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Winter Wonderland Birthday

Embrace the snowy season for a party to remember

"Fun in the sun" might seem like a term that loses all meaning during a Michigan winter. But if your birthday boy or girl has to celebrate during the colder months, you might be surprised to discover that the sun has a special glow when it shines off of a freshly built snowman.

Instead of looking for ways to stay inside, celebrate the season of your snow baby's birth by incorporating a wintry theme for your child's party.

Frosty fun at home

If you're lucky enough to have piles of snow on the party day, make snowman-building the main event. Have kids compete in a snowman-making contest or relay.

And consider crafting snow characters that go beyond the average carrot-and-coal variety. Kids might also enjoy building an upside-down snowman or a snow pup or cat. Many household supplies, such as old hats and dried pasta, can be used to give snowmen unique character.

If the weather really isn't cooperating, don't ditch your snow child's winter theme just yet. Have some snowflake cookie cutters on hand and bake cookies that the children will love to decorate with white frosting and sprinkles. Then throw in a couple more crafts like making paper-plate snowmen or sugar-cube igloos.

Gliding good times

If you're willing to brave the frosty air and perhaps some icy tumbles, consider an outing to the Rink at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. It provides an old-fashioned urban skating experience, a la New York's Rockefeller Center rink, right here in the D.

The Campus Martius rink offers a group discount on the regular admission fee, and ski rentals are available for those who don't have their own pair. Visit the Campus Martius site for details on hours and rates.

Consider topping off your icy fun with an excursion to the nearby Hard Rock Cafe for a birthday lunch or Au Bon Pain for a cup of hot chocolate. Hard Rock is located inside the Compuware building on Monroe Street, and Au Bon Pain is on Woodward Avenue, a little north of the rink

Swoosh down the slopes

If you're looking for a truly special celebration, perhaps for that sweet 16th birthday, consider a trek up to Boyne Mountain's SnowSports Academy in Boyne Falls, Mich., about a 3 1/2-hour drive from Detroit. The resort offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowshoeing.

"I think it definitely provides a more unique and special experience," said Erin Ernst, resort spokesperson. "It's a good way to go to get children up on the skis and give them some experience." Visit the Boyne site to learn more (bonus: kids under in the academy ski free!).

Winter walking wonders

Give winter party fun a (subtle!) educational twist by introducing the science of precipitation, temperature - and the art of winter survival. Simply plan a trip to your local nature center to give kids a look at evergreen tree needle patterns, pinecones and more.

Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve in Rochester Hills, for instance, has 16 acres of woods plus the Interpretive Center, which contains live animals, a working indoor beehive and taxidermic animals.

There's also the massive Howell Conference & Nature Center, where kids can not only meander through the 270-acres of natural grounds, they can also visit the Wild Wonders Wildlife Park to see rescued animals like coyotes, foxes, owls – even an eagle and bobcat – in their natural habitats.

If one of these great nature parks isn't near you, simply take a self-guided hike through an area park with disposable cameras and magnifiers for a winter wildlife walk to remember!

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