Kids Birthday Party Venue Selection Tips, Vol. 1

Kids Birthday Party Venue Selection Tips, Vol. 1

Grant Miller. Sept 12th 2018.

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Are you considering having your child’s birthday party at an indoor playground or other facility, away from your home? Here are some important tips to keep in mind when selecting a venue to host your child’s party.

1. Age Appropriate - This may seem like a no-brainer, but choosing a venue that is age appropriate for invited guests can sometimes be harder than it seems. Is the focus on the birthday child and children in their age group, or is the intent to ensure that a wider range of attending children can be accommodated? Most indoor facilities cater to a segment of the child population, so if the children attending are all within the same age range, an indoor facility could be an excellent fit for your event.

When the age range of the invited children is wide, indoor facilities may struggle to keep the attention of all children. An outdoor location, such as a park with a playground, might be a more suitable option if many older and younger children will be present together. Safety is always a concern, especially for younger children, since kids may unintentionally hurt each other while playing. For example, bounce houses are problematic when older and younger children occupy the same space, and this often occurs at some less-attentive indoor facilities. Make sure you evaluate the equipment present and are comfortable with the activities that will take place during the event. It is important to determine the desired age range of the party early in the process, so that a suitable location can be chosen for your target group.

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2. Safety - Selecting a venue that puts an emphasis on safety is critically important when choosing a children’s birthday location. When touring the facility, take some notes and use common sense when making your evaluation. Is the space well lit? Is the play equipment well maintained or are there obvious signs of wear and tear that could become hazardous? Are the staff members attentive to guests needs and responsive to situations that arise? Look for the same things you’d consider when safeguarding your own home, especially when considering a space for infants, toddlers or young children (i.e. equipment with sharp corners, uncovered outlets, fall hazards, etc.)

Safety standards are another topic to ask about. While some indoor and outdoor playground standards are voluntary, it’s nice to know whether the facility you plan to use adheres to them. For example, The Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is a worldwide standards setting organization that develops safety standards for indoor and outdoor play equipment. Ask whether the facility has ASTM F1292 compliant flooring and whether the toys and equipment are ASTM F1487 and United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compliant. If you get blank stares, the answer may possibly be “no”.

Ask the staff about their safety procedures and how they would respond in the event of an emergency. Do they have any staff members on hand that are trained in CPR? Do they know where their emergency equipment is located? Make sure the responses you receive pass your “common sense” test and are appropriate for the age range of the guests being invited.

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3. Cleanliness - This goes without saying, but ensuring an indoor facility maintains a clean space goes beyond what can be seen with the eye. Ask staff members how they keep the toys and equipment clean and what kind of cleaners do they use? Many cleaning agents contain toxic chemicals or compounds harmful to children (and adults), so knowing how the facility is cleaned and maintained is critically important. Choose a facility that encourages staff members to actively clean, sanitize and maintain the facility. Ask about the brand of cleaner used and look for facilities that choose non-toxic and low Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) cleaners such as Force of Nature or 7th Generation. Also, ask staff members how often toys and equipment are cleaned and sanitized. It’s unrealistic to expect a commercial facility to remain as clean as our own homes, but an active cleaning program shows that the facility cares about maintaining a safer environment committed to reducing the chances of transmitting illnesses among guests.

4. Reviews - As many of us are accustomed to doing, check the online reviews of each business under consideration to see what others are saying? Review sites like Google and Yelp are a great place to start, to get an idea of the general reputation of the business. Facebook is also another excellent option for reviews from customers that have frequented an establishment. Don’t let one or two negative reviews make the decision for you, but look at the overall reviews and opinions of others AND the responsiveness of the establishment to form your opinion. Ownership that takes an active involvement in their business and genuinely cares about their customers can go a long way to turning a good experience into a great one.

5. Summary - In summary, there are several things to consider when selecting a birthday party venue. Here’s a quick summary and checklist you can use:

  • What are the total number of children that will be attending? Total number of adults?

  • What are the age ranges of the children that will be attending?

  • What is the indoor environment like? Is it well lit? Are exits clearly marked? Is there life safety equipment readily available?

  • What is the condition of the toys and equipment? Are there any safety concerns based on a visual evaluation?

  • Are the toys and equipment ASTM F1487 and CPSC compliant? Is the flooring ASTM F1292 compliant? Is the facility Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant?

  • Are staff members present and monitoring the play areas? Do they seem knowledgeable about the facility?

  • Is the facility clean? Are there staff members maintaining the facility? What products are used to clean and sanitize the toys and equipment?

  • Are there any staff members trained in CPR or First Aid?

  • Are the reviews of the business generally positive?

Spending a few minutes planning your approach to venue selection can go a long way to ensuring a fun, safe, and enjoyable birthday celebration! In the next volume on this subject, we’ll discuss more granular items such as event time selection, planned activities, food choices, decorations and more. We’ll add additional items to our checklist, so by the end, we’ll have a fully developed template for event consideration from A to Z!