203-1600.
The Little Gym (Bridgewater)
The Little Gym offers organized activities for all ages at their “Awesome” birthday parties for ages 1-12. The party includes balloons, invitations, paper products, pizza and set-up/clean-up. Parents bring the cake/cupcakes. This is great for younger kids…safe soft play areas and activities tailored to their abilities. Call (908) 526-9100 for prices and check the online calendar for openings.
The Center for Contemporary Art (Bedminster)
The Center for Contemporary Art is great for children 5-12 and offers 1 ½ hours of instruction for up to 12 little artists by a certified art teacher. Themes include “Create Like a Master”, “Squish”, "Adventures Under the Sea" and “Be-Jeweled”. Parents provide the food and fixings; kids bring home their “goody bag” in the form of a work of art. See website for pricing or call (908)234-2345.
Jersey Featherheads (Bridgewater)
Jersey Featherheads brings the party to you. Party guests will get feather hair extensions with tinsel and face or body painting with glitter. For a little extra, “puffins”---fuzzy hair clips and rings- are available. Girls can choose from ready-made styles or make their own extensions. Girlie fun! Call (908) 727-0962 or visit website for pricing.
The Lizard Guys (Raritan)
The Lizard Guys have been doing live animal presentations for over nearly 20 years. Each presentation lasts about an hour, and include from 6-10 reptiles, snakes, turtles, frogs & bugs. The Lizard Guys introduce each animal to the guests and explains various facts, including diet, habitat, life span, etc. See website for various packages and rates. Extra charges apply for photo ops, favors and any additional products sold by The Lizard Guys. You can search their program on YouTube or contact them directly at (908) 722-1519.
Somerset County Environmental Education Center (Basking Ridge)
The environmental center offers three themes for their educational and fun parties—“Where the Wild Things Live”, “Super Science” and “Cool Critters”. There is a 1 hour program for up to 15 guests followed by 2 hours in the party room. Parents provide food, but the environmental center has recyclable paper products and invitations available. Next door, Lord Stirling Stables offers pony parties that can accommodate up to 30 guests and include a piñata. See website for prices and contact Somerset County Parks at (908) 766-2489 to book either the center or the stables.
Dunellen Cinema Cafe (Dunellen)
The Dunellen Cinema Cafe may not be the newest or fanciest theater out there, but its movie prices are low and their pizza is great. They show the latest family films, and their birthday parties can accommodate a large group (up to 20). The "Celebrity Package" includes popcorn, drinks and invitations during regular show times. The "Superstar Package" includes popcorn, drinks, and pizza during regular show times. The "Red Carpet Package" includes the child's name on the marquee and a private showing. Parents supply the cake or dessert. I had my daughter’s 5th birthday there, and everyone (adults included) had a great time. See website for package rates. To book, email Kimberly@dunellen-theater.com or call (732) 968-9010.
Original article published November 2011.