Courtesy of Art Yowza

So you’re not the parent who makes personalized goodie bags and plans themed parties down to the engraved napkins. That doesn’t mean your child can’t have a birthday party bursting with creativity. Art-based parties are where the kids shine most, showing off their innate sense of uninhibited self-expression. And you don’t even have to clean up the mess. Here are some of the options for throwing an artsy birthday party in a Bay Area town near you.

Brushstrokes in Berkeley

No artist is too young at Brushstrokes. For all those kids who love to dig around in the mud, this is the place where their fingers can leave a lasting impression. 2-hour parties are available at $25.50 per person. The package includes staff guidance, loft space, and flatware for your refreshments. Kids choose between painting pottery, creating a mosaic, or building with clay. And the birthday child gets a special gift: a personalized plate signed by all the guests.

Art Yowza in Alameda

Art Yowza is all about encouraging creativity and self-expression and empowering kids with imagination and self-esteem. Sounds like a positive way to spend a birthday! 2-hour parties here cost $200 for 8 children ($10 more for each additional guest) who get to create funky mirrors, rainbow charm purses, sock puppets, or wire creatures with guidance from the Art Yowza director.

Children’s Art Center in San Francisco

This nifty non-profit is located in the Fort Mason Center, home to a community of arts organizations. Bring the kids here to explore art and get their creative energies flowing. The birthday celebrant gets a certificate for an art class following a fun 1 ½ to 2 hour party with activities like painting, sculpture making, collage, and more, all with the guidance of a teacher. Costs range from $175-$350.

Art Start in Marin

No one’s mentioned candle and bauble making yet. Good thing there’s Art Start in Mill Valley, where they’ve got 2-hour artsy parties supervised by staff for everything from drawing and painting to chunk candle molding. Parties begin at $200 for 9 children. Bring your yummies.

A Work of Heart in San Jose

If your birthday star wants to remember the beginning of this year for ages to come, A Work of Heart will come in handy. Here, party goers can learn scrapbooking and book arts in addition to painting, jewelry making, gift making and more. Parties are for 90 minutes are $65, with a starting fee of $25 per guest.

Color Me Mine, various locations

Sure it’s a chain, but it was voted one of the 10 Best Bday Party Chains by Parents’ Magazine. Maybe because the concept is so simple – painting ceramics in the party room, with staff guidance the whole way through. Guests can choose a ceramic bisque item to decorate, which can be anything from a vase to a doggie bowl. Packages range from $21 to $32 per painter. Find locations everywhere from Tracy to Daly City.

Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below.

-Renee Rutledge