Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monkeyin' Around

I have never had a birthday party for either one of my children at any place other than a house. Most of the time, it was my house. Sometimes the houses of other family members. I have never tried to have a destination party. You know, at an exotic location like the bowling alley or Chuck E Cheese's. I have never even thought about it. I have just always done simple at home sort of parties.

This year, Jessa has been planning and planning a party, and none of the plans involved the house. This was a little scary for me. It was new territory. But I was a little excited at the thought of (a.) not having to clean my house before OR after the kiddos came and (b.) not having to entertain children for 2 hours. So I embarked on a new adventure in party-planning.

At first I was somewhat shocked by the prices of some of these places. It seemed a little much. But then I tried to figure out how much I spend when it is at the house. I never added it up but I would bet I spent nearly what these places charge. But I had the added frustration of doing it all myself. Maybe not having to plan and clean and organize would be worth the extra coin. Plus, Jessa Lynn, the birthday girl had already made up her mind. She wanted a Monkey Joe's party and that was that. So I bit the bullet and reserved a party time at our local Monkey Joe's (it is an indoor bounce house place for those of you who are confused.)

The day that I reserved it, I had to put down a 50% deposit. This ended up being more than $100. David was bank stalking me on-line, and when he got home that day, the first thing he asked was, "So how many people did you take to Monkey Joe's today?" He was relieved when I told him it was for the party, then shocked again when I told him it was only half.

We limited Jessa to inviting 10 people, plus her and Spencer. Her teacher helped us secretly invite people to avoid hurt feelings. I would have loved to include the whole class, but dude, I am not made of money! Unfortunately, October is a mad busy month. You know, pumpkin patches, hay rides, fall festivals, and soccer parties. So we only had 6 children who could come. I felt way cheap when I saw other parties there with 24 kids invited. And one of the big parties was for a 1 year old. Really? Think he'll remember it. Whatever.

Anyway. Jessa was beside herself. She was so excited. So ready. And it turned out GREAT. I was so impressed with the well-oiled machine that is the Monkey Joe's birthday party. For real, y'all, they were ON IT.
Each birthday kid has a cart for the cake (pretty much the only thing you have to bring) and the shoes and gifts. When the kiddos check in, they drop off their stuff. Then they play on all the fun inflatables for an hour and a half. You are supposed to have one adult per every five kids. We had plenty with me, David, May, Bay, Mimi, and Poppy, and some parents stayed. All the kids had so much fun. Jessa did not stop smiling. She was in heaven.

When it is "party room" time, the part host (included in the price) brings it all into the room for you. They set up the room with paper goods and table cloths.

Drinks are provided. They will also add pizza to your party. We chose that option and the kids seemed to like it.
In the party room, the birthday kid gets to sit in an inflatable throne. A huge draw for our birthday girl.
Then there is the eating. After the pizza, it was time for cake. Jessa chose a Curious George cake. Not because she loves Curious George, but it was the only cake the bakery had with a monkey on it. She loves a theme. And it turned out SO cute. It did not even say Curious George, and they bakery adjusted the cake to suit the tastes of our girl - chocolate cake with chocolate icing.

You also get a visit by Monkey Joe HIMSELF. In the fur! This was a HUGE hit! He brought a cool shirt included in the package- Jessa was so happy.

We posed for a family photo, but one of her little friends hopped in. It would have been great, if it were Spencer. Wish I knew how to photoshop. . .
Here is my edited pic. I know, I have a lot to learn!
BUT the faces are all members of my family.

David and Bay had to scoot out the door to go to a formal function. We did catch him for a quick photo with the birthday girl on his way out the door.
So, after our first taste of destination birthday parties. Our party host rocked. He set up, he served, he lit candles, he fetched the monkey, he even had a sheet to record who all the gifts were from (wow). And when it was over, he cleaned everything up and helped David get our stuff to the car. Worth the moola? Uh, yeah.

I think I like it.
No cleaning.
Little planning.
Kids entertained, happy, exhausted when they get home.

And did I mention no cleaning?


kate said...

That is awesome! I'm so glad it worked out and it was worth it -- and I consider this information good to know! :) Also -- I psycho love your edited family photo. That is hilarious.

Becky said...

Cute pic! She looks as happy as can be. That cake is gorgeous!

Yes, my kids love that place. And nothing beats not having to clean up your own house before and after. Nothing.