We all want to give our kids the kind of birthday bash their little comrades will talk about for weeks, but do we all want to put in the work? Meh. That’s why we’re super-fans of the motion-picture party. You’re covered for two hours (Two. Whole. Hours.) on entertainment. It’s budget-friendly (popcorn won’t break the bank). And, hey, you don’t have to clean up afterwards. So, here’s a look at some of the best places to host a film-centric celebration.

DSC_0226Photo: U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud via Flickr

American City Diner
We can’t think of a better deal than a party at this Chevy Chase landmark. This kitschy diner let’s you bring in your own cake and decorations (at no cost) and there is no fee to use the movie room (you will need to provide a DVD or VHS). The only catch: the party room is only available from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. (daily). For $15.95 a person ($10.95 for children seven and under), you get a party-perfect menu of dinner, drinks and ice cream (the diner has a 15 person minimum and the space holds up to 35 people).

5532 Connecticut Ave., NW (Chevy Chase)
202-244-1949
Online: americancitydiner.com

Bowtie Cinema
We love a theater that lets you reserve seats ahead of time, guaranteeing your child’s entire party is seated together. It’s a general nicety to feed your guests, too, and we don’t think you can beat Bowtie’s discounted snack package for party goers (a small popcorn, drink and snack costs $6 per child).The party space—which starts at $50 an hour—is reasonably priced. Want to save more money? Plan a Tuesday party and pay just $6 per ticket. If you want to skip a pricey party room, head to one of Reston Town Center’s five sweet-treat places (take your pick from cupcakes to ice cream).

11940 Market S (Reston, Va)
703-464-0816
Online: bowtiecinemas.com

Alamo Drafthouse
The Alamo, in Ashburn, Virginia, offers a number of unique packages to enhance the viewing experience, including a PJ and breakfast food party, a make-your-own-pizza party…or, skip the movie all together, and play video games on the big screen (how cool!). For the budget-minded, bypass the party packages and take full-advantage of the dine-in experience that The Alamo specializes in–a “dinner theater” experience where you can order food and beverages from the comfort of your chair; each row of seats has a long, bar-like table within easy reach.

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20575 East Hampton Plaza (Ashburn, Va)
571-293-6808
Online: drafthouse.com

CineMark
For a special celebration, host a private screening at this movie theater (screenings must end before the first posted public film of the day). Package deals include a minimum of 20 tickets and concession treats for each guest (packages start at $422; $11.10 for each additional guest). The Fairfax location also boasts a party room.

11900 Palace Way (Fairfax, Va)
703-378-6550
Online: cinemark.com

Regal Cinemas Gallery Place
The Gallery Place Regal is the perfect place to host a D.C.-based shin-dig. There is not a party room on-site, but the staff at this location will help you create an event that feels tailor made for your little (movie) star. You can even print out free invitations from their website. Instead of birthday cake, consider Crepes on the Walk for a post-show treat.

701 7th St NW (Chinatown)
202-393-2121
Online: regmovies.com

Outdoor Film Festival
It’s hard to imagine, but in less than eight short weeks, spring will officially commence. Once it’s nice out, an indoor party may not seem like the right, well… ticket. So consider moving the movie outdoors. FunFlicks will inflate a giant screen for your outdoor viewing pleasure. If you don’t have a large yard (or one at all), a number of area parks will accommodate your evening under the stars (check out Norwood Park, Turtle Park, Lincoln Park, Garfield Park and Volta Park).

Does your kid want a movie party? Tell us how you make it happen in the comments below. 

–Meghan Meyers