Monday, November 30, 2015

Parties at Gymboree Play & Music

Today's post is from writer and mother of two Kim McDonald.

When my daughter was about 8 months old, we went to Gymboree Play & Music for a few classes. It was probably the best time she ever had as a baby. So when I heard that they offer parties for kids up to 5, it was a no-brainer to book one for my now-toddler.

There are two Gymboree locations in Calgary (in the SE and NW). We had Naomi's party at the SE location because it's closer to home.


Gymboree parties are for kids from age 1 – 5. They are perfect for this age range because they incorporate lots of active play, songs, and games - all of toddlers' favourite things. Because the kids are so small, they ask for a 1:1 ratio of kids to adults.


Both locations in Calgary offer the same party packages. These prices are accurate at the time of writing, but please be sure to contact Gymboree Play & Music for the most up to date information!

  • 90-minute party (non-member): $240 plus GST
  • 90-minute party (member): $200 plus GST
  • 2 hour party (non-member): $290 plus GST
  • 2 hour party (member): $250 plus GST

What You Get

When you book a birthday party at Gymboree, you get their facility all to yourself. If you've ever been to a Play & Music class at Gymboree, you know that this means lots of fun, safe play equipment. There are slides, climbers, balls, teeter totters, and tunnels.

But the BEST part is that you also get a Gymboree teacher for your hour of play! The Gymboree teachers are amazing. I attended a Play & Music class once, and the teacher knew the names of 15 babies by the end of the hour.

Gymboree teachers are also experts in early literacy and play. Their knowledge of kids' songs, rhymes, and games rivals that of children's librarians and kindergarten teachers.

Our teacher, Lea, was in charge of the party. She followed a pattern: the kids would have "free play" on the equipment for a while, then she'd gather them for a more structured game or activity, then more free play. This worked really well because the shy kids were able to do their own thing, and join in when they felt comfortable.

One of the funniest activities was "rolling cookie dough." Lea got kids to lay on the mats while parents slowly rolled a giant foam cylinder over them. It was even better when the positions were reversed – parents got "flattened" by the kids!

The kids' favourite games, though, were the parachute games. They sit on the parachute and the parents drag them in circles, they bounce balls on the parachute, they get underneath and sing songs while the parachute "magically" floats above their heads.

At the end, everyone lifted the parachute into the air, it touched the ceiling, and Lea gathered it so quickly it really was like magic. Even the parents gasped.

After the "play" portion of the party, you get time for cake in a separate room with a special low table and little chairs for the kids. The amount of time you have to play / eat depends on the party package that you choose, but we had an hour to play and 30 minutes for cake.

Tell Me More About This Place

The Midnapore Gymboree location is great because the front of the facility is made up of huge windows. That means the play area is flooded with natural light, which helps with photos. And you need all the help you can get because the kids NEVER STOP MOVING.

During the games and songs, Naomi loved that she was often the centre of attention. Lea would incorporate her name into songs, and make sure she got a turn at every activity. This made Naomi feel extra special on her birthday.


I was really impressed. Any time you get 10 kids under 5 years old into a room together, there's bound to be chaos - but Lea was amazing. She was able to gently guide the kids from activity to activity while keeping the chaos to a minimum. 

I loved being able to relax and have fun with Naomi while someone else took charge. And most importantly, Naomi and her friends all had a blast! I would absolutely recommend parties at Gymboree!

Full disclosure: Kim received a complimentary party in exchange for a review.

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