Finding a Budget-Friendly Central Maryland Kid’s Birthday Party Venue

Birthday Party

So, as the natural-born party planner in our household, I’m facing a bit of a dilemma. As a Saving Amy blog reader, I know you’re as into saving money as I am and therefore I’m enlisting your help! You do not need to be in Maryland to recommend ideas, but it’s a bonus if you are close to me and can.

The Dilemma

This November, my eldest turns 3 (girl), youngest turns 1 (boy), and I turn another year older in my 40’s. All within ten days of one another.

So, here I am just four months out from November. And, I find myself racking my brain for a good birthday party solution that’s an all-encompassing for a trifecta shindig and MOST IMPORTANTLY not going to break the bank. What happened to the days of McDonald’s parties…right people?

Ruled Out Our House

I really want to put the bulk of our spend to rent Paw Patrol characters Skye and Chase from a local event company, but if I do that…the kids will come in droves (which is ok because I’d like to get my money’s worth for the rentals). I should mention that our eldest starts preschool in the Fall and may be making new friends there that we’d like to invite. Since our kids are rather young as well as those of our friends, this really can’t be a “drop-off party,” we need to accommodate the parents too. The first floor of our house is rather tight and we just wouldn’t have room for that (nor do I want to clean up before or after that number of people with two kids 3 and under I have to clean up after normally).

Ruled Out Outdoor Venues

The sun sets around 4:50pm that time of the year and with that, the average high is 56 and low 34. We’ve had anywhere from gorgeous skies to snow at that time of year, so I really can’t plan something outside. Rules out park pavilion rentals with outdoor playgrounds and our favorite little zoo in Thurmont.

Ruled Out Time of Day

Both our kids nap from 12:30-2:30pm thereabouts. So, I would either be able to do a party at 10am or 3pm (I lean towards the latter so if adults want to stick around to celebrate my birthday after the kids’ party, they can do so). So, 3-5pm for the kids party and people will be leaving once it’s dark out.

Venue Ideas

I’ve been researching kid-friendly venues, and even the community building that’s part of our HOA wants a minimum of $275 for four hours (including setup and break-down). Most of the local indoor places charge an arm-and-a-leg too:

The above prices were pulled from corporate web sites in July 2018, unless otherwise noted.

I’m not interested in:

  • Build-a-Bear at The Mall in Columbia (really only accommodates the 3-year-old part of the party and wouldn’t hold our crowd)
  • Clark’s Elioak Farm (we already did this in 2017 because we slid the party up into late October and with a lucky roll the weather ended up being fantastic)
  • HyperKidz in Columbia, MD (WAY too crowded anytime we’ve been)
  • National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD (distance and parking for out-of-town family members)
  • Medieval Times in Hanover, MD (wouldn’t be able to do our characters here, no pricing estimates online)
  • Port Discovery in Baltimore, MD (distance and parking for out-of-town family members)
  • Movie Theaters

I noticed:

  • Wheels Skate Center in Odenton isn’t terribly priced ($175 for 10), but has a limit to the number of skaters before paying a surcharge for additional (and with this being a trifecta party, there could be a lot of my eldest’s friends and my friends skating).

Add any of these to the cost of the character rentals at $150/ea. (one for my daughter and one for my son), $300 total, it’s just A LOT. Like enough that it makes me cringe it’s not going into their 529 college education savings plans.

These costs are not even including: food, cake, utensils & plate/drinkware, decorations, and simple favors.

What are folks to do for kids’ birthday parties that fall in the cooler-weather months in Central Maryland? Are we screwed that the party HAS to be inside? Are we screwed that the party HAS to be held around the time of the birthdays?

Brainstorm with Me Please

I think what I really need is just a room, with a small, clean kitchen, and clean bathrooms. Even a small private room at a restaurant would do. But, I don’t want to take it too far from home because I’d like to do something for my birthday too (the last three of my birthdays in a row I’ve either been pregnant or undergoing fertility treatment).

I’m seriously at a loss. Can you help me think of an indoor venue location that I haven’t yet thought of? Perhaps a firehouse – but then would we have to do whatever activities they have planned? What about a hotel with a smallish event room to rent? An art studio could be fun. Any nearby kid-friendly museums I haven’t thought of?

Here’s what I need:

  • Within 20-minute drive of BWI airport
  • Indoors
  • Budget-friendly
  • Room to hold 50 people (dozen or so relatives on the conservative side, and ten families averaging three in each household)
  • Handicap accomodating preferred
  • Something appealing to kids, to keep them busy
  • Room to move about and mingle
  • Kitchen area would be a plus
  • Bathrooms are a must
  • Available around mid-afternoon in mid-November on a weekend (and not too close to Thanksgiving)
  • Do not need party favors or anything other than the “space” (and ample parking) provided
  • YES, I’m willing to do a blog and social media posts in exchange for a discount!

Comment below with any and all ideas please! I need them all!

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Mom of three littles, and a small business supporter, Amy Lynn, is the woman behind the Saving Amy blog, covering a broad range of topics with an ultimate goal to encourage and inspire you to save both money and time.Have a sunny day! Have a sunny day!