Saturday, January 28

Zumba, spa, paint, cook: Fun meets learning at kids’ bashes in Kolkata

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Pinatas, fancy cakes, magicians, theme decor and kid-friendly food — doesn’t all that sound like the recipe for a great birthday bash? If you just said yes, we’re sorry, but it seems you are a tad outdated. New-age parents have moved on to bigger, better and more constructive ways to ring in their kids’ big days. From partying on wheels to playing master chefs, from spa-like pampering to bringing out the Picasso inside them, there’s a whole world of activities waiting to be explored at kids’ birthday bashes in the city.

Fun & creativity go hand in hand

According to party planners, the most common grievance shared by parents nowadays is the over-dependence of their kids on gadgets. So, they are always finding ways to get their kids involved in something that can be educative as well as fun. Since birthday parties are hotspots for children of all ages, including out-of-the-box activities helps kids get exposure to new things, which they can continue to pursue if interested. Staying mindful of this, Ajay Mehra from Art Villa has been making sure that children get to learn something interesting while getting their dose of entertainment. His art and crafts parties include various fun activities for children. They can make their own photo frames or clocks and even take them back home as return gifts.

All the necessary materials are provided to the children and there’s also a team of artists to help them complete their activity. Everything is photographed by a professional and kids get to have their photos at the end. “The party scenario is slowly but surely changing. Parents, especially mothers, are now more interested in sending their kids to activity-based parties where they can get to learn a thing or two. Birthday parties for kids are not just about fancy cakes, jumping around and magic shows anymore. Even the host parents don’t like to spend their money on such arrangements now. Also, these occasions give children an opportunity to bond with their friends. Most kids otherwise are glued to screens and hardly spend time playing with others in the real world,” says Ajay.

For kids who want to get the taste of a teenager’s life early on, Jumping Monkeys has a discotheque that can be accessed by tiny tots as well as their parents. “Latest tracks are played, the dance floor has gel tiles and the whole place has a real disco-like ambience, complete with laser lights. Kids love it and so do their parents. It is quite a popular pick for birthday parties,” says owner Krishna Agarwal. Apart from the regular play zone, they also have video games for children. On the other hand, Stone Paper Scissors discourages any form of gadgets. Their activities help children have fun without the involvement of any kind of screen. Their kids’ salon is a popular party spot for young girls. “All the products used by us are organic. We ensure no chemical is used on kids. Pink bath robes and slippers are given to them before they are pampered with foot spa, hand spa, nail art, hair styling et al. The idea is to give them a salon-like feel,” says owner Kavita Agarwal, describing the salon or spa parties that seem to be the current favourite with young girls. It can be arranged at both salons and homes. “Even if it’s not at a salon, we give a complete spa-like feel at the chosen venue. There’s a person for doing manicures and pedicures. We also arrange for foot spa and get a fish tank for fish pedicure. Professional makeup artists doll up the kids. Once everyone’s ready, there’s a fashion show where kids can walk the ramp and feel like models,” says Neha Gupta Agarwal from Seize The Day.

Another popular party theme is MasterChef, which is basically non-fire cooking for kids. Pizza, cupcake, sushi, risotto and candy floss are just some of the items that the junior cooks can learn to whip up here. “For birthdays or play dates, a lot of people like their kids to act as mini chefs. We give them hygiene caps, aprons and create a complete MasterChef-like environment. We make all the arrangements for them, including the ingredients. Two of our experts guide the children through the cooking process. Once ready, the kids can either dig into the delicacies made by them or take them away,” adds Kavita.

Another popular choice is a tram party. It is fast becoming popular as a way to make children aware of the city’s rich heritage, which always runs the risk of fading into oblivion. “Kids these days are missing out on the opportunity to experience this vintage mode of transport, which is also a part of our heritage. Hence, we organise moving tram parties in an AC carriage, which takes kids around the city as they get to enjoy a magic show inside and are enthralled by a live musician as well! Kids love this party on wheels,” says Sukriti Agarwal from Outbox.

There’s hardly any kid who doesn’t scream for ice cream. So, for those looking to celebrate at home, an ice cream party is the ideal way to ring in their child’s birthday. And one can call a whole ice cream truck to their place! It will serve unlimited ice cream and sundaes to the young party peeps, making it a birthday to remember. Besides, aqua Zumba is emerging as another popular activity among kids, especially in summer. So, if your party venue has a pool, aqua Zumba can be the best way for tiny tots to make a splash.

Themes galore

Though a host of themes are popular among kids, there are some that have the girls and boys divided. While superhero and construction-themed parties are a huge hit with boys, girls love art and craft as well as spa parties. Human claws, wax hand-making and mask making are some of the other unique activities that are part of such events. “Slime making parties are extremely popular with kids nowadays. For an Avengers themed party recently, I had put small cut-outs of related characters in the slime and the kids went crazy. Constructions parties using Lego or blocks give kids a chance to learn and have fun at the same time. We also have traffic signal parties where kids get to learn about traffic rules,” says Neha.

For those who believe in grand celebrations, decorated horse carriage rides are a big hit. Parents can surprise their kids at the stroke of midnight by calling the carriage right to their doorstep, complete with fancy lights and balloons. It then takes the family out on a memorable ride. Also in demand are parties at polo clubs, where kids can learn horse riding and indulge in various other activities. “No matter how much the party scene evolves with time, cartoons will always remain special for kids. Therefore, calling life-size cartoon characters home to wish children is one of the best surprises and a popular one. It goes with all kinds of themes,” says Sukriti.

Anything for learning, say new-age parents

Nothing can possibly make parents happier than seeing their children enjoy as they learn. Hence, activity-based parties are something they find worth investing in. Bangur resident Parita Chhaparia, who wanted a one-of-a-kind theme for her son’s birthday, agrees that the concept of kids’ parties is not the same anymore. “I’ve seen new trends emerge in the last three to four years. Earlier, it used to be all about cakes, khoi bags, return gifts etc. But nowadays, there are so many interesting themes to choose from. This not only helps children spend some quality time with their peers, but also exposes them to wonderful things that can pique their interest and help them find their calling early on,” says Parita, who got an astronaut-themed party organised. “My son thoroughly enjoyed it and he’s looking forward to a police-themed bash when he turns five next year,” she adds.

Flamingo was the theme for the birthday party of Neha Mahansaria’s five-year-old daughter, who loves animals. “Because of summer, we wanted an indoor venue. But my party planner completely transformed the place with the theme décor. There were cut-outs of flamingoes all around. Plus there were real macaws too! The kids were in awe of the set-up. To keep everyone engaged, there were tattoo, nail art and slime counters too. We also had a magician and a bouncy entertaining the guests,” she says, adding that she would like to explore other activities at future celebrations for her daughter.

Harshita Sharma from Tollygunge feels such occasions are a great way to detach the kids from gadgets and make them try their hand at creative tasks for at least some time. To give her young niece a real-life thrill, she recently organised a surprise for her. “It was her 11th birthday and I wanted to make it really special. So, I called a life-size Mickey Mouse to our house. The expression on her face on seeing her favourite cartoon character alive in front of her eyes was priceless! She was stunned to see a Mickey outside a television set for the first time ever. After that, we called for a horse carriage, which took the birthday girl and her friends on a ride. The kids loved it. The best part is, it was all very nicely arranged with all safety precautions in place,” she says.

So, what do you say now? Still want to celebrate your child’s birthday with cakes, balloons and magicians? We hope not!

Pocket pinch

For art and craft theme, a party with two-three activities can cost anywhere between Rs 850-1,000 per child. Spa parties at salons can be organised at Rs 550-1,000 per child for up to two services. Other learning activities can be organised at similar rates.


Source: Times of India


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