by Brandy Centolanza

When it comes to children and birthdays, celebrations these days seem to amount to more than just balloons and a slice of birthday cake. Whether your child is into arts and crafts, fitness and sports, action and adventure, or nature and the great outdoors, you’ll find a party theme to make your child’s special day a memorable one. Here are some ideas for planning a fun birthday party for your children and their family and friends.

Down on the Farm

braehead partiesDoes your child love animals, nature and being outside? Petting zoos and reptile shows are popular with little ones, or consider throwing a birthday party on a real farm. Braehead Farm has two different party barns available for rent overlooking the farm’s Family Playgrounds for the young—and the young-at-heart—to enjoy. The playground space includes a hay barn, corn pit, farm animals, sand piles, slides and other play equipment and a picnic area.

“Children can safely run and play in wide open space and visit with the animals to experience wholesome fun outdoors on a farm,” shares Roxanna Snead with Braehead Farm. “Families can also enjoy anything else the farm has to offer such as the market, dairy fresh ice cream, or some time picking in the fields.”

Throughout the year, the farm offers various vegetables, flowers and fruits to pick, as well.

“It is so much fun and educational for children. It’s more than a party. It’s about having family time and family fun,” says Snead.

Just for Kicks

children doing karateWhy not expose kids to a different culture, while being physically active, at a birthday party at a martial arts dojo? J Tiger Martial Arts offers parties for preschoolers through teenagers. Children are constantly on the move during a party here, with party packages featuring a board breaking activity and tae kwon do demo lesson for up to 20 kids. It also includes everyone’s favorite birthday party staple, pizza. Martial arts, such as the Korean martial art of tae kwon do, improve flexibility, heighten concentration, reduce stress, boost self-esteem and teach self-defense. Similar birthday party options are available at Jett Martial Arts and Mountain Kim Martial Arts. Other birthday party ideas for the sporty kid include basketball at the gym or playground, soccer and swimming or fishing.

Let’s Get Crafty

Options abound for kids who prefer to pick up a paint brush instead of a ball. Kids can paint kindness rocks or knickknacks, or tie dye t-shirts or make funky socks at home or at an art studio. At Board & Brush Creative Studio, DIY projects include woodwork signs and wall décor, floor mats, photo frames, canvas pillows, blankets and blanket ladders.

The Great Escape

Connect GamesSpeaking of adventure, entertain your young thrill seekers and problem solvers through a birthday party at Rush Hour Live Escape Room at Spotsylvania Towne Centre. Guests compete to solve escape room puzzles including Blackbeard’s Brig. Each room can hold either 4-6 or 6-8 guests.

Let The Good Times Roll

cavalier roller skatingMoms and dads may feel a tinge of nostalgia after throwing a birthday party at a roller rink for their kids. What once was old is new again with roller skating becoming more popular among younger kids, as well as those in middle and high school. Rollerworks Family Skating Center and Cavalier Family Skating Center in Stafford are seeing an increase in skating parties, with Cavalier Family Skating Center hosting as many as 20 birthday parties every Saturday. Kids can skate until they drop here.

“Roller skating is a great option for many reasons,” says Emily Metts Garner, owner and operator of Cavalier Family Skating Center. “It’s indoors, so weather isn’t a factor. It’s a fun atmosphere. It’s healthy because kids are moving around and active instead of playing video games. And when kids are done, they go home exhausted.”