The thought of hosting a children’s birthday party in Beijing can be daunting, particularly for families without abundant living space.
Luckily, there are a growing number of indoor venues around Beijing that host children’s parties and are happy to cater to even the fussiest child. From ten-pin bowling to ice skating, to indoor play centers and family restaurants, there are plenty of options to suit the birthday star. However, for a truly unique celebration, consider throwing an art party.
Kids of all ages love to paint and draw, and Beijing Color Studio near the 798 art district provides the perfect setting. Created and independently run by Canadian Karen Patterson, Beijing Color Studio is a bright venue that offers 200sqm of studio space and flexible options for birthday parties.
There are no set birthday party packages. Instead, Karen encourages parents to visit the studio and discuss a tailored package with her. Collaborate with one of Karen’s workshop instructors for facilitated arts and crafts activities, arrange your own entertainment and refreshments, or call on Karen’s broad network of contacts developed over her 13 years in China.
Parties and workshops are instructed by professional English-speaking artists. Children are guided from start to finish as they create their own unique canvas, which they can proudly hang on their wall for years to come.
Get the creative juices flowing by making your own arty invitations. Use layers of brightly colored paper and mini craft punches to create a textured invite. The birthday kid can decorate their own invitations with stickers, pens and glitter.
If you are short of time, send art-themed electronic invites. Websites like www.evite.com make it easy to create and send invitations for free. Plus, Evite.com allows you to track responses, schedule automatic reminders and prepare thank-you notes in advance. Add a link to the venue’s address from www.mobilenative.com.
Remember to mention that there may be some mess during the art party and kids should wear old clothes rather than their best party outfit.
An art party at Beijing Color Studio provides an instant and easy theme for birthdays, with minimal decorations required. Colorful food, bright balloons scattered on the floor and napkins in bold colors will add some party flair. Decorate invitations and thank-you notes with a simple image of an artist’s palette made from brown paper and colored dot stickers. Use an actual artists’ palette to serve cupcakes and other refreshments. Take photographs of the artwork to add to the thank-you notes.
The best party games are those that kids are familiar with, such as pass-the-parcel, musical chairs, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical statues and treasure hunts.
Include a small sheet of stickers or a colored pencil between each layer of pass-the-parcel to add interest to the game and share the prizes.Wrap goodies for the treasure hunt in bright paper to make them easily identifiable.
Hang a piñata from the studio’s rafters and fill it with sweet treats and small craft items. Be sure to give every child a loot bag or container to help collect their treasures. Piñatas can be purchased from Big Dog’s Kids Party (see Directory, under Services).
Healthy snacks like strawberries, carrot sticks, cucumbers and cheese make easy party food for kids. Cut sandwiches into interesting shapes using cookie cutters.
Bring your own snacks or talk to Beijing Color Studio about catering the event. Choose from the selection of finger food available at Comptoirs de France or arrange for pizza to be delivered during the party.
Juice boxes reduce the risk of sticky spills. Write each child’s name on their juice box to avoid confusion, and always have plenty of drinking water available. Remember to keep refreshments simple and easy-to-eat to give kids plenty of time to enjoy the activities.
Continue to inspire creativity with arts and crafts supplies as prizes and favors.
For the games, a good quality sketch pad and a selection of pencils would make a much-coveted prize for a budding artist. Visit the art shops across the road from the National Art Museum of China in Wangfujing for good quality materials. Try Big and Little Books at Lido Place, Wangjing or Haidian for an extensive selection of Crayola products and fun lettering stencil books.
Opt for a small box of oil pastels, a tube of glitter glue and stickers as party favors. For inspiration, browse the shelves of stationery shops like Uscom (located opposite BHG Market Place at Solana). Package favors in an organza bag or for added authenticity, ask Karen about mini cotton loot bags stamped with the Beijing Color Studio logo.
Crafty kids love colored paper, sets of mini craft punches, sparkly pens, notepads, paints and brushes, ribbon, and even sticky tape. Create your own gift box with a selection of fun items that will provide hours of entertainment for months to come. Liangma Flower Market has a great selection of boxes, ribbon and wrapping paper to add style to your gift.
Cupcake Palette (serves 12)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cubed, unsalted butter (at room temperature)
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup milk (at room temperature)
Preheat the oven to 180̊C. Put 12 paper liners in a muffin tin. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Then add sugar, beating for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. Next, beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture, alternating with milk, ending with flour. Divide batter evenly among the paper liners and bake at 180̊C for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let to cool.
Whipped Cream Frosting
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cups confectioner’s sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
In a large chilled bowl, beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat until soft peaks form. If the mix is lumpy, stir in some additional cream to smooth it out. Divide into bowls and add food coloring. Use a palette knife to the frosting over the top of the cupcakes.
Recipe supplied by CC Sweets