a peek inside the fishbowl

23 Feb, 2012

Birthday party ideas for kids in Ottawa

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy

Do you host your children’s birthday parties at home, or offsite somewhere? There are pros and cons to each, aren’t there? Offsite birthday parties can be pricey but can also be a sanity saver. Having a kid’s party at home can be really special, but then again, who likes to have cake and ice cream ground into the rug and kids climbing on the coffee table? (Both scenarios we have lived through by the way. Ha.)

My latest piece for Savvymom contains a few ideas for places to host indoor birthday parties that are anywhere but home. I’d love to hear your fave ideas too. Where’ve you been lately that makes a great place for a kid’s birthday party here in Ottawa? Inquiring minds want to know! (Swimming? Gymnastics? Art?)

7 Responses to "Birthday party ideas for kids in Ottawa"

1 | suze

February 23rd, 2012 at 9:12 am


As much as I enjoy the thought of hosting a kids’ party away from home (and letting someone else run it!), the cost of these activities is prohibitive for many, many people. I can’t justify spending $200+ on a 2hour party for a 5 (or 10) year old.

We always have our parties at home – with a homemade cake and a small toy (like a small craft kit or a mini lego set) to take the place of loot bags (which I hate). Even if you throw in a couple of prizes, the cost is rarely more than $50.

We always limit the number of kids invited though, too.

2 | andrea

February 23rd, 2012 at 9:22 am


Our eldest had her last group birthday party when she turned twelve. That’s the cut off year. Until that time we always insisted on the “one kid per year” rule. So a five year old had five friends, the six year old had six friends over etc.

There some inexpensive offsite birthday party ideas out there. The pool rental wasn’t too pricey (we booked a “half” pool but then no one took the other half). You can also take them for a public skate (only a couple bucks per kid) or to see a movie at the Ottawa Family Cinema or Rainbow Cinema. All inexpensive and fun!

And suze: I’m with you on the loot bags!

3 | fern

February 23rd, 2012 at 2:49 pm


You must be reading my mind with this topic … I was going to browse your site to see if you’ve writen about this topic or ask you to consider writing something on this topic!

My boy/girl twins are turning 3 in a few weeks and I am planning a small party for them.

This sounded premature to me but it seem some people host away from home parties even for kids aged 3 and under. I think we’ve decided to wait until our children are a fair bit older to consider venue driven parties. It’s not really about cost as everything adds up, one way or another. I think we’re trying to create some family traditions and try a few things to figure out what works best for us.

I’ve had a few good conversations with friends who’ve given me some good ideas and I will definately check out Andrea’s latest piece in Savvymom. I am wondering, though, if anyone has recently tried what I consider to be “traditional birthday party games” like pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and hot potato/pass the present at their children’s parties? I wonder how our modern children would react? Saving this for next year or the year after …

For now, I’m just trying to adjust to the idea that this year I’m going to buy a cake.

4 | andrea

February 23rd, 2012 at 4:39 pm


Oh, kids love traditional parties, especially when they’re little. When they’re that little, all they want to do really is play and run around the house. :)

5 | Erin

February 24th, 2012 at 1:20 pm


One new spot that we recently tried was Altitude Gym in Hull – an indoor climbing wall. Great active party. Would recommend for 5 yrs plus.

6 | Sara

February 24th, 2012 at 7:11 pm


We have always done a combination; family party (15-20 ppl) at home and friend party (10-15) at a venue, with the exception of the first birthday. Then I got pregnant for thr third time ;) For sanity/saving reasns we’ve nixed the big family party and will have one small friend party at home. We always spend their actual day together as a family (we all miss school/work) and so six celebrations a year will be more manageable than 9!

7 | Soft Play Hire

February 28th, 2012 at 6:50 am


I really enjoyed reading your post and agree that there can be both pro’s and con’s. Children’s party planning is hard work but well worth it when you hear squeals of delight and see lots of smiling faces.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (16) and Sarah (14). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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