Dude. It's party season for this grandmother.

Three of my four grandchildren have had birthday parties in the past few weeks. Two of them were girlie parties -- the 3-year-old celebrated with a Minnie Mouse theme, complete with mouse ears, and the 4-year-old hosted a princess tea party, complete with tiaras.

But my 8-year-old grandson's party was all boy. So what do you do with 18 8-year-old boys? Dude, you host a video game party. I haven't been to an 8-year-old boy's birthday party in years. Things have changed since my son turned 8. Back then, it was either a pizza parlor or skating rink party, where kids ran around, yelling, screaming and begging for more coins. There wasn't much else to choose from.

But today's hottest ticket is the Game Truck Party, where they bring the party to your doorstep -- or at least your driveway. I wish they'd had this when my son was a kid because it was so easy. All you do is call the video game truck company, book the date, pay the fee and invite the kids. They take it from there.

Here's how it goes: At the allotted time, a big brightly colored truck pulls up in front of your driveway, making you look like a rock star. The truck is greeted by 18 wide-eyed 8-year-old boys who can't believe they're about to play video games for the next two hours.


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A really nice guy called a "game coach" opens up the doors and side windows, turns on wall-to-wall 50-inch flat screen TVs, hooks up the gaming systems -- like Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii -- inserts the 8-year-old players' favorite games -- like Skylanders, Wii Resorts, Mario Brothers -- and hands over the controllers. Dude, it's birthday party heaven.

I know what you're thinking. Kids today play enough video games. But they don't usually play together. Believe it or not, hosting a video game party is actually good for kids. They collaborate, they socialize, they learn skills, they move around, they take turns and they're inspired to read, do math and solve problems. Some of the game truck companies even include laser tag games that get the kids running, hiding, playing in teams and using strategies.

The game coach, with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old boy, makes sure everything runs smoothly and fairly. Meanwhile, the parents get to mingle outside, comfortable in the knowledge that their kids are safe inside the self-contained party. With the convenience of keeping the party at home--and with no mess to clean up--it's a parent's dream too. The prices are comparable to a party at the play gyms, bounce houses, trampoline sites, movies and giant mouse pizza parties.

Dude, I have to say, the two-hour party flew by faster than a speeding Mario Brother. I've never seen so many boys in one place get along so well. I don't even think they took a bathroom break during the whole event. And I learned 18 different ways to use the word "dude."

The only problem? Dude, they could have used one more game truck -- just for the dads.

Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.

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