Celebrating With The Kids
Joy In Manhattan
VERYONE loves a party—a special time to celebrate a
milestone, whether a birthday, anniversary, or family
celebration. Everyone who has a child or a grandchild, a
niece, a nephew or young friends knows that children and
parties are an especially joyous combination, and birthday
parties are important rituals of childhood.
Children and their parents can plan a simple
event or create a fantastic event. "Just remember," advises
party planner Shaniqua Garvin, "whatever you choose should
be about making the child happy."
Garvin is the kid's party planner at the
Equinox Sports Club, 330 East
61 Street. She has helped plan hundreds of children's
"Sometimes, parents try to out-party one
another, creating complex, themed events that take many more
hours to plan than the party itself lasts. When one child in
a class has an over-the-top party, friends may feel
pressured to follow that pattern. They can get caught up in
“Remember," she advises, "it's a kid’s
There are several gyms that offer age
appropriate settings. Equinox offers a wide range of party
programs for all ages. The addition of an experienced party
coach helps organize the party. Keep the games friendly, so
For a theme party, a child can choose a
favorite character around which to design a party. Perhaps a
superhero will be the choice or an elegant princess will
arrive to join the guests. "At Equinox," says Garvin,
"there's plenty of space for everything from bouncing
castles to games of laser tag."
For the very beary best in birthday
Build a Bear offers
wonderfully creative, and surprisingly economical, parties
(starting at $12 per child). There are two "bear factories"
in Manhattan: the world's biggest at 565 Fifth Avenue and
another at FAO Schwarz.
"Every guest takes home a charming, new friend," promises
the "pawsonal" party planner. "It's a beary wonderful
experience. Very hands on. We offer snacks and a theme cake
— and everything is available kosher, too. There's
breakfast, snacks or dessert platters for adults to enjoy."
Chelsea Piers on Manhattan's
far West Side, offers team and individual sports including
rock climbing, golf, tennis, ice skating, a wide range of
team sports and any other activities just begin the list of
things to do at a "pier party." Kosher refreshments are
For the younger set, an active event with
more individual "sporting" activities can be arranged at
Gymboree Parties at
its 1622 First Avenue location. There are lots of active
events where cake and snacks, available kosher, can be
at 1520 York Avenue, offers a wonderful time for the younger
set, and a kosher option, too.
Special entertainers and artists help make a
party unique. Perhaps you'd like a face painter to design a
beautiful butterfly with glittery wings or a superhero to
decorate your child's face, or have a balloon artist create
a zoo full of bright balloon animals streaming across the
room. Older children might find an outing at
Bowlmor Lanes in Times Square
"striking." There are 50 lanes.
Some children are happiest with a basic menu
of pizza, ice cream, cake and candles. Add a jolly piniata
or pin the tail on that donkey and it’s a perfect setting to
create laughter and happy memories. "Unfortunately," says
party planner Garvin "traditional, simple parties are
becoming few and far between."
A delicious party (or any time) treat is
Steve's Soft Ice
Cream Buffet. The company, founded in Massachusetts, now
has a "cool" Manhattan outlet. Owner David Stein says
Steve's gives everyone a chance to custom blend a personal
ice cream flavor. Choose the goodies you love from the vast
array of sweet, nutty and fruity possibilities and they will
be mixed into the creamy, all-natural base. Steve's will
bring delicious Kosher ice cream and mixings to your party
at home or party location.
"Look to the city itself for resources,"
says my wonderful wife, Dr. Sarah Schlesinger, a creative
Manhattan mother. "Visit a firehouse, though be aware that
the party may be interrupted if the firemen have to answer
an alarm. That should add an exciting moment for the kids!”
Go to the
Transit Museum and take a ride on an old fashioned subway car. It's
fascinating. Or privatize a public event. For example, if
the birthday happens to occur during its season, run away to
the circus with a bunch of five-year-olds. You may even
arrange for the birthday child to be part of the opening
parade. What a thrill to be part of the show!