The best way to organize a birthday party and pull all the elements together is to decide on a theme. Whatever your party's theme might be, Columbus has resources to offer.

The best way to organize a birthday party and pull all the elements together is to decide on a theme. Whatever your party's theme might be, Columbus has resources to offer.


Fitness and exercise
It's never too early to get your children involved in fitness. With a physical activity themed party, you also can be sure the kids will stay busy and entertained.

Parents can ensure active parties by including outdoor activities, such as tag or touch football. Make the games more active by adding exercises. For instance, have the children play a game of freeze tag where the frozen players have to do jumping jacks to unfreeze themselves. Serving healthy snacks as an alternative to junk food may also promote health awareness.

At the Jungle Gym Adventure Center, birthday packages include over an hour of free play. The gym offers wall climbing, zip lines, trampoline jumping, soccer, basketball and more. They also offer packages that include everything needed for a party except the goody bags. Packages cost between $200 and $300, depending on which options you choose. Call (740) 363-7552, or check out www.thejunglegym.com for more information.

Your child and up to 25 friends can enjoy a day of physical fun at Pump It Up. The "inflatable party zone" offers private parties with large inflatable play structures.

Weekend party packages at Pump It Up include set-up and clean-up, as well as party invitations and paper products. The parties last for two hours, divided between gym play and party room time. Weekday packages have the same benefits and last between one and a half to two hours.

Pump It Up offers a number of additional services, such as pizza, beverages and ice cream for parents who don't have time to prepare food before the party. Party packages range in cost from $149 to $259, with additional costs depending on the requested services.

Reservations are required for all packages. Attendees must wear socks and sign a safety waiver to participate. For more information call (614) 873-6111, or visit www.pumpitupparty.com.

Circuit Wellness of Columbus offers a range of birthday packages from $120 to $150. Each package includes a prize or T-shirt for the birthday child, plus prizes and coupons for attendees, as well as a party host.

The draws for Circuit Wellness are the exergames - activities that combine video games and fitness to create a fun and interactive experience. These games, which include Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fit as well as a number of unique devices, are sure to entertain children while giving them a workout at the same time.

For more information about the packages and activities available at Circuit Wellness, call (614) 901-2348, or visit www.circuitwellness.com.


Pirates, princesses and cowboys
Fantasy-themed parties stimulate a child's imagination and provide a solid theme for activities. With the proper venue, kids and adults can immerse themselves in their imaginations and enjoy the fun.

If a child is particularly enamored with a theme, he or she may have toys and accessories that can be used for party decorations. This way, the child can help decorate and the cost of decorating will be cheaper.

What pirate-themed party would be complete without a real ship? The Santa Maria replica museum at Battelle Riverfront Park offers party packages for up to 20 kids ages 5 to 8. Complete with ladders, decks and all the workings of a real ship, parties on the Santa Maria include pirate-themed goodies like loot bags and a treasure hunt. The party package for 20 costs $295. For more information, call (614) 645-8760, or check out www.santamaria.org.

Cowboy enthusiasts can feel right at home with party packages from Marmon Valley Farm in Zanesfield, starting at $9 per person. This working farm includes animals to pet, trail rides and hayrides. Packages range in size and cost, with the option of cowboy and cowgirl party favors. Call (937) 593-8000, or visit www.marmonvalley.com to learn more.


Crafts and science
Just because children are having fun doesn't mean they can't learn at the same time. Columbus venues offer fun experiences for all ages that are sure to cultivate a child's curiosity.

While there are many crafts and fun science experiments that can be performed at home, they often leave a mess. A visit to a studio or a museum can add to the birthday experience and effectively break up the activities.

For the science-minded, COSI Columbus offers a wide range of interactive party packages for children ages 3-11. Dig for dinosaurs, decipher hieroglyphics, or explore the solar system in a mix of science and fun.

COSI birthday packages include admission to COSI. Attendees will take part in interactive guided activities that leave children with something to take home to remember their experience. Additional options for parties are a visit from RATiO, COSI's mascot, and a 20-minute private science show on Gadget's Stage. Food includes a personalized cake and liquid nitrogen ice cream.

These packages cover 15 children and 15 adults and cost $375, or $325 for COSI members. Parking costs $4 per car. Note that outside food, decorations, candles and balloons are prohibited at COSI because of safety regulations. For more information call (614) 228-2674, or visit www.cosi.org.

Joshua Work is a journalism major at Ohio University specializing in print writing and editing. He will start his senior year in the fall.