Tag Archives: The Comedy Spot

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

Let’s Party!

The kids’ joint party at Watkins Nature Center – double the birthday fun!


Every year since starting this blog, I’ve done one big post about birthday parties.  They are kind of a thing for me, and rather than reiterate why, I’ll just direct you to this post and this one, which not only cover the background on my quest for good party venues, but also have a bunch of recommendations for places to host a bash for your child. And in keeping with the once-a-year tradition, here’s another post dedicated to the birthday party, a compilation of potential locales to celebrate our kids’ big days. And if you know of a good one that I have yet to mention, feel free to add it in the comments.

Welcoming another party guest

Watkins Nature Center
I’ve suggested birthday parties at nature centers before, but Watkins now gets individual mention – and huge props – after I hosted my kids’ bash there earlier this year. It couldn’t have worked out better for us.  Since Owen and Sasha’s birthdays are just two weeks apart, we once again took advantage of the opportunity to throw a joint party. However, that meant we needed a venue that could accommodate guests of both kids. It also had to be indoors for their mid-winter party. On top of that, we wanted an activity that both birthday honorees, ages 3 and 6, would enjoy. Watkins came through in spades. Their party room accommodates up to 50 guests – 25 children and 25 adults, which was way more than other nature centers I checked out. We played up the “bringing the outdoors in” concept during what’s usually a cold time of year (it ended up being an unseasonably gorgeous day and the kids got to enjoy the trails, pond, and rescued birds around the center along with the animal and nature exhibits inside). But best of all, both Owen and Sasha were thrilled about the main event: A live animal show, a 30-minute viewing of some of the center’s feathery and reptilian residents. As far as logistics go, you can’t beat it. The cost for a three-hour rental (that includes set up and clean up time) is $155, which is pretty stellar in the DC area. You bring your own food, cake, and supplies, and plenty of tables and chairs are there for you to set up as desired. The party room is cute with big, colorful insect and amphibian paintings on the walls, and there’s much more to awe kids in and around the center. I recommend booking well in advance, as they only have two party time slots per weekend – from 1-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. For reservations, call 301.218.6702 (Update: Rates & options have changed since this was published. Check with Watkins for the most current info.)

National Building Museum
The NBM was included in my first birthday party post, but with some new options available, it makes the list again. Craft Activity Birthday Parties are available in a variety of themes: Castle & Crowns and All Aboard! Train Construction are for children 3-6, while Tower Power and Crazy Creations are suitable for 6-11-year-olds. Each two-hour party includes a building orientation, hands-on craft, and party time in a museum classroom. All guests also receive complimentary tickets to view exhibits after. Cost is $250 for 10 guests, $15 for each additional guest. Another option for kids 6-11 is the Brick City Party, a tour of the Lego Architecture exhibit, a chance to construct their own brick buildings and create a Lego city, and a birthday celebration. The two-hour party costs $300 for 10 guests, $15 for each additional guest.  You must be a member at the Family Level or higher to book a party at the NBM, but I highly recommend getting the membership, anyway – at $80/year, it pays for itself if you and the kids visit the Building Zone and exhibits even just a few times.

Ice Skating
A cool way to celebrate a kid’s big day is on ice… make that, at the ice skating rink. And there are several in the area that host parties. Kettler Capital Iceplex has a package for $185 that includes party room rental, admission for 10 kids and 2 adults to the public skate session, skate rentals, food and drinks, party host, and party supplies. More guests can be added for extra cost.  Cabin John Ice Rink in Bethesda rents a party room for $50/hour (you bring food, supplies, etc.) and a studio rink for $185/hour. You can also forego the private rink, and guests can skate during public skate sessions (admission is $3.50/ages 3-4, $5.50/ages 5-10, $6.50/ages 11 and up.) Be sure to book a party room during public skate times.  For an ice skating party under the sky, the Pentagon Row Ice Skating Rink is a great option (though only open November – March).  Their birthday package includes a 25-minute skating lesson, then skate time, and tables can be reserved for party time. Cost is $12/person with a six-person minimum.  These are just three suggestions; for even more ice skating options, check out the venues listed in this post.

Roller Skating
When I was a kid, I probably had at least three birthday parties at the roller skating rink. I can even recall donning a sparkly headband (one that went around my forehead, not on top of my head), scrunching my legwarmers around my ankles, and circling the rink as Xanadu blared in the background. Surely, that’s not completely a thing of the past (Olivia Newton-John is due for a major comeback, right?). At least it’s not at a few area roller rinks. One of them is Wheels Skating Center in Odenton, Md., where birthday party packages for up to 10 skaters are available. Packages include admission and skate rental, pizza and drinks, 45 minutes at a party table, supplies, a free skate pass for each party guest, and special goodies for the birthday kid. Skate Zone in Crofton, Md., is another place to get rolling, with a few party packages starting at $195, are available. The basic includes admission and rentals for 8 guests, food and drinks, game tokens, an hour at a party table, supplies, and goody bags.

Pirate Ship Parties
Buccaneer-obsessed kids can fulfill their pirate dreams on the high Chesapeake “seas.” Two different companies in Baltimore and Annapolis offer party packages for swashbuckling birthday boys and girls. Owen has attended – and had a blast at — parties at both locations. And if his birthday fell at a different time of year, he’d probably opt to celebrate it at one of them. Urban Pirates in Baltimore offer three birthday packages starting at $275 for 15 guests, 30 minutes of boarding activities, 60 minutes of sailing on the Fearless, a special Pirate birthday song and goodies for both the honoree and guests. Cake time costs extra, so you may have to plan for another venue, perhaps a nearby park, for that. Visit the website to see all of their party options. Pirate Adventures in Annapolis has a few packages available, all of them including 30 minutes of face painting and dress-up before a 75-minute cruise aboard the Sea Gypsy, a ride that takes party-goers out on the Bay and includes fun and games of the pirate variety. Depending on the package, there may or may not be time in a party room after, so you might have to figure out another option for cake. Package prices begin at $675 for 45 passengers, and while that sounds steep, you might consider doing what a friend of mine did, and sharing the party with a friend.

Sprinkles Cupcakes
After attending a Mother’s Day cupcake decorating session here, Sasha declared Sprinkles as her next birthday party venue. And I completely understand why: Cupcakes! Ones you get to frost yourself and adorn with all the pretty and fun toppings you like. In an adorable pink-walled (and floored) party room above the shop.  Sprinkles provides the bare cupcakes, then sets out several flavors of frosting along with a variety of cute, edible sugar decorations — sprinkles included, of course — so that party guests can make their cupcakes look and taste exactly the way they want them. And you’re welcome to bring your own food and drinks for party fare other than the scrumptious treats. The cost for all of this is $500 and includes two hours of rental time, 4 dozen full-sized cupcakes or 6 dozen mini cupcakes , all decorating tools, Sprinkles to-go boxes, and a party coordinator to assist, and set up/clean up by Sprinkles.  The rate might sound steep, but as the room accommodates 20 guests seated and 30 standing, it could possibly be a shared party.

ComedySportz 4 Kids
This improv show at The Comedy Spot in Ballston Common Mall is how Owen wants to celebrate his next party. We’ve never been, but I looked into this option for the kids’ birthdays this year and learned they were too young, as it’s recommended for first graders and up.  The fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants show encourages audience participation and even invites theatre-goers to get in on the act, too.  Afterwards, groups can stay for a party on stage. Rates are $10/person for up to 30 guests, plus $100 for the post-show celebration. You bring all the food and supplies; they’ll help you clean up when it’s over. And if you want to go big for the occasion, you can buy out the entire show and have the place to yourselves for $600 (another joint birthday possibility).

Ballet Petite
A friend claims this is a must on a list of area birthday party recommendations. And by the sound of it, I couldn’t agree more. I would have adored a soiree like this when I was a little girl. Catering to budding ballerinas and young entertainers, two party packages indulge the dance enthusiast’s fancy. For children ages 3 and up, there’s the Ballerina Party that includes a story, dance session in ornate costumes, tea party, and a fairy-dusted birthday cake. Kids 5 and older, can turn their party into a production with the Musical Theatre Birthday that includes a song and dance from a popular Broadway show, “auditions”, then a chance to perform the show for parents. Afterward, the party moves to a disco club where guests relax with music, apple cider, and birthday cake. Rates start at $650 for 16 guests (again, one to possibly share to cut costs). Ballet Petite has locations in both Bethesda and McLean.

The Playseum
The venue full of cute, themed rooms encouraging pretend play and hands-on fun for little ones gets loads of raves from parents as a great place for everyday play (Sasha, for one, loves it there). I’ve heard their birthday parties are fantastic, too.  They offer a few packages at different price points, depending on the number of guests and activities included. The basic ($150) gets you an hour of playtime and cupcake decorating, and story time for 6 children. A more-frills one  ($300) includes an all-day play pass, a private party room for two hours, a themed story time, and Playseum dollars to purchase a toy or activity. For more details and other party options, see the website.



Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Birthday Parties, Class, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Park, Virginia