When it comes to party places, there are literally an endless supply of options! Even the most unlikely places offer party packages for little ones so narrowing that choice down to one can be tough. In the past few years we have been to an unbelievable amount of jumping, bouncing and bowling parties with a few house parties sprinkled in for good measure! I decided to try something a little different especially since her last party was a jumping party. Once I realized our local build-a-bear offered VIP private parties I was sold! As with all party options there are always pros and cons and I'll share my experience below.
Firstly and most importantly if you are a Costco member you might be able to get an awesome deal at build-a-bear. This is because Costco frequently runs promotions on build-a-bear gift cards with as much as 30% savings. Build-a-bear accepts these gift cards as payment for their party packages so you can walk away with a great deal!
The way the party is set up, each child gets a stuffed animal of their choice to take home. This means the favor is built into the party so that's one less thing to worry about. Of course if you are a DIY addict like myself and you thrive on making your own favors then you may or may not consider that to be a benefit. One thing about the stuffed toys as favors is that they are more likely to actually be used and enjoyed for years to come compared to favor bags or other tokens that have a drastically shorter life span.
The VIP party is great because it grants you access to the store at a time when it would normally be closed. Its pretty cool having the entire store to yourself, the kids had a blast with their private shopping experience.
If you have ever been to a build-a-bear workshop then you probably know the process of involves choosing a 'furry friend', giving them a name, adding a sound and then bringing them to life by putting a heart inside them before adding the stuffing. Birthday parties are extra sweet because each person gets two hearts and they all make a wish on the second heart and all those hearts go inside the birthday girls bear! Such a sweet moment. My daughter loves the fact that her bear has all those extra hearts inside with all her friends good wishes.
As much as we loved our build-a-bear experience there are some downsides to keep in mind. I nearly didn't book a party with them because of some of these but I'm so glad I planned around them because it all worked out well.
Firstly most Build-a-bear workshops are located in malls and do not have party rooms. This means the party takes place in store, which can be chaotic if there are other shoppers basically crashing through your party. The good thing is most stores offer the VIP option so you can plan the party at a time before or after regular business hours.
As a result of the lack of party rooms there is no place to eat or cut a cake; this essentially requires you to plan an "after party" somewhere else in the mall or close by, for food and drinks. After looking online to see what other parents did for their "after party" I decided it was simpler to just head upstairs to the food court and enjoy the irresistible Hot Dog on a stick! I printed out a menu and took orders during the party so we could have the food hot and ready right on time. Everything on their menu is delicious!!
Having to split the party between two places makes it tricky to incorporate a cake since transporting it can be a hassle and slicing and serving it can get messy. I thought about just giving each child a cupcake to take home but then decided to try mini pies instead. The pies were a huge hit and I'll be posting about it soon.
One final point is that the bear options and accessories that each child gets all depend on the party package you choose. There is a big difference between the lowest and highest packages. The base package allows each child to choose between a very limited number of bears and then they get a t-shirt to go with it. The highest package allows them to select any bear in the store, add a sound, choose one clothing item, a pair of shoes and a backpack. The children had the most fun choosing outfits and shoes so I would definitely recommend a higher package combined with a smaller group of children.