From painting parties to trains and princesses, children’s party themes run the gamut

2014-02-23T09:00:00Z From painting parties to trains and princesses, children’s party themes run the gamutCarrie Rodovich Times Correspondent
February 23, 2014 9:00 am  • 

Bounce houses and pizza parties are always popular birthday party destinations, but there are plenty of creative birthday party ideas for kids who want to try something out of the ordinary.

At Art Spot in St. John, up to 15 children can have a two hour party, which includes an hour-long craft as well as time for cupcakes and presents, said owner Rusty Merrills.

Party-goers get a step-by-step drawing lesson on a subject selected by the birthday child. Past art projects have been everything from Sponge Bob to the Minions, she said.

Kids like being able to do something creative, and parents like the party because it requires little set-up and no clean-up.

“They get a drawing lesson, and then the project is matted and sent home with them,” she said. “It’s a fun party for kids. They can come and do something creative and express themselves. Instead of running around and getting sugared up, they can come here and create a masterpiece.”

If you’d like to host a party at your home or at a park, Highland-based Once Upon a Celebration can take a celebration from ordinary to extraordinary by surprising your child with their favorite super hero or princess, said owner Sarah Miller.

The business has more than two dozen characters from which to choose, from Disney princesses to Batman, Superman and Ironman, she said.

Once there, the character will help lead games or crafts, as well as greet and interact with all the guests. Miller also offers a face painting option.

Miller said she has worked with preschool aged children for more than 20 years, and said she has a sense of how to keep the activities moving and make the party a success.

She has a business partner and about 10 employees — many who have worked in theater — who portray the characters. They appear at about 60 to 70 parties per year around Northwest Indiana and the southern Chicago suburbs, and they also appear at businesses, charity events, festivals and parades.

“We want to go above and beyond when we come to an event,” she said. “The kids think it’s great to have a character show up and answer all their questions. It’s every child’s dream.”

For those with a train-obsessed child, Tyler’s Tender in Schererville has a variety of party packages from which to choose. The business celebrated it’s seventh anniversary at the end of January.

The birthday child gets an “engineer’s package” that includes a hat, bandana and wooden whistle. Packages can include rides on the train and tokens to the arcade, depending on what options the parent chooses, said owner Emily Petrie.

The party room seats up to 32 people, and party-goers can either dine on pizza or eat off of the menu. The restaurant recently began serving beer in parts of the restaurant, as well.

Tyler’s Tender hosts about a half-dozen parties a month, and they are always evolving and trying to offer new things to make both kids and their parents happy, she said.

“We’re always adding new items to the menu, and making changes to keep things fresh,” Petrie said.

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