Tag Archives: Labyrinth Games & Puzzles

You Say It’s Your (Kid’s) Birthday…

Butterfly birthday girl celebrates her 4th

The butterfly birthday girl celebrates her 4th

The topic of birthday parties never gets old. I know this to be true not only because it’s something parents seem to discuss often, but also because I can see what searches lead readers to my site. And birthday party venues ranks pretty high on that list. So, I make it a point to post a round-up every year of places to celebrate our kids’ big days.

These posts actually originated from my own need to find party venues outside of the house (which I talk about here, here, and here). And as the kids get older and enjoy more celebrations — both their own and their friends’ — I learn about new places to host birthday bashes all the time. Here’s a selection of some of the best we experienced or heard about this year. Party on, kids!


Celebrating with butterfly crafts

Celebrating with butterfly crafts

Little Loft
(2016 Update: This location has closed.) After a few years of sharing the birthday spotlight with her big bro, Sasha finally got her own party this time around. Little Loft, a creative space for kids on Capitol Hill, was the perfect place to finally make it all about her. When I started looking into party options and saw they offered one with a butterfly craft theme (y’all surely know by now how much my girl loooves her some butterflies), I knew where we’d be ringing in Sasha’s 4th. The party started off with a short story time session with Lia, one of the owners (of course, the book was about butterflies), and Owen very sweetly surprised us all by reading to Sasha and her guests, too. With inspiration from the stories, they started on two art projects: watercolor butterflies and big, wearable butterfly wings that they decorated with colorful pieces of tissue and foil paper. When they were done with their projects, the kids donned the wings and played at a couple of play dough stations until it was time for cake then some more play time afterward. All in all, it was super fun for the kids, even easier for me to plan, and Sasha’s artwork now decorates her bedroom wall.


Birthday, improv style

Birthday, improv style

ComedySportz 4 Kids
If this sounds familiar, it’s because I mentioned it last year, just not from experience at the time. We’d looked into it as a possible party venue, and found the kids were too young then. However, Owen didn’t forget that he’d be old enough this year – The Comedy Spot at Ballston Mall offers parties for kids in first grade and up. So, we checked out a show over winter break, and my boy couldn’t stop cackling at the off-the-cuff performance. The rest, as they say, is history. Owen had a bunch of friends join him for a birthday improv show about a month later in late January. The kids seemed to love the show, laughing and interacting with the cast, plus they got to go up on stage and be part of it, which was a thrill for them. There was another party going on that day, too, so it was a packed and lively venue.

Cake time

Cake time

Afterward, we celebrated with snacks and cake in a separate room. The logistics: ComedySports 4 Kids shows take place on Saturdays at 3pm, and parties can be booked on those days from 3-5pm, with the show running 75 minutes and party time another 45. Cost is $10/person, plus $100 to stay after and party. A tip: If you’re interested in booking there, be sure to ask about the party space. The description says you get to party on stage after the performance. When I booked it, I was told there’d be another party, but there was space for both of us. What they didn’t tell me was that we’d be crammed in a small room off stage with not much table space for the food and cake. (That said, Owen and his friends still had a blast, but I recommend confirming exactly what you’re getting.) For more info, visit the website.


Ice Skating al Fresco
I always thought outdoor parties weren’t an option for my January-born babes, but a couple of new outdoor ice rinks have changed my mind. Canal Park, the recently developed recreational space in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, features a fantastic ice rink during late fall and winter along with party packages to celebrate special occasions there. Birthday parties start at $125 and include admission and skate rental for up to 10 guests (beyond that it’s $10/child), a designated area near the rink for the group, coupons for guests’ next visits, and a few more perks. It was a popular party spot this past winter – one of my favorites, in fact (many of us parents hit the ice along with kids). And for skating parties across town in NW, the new ice rink at Washington Harbour also offers birthday parties with many of the same amenities, but starting at a slightly higher cost (it’s Georgetown, after all). So, don’t default to the indoors just because it’s cold. Ice skating parties are a fun, active way to celebrate, enjoy of one of season’s best activities, and take the winter birthday party outside.


Fire Station Birthdays
A couple of months ago, a KFDC reader asked if I had the scoop on birthday parties at fire stations. I didn’t, but I put the word out on Facebook, and learned that plenty of you guys did. There were raves for parties hosted at the Glen Echo, Kensington, and Falls Church Fire Departments and understandably so. For kids with firetruck obsessions, it sounds like a dream come true. Parties include tours of the station, a chance to explore the firetrucks, demonstrations by fire fighters, goodies like plastic fire hats, and party rooms for the celebration. Costs vary by station, but seem to be fairly reasonable. If those locations aren’t convenient for you, and your local fire house doesn’t host parties on premises, you might think about asking to visit the station and taking a tour, then having the celebration in a nearby park.


Labyrinth Games & Puzzles
Kids ages 6 and up can get their game on at their next birthday party! I first posted about Labyrinth right after it opened over two years ago and recommend it with even more fervor now. Not only does the shop have an incredible selection of games and puzzles, they also have a section in the back dedicated to gaming events, including birthday parties for kids. Staff will provide the games and fun and help lead the group in play, while you bring the food and drinks. The rate is $15/guest for the first two hours with a minimum fee of $120. Maximum number of guests is 15, and extras like gift bags and decorations can be included for additional fees. (And PS – I highly recommend Labyrinth for birthday gifts, too; it’s become my go-to place for presents whenever my kids have a party to attend. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable – just let them know the age and interests you need to suit, and they’ll help you find the perfect game to give.)


Pirate Party at National Geographic
The National Geographic Museum’s current “Real Pirates” exhibit offers more than just a showcase about the slave-turned-pirate ship, The Whydah, and a glimpse into the fascinating world of 18th century pirates. Kids ages 5-12 can celebrate their birthday at the museum, in both a special party room and among the displays and installations that make the exhibit so exciting. The two hours of festivities include pirate dress-up, party games, and a Jolly Roger art project. But the big treat is a private tour and treasure hunt in the exhibit led by Nat Geo staff. Goody bags, a group photo, and certificate for the birthday honoree are also part of the package. Cost of the party is $375 for the first 10 guests (plus two chaperone parents), and $20 for each additional child. Extra adult admission tickets are $9. More information about both pirate parties and the exhibit is available on the National Geographic Museum website. (Note: This offering ended when the exhibit closed.)


UltraZone Laser Tag
Owen has been to a few birthday parties at UltraZone Laser Tag and raved about them. I, on the otherhand, am admittedly clueless about the whole Laser Tag experience, so this description comes straight from the website: “Step into a high-tech, laser tag adventure where identity is limited only by imagination. Dodge lasers, and strategize with teammates as you compete for high scores and glory in this futuristic version of Capture the Flag.” I can see why my 7-year-old digs them so much, and their party packages sound equally appealing for parents, as they tend to cover just about everything. Along with laser tag play (opt for 1, 2, or 3 games) and a private party room, they include food and drinks, your own party host, place setting and supplies, free parking, and invitations. Rates are $12.99/guest for 1 game, $17.99/guest for 2 games, and $22.99/guest for 3 games. Parties last from 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the number of games. For more information, visit the Ultrazone website.


Ninjas take over The Tabula Rasa

Ninjas take over The Tabula Rasa

The Tabula Rasa
(Update: This location has closed.) If you have a great party idea, but lack the room to pull it off, The Tabula Rasa may be the perfect solution. The event space on Barracks Row in southeast DC truly is a blank slate that can be transformed into whatever setting you want for your kid’s b-day bash. It’s 1,000 square feet of white, airy interiors, plus another 500 of pretty courtyard area, have hosted everything from parties for children and adults to pop-up shops to baby showers to meetings and workshops. We’ve attended quite a few of them, including ninja and cowboy-themed birthday celebrations, and they’ve all been superbly executed. Amanda Clarke, Tabula Rasa’s lovely owner (as well as one-half of the amazing Boogie Babes team) has a keen eye for detail and is happy to lend her creativity and event planning expertise to help make your party a success. Some of her theme suggestions are Ninja, Princess, Scavenger Hunt, Movie Night, Dance Party, Tea Party, and Spa Treatment Party. And she, of course, welcomes clients to bring in their own ideas. As for logistics, cost is $600 for a four-hour rental, which includes two hours of party time, an hour each of set up and clean up, and house décor. Party packages with extra decorations and goody bags are also available. If the price sounds steep, this is one to consider sharing with a friend, especially since the space accommodates more people than many venues. And sometimes, having everything exactly the way you want it, is worth it. To learn more, contact Amanda at 202.640.2616 or info@thetabularasa.com.

Do you have party venue recommendations? I always love to hear about them, so feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments!


Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Birthday Parties, DC, Exhibit, Maryland, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia

Enter to Win a Party at Labyrinth Games & Puzzles!

Congratulations to KFDC reader, Emily Greif, who won yesterday’s giveaway of $25 worth of admission to Boogie Babes!

And now it’s time for another chance to win a fabulous prize.  This one comes courtesy of Labyrinth Games & Puzzles, the Capitol Hill shop that — as its name implies — specializes in hands-on, tangible amusement for all ages.  I first posted (and raved) about the store shortly after its opening a few months ago, and it has gotten even better since.  The selection of children’s games and puzzles is particularly impressive, including many quality brands and a range of both fun and educational items.  It’s definitely not the usual stock that you find in large retail outlets, where many of us likely purchase kids’ toys.  When I visited Labyrinth last week, one item in particular stood out as a must-buy for the kids’ next special occasion:  The HABA U.S. Capitol Building Blocks Set, a perfect “DC” gift for any young building enthusiast.

But as I mentioned in that first post, it’s not just the quality selection that makes the store so terrific, it’s also the welcoming atmosphere.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and even better, customers are invited to hang out and play.  A variety of games are available to try out in the demo library at the back of the store.  And you don’t necessarily have to be there to shop — guests can stop in just to play.  That said, it’s not the kind of place where young children can run around unsupervised.  But it’s a perfect indoor play option for kids who can sit and enjoy a board game or puzzle.

And that leads to the giveaway, since this one is perfect for just that kid:  A game-themed birthday party at Labyrinth.  The event could be a child’s party (ages 6 and up; maximum of 10 children) or an adult party (maximum 20 people) during regular store hours.  The package worth $150 includes rental of Labyrinth’s private party space; staff assistance in leading games, setting up and cleaning up; an area for food and drinks (which you provide); and tables set up for games, crafts, and eating.  It’s a pretty sweet prize, if you ask me.

For a chance to win the birthday party at Labyrinth Games & Puzzles, do one or all of the following. Each will count as a separate entry.  This contest only lasts for a day — the winner will be announced tomorrow morning — so get your entries in soon!

1 – Leave a comment telling me your child’s favorite board game or puzzle.

2 – Like KidFriendly DC on Facebook and come back to let me know you’ve done so.

3 – Tweet the following message and come back to let me know you’ve done so:

Enter the @KidFriendlyDC giveaway to win a birthday party at Labyrinth Games & Puzzles! More info here: http://wp.me/pPfjF-E9


Filed under All ages, DC, Giveaway

It’s the Weekend…Party Time!

Okay, so maybe partying isn’t on the agenda for everyone this weekend, but it’s about all we’re thinking about in our household.  Both of my kids celebrated their birthdays within the past two weeks, and the big shebang is happening tomorrow. Soon, I’ll post a review of the party locale along with other party ideas and venue recommendations (similar to this post from many months ago).  In the meantime, here are some ideas for family fun over the next few days.  Happy Weekend!

See Stars… and Help Save the Planetarium – The Arlington Planetarium presents four shows of In My Backyard this weekend – Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Sunday at 1pm and 3pm.  The program aimed toward younger takes the audience on a tour of the narrator Fred’s backyard, first by day exploring nature as the seasons change, then at discovering the night sky after the sun goes down.  Unlike most planetarium shows where guests are expected to remain quit, the audience is encouraged to sing, clap, and even recite a poem along with Fred as they learn about the stars, planets, and moon.  Tickets are $3/ages 13 and up, $2/12 and under.  Read more about the planetarium along with Friends of the Arlington Planetarium’s efforts to keep the venue open.

Lego Aircraft Building Day – This Saturday, the College Park Aviation Museum  is hosting a Lego building day. Guests can design their own aircraft out of provided Legos and take home a picture of their creation. Top designs will be displayed throughout the museum.  The event runs from 12pm – 4pm.  Museum admission is $4/adults, $2/ages 2-18, free for 2 and under.

Collection Connection at the Postal Museum – Discover the fun of stamp collecting!  The museum invites guests to drop by to learn how to make a topical collection, select stamps to take home, and explore the exhibition Collecting History: 125 Years of the National Philatelic Collection.  The free program will take place in the museum’s atrium from 1 – 5pm.  While you’re there be sure to check out the rest of the exhibits – the Postal Museum is a fantastic, but often overlooked, attraction for families.

Snow Show at The Puppet Co. – Take the littlest ones to the Tiny Tots show on Saturday morning for a marionette performance all about snow.  Presented especially for children ages 0-4, the shows are short and accommodating to newbie audience members.  Read more about it here.

Science You Can Sing To – Entertainment and experiments will be on the line-up at Jammin’ Java on Saturday morning. Ryan Buckle & Friends will perform “Science You Can Sing To,” a show that combines great tunes with amazing science experiments to inspire curious kids.  For more about the show and ticket info, see this post from a few days ago.

Storytelling at Mount Vernon – Children enter a world of fantasy and fables when costumed interpreters weave three tales together during Mount Vernon’s storytelling session, “Once Upon a Time at Mount Vernon,” held every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm and 3pm. “Working Together” is the theme for January’s storytelling sessions. During the 20-minute session, children learn Aesop’s fables and listen to stories about George Washington’s life. Recommended for children 3-8, parental supervision is required. Sessions will take place in the Hands-On History Room in the Donald W. Reynolds Education Center. Sessions are included in regular Estate admission: $15/adults, $7/ages 6-11, $7.00, free for ages 5 and under.

Family Game Day at Labyrinth – If you’re bored with your board games or looking for a unique out-of-the-house family activity, then head to Labyrinth Games & Puzzles on Sunday for Family Game Day.  The event will give guests a chance to try out some fantastic European-style games that are perfect for revitalizing family game night.  See this post for more details.

Stories in Art – Alexander Calder will again be the subject for this week’s Stories in Art at the National Gallery. The workshop will start with a reading of “Sophie’s Masterpiece,” a book about a spider and her wondrous creations.  From there, the group will explore Calder’s “Spider” and learn to weave their own wire mobiles.  Hour-long sessions begin at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am that day and will continue until all spaces are filled.  No admission fee required.  Check out this post for more about the series.

Portrait Story Days: George Washington Carver – Young visitors with their parents are invited to drop in at the National Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about a person who has influenced American history and culture and to create a special piece of art. On Sunday, African American scientist and educator George Washington Carver will be the honored subject.  The program is free and runs from 1-4pm.

Theater TimeSeveral children’s stage productions are in local theaters, and tickets are still available for some of this weekend’s performances.  Check out this post to see what’s playing and how to reserve your seats.

Post Recs for Ice Skating – This isn’t the first time I’ve suggested ice skating as a winter family activity, but this Best Bets piece from the Washington Post provides some useful insight on several area rinks.


Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Free, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Theatre, Weekend, Winter

Euro-Style Games, Family-Style Fun

If you’re bored with your board games or looking for a unique out-of-the-house family activity, then mark your calendar:  This Sunday, January 23, from 1pm – 5pm, mom-owned Labyrinth Games & Puzzles is hosting a Family Game Day, offering guests a chance to try out some fantastic European-style games that are perfect for revitalizing family game night.

On the table will be Carcassonne, Forbidden Island, Ticket to Ride, and Zooloretto. And along with game playing, Rebecca Hebner, who has won board game tournaments at several international gaming conventions, will be on hand to teach rules and game strategy.

The games, which are most appropriate for ages 10 and up, will begin at approximately 1pm and 3pm. Space is limited, so try to get there early. This event is free.

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles is located on Capitol Hill at 645 Pennsylvania Avenue, a half block from Eastern Market metro station on the Blue/Orange line.

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Filed under DC, Free, Shop, Weekend, Winter