Monday, March 17, 2014

Memory Lane: Winter ONEderland (Venue)

To begin, I thought I’d start with Olivia’s Winter ONEderland (first birthday party) fun.  By way of background, I'll be completely honest.  I was totally one of those parents that yelled and screamed from the rooftops that I didn’t believe in first birthday parties (hangs head in shame and shrug shoulders). I would jokingly refer to first birthday parties as... the parent’s party - lol. At the time, I truly didn’t believe in them until about 8 or 9 months after I had Olivia Madison. Right around that time... I decided to reconsider this whole first birthday thing and that I wanted one for my babyJ.

I mean, why not? She was growing like a weed, hitting every milestone I’d read about, and she LOVED birthday parties.  We had been to a few of my coworkers' children's parties and she had a BALL. Denying her of her own was no longer an option and, with the amount of family and friends that wanted to celebrate with her, a big affair was in order. I found my inspiration for a Winter ONEderland here (Rustic Winter Wonderlandand shared the new plans with my boo, Tabby of (Shipwrecked On Fabulous Island).

Now Let’s digress for a moment and put things into perspective. Olivia Madison was born on Tabby’s birthday and if you head to her blog you’ll find she is all about a celebration. Naturally, Tabby was bummed by my initial 'No Parents Party' protest and had been trying to convince me of otherwise. When I changed my mind, I knew she would be all in and she was!  After all, they are exactly 30 years apart.  To Tabby, this meant she’d plan to make this a “Thirty-ONEderland” - lol. She’s a trip like that and would have totally done A Thirty-ONEderland if her plans to host a “Thirty minus the One” party didn't suit her better.

Anyway, we began looking for venues for the big day.  Although Olivia Madison loved the bounce house parties we attended, for the cost I wanted a place that catered to her age.  During our venue conversation, Tabby opened my eyes to a new concept (at least new to me) when she mentioned soft playrooms.  I scoured the internet for one in my area and really got annoyed when there were none.  I continued to look until I found the next best thing - one in a nearby area that suited our needs. You better believe this determined momma found the place to host what became...Olivia’s Winter ONEderland.

Soft Playroom

Olivia and Zion Playing in the Soft Playroom

I couldn’t believe recreational centers even had spaces like this for infants and toddlers.  This playroom was awesome and everything I wanted for her first party. Now of course, with every great play area there’s a shortfall somewhere in the venue and, this one had many - lol.
1. Capacity.  The playroom only allowed for 15 tiny tots and 25 adults. On top of that, space was also limited to 25 total people in the reception area (the area where food, drinks, and cake would be served). With a list that could easily top 60 people... can you say anxiety?

2. Age. The playroom was lovely and did exactly what I wanted and catered to ages 5 and below and that’s ALL a good thing, right? Not when you have friends with kids in both age brackets (under and over 5).

3. Spacing. The reception area spaces were very limited I seriously only had two options. One was an enclosed room that would never work, the other was the preschool pod.  The pod was the main area outside the rec center's preschool classrooms. The preschool pod was bigger than the enclosed room so I knew I could make it work... even though it had the kids' art work displayed throughout.

4. Walls. How can I put this eloquently? The nice "art" *side eye* "work" the children made just didn’t match my fabulous theme so I needed to cover it - lol. This venue, however, doesn’t allow you to decorate and hang things on the walls... they can’t be serious!

Other than these many few details it was EVERYTHING so I went ahead and booked it. Spent the car ride home talking to Tabby and her beautiful daughter, Zion, about how fabulous it was and our plans to circumvent the system and turn this into a fabulous Winter ONEDerland affair - lol.

Whew!  That’s more probably more than you ever wanted to know about the venue for a first birthday party but... I felt it was necessary to share the backstory to set the tone for Olivia’s Winter ONEderland party.  

Stay tuned for more trips down Memory Lane as it pertains to Olivia’s first birthday; we've got a LOT to talk about!

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