Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pump That Party!

Mister Man and I had a birthday party to attend this afternoon for a friend of his from preschool. We did the usual choosing the present and handwriting the card, then hop skipping and jumping to the party itself.

As seems to the be the case more often than not, the party was at Pump It Up. For those of you who haven't been there, it's a warehouse converted to hold large inflatables that range from obstacle courses to huge slides to basketball courts and more. The newer ones even offer rock climbing walls. If you want to wear out a child, that's the place to head.

How do I know so much about this? Why, because this is (literally) our twenty-fourth party there. At the eighth party, I started counting. It started in April of 2006, when Mister Man was two and a half (and Little Miss was an oh so cute eight and a half month old trying to climb in all the jumping things, too).

It's a popular place to have a party. I discovered how popular in talking to the friend's mom today who informed me that she booked this party in March. And she didn't get the time slot she wanted because that was already booked. Wow.

So far, we've avoided having ours there -- for a few reasons. I'm a fan of having more unique and memorable parties than the one everyone else is doing. And the Pump It Up parties are not exactly cheap . I'm guessing it's all that liability insurance! At a party in December, Mister Man announced as we were leaving that he wanted to have his party at Pump It Up when he turns six.


For the most part, we've done parties at home, excluding Mister Man's last one and Little Miss's upcoming one, both of which were party packages won at fundraisers. It's the first time he really asked for a particular party, and I told him that if he still wanted it there when it was closer to his party that we'd work it out. I figured we'd have plenty of time for him to get fixated on another idea.

Oh, did I mention that we've been to five parties there since then? Yep, each time he tells me it's his favorite place ever, and that he wants a party there. And apparently, I need to get on the ball if I want to have one there in early October. (Hey, Pump It Up in Vernon Hills, if you're listening, do you have a party open for the week of October 11, give or take?)

I remember this phenomenon when I was growing up. All the cool kids had their birthday parties at Cheapskate -- small yellow birdie logo included. We skated for an hour or more, shooting the duck, skating backwards, and all the other fun moves and games. We played skee ball and bought bubble gum from the concession stand. At the end, we'd go to the back corner where presents were opened (and we discovered to our chagrin that Sally bought the exact same present we did!) and cake was eaten.

Pump It Up is that same phenomenon. The wee ones loved it as toddlers, and I see kids eight and older still having a blast there. To be honest, I sort of miss the days when the wee ones needed my "help" to play there. And besides, how can you deny smiles like this?

(Yes, that's my scary lizard alien boy... I'm not sure how I did it, but this photo cracked me up! Real smile below.)

So what's the cool place to have a party where you live?


The Redhead Riter July 18, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

Stopping by from SITS to share the blog ♥ !

I always tried to do a totally different party for each year. We did things like: giant pool party, gymnastics party, putt-putt video games, steak house with a slide (Trail Dust in Dallas, TX), bowling, ice skating rink, etc...

◄Happy Saturday Sharefest►

Pop and Ice July 18, 2009 at 11:40 PM  

Laser Tag is big for birthday parties in the Detroit area. But I think it's more appropriate for older kids.

I still think that family or family and a few friends birthday party at home is the best for a young child. If you get sucked into the big commercialism when they are young, the demands will just become more prodigious as they get older.

What I did was alternate. One year family only birthday, next year friends invited birthday. I think it worked well. And we limited the number of kids invited according to their birthday age and would only use a venue if it weren't absurdly expensive. Including the food, drinks, goody bags, and birthday cake.

Think about it. Do you really want to spend that much money on a birthday party? You could probably buy a Wii for what you spend on these parties. Or put the money in their college fund. Something to think about.

Pat July 19, 2009 at 10:18 AM  

We live in a rural area (also now an economically depressed area) of the California foothills, 30 to 45 minutes from any cool party places, so a lot of folks have picnic type parties in a lovely, creek-running-through-it park with a very nice and newish playground area. Others drive the 45 minutes to Roseville or Folsom to a bday-party type venue like the one you described. I always had simple parties at home for my 3 sons, and they are all now normal, happily married men with good jobs, two of whom have their own sons. But I understand the concept of "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they've seen Paree?"

Martha July 19, 2009 at 10:29 AM  

That looks like fun! My kids would love it too if we had anything like it in our area. We usually have beach parties - cheap, easy and they can invite as many kids as they want to! :-)

Taylor Clan July 19, 2009 at 10:30 AM  

Pump it up or Chuck E Cheese? Hmmm. Both of them nauseate me. Whatever happened to the parties our mothers threw for us; cake, ice cream and cute little games with prizes like candy bars? AND WE WERE THRILLED!

It's so exhausting that I only throw a party if I am specifically asked. Otherwise, we have cake and ice cream with cousins.

The perks of living by family.

MaBunny July 19, 2009 at 11:06 AM  

oh wow - there used to be a place, similar to pump it up. Its gone now and my baby never got to have a party there, but I've heard of a pump it up somewhere around here but have never been there as my baby is now too big:(
I like any place though where the kids have so much fun that they are too pooped to do anything but sleep when they come home!

Midwest Mommy July 19, 2009 at 11:13 AM  

Been there , done this :-)

anymommy July 19, 2009 at 4:51 PM  

I feel your pain. I've been too many, many parties at our jump and bounce. My kids adore it too.

Mandy July 19, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

I'm so enjoying the early stage where my child cannot talk and tell she wants parties at Pump It Up. They have there here too. Skating parties were all the rage when I was a kid. I celebrated at least three of mine there. I too miss just simple cake and ice cream parties. Now I hear fellow moms talking about gifts for the guests and grab bags?? What is that about? I thought thought the one having the birthday was the only one receiving gifts. Should guests get them just for showing up? Strange time we are in! I would be happy just ordering in a pizza and watching a Disney movie. I'm low-key like that though. Here's hoping that no ponies or full-size train rides are in our near future!!

Michelle July 19, 2009 at 9:34 PM  

Redhead Riter - Ok, someone has GOT to teach me how to make those cool symbols. I am so lost. I love that you do different things.

Carol Lynn - Oh I'm sure Laser Tag will make its way into the rotation. I'm SO with you that there are limits that kids need to have that so many aren't having so that they still have something to look forward to in life. I see so many who have done it all and seen it all and are bored with life as teenagers. And heck no! That's why we do birthday parties at home... and now parties we won in raffles ;)

Pat - I love the picnic idea for a party. So much fun! And you've described the challenge exactly. My theory is to do something unique that is not expensive (for me -- again, yay to raffles). Doing a chocolate dip party or a cookie decorating party is way fun and definitely on the cheap side.

Martha - Ahh, if only we had a beach near us to do a party there. I'm jealous!

Taylor Clan - Oh, I HATE Chuck E Cheese. We've only had three of those, and one we weren't able to attend. The last one wasn't so bad, but for a three year old who gets overstimulated, the first one was a nightmare for me.

MaBunny - I'm shocked that it went away. It's soooo popular here. I know people who looked into opening them, but all the franchises are taken to about an hour and a half away. It's amazing what takes off!

Midwest Mommy - And it sounds like you're glad to be on the other side of it!

Stacey - It's easier now that the wee ones sorta go and do their thing and I don't have to watch them constantly because they can self-regulate. But it was hard until about a year ago. But it sets a bad precendent for the wee ones' expectations! ;)

Mandy - Yep, every guest gets gifts, too. Yesterday, we were given Lightning McQueen shaped plates and a Cars set of kids' utensils for each child. That's almost what I spent on their gift, I'm guessing. I hate the ones where you just get stuff that breaks or is thrown away (by me) when we get home. I try to do things like ... the cookies we decorated at a party, the pizza dough we rolled out and the chefs hats we made vs buying yet MORE stuff that no one needs. And I'll step off my soapbox now.

I do have to say that Pump It Up rocks, and we do love the parties there. And Mister Man is still pushing to have his sixth birthday there!

Cookie July 19, 2009 at 11:06 PM  

UGH! I hate that place. But my kids LOVE it! Luckily they are starting to outgrow it. ;)

Melisa with one S July 20, 2009 at 6:40 AM  

My kids always begged to have their parties here or there (not at home as usual), but Jim always told them, "When you're older you'll appreciate all the hard work that your mother put into your birthday parties."

I don't know about that, but I do know that they are not scarred for life from not having a party in one of those god-awful annoying (to me) places. We didn't have "Pump it up"; we had Discovery Zone, etc. Blah.

Michelle July 20, 2009 at 10:31 PM  

Cookie - So what's the next big thing as they grow out of Pump It Up?

Melisa - Ahh, I love having other mean parents are friends. We've always had fun with the home one, but my husband HATES the cleanup. But he's not in charge. Hahaha! :)

Jack July 21, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

We at PUMP IT UP in Vernon Hills are out here listening and appreciate all your feedback! Send us an email at and we can set something up for you for this October and make sure your first party you're hosting here is special!

Jack Goldberg
General Manager
Pump It Up - Vernon Hills

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