My friend Erica wants to make her daughter Elsie’s tenth birthday a special one, and Elsie is on an arty kick. “But do I dare let a whole party’s worth of kids just cut loose with the art supplies?” she asked. I saw her point and suggested a more controlled option.
Teena Cafiero of Teena’s Custom Crafts (619-258-5914; teenascustomcrafts.com) was ready to help. “I offer mobile parties where children paint a custom wood craft — I cut them all myself. I have a workshop in my home, but I bring the party to you: wood, tables, chairs, acrylic paint, and smocks. I can set up at your home or in a park. Most hosts choose to do it outside, just because it’s paint, but I can do it inside, too. I’m there the whole time. I bring a finished sample; some kids will copy what I’ve done, and some will want to do their own thing.”
For preschoolers, Cafiero suggests something such as yard decorations. “I have butterflies for girls, frogs for boys, things like that.” Older girls, meanwhile, “really like the dress-shaped jewelry holder or the necklace holder. For a boy, I have a baseball bat that you can hang on your wall with a hook on it for a coat or hat.” She’ll do custom work. “I just got a call from a mom who is doing a cupcake party for her daughter. I said, ‘Why don’t I cut out some wooden cupcakes and put hooks on them for hanging jewelry?’” Cafiero charges $175 for up to 12 children.
Tami Reidman of Paint It On Parties To Go in North County (760-943-1800) also offers a mobile service, but she deals in ceramics. “I’ll go to homes or to a park. I can set up inside or outside. The unique thing about ceramic paint is that it’s water-based, and it wipes right off. I’ll set things up kind of like a restaurant, with placemats and brushes set out and little sponges. And because I have a low overhead, I can offer a little bit nicer or larger piece for the kids to paint [$20 per child; $200 minimum]. I also offer ‘kit parties,’ where I put everything together for the host. The host picks it all up at my home studio and brings it back to me when everything’s painted. I glaze and fire the pieces and deliver them to the host [$15 per child].”
She described a recent party at a park. “I set up a variety of pieces on the picnic benches — dolphins, cats, dogs, snakes, footballs, trinket boxes. The kids all chose a piece, brought it over to me in the painting area, and chose their colors. I poured the paint, and they did the painting. The sessions usually last around an hour.” Reidman caters to kids ranging from one year to middle school. “Middle-school girls really like the trinket boxes. For one-year-olds, I suggest doing eight-inch plates. The kids go crazy with the paint, and then I put their handprints over all of it in a darker color. I’ll put each child’s name and age on the plate, and they’ll have a keepsake.”
Ashley at Color Me Mine in Carlsbad (760-494-0763; carlsbad.colormemine.com) offered a party room. “It holds up to 25 people, and it’s decorated with a giant mural of a mystical land. It’s great for photographs. The birthday child gets to sit in a throne, and there’s an extra table for presents and pizza or cake. Our party package is $20 per person for 90 minutes or $24 per person for two hours. You get your pick of our $15 items — things such as panda bears, unicorns, or mermaids. We can also do themes such as, say, a teacup party. We’ll glaze and fire the pieces, and the birthday mom can pick them up in about a week and deliver them to the kids. We also provide a birthday plate — the owner paints it herself.”
Ceramicafé Art Lounge (Grossmont, 619-466-4800; Del Mar, 858-259-9958; ceramicafe.com) also offers a party space. “There’s a $35 fee to reserve it, and the cost is $15 per child. That gives you 90 minutes, which is usually plenty of time; you can get an extra half-hour for $15. We also provide cupcakes and punch for the kids, and you have an employee working with you the entire time.”