For a child turning 7, a movie party is a great idea….. they are starting to get beyond the age for treasure hunts and other silly party games that they adored when they were younger…. and they aren't quite old enough yet for a sleepover party (according to our house rules anyway!) One of the nice things about this kind of a party- it takes very little effort to pull off- and there is a very small amount of clean up! We've hosted several “go out to the movies” parties…. and here are a few tips for hosting that we've picked up along the way:
You want to pick a movie that appeals to your child's age group, and has an appropriate rating that your guest's parents will approve. Now this does not necessarily mean a G rating…. a PG rated flick can be fine if you know in advance why it has earned that rating, and for that advice I recommend researching your film options on Common Sense Media. Try to pick a movie close to its opening weekend so that most of the party guests will not have seen it yet…. but skip wildly popular movies (like Harry Potter) on opening weekends!
Party Planning Options at the Theatre
There are two ways to hold a movie party at your local theatre, you can rent out the entire theatre so that it will be closed to the public and reserved only for you and your guests…. of course this can be pretty expensive, but I know of some families who celebrate siblings birthdays together at the same party by reserving the entire theatre and allowing their kids to invite all of their friends. The second way to do this is to call the theatre in advance and let them know how many guests you will be bringing along to the party. They usually won't reserve you a section of seats, but often they are willing to work with you on a group discounted price for the movie tickets and a kids snack combo (small drink, small popcorn, and candy).
We have only held our “go out to the movie” parties with a smaller group of guests, and they have been very fun for our kids. Here is an example of one we did a few years ago for our son Spencer…
“Monsters vs. Aliens” Go-Out-to-the-Movies Party
Creating the invitation can be a little tricky for a movie party, because you need to get the invites out to the guests before the movie theatre even knows the showtimes (although if you call the theatre they usually know whether or not they will be showing the film at their location). I just put on the invitation an approximate party drop off time, and let them know that I will confirm via email the Tuesday before the party (which is when our theatres typically set their weekly showtimes).
The Drop-Off-a a bit of playtime and birthday cake before the movie:
We like to make our house be the drop-off point for a movie party….. and we do this at least an hour before the movie starts. It allows the kids 20-30 minutes to play (and we do plan this out a bit- either a Wii or foosball table tournament inside, or a soccer game outside), and then we invite everyone for birthday cake, and a chance to use the restroom before we leave for the movie theatre.
This cake featured BOB, one of the “monsters” from the “Monsters vs Aliens” movie.
Getting the Guests to the Theatre
Since I already drive a Mommy bus as my main vehicle… it is easy for us to transport all of the party guests in the big van (seats 12) to the theatre, and then one of us follows behind with the rest of our kids in Steve's car. Steve and I are very comfortable taking our family and 8-10 party guests with just the two of us (adults) there. However, if you drive more of a normal-sized vehicle (!), or the idea of you and your husband having to manage a dozen or more kids seems to be overwhelming, then you might want to recruit a parent or two of the party guests to accompany you on this adventure!
When we arrive, we shepherd the kids into the theate lobby, pick up the tickets (which we buy in advance), stop by the concession stand to pick up the kids combo snack trays (tip: I call the theatre as we are leaving the house, and tell them how many combos we need, and how many with Coke, Sprite, etc after I survey the party guests. This allows the theatre a chance to make them up before we arrive!), and then go into the theatre to find seats. We always try to arrive 20-30 minutes before the start of the movie, so we can easily find a large group of seats together.
During the Movie
During the movie, one of the parents is the “runner”…. which means they get refills on popcorn and drinks, escort kids to the bathroom, and so forth (so if it is one of my son's parties, Steve is the runner, if it is one of my daughter's parties, then I am the runner). The other parent stays in the theatre, sitting in the row behind the party guests, and makes sure that all of the kids behave (and truly, this has never been an issue), and that a parent is there if anyone needs anything.
Getting the Kids Home After the Movie
After the movie, one of us drives the big Mommy bus, and drops all of the kids off at their individual homes….. our town is small enough that this is an easy thing to do. Our goodie bags are already loaded and waiting in the car for the birthday child to pass out as we are dropping the guests off.
Do you think that your 7-year old would enjoy a go-out-to-the movies party?
If you liked this party idea, you might also enjoy these other at-home birthday parties we've thrown for our kids:
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