Last year, we hosted Smith's second birthday party at our house. While the party itself was oodles of fun, the before and after were maddening. I remember calling a friend on the way back from the party store and saying, "Never again ... Why didn't I just order pizza?" I made all the food and baked a Thomas the Tank Engine tiered cake with a recipe that would make your head spin with all its egg-white folding and coddling.
It was all amazing, but afterwards, I was ready for a spa day. Also, you think you are going to save money if you do it al yourself, but you really don't save much at all. Party supplies, table rentals, bouncy castle, ingredients for all the adorable appetizers you planned and beverages for everyone (we had sangria for adults) add up to a lot of money. Sure, we could have had a small party at home, but I think birthdays should be celebrated like holidays. So many people are depressed on their birthdays and they don't say why, but I know. They didn't get the attention they deserved! No one ever made a big deal out of their birthday. If someone says, "I don't want to make a big deal out of my birthday," nine out of 10 times they are lying.
So this year, as Smith's third birthday approached, I started to plan. Smith is incredibly hyper, so the party needed to have some sort of energetic activity, and because he is not old enough to run the half-marathon at Disneyland, I decided to check out a bouncy house haven called Scooter's Jungle.
Scooter's Jungle is in El Segundo, a short drive from Redondo Beach. You can go for open play or plan a 2 1/2 hour private party for kids or adults. The facility offers great party packages, and the pizza is way better than Chuck-E-Cheese.
From start to finish, Scooter's Jungle did a terrific job in making Smith's third birthday party a night to remember. The facility is very clean, the staff is well trained, and the play structures are crazy fun. It's not cheap, but employees provide all the invitations, paper products, hot food, drinks, toddler-wrangling and activities, so you are just in charge of snacks, veggies and cake. They also provide favors if you don't want to give out pirate ducks and finger puppets like yours truly.
I decided to buy everything except the salad and the cake. Smith wanted a pirate ship cake, and by golly, I made one from scratch. I actually made a tiny parrot out of fondant.
I am mother, hear me brag.
Scooter's Jungle has two different rooms for private parties. The Village Room, for ages 6 and under, and the Ultimate Room, for ages six and up. Smith and his friends loved the Village Room! There are bouncy houses, a huge bouncy slide, a climbing structure, air hockey, ping pong and little roller racers to putz around on. From time-to-time we would hear a child or adult say, "Happy birthday, Smith!" over a loud speaker, as there was a microphone in the back of the room for the children to play with.
All of the structures are adult-friendly (and how!), so I was able to play with all the rug rats. Smith's aunt and uncle probably got more mileage on the structures than anyone else at the party. They looked like they had just completed a 10-mile potato sack race after our allotted hour and a half of play time had wrapped up.
The dining room was completely set up with the food and drinks by the time we walked in. Plan to tip the staff, as they do a great job in making sure everything in the play area and dining room run smoothly. There was never a moment when I had to find someone to assist me—there was always a staff member available for questions. I like that. I felt that I was being taken care of. Upon leaving, I was even handed an itemized gift list which makes thank-you notes so much easier!
I'm so glad we had Smith's party at Scooter's Jungle. It was an absolute blast, and my house remained clean the whole time, which my husband and I considered money well spent.