Somewhere between the Pinterest-inspired, DIY at-home party and the outsourced, off-site birthday bash lies a happy medium that busy parents can truly appreciate. An at-home party where the entertainment comes to you. Minimum prep, little to no clean up, and thanks to these amazing entertainers, the chance to snap a few pics of your favorite birthday kid and visit with guests too! From game trucks to henna artists to storytellers steeped in the oral tradition, we’ve got the low down on your next special delivery. Party on!

Dizzys Tumblebus

photo: Dizzy’s Tumblebus

Animal House
The Reptile Man
If you’re looking for an atypically adventurous way to celebrate the passing of another year, invite Scott Peterson, The Reptile Man, to entertain the littles at your party. Scott and his crew come for about an hour and bring close to a dozen reptiles for mini munchkins to marvel at and interact with. Picture giant tortoise riding and alligator petting. Scott is also known for his ability to de-venomize poisonous snakes so little snake charmers can have close encounters with cobras and rattlesnakes too. Oh my! It puts a whole new spin on the petting zoo. This is one exiting and educational way to celebrate!

Blake on Tortise

photo: JoAnn Hernandez 

The Reptile Man
360-668-8204
Online: reptileman.com
Cost: $195

Bunnies for Birthdays
What could be more adorable than smiling kiddos donning party hats and cake face on their special day? How about that plus bunnies! Cuteness overload. Order a truckload for your sweet little one’s bash and let petit partygoers hold, cuddle and pet these sweet little furballs after cake and ice cream. The Bunny Bonanza ($200) includes one hour with about 15-20 young rabbits at your house. Bunnies for Birthdays brings everything you need for a safe and fun experience interacting with the animals—blankets, hand sanitizer, wipes and lots of knowledge. This isn’t an outdoor exclusive either. The bunnies are just as cute and cuddly indoors as they are in a park or backyard. Just think of them as a warm fuzzy on a cold winter day. Hop on!

Bunnies for Birthdays photo: Bunnies for Birthdays 

Good to know: Wondering about ages for this special delivery? Even babies as young as one will love gently cuddling with these cuties.

Bunnies for Birthdays
206-484-9722
Online: bunniesforbirthdays.com
Cost: $165-$395, depending on the package

Truckloads of Fun
Game Truck
If interactive video games and the latest systems (think Xbox One and PS4) is all your little celebrant wants for his or her birthday, Game Truck can surely deliver (for the party anyway). One of two climate controlled game trucks pulls right up to your door as part of these 90-minute or 2-hour birthday packages that work best for gamers 6 and older (it’s an attention span thing). Although the kids get to play, parents pick the titles they can choose from. And with games like Minecraft, the newest Skylanders (Trap Team is in the house!), Just Dance 2014 and Guitar Hero, there are plenty of family-friendly options that should appeal to every party-goer (and maybe even mom and dad, too!). A game coach is stationed on the truck too to help with game change out and dole out tips and tricks for little gamers. Be sure to book soon if it’s game on for your next bash. Some December dates are already taken.

GameTruck boys playingphoto: Game Truck 

Good to know: Game Truck has a referral program; book a party with them through a friend and receive $20 credit with a $25 gift card for the reference.

Game Truck
888-602-4263
Online: gametruckparty.com/seattle
Cost: $269-319, depending on truck and location

Games2U
This to-your-door party company specializes in “unique mobile entertainment” that you probably won’t find anywhere else. Sure they’ve got game trucks, but they can also deliver a 4D movie theater (complete with interactive seats, plus wind and water spray effects!), giant hamster balls, laser tag, foam wars and more. All right to your door! Game trucks can be booked for 90-minute or 2-hour windows and parents get to choose the games little gamers play. These packages also include time with a game coach (or two if you rent the big truck) who helps answer questions, change out games and generally corral the kiddos so parents don’t have to. The smaller truck is comfy for between 12-16 players, and the larger truck works well with 16-20. And each truck has outside screens (with awnings) so kids can play no matter where they are. Are you game?

Games2U kids with hamsterballsphoto: Games2U Facebook page

Good to know: How far out parents need to book depends on the flexibility they have with dates and time, but if you’re thinking about a gaming party for a winter birthday, earlier is better as December is filling up quickly!

Games2U
425-306-5361
Online: g2u.com
Cost: $289-$339, depending on package

Dizzy’s Tumblebus
Apparently school buses aren’t just for transporting kids to and from school these days. The creative minds behind Dizzy’s Tumblebus have converted an old one into a tumbling gym that delivers right to your door. The Tumblebus birthday package includes one hour with two instructors who lead 12 tiny tumblers (but they can accommodate up to 18 for an additional fee) in games and activities, so parents can chat, munch and generally catch up on things indoors. Each little gymnast will get plastic gold medals after the event and the special kiddo gets a rad Dizzy t-shirt too. Goody bags, t-shirts for everyone and real medals are also available as add-ons. This is one bus everyone will want to board!

Dizzy Tumblebus photo: Dizzy’s Tumblebus 

Good to know: If you’re interested in booking the Tumblebus be sure to book about a month in advance, and remember, December is always a busy month!

Dizzy’s Tumblebus
425-564-8287
Online: dizzys-tumblebus.com
Cost: $200-$265, depending on location

Cook Up a Storm
Sprinkles and Sweets
It’s just not a party without cupcakes or cake. So why not have mini bakers make some as part of the celebration? Annabella Chiocco, the creative baker behind Sprinkles and Sweets, acts as a party planner and lead baker guiding sous chefs through the make and bake stages of cookies, cupcakes or mini cakes. Her parties work best for kids 4 and older, and she tailors each party based on the age and number of bakers attending. The end product? Each kiddo has a hands-on baking experience, from aprons (which are provided), to learning how to create perfect batter or dough, on through to the final recipe, which each petit partygoer can take home so they can recreate their culinary masterpiece later. And did we mention Annabella even cleans up the kitchen? That’s easy-peasy parent pleasy!

Sprinkles and sweets girls making cookiesphoto: Sprinkles and Sweets Facebook page 

Good to know: Annabella has lots of add-ons that make hosting even easier for parents. Goody bags, snacks or even a kid-cooked lunch (around $6/kid) of pizza or crepes means more time to enjoy the celebration, for parents!

Sprinkles and Sweet
206-419-5688
Online: sprinklesandsweets.com
Cost: $38/kid plus tax (8 kids minimum)

Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream
Need a little ice cream to top that birthday cake? Invite Sweet Lo’s ice cream queen Lauren Wilson to be the churner of honor at your next bash. With this party package, Lauren brings her ice cream maker and churns up premade bases (both vanilla and chocolate) until they’re silky smooth. From there, she lets little ice cream lovers add in up to four ingredients (think cookie dough, brownie chunks, marshmallows and more!), pour sauces galore, then pile on the whip cream and a cherry to finish off one serious birthday sundae. And if the birthday boy or girl wants something a little more exotic than vanilla and chocolate, Lauren is happy to bring a custom flavor as a base from which to build. We’re talking rocky road, peanut butter, birthday cake… you get the idea. Creating delish, custom flavors is the pinnacle of this “I scream, you scream” party!

sweet lo's ice cream

photo: Lauren Wilson/Sweet Lo’s 

Good to know: Lauren’s ice creams use the purest ingredients and don’t include any stabilizers. That’s about as close as you can get to guilt-free ice cream!

Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream
415-425-4438
Online: sweetlosicecream.com
Cost: $15/hr; plus $10/person for standard flavors or $12/person for custom flavors

Wish Upon a Star
Tangerine Tales
Ms. Kelly has been bringing fairy tales to life and spreading her love of storytelling to Seattle children for the past seven years. She brings years of teaching and theater experience to both her party prep and persona, getting into the story using voices and props that transport little listeners during the hour-long story telling. Puppets, illustrations, and songs round out each interactive, magical session, and Ms. Kelly loves to tailor stories to the special birthday kiddo by incorporating little details (like their best friend, favorite food and more) that shine the spotlight on them. Parents can choose from a classic tale (like Goldilocks and the Three Bears) to a more modern one (yes, she does Frozen). And add-ons are a definite possibility. Face painting ($125) or a craft (between $8-$15/person) that ties into the story both add to the magic of the day.

Tangerine Tales kids at partyphoto: Tangerine Tales 

Good to know: Be sure to book about 4-6 weeks in advance to get the date and time you want with Ms. Kelly. Psst! This is the same Ms. Kelly that does the amazing face paintings at U Village’s summer events.

Tangerine Tales
206-696-1110
Online: tangerinetales.com
Cost: $250

Amazing Fairy Tale Parties
Started by a former Broadway actress, Amazing Fairy Tale Parties sends princesses and other adventure characters, outfitted in custom-made costumes and wigs that add authenticity, to your next party experience. Many of the performers are involved in local Seattle theater, and they love bringing classic characters from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen tales to life for adorably adoring fans in and around the city. Depending on your time and budget, there are a few different party packages to choose from. Good for smaller groups or younger audiences is the Pixie Dust ($145), a simple meet, greet and snap a selfie with a favorite character that lasts about 30 minutes. For larger parties or older kiddos, try the Glass Slipper ($200) or the Grand Ball ($275), both of which include storytelling, dances, face painting, singing, and balloon twisting with a beloved character. And we’re not just talking princesses. After all, pirates, princes and superheroes like to party too! Interested in booking? Be sure to make plans soon as these performers often book out 3-4 months in advance. A perfect “once upon a time” moment!

Amazing Fairy Tale Parties

photo: Amazing Fairy Tale Parties 

Good to know: Follow Amazing Fairy Tale Parties on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to take advantage of giveaways, contests, photo opps, and more around the city. Who knows what you could win for your little prince or princess!

Amazing Fairy Tale Parties
888-948-6964
Online: amazingfairytaleparties.com
Cost: $145-$375, depending on package

Party People
The Bubbleman
Chances are you’ve seen the Bubbleman somewhere around town bringing bubble magic to the Seattle masses. He’s been doing his thing for over 20 years in the Emerald City, and is one of those beloved recognizable people who brings character to our fair city. And lucky parents, he loves entertaining the littles on their “worthdays” (because kids are always worth it.) The Bubbleman loads up his bubblemobile with over 400 pounds of bubble equipment that he uses to entertain his mini audience. He prides himself on using everyday objects in his original bubble creations, like tennis racquets, fly swatters, umbrellas and toilet seats (a definite kid favorite) during his one-hour “factivity” time. And each of his bubble tricks is accompanied by fanciful humor that tickles little funny bones, and endearing life lessons that teach gentleness and laughter. A bubbly good time!

Bubbleman from websitephoto: Melissa Buss/Bubbleman website

Good to know: In 34 years of performing, The Bubbleman has only been rained out 3 times, so don’t let the upcoming winter weather put a damper on your party plans. A little drizzle won’t kill the bubbles, nor the kids’ spirits. But if you’re still concerned, check out his new indoor show that’s just as mesmerizing!

The Bubbleman
206-781-6749
Online: bubbleman.com
Cost: $180 (single mom discounts available)

Meghan’s Mehndi
If you’re looking for a twist on traditional face painting as a party centerpiece, try some henna art. Mehndi artist Meghan comes to your house and works on custom body art for each little partier. That includes henna, bindi ornamentation, glitter and aftercare spray. The whole session takes about 90 minutes and works best with kids 5 & up and groups of 15 or less. The best part? The body art stays on for a few weeks. What a great way to extend the life of a party!

Meghan's Mehndi from FB

photo: Meghan’s Mehndi: Henna Body Art Facebook page

Good to know: Spring and summer are Meghan’s busiest months, but be sure to book about a week in advance for fall and winter parties.

Meghan Mehndi – Henna Body Art
206-276-7625
Online: meghansmehndi.com
Cost: $130

Build It
Play-Well TEKnologies
A LEGO-loving kid deserves a LEGO-loving party. And Play-Well TEKnologies delivers expert LEGO building instruction (and about 20,000 LEGO pieces) straight to your living room. Each 90-minute build session is specially selected the birthday boy or girl. Themed parties like Ninjago, Star Wars and Minecraft are always popular and pair well with DIY party elements, but there are lots of other options to choose from too. And the added bonus is that, like all of Play-Well’s programming, kids are learning while they’re building. Now that’s a party! Just fill out an information request online 3-6 weeks in advance to get this party started. Build on!

Playwell Bday party

photo: Play-Well TEKnologies

Good to know: Play-Well’s at home parties work best with kids 5 & up and can be booked any time between 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Play-Well TEKnologies
Online: play-well.org/about-lego-birthday-parties.shtml
Cost: $280 for up to 16 guests; $355 for up to 24 guests

Beyond the Birthday: Many of these to-your-door services work well for other occasions too. Want to host a game-day gathering for families? How about throwing a New Year’s bash with your neighbors and friends? Just think of the possibilities! 

Have a favorite party entertainer? Tell us about him or her in a comment below.

—Allison Sutcliffe