| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Children's parties in Dubai

Pampering, pizza and more perfect party ideas for kids in Dubai

There’s a new sport in town and it’s bloody. The battle of the birthday parties is on and competition is fierce, with parents going to extraordinary lengths to out-do each other. There are chocolate parties, pop star parties, spa parties and animal parties. You can have your party on a bus, on a boat or in a black limo, not to mention camel rides, fire-eating or even renting out an entire water park. If there were a chocolate factory in Dubai, you could probably hire that too. Parents are the Willy Wonkas of the world, competing to see who can produce the ultimate golden ticket.

‘It’s like an annual exam,’ says one very unpretentious mum. ‘I’ve done the bouncy castle party, the bowling party, and the disco party. This year, I’m taking my daughter on holiday for her birthday. It’s an easy way out – less stressful and probably cheaper.’

Even sensible parents get sucked in. Take the invites. What used to be simple pieces of card have now turned into gorgeous gifts – bespoke on beautiful paper or, the big trend, edible invites – essentials piped onto cookies, lollies and cupcakes. Catering has reached greater heights too, (firework cakes, anyone?) not to mention the party bags – my pet hate. I’ve dropped my son off with an Dhs80 gift only to have him return home with a party bag worth three times that. What happened to a slice of cake, bottle of bubbles and a few sweets?

Luckily, there are a plethora of party companies out there willing to wave their magic wands and pull customised, handcrafted and personalised party solutions out of their hats. Putting the entire (oft-painful) experience into someone else’s hands can remove the stress, but it will also up the cost. If you’ve got three kids and you play the party game, this is second mortgage material. But, in the best ‘if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em’ spirit, we’ve put together a plethora of party packages to suit all ages and budgets, as well as our top pick ‘n’ mix options for those brave enough to host the big birthday bash at home. Read on if you dare…

The spa party

Pampering party at Tickles & Giggles
Ideal for Pint-sized princesses over five years.

Cost Dhs250 per child.

What you get E-party invites; party room for two hours with disco/spa theme décor (think hot purple, pink or orange); three salon/spa services for each child in the gorgeous mini spa room; a sparkling birthday toast; party food (nuggets and mini pizzas).

Fun & games Choose from manis including massage and non-toxic nail polishes, a mini glam make-up and yummy chocolate or honey and yoghurt facials. Other options include pedis, nail art, hair colour sprays and temporary tattoos. Little lasses are then let loose in the dressing-up room to adorn themselves in glam gear, like boas and masks, to disco music, before parading in a fashion show. There are tons of extravagant extras: from a Hummer limo service and Karaoke session (Dhs300) to a cotton candy machine or chocolate fountain (Dhs350 each) plus add-on activities like cookie decorating (Dhs25 per child).

We love The jell-o shots and mock-champers toast of sparkling apple juice. Plus, you can pick up the most amazing favours from the store. Take the e-party option, and watch it live on a webcam.
Contact Tickles & Giggles (800 82634; www.ticklesandgiggles.com)

LIKE THIS? TRY… The new Tweenage Rampage party at Barton Portraits where kids get dressed up and made up before taking part in their very own fashion shoot. Julian Barton used to snap the stars in some of Europe’s best teen mags (remember Smash Hits, mum and dad?) so he knows what he’s doing. The party bags, including individual poses and a fun group shot, are some of the best in town, and there are plenty more piks and goodies for the birthday boy/girl, including a mock-up magazine cover and a CD of behind-the-scenes shots from the whole shebang. Dhs2,500 for 10 kids. Check out www.bartonportraits.com

Time Out Dubai,

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We did a birthday party at the Animal Sanctuary & Petting Farm and it was fantastic. If you're looking for glitz and glamor, this isn't it. But if you have a group of kids who want a fun time feeding animals, horse rides, and lots of hands-on experience, this is the place. Every parent was impressed. The workers were friendly and helpful and kept the kids (who were going in every possible direction) entertained by helping them in and out of the enclosures, showing them how to feed different animals, etc. Two thumbs up.

Review by : Lisa