Omar's Barcelona Soccer Party

Omar was turning one and his parents wanted to plan a soccer-themed spectacular. Mom and Dad's favorite team is Barcelona, so we were tasked with bringing a festive, European sports vibe to our Chicago playroom. 

As always, baker Joanna was up to the challenge. 

Accented by a fabulous banner from Claudia, a fondant, Barcelona-themed fondant cake was flanked by edible soccer-themed creations, including dipped pretzels, chocolate lollipops, and dipped oroes. 

Rosie provided spectacular soccer columns and "1" centerpieces.

The family also wanted a little extra-special entertainment from their favorite music school, Bucktown Music. Miss Patty (not pictured) joined us for singing, dancing, and musical games, perfect for the one-year-old set.

All in all, it was a huge win! 

Thanks for celebrating with us, Omar! Happy Birthday!

Maddie's Third Birthday - Frozen Explosion

Maddie loves Disney's Frozen and her mom loves to throw beautiful, "over-the-top" celebrations for her sweet girl. Mom wanted to work with us on a custom Frozen celebration that went beyond the Luxe, with opulent fabrics, a 200 piece sweet table, a crown balloon arch, and beautiful accents in frames and vases around the room. 

We assembled a team that we knew was up to the challenge, and had a blast pulling it all together. 

First on our list was securing the princesses. For this celebration, we went with one of our favorite character companies, which always delivers with high quality costumes and impeccably trained actresses. 

Mom knew a crown-shaped arch would be the perfect way to frame the hot chocolate bar, so we added it to the to-do list, along with the character balloon decorations. 

Guests enjoyed chocolate chips, sprinkles, and marshmallows with their Starbucks cocoa, stirred in with peppermint spoons. 

Joanna's baking team designed sweet table was the focal-point of the decor, with a two layer fondant cake, cupcakes, cake pops, dipped lollipops, marshmallow pops, and oreos. All done in Frozen characters and surrounded by glittery branches atop beautiful fabric. 

All of that sugar calls for a refreshment so we created a special Frozen sparkling drink to help keep everyone properly quenched. 

Maddie's mom added framed photos and vased ornaments to accent the room.

With a space as adorned as this one, it's only fitting that the children should be properly adorned as well!

The wonderful and talented Star McFarlane joined us for face painting. 

The birthday girl modeled a crown created by balloon twister Robert Hirsch of Magical Balloons

Cute as a Button Photography provided stunning photos to commemorate the day. 

Happy Birthday Maddie! We hope you had as much fun with your party as we did!

Serenity's Third Birthday - Frozen Luxe

IMG_20141220_170246.jpg

Serenity is a Disney Frozen devotee and mom decided our Frozen Luxe package was what was on the menu for her third birthday celebration.  

Since no Frozen party is complete without Anna and Elsa, our first call was to secure the Snow Queen and Ice Princess. 

We were also thrilled to debut our gourmet shaved ice bar, served up by Jo Snow Syrups, which was flanked by a beautiful banner by designer, Claudia. Serenity is a pink and purple girl and not a fan of "boy colors," so mom asked us to go easy on the blue, and heavy on the "Anna Colors."

Our balloon designer brought the magic with an array of hand-designed balloon characters and columns, both in traditional Frozen colors and with heavy pink and purple accents to suit the birthday girl's tastes. 

And, of course, Joanna created a stunning table of cupcakes and chocolate-dipped goodness. 

Every child took home a Frozen water bottle and a return play pass.

We loved celebrating with you, Serenity! Happy Birthday Princess!

Kingston's Black and Red Elmo Party

Kingston was turning one and was ready to celebrate with Elmo!

The only special request - no primary colors. Mom and dad love black and red and wanted Kingston's celebration to have a more sophisticated look and feel than a typical child's party. 

Thankfully we have some of the best designers in town on speed dial, who were ready to take the special color scheme and make it Elmo-style. 

Designer, Claudia, created a custom banner in patters of black and red.

Balloon artist, Rosie, made Elmo come to life in balloons, and baker, Joanna, designed Elmo in chocolate and fondant. 

Of course, no party would be complete without a gift bag, which we personalized in-house. 

Happy First Birthday Max! We loved planning your special day!

Max's Third Birthday - Thomas the Tank

Max is a devoted Thomas fan and his parents were looking for the ultimate Thomas and Friends celebration to ring in his big number three!

i-kwPtXb8-XL.jpg

Baker, Joanna, designed a delectable cake and sweet table.

Balloon designer, Rosie, brought the helium train magic to the table. 

Graphic designer, Claudia, created a custom banner (background above) and gift bags (background below). 

Max's mom designed this adorable snack train. 

And between imaginitive play and bouncing around the bubble machine, the kids and adults all had an absolute blast. 

i-32s4rG8-XL.jpg

Happy Birthday Max! Thanks for celebrating with us!

Emma's Cat In The Hat!

Emma was turning two and her mom wanted The Cat In The Hat to help usher in her special day!

In addition to the standard Cat colors, mom requested accents of pink and light blue to put a bit of a feminine twist on the decor. 

First we turned to our friend Rosie, the balloon designer, to set the tone. She designed fabulous Thing 1, Thing 2, and Cat In The Hat-themed balloon centerpieces!

The talented Joanna was charged with designing a Cat-themed cake and matching sweet table. 

Light accents were placed around the room, including a life-sized Cat, red and white hats adorning the heads of all of the characters in the playroom, and Goldfish snacks. 

During the party, little guests enjoyed use of the bubble machine and glitter tattoos! 

And when it was time for the fun to end, each child took home a Hat-themed gift bag, complete with a return play pass.

Happy Birthday Emma! We loved celebrating with you! 

Cakes, Cookies, and Sweet Treats

We're continually blown away by the cakes, cookies, and other sweet treats we see at our parties. Here are just a few we can't resist sharing:

Winter Hot Chocolate Bar Upgrade designed by Purple Monkey Playroom

Ned's Avenger's cake custom designed by Creations by J

 Tavion's Mickey Mouse cake and sweet table - custom designed by Creations by J

Leilani and Eliana's Very Hungry Caterpillar cake and cookies - custom desinged by Lizzie's Bake Shoppe

Photo Credit: Alexis Staryk Photography (above)

MJ's jungle cake and cookies - custom designed by Flirty Cupcakes

Natasha's Minions cupcakes - custom designed by Creations by J

Victoria's snowflake cake and sugar cookies - custom designed by Cakes by Cathy

Noah's jungle-themed dipped oreos - custom designed by Creations by J

Ellie's Minnie and Daisy cake - custom designed by Lizzie's Bake Shoppe

Viviana's Little Einstein's Cake - custom designed by Lizzie's Bake Shoppe

Taha's Little Monsters

We admit it. We'd never *actually* heard of Little Monsters when Taha's mom decided that this would be the theme for his first birthday, instead of the trucks we'd originally discussed. But a Google search quickly showed us how creative we could get with creating these cute little characters. 

We picked up some all pupose pails, tinsel, rock candy and swirl pops and set to work on the centerpieces. We also dipped into our art bin for googly eyes, construction paper, and pipe cleaners, to create the silly bases that would hold the arrangement. And finally, little monster lollipops ordered online topped off the look of our whimsical decor. 

We then turned to Joanna, our go-to for all things sweet, to create a monster-filled dessert buffet, complete with birthday cake. 

Monster disguise glasses were at each child's seat and also provided a nice accent to the tablescape. Crazy straws were the perfect topper for the Little-Monster-themed gift bags!

Not even 12 hours after the party had ended, we received this lovely note from Taha's mom:

Thank you for a wonderful party yesterday! Taha and his guests all enjoyed it. Everything was done so well! And the ladies that were there were so helpful and polite.

Such a heartwarming end to a monster-style bash!

Chase's Easter EggStravaganza

Sweet Chase was turning one and his mom and grandma came to us to create an "over the top" birthday celebration on Easter Sunday! First order of business - the Easter bunny! They wanted a high-end costume and an actor that would play with the kids and take lots of pictures. We knew Misha at Ice Cream Team was just the man to call. 

Mom and Grandma also wanted each guest to go home with an Easter basket. The idea evolved into chocolate eggs in a floral basket, made by the talented baker, Joanna. 

Decor included handmade centerpieces on each table, a sprinkling of "eggs," bunny chair covers, and silveware wrapped to look like carrots, presented in an Easter basket. 

All of which served as a mere accent to the delectable sweet table and smash cake, also from Joanna's team. 

An Easter egg hunt topped off a wonderful afternoon with a beautiful family!

And the icing on our smash cake was this note from Chase's mom after the party:

Just wanted to say Thanks for a wonderful party for Chase! It was everything we wanted it to be!

We can't thank you and your team enough.

It was absolutely our pleasure. 

Olivia Turns 6

Olivia's mom wanted to throw a beautiful celebration to honor her daughter and to provide a fun and relaxing evening for their family and friends. Although past birthday parties had been a bit more simple, this year she wanted to go all out. And making the planning even more fun, Olivia chose the adorable Olivia the Pig as the theme to ring in her 6th. 

13277403-24849609-thumbnail.jpg

 

One of the first things Olivia's mom mentioned was that she wanted to have friends and family sign a guest book. We worked with *Play Logan Square to procure several copies of Olivia the Princess, which were also part of the gift bag.

Speaking of gift bags, these were not your run of the mill mix of candy and a prize. *Play also helped to put together custom Olivia-themed gifts for each child, that were as memorable as the celebration itself.

The sweet table was the showpiece of the event, with a custom Olivia cake, in addition to chocolate-covered pretzels, lollipops, cupcakes, cake pops and dipped oreos. Flanked by an over-the-top balloon arch, Olivia's celebration was a picture perfect as it was fun. 

In addition to plenty of free play for the kids and relaxing food, drink and conversation for the adults, our friends at UrbanSitter came by to outfit every guest with a glitter tattoo.

Rodriguez-20140321-036-F.jpg

Thank you to Eva Ho photography for documenting this beautiful event. 

Disney Party for a 4-Year-Old Princess

When our Little Monkey decided she wanted an "Ariel Party" we knew just who to call.

And when she then decided that the party would no longer be limited to Ariel but had to include "all of my Disney friends" we knew that with the help of a few themed balloons and a the a sweet table by the incredibly talented Joanna, Disney would be well represented on her special day. 

13277403-24849322-thumbnail.jpg

Our guests ranged in age from 1-6. 

Ellie's Party 4.jpg

Photo Credit: Joe Caballero Photography (above)

The birthday girl had a blast and is already planning her big #5. Which she has decided will be a Frozen Party. Or a tea party. Or...

Disney Frozen Party!

Chicago's Polar Vortex was one for the record books this year. So it seemed only appropriate, that in the midst off all of the snow and ice, that we throw a Frozen party! Within 24 hours of posting the event, it had completely sold out. We knew we had to make the party extra special for all of the little princes and princesses who would be joinining us.

We called our favorite princess purveyors and within moments of our call, Anna and Elsa had added a stop at Purple Monkey Playroom to their busy travel schedule. 

We also ordered up our very first sweet table and Joanna didn't dissappoint! Cupcakes with edible white chocolate toppers, Elsa and Anna cake pops, dipped oreos, and chocolate pretzel rods added an absolutely magical touch to the playroom.

We had a healthy breakfast spread of bagels, fruit, yogurt and granola from our sponsor, Jolly Oak, to offset all the sugary goodness. Along with plenty of coffee and tea for moms and dads. 

Frozen 4.jpg

And, of course, we enjoyed plenty of good, old-fashioned play!

Aslan's Robot Party (Aslan 2.0)

Aslan was turning two and was into robots! His mom gave us carte blanche to create a fully custom celebration, which in honor of his second birthday, we dubbed "Aslan 2.0"

We decided a modern take on the theme, done in bright colors, would fit the bill. 

First, we needed robot decorations and a gear-themed banner. The robots were not self-standing, so we glued popsicle sticks to the back and planted them in a base of M&Ms, which just happened to be all of the colors we had chosen for the tablescape!

Then we called on our baker, Joanna, to put together a robot-themed sweet table, complete with an edible robot-shaped cake!

We added a few more of Marie Leon's robots to the muraled tree tops and topped it off with color coordinated balloon bouquets.

Aslan Robot 4.jpg

Each little guest left with a custom, Aslan 2.0 gift bag. 

Pirate Princess Party!

We needed some fresh photos of our space and knew that our fabulous photographer friend, and owner of Beauty and Brawn Gallery and Think Space, Lindsey Meyers, was just the person to do it. 

Instead of just photographing an empty room, we thought it would be great fun to throw a "just-because" party and invite some friends! And we'd been itching for a while to do a pirate-princess celebration. And so the theme was born!

This pink and black skull and crossbone banner by Aprons2Tie4 was a must-have and provided the inspiration for the rest of the decor. 

As part of a budget-friendly sweet table (this was, after all, for the purposes of a photo shoot), we put blood red gumballs in a glass canister and adorned it with a pirate eye patch. 

Each table was covered in fisherman's netting and glass rocks to give the space an "at-sea" vibe. 

Our celebrants ranged in age from 3-8. 

Pirate 5.jpg

Each child took home a treasure box gift filled with pirate spoils!

Secrets of Planning a Fabulous, Low-Stress Party + Resource Guide

Party Pic.jpg

Party Planning.

The mere mention of the words can send the otherwise most together of persons into a full-fledged tizzy. Never mind advanced degrees, avant-garde culinary skills, or assorted creative talents. Men and women who are otherwise masters of their own universes can become downright panicked when it comes to planning their young child’s birthday celebration. Having fielded numerous phone conversations with frazzled moms and dads, we’ve concluded that the problem comes down to one simple question – where to start?

Since Purple Monkey’s Grand Opening in February 2012, we’ve hosted close to 200 fetés. Needless to say, we know a little something about the process. The Purple Monkey team has seen and planned everything from simple and sweet to celebrity-style blow outs and everything in between. We’ve got plenty of tricks up our sleeves and people on our lists. And lucky for you – we’re set to spill the deets. So lean in moms and dads. And relax.  Your low-stress, inspired and memorable party can be planned in ten simple steps.

  1. Set your budget.  Whether you’re looking to spend $250 or $1,250, you can pull together a beautiful party that your guests will enjoy.   
  2. Find your venue. The thought of 15-20 kids running around our homes sends us into panic-mode. But if home is where the heart is, you’ve already conquered step one. Purple Monkey Tip: Consider the size of your group and also the ages of all of your guests when picking a spot – starting with the birthday child all the way up through the grandparents. What will provide the most hospitable experience for everyone? 
  3. Coordinate your entertainment. This is a prime area where budget comes into play.  If you want to do more for your guests than provide a venue, food, and drink, the sky is the limit. Costumed characters, balloon artists, face painters, and photographers are popular for young children’s parties. (See our guide below for suggestions). Some venues, such as Purple Monkey, are the entertainment. There’s no need to go above and beyond unless you want to. Purple Monkey Tip: If your budget is limited, put it toward food and drink and skip the entertainment.Your guests will still feel well-cared-for.
  4. Plan your menu and time your party around it. Are you planning to serve a meal? Then you can host your celebration at almost any time of day. But if appetizers and dessert are what you have in mind, be sure not to hold your party during lunch or dinner time – guests will expect to leave full.  Some venues, like Purple Monkey, will provide food and drink. If not, decide whether you want to cook or carry in, and what you’d like to offer. Purple Monkey Tip: No matter what you choose to serve, consider feeding all of your guests. Two hours is a long time for adults to sit and watch kids eat without being offered a bite.
  5. Choose your theme and coordinate plates and decorations. You don’t necessarily need a theme, but it will make decorating easier. If the venue is themed, you can stick with that. Otherwise, think about fun color combinations, animals, cartoon characters, etc.  Balloons go a long way toward making a party festive. Same with themed tableware. There’s always room to add more creative flair but your guests won’t necessarily expect it. Purple Monkey Tip: Trademarked plates and decorations will add cost. If they’re not important to you or your child, stick with a more generic decoration-scheme. 
  6. Send invitations. The sky is the limit here. Electronic or paper – it’s your preference.  Some venues, like Purple Monkey, will provide the invitations for you. Purple Monkey Tip: Ideally, invitations should be sent 4-6 weeks in advance to ensure the best turnout.
  7. Order your cake. Once your RSVP’s are in, you’ll know what size you need.Again, the options are limitless.  Your theme will help guide your cake selection. Purple Monkey Tip: Sweet tables seem to be the trend of the moment. You can do this easily by adding a few cupcakes or cookies to your cake order. Stacked fondant cakes are also hot right now – but you can certainly never go wrong with a delicious, frosted sheet cake either.
  8. Assemble your goody bags. Big or small, kids just like stuff. You can tie your goody bags into your theme or not – your little guests will not notice.  A healthy(ish) snack like Annie’s Bunnies or a Granola bar is a great way to top off a treat bag. Purple Monkey Tip: Consider purchasing one bigger ticket item rather than many small ones. Or include something that the child is likely to use such as crayons, bubbles, or sidewalk chalk. Parents will thank you.
  9. Confirm your vendors. Call the venue and any entertainment three to five days before your event so you can rest assured there won’t be any snags the day of the big celebration.
  10. Relax and enjoy your party. You’ve earned it! Purple Monkey Tip:Take lots of pictures! You and your child will love looking back on these memories for years to come.
637307_little_black_book.jpg

Purple Monkey’s Little Black Book of Chicago Party Planners, Vendors, Entertainers and More!

Party Planning

Jen Lewis Events

Imagine A Party

Misse Daniel/Honey Bee Weddings

Invitations

www.onebigbow.com – An evite that leads your guests to your pre-selected gift registry. They have the option to contribute any amount to the “big gift” or simply RSVP.

Shop 1021 – This fabulous Logan Square boutique is currently working on a line of grab-and-go invitations for children’s’ parties. Stay tuned!

Noteworthy Notes – A beautiful Lakeview boutique that sells party invitations, in addition to personalized gifts.  

Toluka Paper – A specialty boutique in Avondale, offering custom and pre-designed birthday invitations and more.  

Decorations

Check out some of our Pinterest boards for DIY and handmade decorations available on Etsy!

Try locally owned stores including:

Doolins

…in addition to party superstores:

Party City

Oriental Trading

Food & Drink

Options abound, but here are a few of our favorites:

Lizzie’s Bake Shoppe for breakfast pastries

Marcello’s Father and Son for pizza and catering

Cake

We have one favorite at Purple Monkey and its Lizzie’s Bake Shoppe. Lizzie’s confections are all peanut and tree nut free and she can do anything from fondant to gluten free.

Looking for a frozen treat? Try Bobtail Ice Cream Company for custom-designed ice cream cakes. 

Entertainment

Costumed Characters: Ice Cream Team

Princesses: Premier Princess Parties

Face Painting: Super Stolie

Kids Concert: Super Stolie, Mr. Singer & The Sharp Cookies, Mary Macaroni

Circle Time and Music: Musical Magic

Circle Time and Creative Movement: Away We Play

Photography

Lindsey Meyers

Eva Ho Photography

Alexis Staryk Photography

Goody Bags (Pre-Assembled)

Eco-Friendly Goody Bags by Bright Ideas Education Studio

*Play Logan Square

Building Blocks Toy Store

Gift Registry

*Play Logan Square

Building Blocks Toy Store

www.onebigbow.com