In spite of what we’re facing with the COVID-19 crisis, as parents, we still must look forward and make life as normal as possible for our kids. That includes birthday celebrations! We are doing our best to monitor any changes, and encourage you to speak directly to the business owners to make a plan that works best for your family. We want to continue to support our local small businesses including these entertainers who strive to make our kids feel special!

The list of birthday party venues is growing at warp speed, but sometimes the best parties are those at home. And, good thing, because right now you don’t have many other options! We checked in with our favorite in-home birthday party entertainers to see what they’re offering now and when they’ll be back up and running as normal. Many are at a standstill until groups can congregate again, but some have virtual options to keep the party going. Scroll through to find the perfect party option for your kiddo, order a cake and you’ll be making wishes come true in no time!

photo: Smarty Pants Balloon Show

For Carnival Enthusiasts: Smarty Pants

Smarty Pants (yep, that’s his name) and his wife, Miss Dena, offer various balloon show and face painting options. But the one we wish we were young enough to star in is The Big Balloon Show. This ultimate performance art ends with a larger-than-life balloon creation made on the spot for the birthday star. We’re talking a giant kid-sized balloon airplane that stays inflated for an entire week. Parties are great for kids ages 3-8 years old. Plan hosting the show indoors because one little breeze can blow the whole show to bits.

Balloon Twisting starts at $399, balloon show packages start at $699, additional pricing and packages are available at smartypantsworld.com with full booking details on the website!

Covid-19 update: Smarty Pants is offering a Big Balloon package that features a 10-minute Zoom mini balloon show with Smarty Pants in his virtual balloon studio that ends with a big reveal of a balloon installation in your front yard. Check out this adorable installation he did for a 7yo's birthday in May. The cost is $299, plus any applicable travel fees for balloon setup.

photo: Jacob Kepler/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC

For Harry Potter Fans: Scott Green

Scott Green is an absolute legend in his industry, having written a best-selling book for magicians about performing magic for family audiences, and it's pretty epic that he's right here in Chicago. He's the only family magician in the world to have appeared on the Penn & Teller: Fool Us television show. If you want examples of his performance, visit his youtube channel, youtube.com/scottgreenmagic, to see for yourselves.

Party packages start at $495 for a 50-minute show, however, prices may vary depending on age, location and number of guests. Book your party by calling 847-361-0924. Get more info online at thegreatscott.com.

Covid-19 Update: During this period of sheltering-in-place, families everywhere can experience Scott Green's interactive show via Zoom. When you schedule a Zoom birthday party, the guest of honor will receive a box they don't open until showtime that will allow the magic to literally happen in their hands. If you want examples of his performance, visit his youtube channel, youtube.com/scottgreenmagic, to see for yourselves.

photo: Miss Jamie

For Soon-to-Be American Idols: Miss Jamie's Farm

If your birthday star just can’t stop the music, a party with Miss Jamie's Farm is a must! Miss Jamie is known throughout the area for her original barnyard tunes and magical puppet friends that she shares with the audience during her interactive sing-along, dance-along performance. Perfect for ages 1-6, each birthday party is completely customizable, so if go ahead and pitch Miss Jamie your birthday boy or girl’s theme-of-the-moment. She can totally handle it!

Prices start around $300 for 30 minutes of music. Book your party by calling 773-609-5054 get more info online at miss-jamie.com.

Covid-19 update: Miss Jamie is offering virtual playdate birthday parties because she believes just because you have to be distant, doesn't mean you can't be social!

photo: Sarah's Pony Rides

For Animal Lovers: Sarah’s Pony Rides

Who doesn’t want a pony for their birthday? Turn that dream into a reality—at least for a few hours—with pony rides. The kind people at Sarah’s travel just about anywhere around the state to bring maned beauties to little cowboys and cowgirls. They can also fill up an on-site petting zoo with ducks, chickens, lambs, llamas and more. You get your bang for your bucks: They’ve done the per guest/per hour/per pony math so your guests get as many rides as possible.

Prices start at $225 plus travel for 1 pony/1-hour; $300 plus travel for 1-hour petting zoo without ponies; additional pricing info is available at sarahsponyrides.com. Book your party by calling 630-802-1316.

Covid-19 update: While their pony parties are on hold, the trails are open for horseback riding, trail rides and pony rides. Small private groups following safety guidelines are allowed. You'll find beautiful trails, amazing horses and wonderful trail guides.

photo: Mad Science

For Wiz Kids: Mad Science

Science is fun and these party people prove it. Pick a theme — Air Blast, Made About Foam or Reactions in Actions — and let the Mad Scientists take care of set-up and clean-up so that you can enjoy the demonstrations along with your child. They even offer add-ons like an awesome rocket launch, a dry ice demo, or the tastiest science project of all, cotton candy making. Perfect for 5-12-year-olds, each 1-hour party is lead by one or two instructors based on the number of guests.

Party packages start at $365; additional pricing information is also available at chicago.madscience.org.

Covid-19 update: While parties as we know it have come to a screeching halt, Wiz Kids has put together online resources to plan a day of science-y fun with your birthday star. They will also be putting links up to virtual summer camps on the website in the next week to keep STEM learning going this summer. 

For Dancing Queens (& Kings): Chicago Loves Dance

Turn your house into a dance club with hip-hop or break dancing instructors that will get your party peeps up and moving. With add-ons like yoga parties, cupcake decorating and princess appearances, CLD is a one-stop party shop. Expect icebreakers like freeze dance, and pump up the fun with a choreographed dance-off. The friendly competition continues with more games until it’s time to hop aboard the people train to the dining room for cake. 

Prices vary based on number of kids and add-ons selected. Book your party by calling 773-485-0777. More info at chicagolovesdance.com.

Covid-19 update: No need to hang up your dancing shoes, follow Chicago Loves Dance's Facebook page to find out about virtual classes (yoga, breakdancing, cheerleading, hip hop, theatre and more!), weekly challenges and Zoom birthday parties for kids (even Zoom Zumba parties for adults!). Birthday parties are $90 for up to 25 people and run 40 minutes in length and everyone sings Happy Birthday at the end.

For Adorable Divas: Rock Candy Salon & Spa

Rock Candy’s stylists will bring all of their salon and spa services to you. From hair chalking to pedicures (even green slime manis), every guest gets pampered. 

Party packages start at $300, plus $150 in travel fees. Book your party by calling 773-883-3000 or get more info online at  rockcandysalonandspa.com.

Covid-19 update: Mobile salon and spa parties are on hold until restrictions are lifted by the state. 

For the Puzzle Solver: Mobile Room Escape

If your kiddo spends his or her days solving riddles, then a Mobile Room Escape party is perfect. Kids 7 and older will be challenged to escape from this mobile chemistry lab before the end of a 60-minute time limit. If you have 45 feet of space, let this lab on wheels pull up to get the party started.

They also launched Mobile Ax Throwing. They have a mobile trailer with lighting and fans to keep you cool during the hot summer months.

Call 773-219-2922 to book your party and get more details at mobileroomescape.com.

Covid-19 update: Mobile Room Escape and Mobile Ax Throwing are open for business with strict restrictions on the size of your parties and the number of parties they allow per day, so they can clean thoroughly between sessions. 

For Gamers: GameTruck

If you have a screen-addicted kid, hiring these guys for his party is going to score you some major parental points. They’ll delivery a truck overflowing with video games that’ll pull up in front of your house and the birthday boy and his friends can play until their fingers go numb. Might sound painful to you but they’ll be in gamer-heaven. You are responsible for arranging street parking and permits but the trailers aren’t much wider than a landscaper’s vehicle (about 6 car lengths of space), so the neighbors shouldn’t be too put out.

Pricing varies based on day and time. Book your party by calling 866-253-3191 or grab details at gametruckparty.com.

Covid-19 update: For gamers, the party never has to end. GameTruck created a new hour-long virtual party experience that allows all the party attendees to stay in their own homes and a GameCoach facilitates the fun. 

For the Wanna-Be Princess: Magic, Music & More

Give the birthday star the royal treatment by inviting a princess or prince over to entertain your queen and her court with a dress-up party, storytime, games and dancing. If the guest of honor is less than interested in royalty, you can also invite villains, superheroes to the bash.

Pricing starts at $235 for a one-hour party. Parties can be booked online by visiting magicmusicmorechicago.com or by calling 773-564-0783.

Covid-19 update: In-person parties are on hold, but you can schedule a 20-minute princess chat that includes storytime, singing, a royalty promise and a Q&A session for $40.

photo: George's Gym

For Gym-tastic Adventures: George’s Gym

Avoid a mini-Lord of the Flies experience at your next at-home shindig by giving the folks at George’s Gym a holler for an organized yet fun-packed party. They’ll create customized birthday party packages for kids that includes awesome games, group activities and creative craft based on whatever theme you’ve dreamed up. Snap pics and relax because they’ll even deal with serving the food and cake.

Geared toward kids ages 2.5 & up, George's pricing ranges from $175-$350. Their newest party option, Carnival Party, has become quite popular. More info at georgesgymllc.com.

Covid-19 Update: George's Gym launched a free YouTube channel with fun, short workouts to take care of the wiggles, as well as fun activities and games the whole family can do together (which could be used for an at-home small family party). For adults, they launched a Facebook group, The Hope Space, as a resource guide/support group with helpful information, inspiration and ways to find hope for people from all walks of life. As we move past phase 3 of reopening the state, they will then offer small, no contact parties and fitness classes.

— Maria Chambers & Lisa Snart

Featured photo: Amponsah Nii Davidson via Pexels

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