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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.

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 – 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.  


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

Try locally owned stores including:


…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


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. 


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


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