Wow!! Very impressed!! The snow queen was a hit! My daughter loved Elsa!! Thank you so much! Definitely will call them for next birthday events!!!
Perfect for the little DIVA in your life! Guests enjoy loads of glamour accessories to wear for the party, PLUS the Ultimate Diva Treatment including: mini-manicures with nail art, hair styled with color accent, complete make-up session including face gem and glitter tattoos. Enjoy divalicious decor with over the top tablescape. Photo backdrop, PINK carpet runway and ultimate dance party with karaoke and light FXs make this party perfect for the DIVA in your life.
Several months ago I posted about our favorite birthday party venues in Jacksonville, and today I am following up with some wonderful options to add some fun to a party at home. Our family seems to go to LOTS of birthday parties so most of these we have experienced first-hand. We think these are some of the best vendors in Jacksonville!
Mom Tip: You can often get a glimpse of what party vendors have to offer by checking out Family Nights at local restaurants.
Hands down our favorite bounce house rental company! Competitive pricing, clean bounce houses, but best of all great customer service. We have Spacewalk at most of our birthday parties and love working with Gus. I have used him for other events – he gives a discount to churches, schools, and other non-profit agencies! In fact, my first experience with Gus was when volunteering for a Christmas party for foster children at the zoo! Not only do they offer bounce houses, but they also offer concession machines and party supplies.
Mom Tip: Make sure that the bounce house rental company leaves a tarp in front of the entry to the bounce house. This helps keep the bounce house a little cleaner and provides a spot for kids to leave their shoes. Not all bounce house companies do this, but Spacewalk does!
Perfect for a choo-choo train party – a fun little train that comes to you, Little Barrels of Fun! At the party we attended, the train just did laps on the streets around the house. The driver, wearing his engineer’s cap, was as nice as could be. Here’s their Facebook page for more info.
The Pottery Lady
We’ve never had her for a birthday party, but I have arranged for The Pottery Lady to come do several playgroup events for groups of moms, babies, and toddlers. So much fun and such great customer service. Kristin’s pottery pieces, paints, and supplies are top quality, and she always returns the fired pieces of pottery with a quick turnaround time! You can often see her at the Riverside Arts Market selling her beautiful ceramics.
Mom Tip: I usually buy a cheaper piece for my kids to paint to keep them busy while I am working on my “masterpiece” that includes their precious little handprints and footprints!
We love Twist of Fun Balloon Art! Justin is an elementary school teacher and father, making him great with the kids. He is fun, patient, and super talented! Parents and kids all love him! I feel like he can make ANYTHING out of balloons. My kids alone have gotten a frog with a long tongue complete with a fly on it, a wiener dog, a panda, a giraffe, a rocket, a penguin, a tiger, a Scooby Doo, a bomb, a lion, a coiled-up snake, and a ladybug. He always makes a balloon that fits the party theme. Once he did ALL of the Yo Gabba Gabba characters, and at another party we attended he made the dad an awesome beer mug! I love the fact that he is NOT dressed up as a clown.
Mr. D, Caricature Artist
Mr. D (Bob Drost) does amazing artwork. We usually try to make on of Mr. D’s Chick-Fil-A family nights, but we also recently had the pleasure of attending a birthday party. And it goes to show that family nights are just a GLIMPSE of what these vendors do for parties because we liked him even better after seeing him at the party. After the party, he gave the birthday girl a collection of caricatures of all the guests at her party! Call or email Bob at 904-349-2177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mom Tip: When our caricatures are finished, we like to make photocopies and let the kids color them!
Bricks 4 Kidz
Perfect for that birthday boy or girl that is intrigued with Lego bricks! Bricks 4 Kidzprovides Lego games with energetic host/hostesses. At the party we attended, the kids built their own vehicles and raced them down a track. They also did a relay race with buckets of Legos. The host even turned cleaning up into a game! We also attended a special group event hosted by Bricks 4 Kids. It was not a birthday party but an interactive Lego experience. My big kids got to try out the motorized Lego bricks to put their creations into motion and my little one used Duplo blocks to make an alligator.
Wonderful face painter – we met her at a family night at Zaxby’s. The first person to paint my babies’ faces. She does “Disney quality” work. These are faces you would pay $15 or more for at Disney. A mom herself, she is great with the kids and always amazes me with her patience! Check her out on facebook or go visit her at Riverside Arts Market!
Mom Tip: We use baby wipes to remove face paint from those cute little faces!
Captain Character brings loads of entertainment. He’s basically a one-man show with puppets and magic. He also does balloon twisting, face-painting, and even passes out cotton candy!
A friend of mine just threw a party for her six-year old daughter who is really into horses right now. She was very happy with Pinto Carriage Works, and believes without a doubt that this was a party her daughter will never forget! The guests fed the ponies carrots and all enjoyed several rides. They were even allowed to hold the reins making it seem like they were real cowboys and cowgirls. Yeehaw!
Rollin’ Rita’s we probably know best for their frozen drink machines, but they do have other fun party rentals like chocolate fountains, generators, misting fans, and outdoor heaters. I learned about Rollin’ Rita’s several years ago through one of the Junior League of Jacksonville’s annual fundraising events, and now I look for them every year. Never disappointed!
Yes, you can have your party at Diamond D Ranch or for a fee they will come to you! Pony rides, petting zoo, and horse drawn wagon are a few of the options they offer off the ranch. We have had them at school functions and always see them at the annual Hooked on Fishing event in Jax Beach.
We used one of Mrs. Bubbles’ bubble machines at a school event, and it was a big hit. I mean who doesn’t love bubbles? Most of her events, she brings music and creates a bubble dance party!
Do Your Own Thing
Be Creative! It’s easy to add a little entertainment to your party without spending a fortune. At one party, the hostess had a friend come dressed as a hula girl to teach the guests a little hula dance. At another, the mom had a friend come to her son’s super hero party dressed as a villain to get sprayed by all the guests with silly string. We also once arranged for a hairdresser to come to a friend’s glamour party to give all the guests a fun hairdo! You can just have a friend dress up as your child’s favorite character. A quick little appearance adds so much fun for the kids.
Girly-Girl Partea’ Inc
Girly-Girl Partea’ Inc has been northeast Florida’s premier children’s event planner, specializing in themed parties since 2008. As a mobile business, they bring the party to you and cover all of your hosting needs from set up to clean up and everything in between. They provide multiple pre-packaged party themes including princess parties, spa parties, classic tea parties and tween parties for the St Augustine and Jacksonville areas. They are also available for custom party themes, designed specifically to fit your needs. Girly-Girl Partea’ is best known for their entertaining and authentic princess characters including the Snow Sisters, Cinderella, Tinker Bell, Little Mermaid and more. They are in the process of expanding into boy party themes as well with hopes to add superheroes, pirates and themed holiday characters very soon. Visit their site view package options, pricing and photos.
Links to other vendors in Jacksonville
Hire A Fire Truck – Hire a Fire Truck
Sugarplum Entertainment – Princess Parties, Pirate Parties, Clowns, and Magicians
Julius Magic – Fun magic shows
Street Party Game Truck – Mobile Arcade
Mrs. Kate – Sing-along interactive show with puppets
Clix Photography – Event Photography
Parents aren’t settling on cake and balloons to make their kids happy
But since Beth Spreitzer’s daughter, Brooke, wanted just the girls for her ninth birthday, Spreitzer rented an oceanfront room at Ponte Vedra Inn & Spa. There, the girls played kickball on the private beach and sipped smoothies between pedicures and facials.
The Spreitzers are an example of those buying into a booming business in Jacksonville and the rest of the country: children’s birthday parties. Informal surveys show that in recent years, on average, parents spend $200 to $400 on birthday parties. And some wealthy families may spend up to $5,000 or more, said Heather Downs, a professor of sociology at Jacksonville University. That’s a far cry from the Pin the Tail on the Donkey and paper streamers of the past.
Downs also attributes the rise in cost to higher expectations nowadays from children for lavish events. Parents may also use a birthday party as an opportunity to network with their colleagues, particularly for parties for 1- and 2-year-old children.
“Parents view the birthday party as a chance for children to fit in with their peer group,” Downs said. “The parents are going to do what they need to for the child to fit in.”
Why invest in a party? For the Spreitzers, it’s not about competition among other parents or wanting to impress friends. The parties provide an opportunity to give Brooke an experience she can remember, Beth Spreitzer said.
“Growing up, I had great memories of my birthday parties,” she said. “[We] want to make sure, as well, that she has great memories of her birthdays for years to come.”
Dozens of places in Jacksonville now serve as venues for birthday parties, offering everything from inflatable houses to jump in to full formal teas for tots, and often are booked weeks in advance. And for those brave enough to have a party at their home, there’s a plethora of party planning companies and performers to pick from.
Amelia Davis and Shelly Rich co-own girly-girl partea’s Inc., a St. Johns County-based company specializing in custom parties for girls, often packed with princesses and pink. Their themes include red carpet and spa parties, like the one they put together for the Spreitzers.
“Parents now really want to give a great party for their children,” Davis said. “I think they’ve gone through all the other parties and thought, ‘you know, let’s step it up a notch.’ ”
Davis said girly-girl partea’s is mostly referral based, and their schedule fills up quickly. When they started their business in 2008, they had a modest number of parties they worked on. In 2010, girly-girl’s business has nearly doubled and has had clients all over Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, Portia Gillespie, owner of Sugar Plum Entertainment, said her business is a full-time job with a steady stream of clients.
For the past 14 years, Gillespie has seen children’s birthday parties escalate and become more elaborate. She’s performed as a clown, magician or pirate at birthday parties for children as young as a year old.
“It doesn’t seem to matter if [the family is] affluent or not affluent,” Gillespie said. “People do find money to spend on their children because they want to make it special for their child.”
Gillespie declined to share her prices with the Times-Union, but said in Jacksonville, performers are typically paid $150 to $200 an hour.
Jacksonville isn’t alone in buying into children’s parties. A recent episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” featured housewife Taylor Armstrong spending $50,000 for her 4-year-old’s backyard party. A new TLC show, “Outrageous Kids Parties,” shows one family spending more than $30,000 for their daughter’s princess party, complete with a horse-drawn carriage.
Amscan Holdings, which operates the Party City franchise that has locations in Jacksonville, reported a net income increase of 32 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to its U.S. Security & Exchange Commission report. Its latest quarterly report for the first nine months of 2010, the latest available, has shown a net income increase of 20 percent compared to the first nine months of 2009.
Downs said throwing children’s birthday parties away from the home, at higher-priced venues, ups the cost even more. Although a homemade cake and some party hats used to cut it, nowadays companies are offering packaged deals that include food and entertainment. And when you venture outside of the home, it can only add to the overall cost, she said.
Pump It Up, an inflatable bounce house business on Beach Boulevard, offers its pizza party, which includes pizza and an hour and a half of jumping for about $400 for 12 children. That doesn’t include the add-ons such as goodie bags or extra kids.
Chuck E. Cheese, a birthday party staple, now charges $12.99 per child for a birthday party, with a 10-child minimum.
If you decide to stick with the home party, expect to pay at least $100 per hour for a performer and $100 for a bounce house. Want to throw in a petting zoo? That will cost you at least $250. And don’t forget the cleanup.
And, the more parents spend, the higher the likelihood that other children will expect more for their own party, which increases the pressure on parents to put together something special, Downs said.
“It seems like some people get caught up in the consumerism,” Downs said. “They go to the party store and things get out of control. I think there’s something about that.”
But are extravagant parties a bad thing? Some party vendors, such as Gillespie, see it more as a celebration of the child and not something that should be viewed as silly.
“I feel like I’m in the business of making happy memories,” Gillespie said. “I think the parents are after the memory.”
Spreitzer said the best part about giving Brooke a great birthday is how grateful she is to have the party, and she never expects to have anything over-the-top, which makes it even more special.
So what’s the plan for Brooke Spreitzer’s 10th birthday? A Disney cruise, her mom said.