Speaking of booking the room or venue first, there are plenty of places that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Going local may sound like a no brainer but you would surprised by how many moms and dads travel for a room. Knowing where to look locally can help. Any number of local establishments are very willing to book their spaces or private rooms during the day for kids birthday parties. You would think on the upper west side for example that a chain like Chicago Uno (formerly Pizzeria Uno) would be too large or unaccomodating. Actually they have a lovely back room that is private and perfect for a mid to small sized kids party. And that is just one example. Very local spots such as veterans halls, Kights of Columbus councils, rehearsal rooms, park recreation rooms, community rooms and food places are all good places to start.
Keep in mind, buying an all-inclusive package can get pricey, especially if you want to invite your child’s entire class. But these local spots all require do it yourself inventiveness, but you’ll be rewarded with a special day that won’t (totally) break the budget. Don’t forget to inquire about the rules of each place you consider and the availability of tables and chairs, and whether you can serve food.