Awesome Birthday Party Themes
Five popular themes adapted for toddlers through preteens
Eateries with tours or make-your-own action are a treat.
Where: Besides pizza or burger joints, ethnic restaurants, especially loud ones, can be good. See if there's a private room; Japanese restaurants often have tatami rooms, where kids can sit on the floor and use chopsticks. Prearrange menu; ask about cake.
How much: $10 to $15 per child.
Pros: No cooking or cleaning up. Restaurants know how to handle a crowd and please customers, even little ones.
Cons: Limited running-around room. If food is too esoteric, finicky eaters can feel left out (and hungry), so order the most universally likable foods, like quesadillas or Indian poori bread.
2 to 3: Limited appeal; can work if spot is kid-oriented and spacious.
4 to 5: Staying seated is hard; best with distractions, like jukeboxes.
6 to 8: Make-your-own-meal places will be a hit; kids can follow recipes, handle ingredients, and enjoy the novelty.
9 to 12: Go for action -- a slice-and-dice Japanese steak house -- or a hip setting.