Last weekend I hosted my daughter’s birthday party. Thanks to a move and myriad other circumstances, at age 3 this was the first party we had for her that involved more than the four of us. We had a nice little Minnie Mouse themed party and our house was filled with neighbors and their children.
When I got married in the early 2000s, the big thing for brides at the time was a website called The Knot. Maybe it still is a popular site. I just wouldn’t know. I mean, I haven’t been to a wedding in over 3 years. Anyway, I used to read the reviews of local vendors from the brides who had just, well tied the knot. They used to assign letter grades for the various services, like venue, catering, dress, bakery, entertainment, photography. You name it, it was reviewed.
After The Knot some brides graduated to The Bump (I clearly did not, thank you infertility) but after the infant and toddler years, there really isn’t one site that covers local knowledge on say, birthday parties. So, in the spirit of sharing local knowledge with those who may be planning a toddler birthday party, I thought it would be fun to write a review of the services I used, Knot-style. Upfront, I will say I was very pleased with how the party turned out so the grades are sort of meaningless, but they are on The Knot as well. The most frequently assigned grade seems to be A++++ for everything.
Venue: Chez Moi. Grade: A. I was a little nervous since this was our first party since moving in but it worked out well. The family room was indeed large enough to accommodate 10 kids from 13 months to age 10 and their parents. As a bonus, no child ended up in the ER! This was not a given thanks to a flat screen TV within toddler reach that is not strapped to the wall, a stone fireplace without a door thanks to the former owners who took it with them, and a lack of a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. Note to self: do a better job of childproofing next time.
Cake: Cakes by Carlos. Grade A. Since moving here, I have struggled to find a bakery I like and I think I finally found one. Look how beautiful this cake is! Even better, this vanilla cake with chocolate mousse filling was moist and delicious, not too sweet. The cake was done on one week’s notice and while they prefer two, they got it done. The only reason the bakery does not get an A++++ is the price as it was a bit expensive not just for this area but by NYC area standards.
Catering: Jewel and Connie’s Pizza. Grade A. We had the pizza delivered and it was hot and on time. What more can you ask? In addition to pizza I made a veggie tray with dip, served assorted crackers, and put together a pesto pasta salad, all from the various aisles of the local Jewel. Beverages were water, soda, lemonade, beer and wine, also from Jewel. The bonus, a case of Goose Island 312 was on sale for $11.99! All in, I got out of Jewel for under $50. Sweet!
Entertainment: Cupcakes. Grade: C+. This was the weak link of the party. Since there were so many young children, I didn’t want to rent a bouncy house, but I had to have some form of entertainment so I decided to hire a party person come to the house for an hour for face painting, balloon making and magic. They were able to accommodate me with a little more than a week’s notice, so I was grateful for that. However, I did have to follow up a few times to confirm they received the contract. Also, the party person was supposed to touch base a couple of days before the event. After more follow-up, I did get a call around dinnertime the night before. She was supposed to arrive at 12:45 but didn’t get here until 1:15 which turned into an issue given the number of children, including the birthday girl, who were on a crash course towards naptime. She did a good job painting faces but the balloon art, well, you decide.
The under 4 set was getting cranky toward the end of the balloon art so I had her do one magic trick and sent her on her way. Later at bath time, when I was washing the paint off my daughter’s arm, she started telling me over and over that grandma held her arm. I was confused since no grandparents were at the party. My son then informed me the party person told them to call her grandma. Uh, okay. Still, I would use the service again since it worked exactly for what I needed.
Wardrobe. The Disney Store. Grade A-. You can’t have a Minnie Mouse party without some ears, right? I would have assigned an A but it involved a trip to the mall. I loathe the mall with two young children.
Photography and video. Yours truly. Grade C. You be the judge. I grabbed these plus a few more but I was so busy I didn’t get as many as I would have liked. Thankfully my husband stepped in and shot video of us singing “Happy Birthday”. I think I will stick to writing.
If you liked this post, check out this one about my daughter growing and graduating from the toddler years.
I referred to my infertility struggle in this post. Here is one, When There Are No Birds and Bees that you might like.
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