Raise your hand if you're wondering what to do for your child's winter birthday this year.
Now raise your hand if you're just wondering what do with your children during winter this year.
I've personally considered my options a little harder lately as cold weather approaches and indoor play places still warrant some COVID concern. Most local organizations are working hard to keep their facilities clean and safe for families, but anywhere that crowds gather still isn't an easy call.
So when the Discovery Center invited my family and I to play at one of their themed parties and see the results of their COVID cleaning policies and procedures, I happily said "yes." Not only is it reassuring to see one of our favorite local spots show leadership in cleaning, it's exciting to see what bright new offerings they have for families to enjoy, inside and out.
Check out my five reasons to party at Discovery Center this winter.
1. Three Ways to Party at the Discovery Center
There are now three ways to celebrate at the Discovery Center, at least for birthdays (the center has lots of individual room and group accommodations for other occasions as well). Choose from the Outdoor Patio Package, Outdoor Wetland Adventure Parties, or Indoor Private Parties. With affordable price points and activity offerings, guests can customize the party to their needs. I like, for instance, how the Wetland Adventure Parties allow for more free outdoor exploration and water-wading, while the Indoor Private Parties provide slightly more focused workshops.
2. Cool Party Themes at the Discovery Center
My kids are still small and pretty curious about everything, but throw in some Disney karaoke, homemade snow, and liquid nitrogen magic, and well, science suddenly becomes a little—ahem—cooler. Our "Frozen Fun" themed Indoor Private Party wowed the young ones, but we also had a 10-year-old in our party flipping out over the hands-on make-your-own-snow activity and liquid nitrogen watch workshop led by the center's staff. I picked up some Frozen-themed paper goods and cupcakes for our refreshments and took advantage of the free lemonade that comes with the party package. It was a hit for our Disney-loving crowd.
Your child isn't a Disney kid? You can choose from other new Indoor Private Party themes including Creature Feature (all about animals), Wakanda Superhero Party (comics and the science of superheroes), and Build and Craft (based on Minecraft), each with their own incredibly creative organized games and activities.
I'll just say that when they asked me to choose my theme it was a mighty tough call.
3. VIP Play at the Discovery Center
It's one thing to play at Discovery Center with a crowd, and then it's another when it's just you and your favorite people at an Indoor Private Party. My kids loved getting to safely roam the center with cousins and friends and not worry about losing track of Mom and Dad (we enjoyed it, too). Plus, they could spend as much time as they wanted at each exhibit —no waiting! It's just one of the DC indoor party perks: two hours of the center allll to yourself.
4. Squeaky Clean at the Discovery Center
I've always been thankful for the efforts I've seen DC staff make to keep the facility clean (no small feat with hundreds of visitors a day, pre-COVID), but since COVID-19 they've stepped up their game many times over. The center is sanitized at least twice daily with nontoxic antibacterial and antiviral cleaners to ensure germs stay at bay, and exhibits have been adjusted to minimize germ transfer. It was an incredibly clean environment we walked into for the party, and all of us moms couldn't get over the spotless bathrooms. All guests ages 4 and older are asked to wear face coverings as much as possible, observe social distancing, and of course, to liberally pass around the hand sanitizer (the party favor of choice!)
5. Outstanding Exhibits at the Discovery Center
The Center's current exhibits MathRox and The Great Outdoors feature challenges for a wide range of ages—good news for a big party. Older kids will love figuring out knot tying, or solving the "Tower of Hanoi." "Protractor Put-Put" was a hit with our crew, and of course DC favorites like the Water Table, Grocery station, and Toddler Town were must-sees for the busy littles in our group. Where else can you party like that in one place?
Party with the Discovery Center next week at their "Great Pumpkin Festival" sponsored by Toot's, from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. Details and tickets at https://bit.ly/3oms8xy.
The Discovery Center is located at 502 SE Broad St. in Murfreesboro. It is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m., to the first 100 guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Face coverings are required for all visitors ages 4 and older, visitors will receive fever checks at the door, and guests are asked to observe 6 feet of social distance between families. Learn more about their party offerings and group accommodations at https://explorethedc.org/plan-a-party/.
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.