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Fresh Birthday Ideas

Alternative places to celebrate

We'll always be fans of homemade cake and Pin the Tail on the Donkey. But we're down for pre-fab parties at cool venues, too. Here are three of our recent faves.
Immigration museums don't exactly scream "loads of fun," but we discovered that parties at the Brunk Children's Museum of Immigration (inside the Swedish American Museum Center, 5211 N. Clark St., Andersonville) are just that. Kids can milk a pretend cow in the farmhouse, cook dinner in an old-school kitchen, and “ride” a 20-foot Viking ship. Parties for up to twenty kids run $200 during museum hours ($325 before or after closing), and are completely DIY: bring your own food, bring your own decor, and plan to set up and clean up yourself. Request a party date online at swedishamericanmuseum.org.
Take your child's favorite theme (pirates, princesses) and blow it out at Easel Art Studio (1911 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park), where up to 30 kids can craft away during 2-hour parties that feature multiple project areas (like crown-decorating or ship-building). Bring your own food and décor; $7 to $15 per child, depending on projects. Call 773.360.1720 to book.
Invite the kids to your place for an acting party, led by Lookinglass Theater. They’ll send a teacher equipped with everything needed to act out a story such as Curious George or Robin Hood. The 45-minute session will include a little warm up to stretch tiny muscles, wardrobe selection, and acting out the story. Parties start at $275 for up to fifteen kids; call 773.477.9257 to book.