When your kids are little, it’s easy to please them when it comes to birthday parties—a toddler or kindergartener is usually quite thrilled with a party at a local play centre or a visit from a clown or magician to your home-based party.

But things get a little trickier in the tween years (ages 9 to 12). Your pre-teen child is still young enough to want a birthday party with friends, but old enough know that it’s got to be something “cool.”

Here are a handful of birthday party ideas in the Toronto area that will please even the most finicky pre-teen.

1. Video-Game Party

For your video-game-loving preteen, Games on Wheels is a real thrill. A video game party bus comes to your location and the kids can game to their heart’s content for two hours under the supervision of a “game coach.” The Games on Wheels bus is equipped with all of the major gaming consoles: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii, and WiiU. There’s no food allowed on the bus, so many parents choose to have the bus parked on the street close to their house, and then have the kids come back to the house after the gaming extravaganza for food and cake.

If you’d prefer a destination party, several Cineplex locations in the Greater Toronto Area offer Xbox parties, where video-game lovers can have an Xbox game tournament on the big screen for two hours, and you get the whole auditorium to yourselves!

Games on Wheels
mobile party (comes to you)
From $499 for 2-hour party with up to 20 kids
Cineplex Xbox Big Screen Party
6 Toronto locations
From $180/party, plus cost of snacks

2. Spa Party

Spa parties are increasingly popular among the preteen set. There are now a number of companies that offer either parties on-site at their location or spa parties that come to your home or both. These feature fun spa treatments like chocolate and banana facial masks (Glama Gal Tween Spa), sparkly manicures and pedicures (SPArty Girl), and cozy robes for each guest to wear (Dazzling Divas).

Glama Gal Tween Spa
9 GTA/southern Ontario locations or party that comes to you
From $289 for 6 kids SPArty Girl
mobile party (comes to you)
From $150 for up to 10 kids
Dazzling Divas
mobile party (comes to you)
From $150 for 6 kids

3. Laser Tag Party

If there’s one thing many pre-teens love to do, it’s run around and shoot each other with laser guns. Laser Quest has perfected the laser tag party, with parties that feature two well-organized rounds of laser tag followed by 45 minutes in the party room for pizza and cake.

Laser Quest
8 locations in the GTA
From $120 for 8 kids

4. Movie Party

For your movie-loving tween, what could be more fun than a night out at the movie theatre with all your best friends? Cineplex theatres offer movie birthday packages that include admission, popcorn, a drink and a treat. You also have the option to upgrade to the premium package at some locations, which includes time in the party room to enjoy a meal and cake. (Pricing for movie parties: from $17 per guest for the standard party, and $19 per guest with party room option.)

Cineplex Popcorn Parties
6 Toronto locations
From $136 for 8 kids

5. Hotel Sleepover Party

With Toronto’s excellent selection of hotels, renting a hotel room for your preteen and a few of his or her best friends is a fun and exciting idea for a birthday party. While it might seem extravagant at first, think about it: for the cost of a hotel room, the kids get to swim in a cool pool and have a sleepover in an exciting new setting. You can order pizza up to the room and watch a couple of movies on the hotel’s in-room entertainment system; and if you choose a hotel that includes continental breakfast the next day, that’s an added bonus. Toronto’s fantastic hotel scene means you have a lot of options, but a few Toronto hotels with great pools include The Sheraton Centre, The Radisson at Harbourfront, and the Chelsea Hotel. Prices vary according to hotel, but expect to pay $200 or more for a room for the night.

6. Pool Party

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly party for a water-loving tween, consider a swimming party at one of the City of Toronto’s fabulous public pools. You can bring your party guests to leisure swim, and a number of community centres have party rooms you can rent afterwards for food and cake (and if not, you can all head back to the house for cake after the swim).

The Regent Park Aquatic Centre is a particularly attractive pool for the tween set—this city-operated facility features a 25-metre lap pool, leisure pool, spa pool, a cool Tarzan rope for swinging on, a diving board and an awesome water slide. Looking for another location? Check leisure swim schedules for all recreation centres in the city.

Felix’s Swim School is a private swim school with seven locations in the GTA that specializes in kid’s lessons. Birthday guests have private use of the pool, fully supervised by qualified staff, and a party room is provided for celebration after swimming.

Regent Park Aquatic Centre
640 Dundas St. E., Toronto M5A 2B8
Public swim free; room rentals from $49/hour
Felix’s Swim School
5 party locations in Toronto
Call 905-731-3601 for pricing.

7. Parkour Party

Parkour is getting more and more popular with today’s youth, and it certainly has that cool factor that the preteens are looking for, but if you don’t want your 12-year-old scaling neighbourhood fences and jumping in places they really shouldn’t be jumping, The Monkeyvault offers a safer place to take risks in running, jumping, and climbing indoors. While the Monkeyvault doesn’t specifically offer party packages, you can take your child and a group of their friends there for Open Gym on a Sunday afternoon, then head back home for cake time.

This party idea isn’t for the faint-of-heart host parent: even in the padded gym, there’s always a chance of injury when jumping and climbing, so all parents of participating kids have to sign a waiver before their child can attend The Monkeyvault.

The Monkeyvault
100 Symes Rd., York M6N 3T1
From $100 for a group of 5 

8. Roller-Skating Party

Everything old is new again, and roller skating is a great example of a cool retro activity that tweens are having fun with again. While there are a number of roller rinks around the city, RINX in Toronto stands out with its variety of fun birthday party packages and option. They don’t just have roller skating either: you can add on laser tag, bowling, and/or mini-golf. All party packages include food, party room and an organizer, making it a more relaxing experience for the parents.

RINX Toronto
65 Orfus Rd., North York M6A 1L7
From $220 for 10 kids 

Browse our birthday party places directory for more options nearby or elsewhere in the GTA.

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