There is nothing that fills me with more joy as a mom than watching my little one’s faces light up with excitement. Brody’s 3rd birthday bash at the Phoenix Zoo was one of my favorite days we have had in a long time. An afternoon surrounded by our closest friends and family, sweet treats, and a very happy toddler will forever be what I remember Brody’s 3rd birthday by.
Last month, I shared the plans for Brody’s party. A modern safari theme with a black, white, yellow and green color scheme. It came out even better than I envisioned.
We hosted Brody’s birthday at the Siamang Ramada within the Phoenix Zoo. When we decided to have one of their Wild Birthdays, there were quite a few different ramadas and pavilions to choose from. The Siamang Ramada kept catching our eye with the bright yellow tabletops, tropical plants, and view of the island that housed two Siamang Gibbons who would gleefully swing from ropes all day long. What is a zoo party without a couple of zoo animals to look at?
After Brody’s first birthday party where I felt like I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off the whole celebration, I have realized that having party hosts and an organized venue makes life so much easier. The Phoenix Zoo party hosts allowed me to actually enjoy the party and our guests. For most parties, they handle the entire set-up, décor, food etc. Since I wanted to customize some of the décor, the party hosts were at the ramada when we arrived eager to help me with anything and everything. They corralled kids, cut the cake, cleaned up etc. I think this may have been the first time I ever had a party ready before start time.
With the beautiful zoo backdrop, I decided not to go crazy on decorations this year. Instead, I used party favors, place settings and activities as the décor. The pith hats we bought for the guests? Clipped to the fencing with a clothespin, they created a fun textural element.
I worked with Belena—the party decorating guru behind the party shop Geese & Ganders---for the table settings and I love how they came out. With an awesome table setting, you really do not need much else in terms of décor. We layered different prints, patterns (striped, tropical, geometric) and sizes of plates to create an eye-popping table setting. I used black scratch off animal face masks and wrapped them around the plates to add an zoo element to the place settings. I strew plastic zoo animals in the middle of the table to keep the toddlers entertained. I love how it came out.
The one area I did want to have staged was the dessert table. I love dessert tables at parties because they are easy to set-up and allow guests to munch as they please. I always try to set foods at different levels on dessert tables to add some variety and depth to the set-up. Flipping over boxes is my favorite trick. This time, I used the awesome wooden crates that we had in our tv stand from our living room make-over and flipped them over to create dimension. Something about the wooden crates just screamed jungle. I cut parchment paper to place on top of them then set the desserts directly onto the parchment paper. A simple, yet catchy set-up.
Speaking of food, it is usually one of the best parts of a party, right? The Phoenix Zoo helped organize pizzas for all of the party guests. We did pizza fairly quickly after guests arrived. They also set-up a big container of lemonade for the kids.
Arizona is toasty come March, so to keep everyone cool, we passed around snow cones mid party. One of our favorite family treats is Bahama Bucks, so we ordered one of their party packs for the party. The ice comes shaved in a big cooler and they provide gloves, flavors, little drink umbrellas---everything. I think the adults enjoyed these as much as the kids.
Brody’s two requests for his birthday were cake and cupcakes. Can you tell he is my child? :) The Phoenix Zoo provides cakes for their parties, which is awesome, but since I had something specific in mind we decided to bring our own. I ordered a couple of dozen plain cupcakes from Sam’s Club (they’re a bargain and surprisingly tasty) and had them iced with grey and white frosting. I bought a container of plastic zoo animals and put one on each cupcake to decorate them—so simple and so cute! I procrastinated a bit on the cake situation, so I ended up ordering a cake with the cupcakes at Sam’s Club. I had them cover it in black polka dots to keep with the modern theme then I topped it off with the cutest cake toppers from Geese & Ganders. I tried to keep all of the food cohesive with the color scheme, so we filled a basket with bright yellow bananas, loaded a plate with Oreos, and a few other plates with truffles and puppy chow rice krispie treats that my sweet sister in law made. There is never a lack of sweets at our parties. :)
Maybe it is just me—the over-thinker---but I am always worried that guests are going to be bored at parties. Even more so when the party involves a bunch of active toddlers! I am so grateful we had the party at the Zoo because I had to worry zero about entertaining the kids and guests at this time.
In the middle of the party, the zoo party hosts set-out a fun activity for all of the kids. They gave them these little wooden snakes and tons of markers to go to town coloring. Brody was so excited about his snake.
One of the cool things about having his party at the zoo is that they include an experience ticket for each of the kids after they eat cake. We could choose between the stingray exhibit or carousel---of course Brody chose the carousel.
The best part of all is that the zoo itself is entertaining. All of the guests had entry to the zoo for the entire day, so after the party it was fun walking around checking out the animals and bumping into our friends. Brody loved every minute of it.
The Goody Bags:
It is not a toddler party without a treat bag! The Phoenix Zoo provides the treat bags for the party, which is a major time savor! I had a ton of leftover berry baskets that I used for Brody’s 1st birthday. They were headed to the trash with our upcoming move, so I decided to use them for his party this year. The party hosts filled them for me with the treats they give out (the animal print sunglasses were a huge hit) and we threw in a pair of binoculars and animal crackers. Brody was so excited about them that he passed them out to his friends as soon as they arrived.
Post birthday party, our family all agreed this was the most fun we have had at a birthday party. It was fun, stress-free, and full of lots of smiles from all. Nearly 3 weeks later and Brody is still talking about it and making plans to go visit the Phoenix Zoo again. How will we ever top this?
A special thanks to the Phoenix Zoo for helping to make Brody’s day so special. The staff and party team were just awesome. They even offered to provide a promo for any Momma Society readers who want to host a birthday at the Phoenix Zoo.
If you book a party at the Phoenix Zoo before June 30th and mention MOMMA SOCIETY all of your party guests will receive TWO special experience tickets (stingray & carousel) instead of one! The party can take place on any available date, it just has to be booked before June 30th for this promotion. Click here to book your event.
For all of the sources for the party gear we used, check out this Jungle Birthday Party Planning post.