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Make and Take Parties

From girly-girl soriees to model car-making bashes, local venues offer fun shebangs for kids – without the mess

Parents planning a kid's birthday party know the a golden rule: The kids cannot be bored. That can lead to whining, fighting and a generally bad time for all – including moms and dads. That's why make-and-take parties are so popular.

All over southeast Michigan, kids are painting pottery, designing beaded jewelry, making teddy bears and more as part of their celebration. And why not? Make-and-take parties let parents host a shebang outside of their homes (read: no clean-up) and provide an activity to keep kids entertained – plus a goody to go.

Here's a peek at a few local make-and-take hot spots, and their "take" on why this soriee style is sure-fire. (And they're not the only ones! Check out our Party Planner directory for loads of options throughout the region.)

Everyone get messy!

Creating mementos can be a messy affair – and it can try any parent's nerves to try to help out all the guests. That's one area where places like Sweet & Sassy in Novi shine.

Here, birthday girls and their guests can make their own lotions, lip gloss and decorative flip-flops, says events manager Sandra Hernandez. "One mom said she loved being able to sit back and enjoy her daughter's party and not have to worry about cleaning," she adds.

Make-and-take parties also are known for being all-inclusive. They're just the thing to get little wallflowers involved with the whole crowd. Hernandez says that the staff of Sweet & Sassy goes out of its way to gently coax shy kids to get involved.

The more, the merrier

Visions of a throng of sugar-buzzed children are enough to give most parents pause. But that's not an issue at places like The Bee's Knees in Northville, home to parties focused on pottery-painting, mosaics, glass-fusing and more.

Employee Roni McCrumb says they excel in large groups – the kind that would intimidate parents at a home-hosted party. The Bee's Knees has thrown parties for as many as 20 5-year-olds.

How? "We've had a group of 15 to 18 Girl Scouts," McCrumb says. "We break them up into groups of five or six. One group works on rolling the clay, while another group works on pinch pots and another on coil pots.”

It requires a mastery of organizational skills to make these events work even under the most chaotic circumstances. McCrumb says owner Lori Dow knows when to call in the troops – or, in this case, college art students, who help kids in larger gatherings with their art projects. “The parents love it because there is no muss, no fuss,” McCrumb says.

For girls and boys

And don't be deceived into thinking that make-and-take parties are best for girls. Guys can definitely get in on the activities.

For instance, Creative Arts Studio in Royal Oak offers lots for little tough guys, says owner David Fredenburg. Although they may not be interested in making jewelry, they do enjoy the create-a-bears, and pottery painting is fun for boys, too.

"Boys particularly like the clay football helmets and robots that are ready to be painted and fired later," he says.

Wheel throwing, in which the guests spin pottery wheels to create pottery objects, is popular with both boys and girls of all ages, he adds.

So is building model racecars, says Jeffrey Hagman, manager of Ridemakerz at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, which also has a Novi location. Here, kids custom-build their very own remote-controlled or freewheeled cars.

"What they do is they put the chassis onto the body," says Hagman. "They put the rims to the wheels and the wheels onto the car in actual workstations." Later, they test out their wheels on in-store tracks.

At Ridemakerz' parties – called "bashes" – the biggest sellers are the Viper, Challenger and Mustang. Boys and girls get to decorate the car to their liking, hot pink or brilliant blue. And it's a hit with a variety of ages, Hagman adds.

But whether kids assemble cars, build bears or paint pottery, make-and-take parties are high on entertainment for kids – and low on energy investment for the parents!

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