Laid-back birthday party: Pizza and a movie

For my son’s seventh birthday, EVERYTHING WAS AWESOME (insert the rest of that infectious song for those of us who have seen The LEGO Movie) because we paired the winning combination of pizza and a movie while avoiding all clean-up.

How to: Pizza and movie birthday party at Hot Italian

The main coordination for this type of party is juggling showtimes and pizza restaurants for optimal mood, hunger, price, movie seats, and transit time. (Can you tell I am an Industrial Engineer by training? Nerd alert!) Once those decisions have been made, just show up and relax!

Preparations
In the days before the party,

  1. Purchase movie tickets online using Fandango.com or similar.
  2. Make reservations for the restaurant tables if possible.
  3. Bake or buy birthday dessert.

How to: Pizza and movie birthday party LEGO Movie!

Pizza: Hot Italian in Emeryville is a relative newcomer in the East Bay pizza scene that has impressed both me and Whitney with its fresh menu, big tables, and television sets to captivate distractible children. Opening at 10:30 am for brunch on the weekends made it a perfect candidate for pre-movie noshing. Another plus for Hot Italian was that they allowed us to bring in an outside cake.

Despite the tasty adult flavors, we started the party with cheese pizzas before the children were even hungry (figuring that was better than feeding some starving H’angry beasts later!). Though we had the place to ourselves, I was pleased to learn that parties over 12 can reserve tables and we had.

How to: Pizza and movie birthday party LEGO Movie!
The Day of Details

Around 11:00, I was sticking LEGO minifigures into my Whole Foods $9.99 cake and we were singing, blowing, and wishing. Boom. No time to waste.

Movie time: By 11:20 we piled into 7 children and 3 parents into our vehicles and drove across the parking lot to Emery Bay Cinema. (We drove because of the pouring rain, but this is an easy walk for children age five and up).

How to: Pizza and movie birthday party LEGO Movie!

So calm and quiet in the theater, not at all what they’d be doing in my HOUSE!

At 11:30 we entered en masse and nestled into some nearly-front-row seats. If I had an advance team — but who’d want to miss cake? — we might have secured a better spot. No matter. Kids and adults enjoyed the show.

Thematically, I passed out more LEGO minifigures as the favor and we were done by about 2:15pm.

Bottom Line
This party works perfectly for any movie your child is dying to see that comes out right around their birthday!

Locations

Emeryville: Hot Italian [at 5959 Shellmound St] with United Artists Emery Bay [at 6330 Christie Ave] (not Bay Street, this is the one with the free parking lot)

I can’t speak to anyone’s cake policy for places I didn’t try, but here are a few other places we considered.

Downtown Berkeley: For different showtimes or a sunny day, I would have also tried Jupiter Pizza [2181 Shattuck Ave.] and any of the downtown movie houses like Shattuck Cinemas [2230 Shattuck Ave.] or UA Berkeley 7 [2274 Shattuck Ave.].

Bay Street: Head to the mall for California Pizza Kitchen and a big movie theater.

Oakland: Squeeze your party in the back on an uncrowded lunch at Boot & Shoe Service [3308 Grand Ave.] then walk down to Grand Lake Theatre [3200 Grand Ave].

Visit the {510} Families Birthday Party Guide for a helpful list of venues, entertainers, and sweets providers.

Where would you go to celebrate a birthday with pizza and a movie?

{all photos by Heather Flett, sorry about the lighting!}