You-Did-It! Dinners: Where to Celebrate Big Wins

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Your little scholars are in the throes of schoolwork, and it’s already a good time to start planning some fun outings to celebrate their big milestones and special achievements (think: straight A’s or making the JV squad). Below are some local mouth-watering options that are equivalent to an awards ceremony around a dinner table.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-2-54-25-amPhoto:Joe Flood via Flickr

Comet Ping Pong 
A hipster hang out that’s also kid friendly and serves up all the right ingredients for a celebration: pizza, sundaes and ping pong! Pizzas are wood-fired-delicious. Environment is industrial, cavernous and welcomes squeals of delight. They also are a music venue featuring punk bands for all ages often starting at 7 or 8 pm; but the wee ones may prefer earlier lunch time jams offered this fall on Fridays for true kid-friendly music. Check website for dates and times.
5037 Connecticut Ave., NW (Tenleytown)

Ted’s Bulletin
Designed to replicate the feel of an Art Deco train station diner from early 1900s, Teds is a fantastic place to treat your little ones to a retro-special meal. They have a huge menu of great options and offer one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches perhaps anywhere. Top that off with a milkshake or a homemade pop tart. Youngsters will be especially thrilled with all the flat screens playing old movies including many childhood favorites like Wizard of Oz and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Locations also in Gaithersburg and DC in U Street area and Capitol Hill.

2911 District Ave. (Fairfax, Va)

If your little one loves to bowl a special place to treat them is Pinstripes in Georgetown. Each lane comes with its own comfy seats and table for noshing during or between sets. Menu includes great snack and appetizers or full kid-friendly entrees such as pizza, burgers, pasta and salads.

1064 Wisconsin Ave., NW (Georgetown)

Original Pancake House 
If your kid loves pancakes and breakfast food treat them to an awesome brunch at the Original Pancake House. Beyond what’s in their name they also whip up huge oven baked omelettes, crepes, French toast, waffles and more from a huge menu that is sure to delight even the pickiest eaters. Mmmm pass the syrup! Additional locations in Rockville and Falls Church.
7077 Wisconsin Ave. (Bethesda, Md)

A big thrill for some kiddos may be a ride on the big Ferris wheel at National Harbor. After the ride (not ahead of it in case your child goes green) celebrate at the upscale Succotash restaurant with some yummy southern inspired comfort foods like fried green tomatoes, fried chicken and waffles, bacon Mac n cheese and biscuits.

186 Waterfront St. (National Harbor)

Where do you go to celebrate your kids’ accomplishments? Tell us in the comments below. 

–Kristina Messner

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Finding it tough, in our busy DMV area, to meet other new parents? So did Petite D.C. founder Bonnie Lessans, so she set out to create a new way for local parents to connect while getting some great discounted introductions to local vendors providing services for mommy/daddy and me experiences. Petite D.C. is one of the only programs of its kind in the area that restricts participation to only primary care givers, which means you will be meeting other parents versus their nannies (as awesome as they all are).

12741881_1726901317541762_772016147698770807_nPhoto: Petite D.C.

How it Works
The program works like this: parents pick the category that matches their child’s age group to register for a series of six meet ups that are already scheduled. Activities for these Wednesday events range from casual local coffee hang outs and yoga classes to awesome mini-adventures such as swim classes, parent-kiddo photo sessions and even stroller work-outs. An added perk is that parents who register get special deals on products and services from a variety of local vendors. Score!

Sign Me Up!
Registration for the Spring programs is open now and costs $195 for the six week package, which runs Wednesdays, March 30 through May 4. Petite D.C. also offers Moms Night Outs, which are one-off events at local hot spots so moms can relax and rest (or kick up) their heels a bit.


What parent-kiddo social groups have you had great experiences with? Tell us in the comments below. 

–Kristina Messner


Birthdays with Strings: Best Puppeteers in the D.C. Area

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One of the most fun interruptions for the middle of kid’s party chaos is a live entertainer who can get your crew of little ones to pause, perhaps even sit, and giggle their tummies off for 30-45 minutes. Add some fluffy characters on strings and – bonus! Luckily, as one of the country’s most thriving performing arts communities, the D.C. area is loaded with great artists who can help parents create an amazingly memorable bash for their favorite birthday girl or boy, whether at home or at a rented venue. Prices usually range from $250-$450 depending on total time, custom options and add-ons such as themed crafts or favors. Here are some of the best puppeteers we found for private parties in the D.C. area.

bob-brown-puppetsPhoto: Bob Brown Puppets

Bob Brown Puppets
One of the most popular choices for booking birthday puppet shows in the DMV is Bob Brown Puppets. Based in Oakton, Virginia, Bob performs for about 300,000 children every year. After being puppeteer for Mister Rogers’ King Friday, Bob came to D.C. with his wife Judy to found Smithsonian’s puppet theater in 1969. He has since been a regular headliner at Glen Echo Park, Frying Pan Park and Wolf Trap, as well as performing with life size marionettes in his Peter and the Wolf production with symphony orchestras around the country. The most popular birthday show packages from Bob are Clowning Around and Baby Bear’s Birthday, and shows can be customized for your particular party. He performs right in front of the kids on the floor so that they can be up close to the marionettes, have the puppets sit in their laps, or even kiss their nose! Children giggle with delight from the antics of Bob’s silly and goofy puppet characters, including Dolores and Bennie Bird Brain, Dizzy Delaney, Bongo and Marco Polo Bear — all of which he designs and creates by hand. Bob offers a free printable booklet on his website for making puppets with your kids, which can be a super fun craft project to add to the puppet show birthday party before or after the show.


carousel-puppetsPhoto: Carousel Puppets

Carousel Puppets
Carousel Puppets are based in Sterling, Virginia, and owner Susan Wall is one of the most sought after puppeteers in the area for private shows. She has been a master puppeteer for over 25 years and creates delightful puppet shows by introducing fun, colorful characters in the form of large marionettes as well as hand puppets, and blending that with upbeat music and exciting show elements that engage children of all ages. Susan performs publicly around the D.C. area at community centers, malls, libraries, schools and parks. Trained originally as an actor in New York, she uses these skills adeptly in portraying interesting and often-zany characters as part of her puppet show creations. Susan’s main two birthday show packages are Teddy and Friends, which is suitable for all ages including babies, and Bob the Bunny Show, which is more suitable for kids 6 and up. Characters include singing frogs, a disco-dancing dog and juggling clowns all in upbeat, interactive shows. For an additional fee, Carousel Puppets can also add a puppet-making workshop to any birthday party and create customized puppet favors so the kiddos can take home a little part of the experience.


kaydee-puppetsPhoto: Kaydee Puppets


Kaydee Puppets
Kaydee Puppets of Fairfax, Virginia, are a three-generation family of puppeteers. Started by a husband and wife team in 1972, today the shows are performed mainly by their daughter and granddaughter. Kaydee Puppets performs publicly throughout the DMV area at community centers, schools and libraries, and they have performed at the Library of Congress. They specialize in moving mouth puppets, that they say are best for children two and older. For birthday parties, parents get to choose two shows from a list of about 15 children’s classics as well as Kaydee original stories, including shows such as Animal Tales, Peter Rabbit, Princess and the Pea, Little Red Hen’s Wacky Week, Nursery Rhymn & Rhythm and Sheepdog Detective. They bring an eight-foot stage and can set up anywhere for your indoors parties. Following the show, the kids get to meet and mingle, going nose to nose with one of the softer puppets, which make for some photo ops.


pam-kinder-singer-puppetsPhoto: Pam the Kinder Singer

Pam the Kinder Singer
For more than 20 years, Pam Minor has been a professional singer, songwriter, television actor and recording artist specializing in educational children’s entertainment. She is a based in Maryland and performs publicly around the DMV area, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia, including at Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor. Her shows combine music, dance, story telling and feature a chipmunk puppet character named Rascal, who follows her everywhere and even has his own web page. For private bookings, she offers seven productions to choose from that range from those designed especially for babes in arms (ages 6 to 18 months) up through older kids. Shows are educationally focused and include titles such as Get Up and Go, Let’s All Get Along, and Go Green with Pam and Rascal.


sandcastlesPhoto: Blue Sky Puppets

Blue Sky Puppets
Based in University Park, Maryland, Blue Sky Puppets has been performing since 1974. They have a team of puppeteers that produce shows for schools around the Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas throughout the year, and are available for booking private shows. Blue Sky collaborated with the Title 1 Office of Montgomery Co. Public Schools to create one of their newest shows, “Sand Castles” that promotes how fun, vital and important math can be for both boys and girls. One of their most popular birthday shows features a fuzzy, funny dog named Rufus, and he also often is accompanied by characters Bucky, Bananaman, a walrus named Dr. Tooth and a dragon name Gorga. As part of your birthday show package, Blue Sky Puppets can also develop and create a workshop for building puppets with the kids.


Have you seen any great puppet shows in the area? Tell us about it in the comments below.

—Kristina Messner