Oh Binkie, thanks for thinking of me. Wish I could offer help based on experience but I cannot!
Hiring a church hall shouldn't be a massive problem. Creation of messy co-operative mural...hmmm... can you phone up some art centres - find what centres offer children's art classes in your area? art colleges? perhaps get a student art teacher to help?
I'd be very interested to know if this idea is a goer. Sounds good - your ds has taste!
Binkie, have you tried netmums.co.uk? the nearest one to me (Harrow) has adverts for people who will come with arts and crafts stuff to a party to lead the 'creative' (ie messy) stuff for your childs party.
sis, I looked & my local netmums (Westminster) just didn't seem to have anything - I think it's not very actively run - eg there's just one party venue listed & I know masses. There doesn't seem to be a netmums for Camden, which would be the other closest. Maybe I'll have to come back to you for Harrow imports?!
St Mark's Church Hall on Abercorn Place NW8, £20/hr. Lady who used to teach children's art classes in said church hall, now moved on to studio in Notting Hill but available for relevant date & time. Has just been doing a half-term art workshop featuring giant co-operative mural on theme of Peter and the Wolf. Could it be better?
roisin, totally missed this, sorry to answer so late
well: rising sixes + biggish group + BOYS = significant anarchy risk - so anticipate & have up sleeve what to do with the bursts of energy. Our party leader didn't I think quite get that, so while much of it was fun there were some rather out-of-hand moments which took her by surprise (and hm, maybe shouldn't have done if doing parties is her business?). Last year we had an interactive storytelling chap who had the whole lot mesmerised - I'm sure it worked so well not only because acting trees and goblins mopped up the energy, but also because I could see him adapting as he went along so's to fit the particular mix of dynamics & personalities.
So: if art projects can be done in a way that allows for boisterousness, brilliant; if not, well, maybe something more physical is better at this age.
But final note of differing perspective: ds says this year's party was much more fun than last year's (citing a particular deranged episode with a parachute).
Thanks for that Binkie! DS2 had initially rejected one of my suggestions - to take two friends for a day out: on the train, then on the little steam train - picnic + waterfall - then back on the trains. But this morning he suddenly floated that idea again, so I'm hoping he'll go for that: seems the easiest option all round!