Whether you're on a shoestring budget or the sky's the limit, we've got 25 birthday party ideas for budding Batalis, Beckhams, Beyoncés and every kid in between.
Actors Gymnasium 927 Noyes St, Evanston; 847-328-2795
Instead of running away to join the circus, kids can head to this Evanston studio that often collaborates with Lookingglass Theatre on acrobatic productions. The Circus Arts party package, for ages eight and up, includes instruction on two circus tricks such as juggling, unicycling, trapeze or tightwire. Imaginastics, for younger kids, has the skilled and silly entertainers focusing on tumbling, gymnastics and storytelling. If it’s good enough for David Schwimmer, it’s good enough for your budding Bozo. $360 includes 60 minutes of instructional time and 30 minutes for cake (bring your own) for up to 15 children; pay $75 for up to five more kids. Cost-saving tip A half-hour Actors Gymnasium juggling workshop at your home for up to 15 children will save you 60 bucks.
Chicago Fire 7000 S Harlem Ave, Bridgeview; 888-MLS-FIRE
Little cleat-wearers get a taste of the big leagues with party packages including ten tickets to a regular-season game at Toyota Park, a visit from mascot Sparky, an autographed mini ball for the birthday kid, birthday wishes printed in the game program and a choice of food (options include pizza, hot dogs and turkey wraps), drinks and desserts. $430 includes top-flight seats on the 18-yard box. Cost-saving tip Shave off $60 by opting for seats in one of the stadium corners.
Frozen Ropes 6000 W Touhy Ave; 773-631-4300
Little sluggers love parties at this huge indoor baseball training center, where they practice swinging in the batting cages, play guess-your-speed radar and hit the field with coaches for game play (bring your own gloves and bats). $575 World Series party gets 24 players 30 minutes in the batting cages, an hour in the full stadium and 30 minutes in the party room. $10 per additional kid. Cost-saving tip Choose a Cubs party package for 10 kids ($185 for an hour in the batting cages) or a White Sox package for 12 kids ($295 for 30 minutes in the batting cages and 30 minutes on half the infield).
Bend Yoga & Movement Studio 906 N Damen Ave, 773-680-7778
Flexible types ages 6–12 can get in touch with their toes and their creative sides during yoga-, art- or dance-themed parties with guided instruction. If there’s time, kids get to build castles and forts out of yoga props. The owners recommend these parties as especially good options for kids with sensory-integration issues. $250 for two-hour party for a maximum of 15 kids. Bring your own food and decorations. Worthwhile add-on If you choose the art party, buy inexpensive frames for guests to display their work as parting gifts.
Niles Park District 6676 W Howard St, Niles; 847-967-1529
Sports fanatics ages 4–12 get a literal kick out of the Games & Sports Galore party, which can include staff-led basketball, soccer, kickball, t-ball or a combo inside the gym. Or let them lace up their skates for a party at the indoor, hockey-tournament-sized Iceland Arena. $258 for a 90-minute Games & Sports Galore party for 15 kids includes invitations, organizer, cake, punch, paper goods and balloons. $4 per extra kid. $215 ice skating party includes rink time for up to 30 people, plus party room. Worthwhile add-on Another $50–$75 buys an extra hour of party time.