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By Josefina Loza
Do it yourself, don’t break the bank. That’s my motto for birthday parties.
Each year, I plan, create and decorate the parties for my little ones — Bobby, soon-to-be 9, Alejandra, 4 (photographed above), and Gabriella, 16 months. And I’ve learned that as long as you keep it simple, you’re golden.
One year, we doubled our family Easter egg hunt with Alejandra’s spring-themed birthday party. We made baby chicks from feathers and plastic eggs and wore bunny ears while hitting a donkey pi?ata. Kids don’t care how much you spend as long as it’s fun.
For birthday party inspiration, we asked several local moms to share their DIY ideas.
Here’s a sampling of what they said:
OMAHAN ANGELA ALLEN, 31, and son Bryce were fascinated by Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” film, so they planned his fifth birthday party around the movie. The party later evolved into a “Dirt Party.”
She made “dirt cup” treats. She used green cups and a green spoon for the dirt cups. On the tip of the spoon she placed flower stickers to make it look like there was a flower coming out of the ground. For the gift bags, she bought flower seeds for the kids to grow.
OMAHAN KATRINA OLSEN, 33, most memorable birthday party themes are rock-star, co-ed sports and hero parties for her two children — daughter Kamryn Olsen, 9, and son Korben Kilgas, 5.
For the rock star party, she laid out a red carpet using red cellophane, and had a red-carpet photo shoot for the guests.The girls voted for their favorite costume, with the winner receiving a Justin Bieber poster.
“Party favors consisted of sunglasses, bracelets and a mix CD that I made for the event,” Olsen said. “I burned a copy of ‘Kamryn’s Eighth Birthday Party Soundtrack’ for each guest and made a CD cover for each, listing all the songs.”
As for the sports-themed, co-ed party, she facilitated games in a community recreation center for the first half of the party. They played kickball, dodgeball and a school game. Then the group went swimming. (Those who did not want to swim played foosball, ping pong and air hockey in the game room). Party favors included a personalized water bottle, whistle, fruit snacks, etc.
OMAHAN MEGAN KELLY RAYER had an Elmo-themed party when her son, Carson, had his second birthday.
A costumed Elmo took pictures with children. She painted wooden blocks to look like Elmo, and glued a picture holder on the back.
“We gave the kids live goldfish (their own Dorothy),” she said.
She switched gears for his third birthday when she hosted a pirate party, complete with a giant pirate ship, treasure dig, and pirate costumes for each of the kids. She styled and made those outfits, too.
When OMAHAN JESSICA REMINGTON’S middle child, Jackson, was about to turn 4, he was big into robots, an easy party theme.
Together they designed a robot to use on a shirt for him, a fun cake, and planned games. “He came up with the idea of ‘Ro-doh’ for a Play-Doh label and a bean bag toss game where we tossed them into a giant robot.”
The bean-bag toss was the party favorite until the cardboard was so beat up it wouldn’t stand straight.
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If you’re not in a do-it-yourself mood, check out our list of kid-friendly birthday party venues and entertainment centers.
2110 S. 67th St., 402-502-1914
Aksarben Cinema offers birthday parties that include admission to a movie, concessions, and a pass to a movie on a return trip.
The Amazing Pizza Machine
39th and S Plaza, 402-829-1777
Offers the Amazing Arcade, Prize Center, Crazy Cars, Wild Ride, the Froghopper, Glo Golf, Grand Spree Racing, Busy Works Play Area, etc.
10804 Prairie Hills Drive, 402-614-0068
Fun music and movement classes for children 6 weeks to 5 years old. Instruction is informal; children participate as they choose to do at their development level. Birthday parties can be in your home or at the studio. You can order personalized cd’s with your child’s photo on them as party favors.
13211 Chandler Road, 402-884-9093
BounceU in La Vista is a place where kids ages 2-and-older can bounce to their hearts’ delight on a variety of huge inflatable play structures.
Oak View Mall 3001 South 144th, 402-334-1505
The birthday child and guests can each create a stuffed animal to take home.
Chuck E. Cheese’s
225 North 76th St., 402-391-6331
Birthday parties include games, prizes, shows, sky tubes, rides, and a toddler zone.
CoCo Key Water Resort
3321 South 72nd St., 402-547-5613
Nebraska’s largest indoor water park features activities for all ages. If features a zero-depth entry pool, water cannons, slides, tube rides, whirlpool, play structures and lots more.
Clara’s Closet Dress-Up Parties
2822 North Main Street, Elkhorn 402-289-9680
Offers themed birthday parties for girls, including a wide range of dress-up clothes and costumes. Themes include a wedding, fashion show, tea party, Hawaiian luau and a pageant. Everyone has their nails polished and a make-up session before having a photograph taken.
84th and Giles Streets, 402-415-0705
Creation Station is a paint-your-own pottery studio.
Dave & Busters
2502 South 133rd Plaza, 402-778-3915
Dave & Busters offers hundreds of games, from classic arcade games to the latest interactive and video games.
10421 Portal Rd., LaVista 402-934-3394
Defy Gravity offers parties at their indoor trampoline park. Go through “The Vault,” an indoor laser maze, or play three-dimensional versions of your favorite sports, such as dodgeball or volleyball.
Family Fun Center XL
108th and L Streets (402) 554-1925
Lazertag, 250 video games, trampoline, Space Ball, pool room, indoor miniature golf, classic arcade games, skeeball and air hockey.
Fontenelle Forest Nature Center
Bellevue, Neb., (402)-731-3140
Parties are available on selected dates for up to 12 children from ages 4 to 10. Parties include a Naturalist-led hike, game, and cool animal visitor. Admission to Fontenelle Forest is included.
Fun Plex Water Park
7003 Q St., 402-331-8436
Fun Plex is Nebraska’s largest amusement and water park.
10070 Sapp Bros. Drive, 402-392-1889
Going Vertical offers sports-themed birthday parties, including soccer, flag football, dodgeball or kickball on an indoor field.
Gymboree Play Programs
Westwood Plaza 2819 S. 125th Ave., 402-330-1864
Teachers lead birthday party guests in play and song with activities geared to the age group of your choice. Parties are available for children ages 1 through 5.
Henry Doorly Zoo
3701 South 10th St., 402-557-6935
Offers a “Close Encounters” birthday party package, which includes all basic party needs plus an animal visit.
Jumpin’ Jax Bounce & Party Center
66th Street and Cornhusker Road (inside the Champion Sport Karate Complex)
Jumpin’ Jax offers open bounce times for the entire family, children’s classes, camps, progams and parties!
Salvation Army Kroc Center
2825 Y St., 402-905-3500
The Kroc Center offers a variety of themed party packages, including sports, drama, princess, pottery, dance, cooking, and art. A dedicated party host will assist in the party room.
100 Bancroft St., (402) 346-4002
Offers a variety of themed birthday parties for children, including “Flower Power,” “Bugs and Blossoms” and “Incredible Insects.”
Mahoney State Park
Ashland, Neb.,402-444-2523 ext. 7122
Offers birthday parties in its Activity Center. The Activity Center provides year-round entertainment with an indoor playground (slides, ball pits, mazes), activity stimulators, a concession stand and outdoor ice-skating rink.
Special birthday party packages at its 20 Grand, Village Pointe, and Twin Creek Cinema locations.
Omaha Children’s Museum
500 S. 20th St., 402-342-6164
Offers themed parties and a variety of party packages.
Omaha Storm Chasers Birthday bash, 402-738-5105
Papio Fun Park
210 E. Lincoln St., Papillion, 402- 592-5671
Lazer Runner, Spaceball, JumpShot, and a trampoline are some of the activities Papio Fun Park offers to make your child’s birthday party memorable.
Pump It Up
960 South 72nd St., 402-932-7867
At Pump It Up “The Inflatable Party Zone,” you can enjoy a private, indoor party with giant interactive inflatable play structures and a rock climbing wall.
Vala’s Pumpkin Patch
12102 S. 180th St., 402-332-4200
Birthday party activities include all entertainment and attractions included in generalaAdmission, as well as the use of a birthday barn for two hours.
Whole Foods Market
10040 Regency Circle, 402-393-1200
Offers a variety of themed birthday parties for children age 4 and up, including “Pizza Pros,” “Mexican Fiesta,” “Build It and Break It,” “Gross-Out Party,” “A Day at the Spa,” and “Pasta Party.”