The Ultimate Tween Birthday Party
When it comes to kids birthdays, I've pretty much covered all the themes - facepainting, magic shows, guitar players, ball pit parties, bowling, amusement parks, ice skating, barbecues, costume parties, the list is endless! But what I can say is that every year, I manage to figure out a way to keep my kids and their friends entertained beyond their wildest expectations.
This year was no exception when my daughter decided that she wanted to take 13 kids to Manhattan (we live in the burbs) so that we could celebrate her 11th birthday at Planet Hollywood. It seemed simple enough - I booked a table, arranged for her to have the "Emmy" package - complete with entree, drinks, cake, balloons and ice cream and then had to figure out how we'd get them all to our destination.
Since our minivan only has room for seven, we decided to make it a Metronorth adventure and advised the kids to stick together as we navigated our way to our final destination. And so, 13 kids and 3 adults took over a train car and managed to keep the decibel levels low enough so as not to offend the other passengers. 40 minutes later, we arrived at Grand Central Terminal and as we explained to the kids we'd be heading to the subway to take the shuttle across to Time Square, the train engineer pulled me aside to make sure I took the kids back to try out Grand Central's "Whispering Walls" when we returned...more on that later!
As we went to hit the shuttle, I managed to swipe everyone through and we entered the subway along with a sea of rush hour commuters. For a split second, I lost track of our entire group, but instructed them that the moment we arrived, we'd form a human chain out of the train so that no one became separated from the group. It was a little tense for a few minutes, but luckily, we managed to get out of the subway intact and then walked along Broadway, battling more crowds as we made our way to Planet Hollywood.
The party itself was a blast - the kids sang along and danced to the music videos played throughout the night, we gave them a tour of all the "Twilight" memorabilia and they loved hanging out with each other in the city as full fledged tweens. When the cake arrived, the waiters and waitresses (who all seem to be aspiring actors) sang and entertained our group and even posed for pictures. We then made our way back to Grand Central Terminal with 15 minutes to spare before our train ride home. And that's where we hit the whispering walls.
If you've never been to Grand Central Terminal, then you don't know what you've been missing! Aside from dozens of great shops - from clothing, make-up, jewelry, restaurants and much more, there are plenty of great things to learn too including a museum and a spot on the lower level where two tunnels meet where you can whisper in one corner and hear someone on the other side. While adults might not think that's a really cool trick, kids eat it up and considering we had 15 minutes to spare before our train left the station, the whispering walls entertained the kids for a good 10 minutes.
With a few minutes left before it was time to leave Manhattan, we made a break for our train and managed to once again take over an entire car - which made it a great ride for the kids who laughed, played with Mad Libs (the goody bag gift) and talked about what an awesome time they had.
And there you have it. When everyone else zigs, I prefer to zag - transporting myself into the mind of an 11 year old so I can conjure up all the things I'd love to do if I were my daughter's age. Now it's time to plan my son's party - a much tougher task since he's a Michael Jackson fanatic who plays baseball, the guitar and can't decide what he wants to do for his birthday and it's only three weeks away. If anyone has suggestions, I am all ears!