I used to love to plan and throw my own children’s birthday parties; all from scratch and personalized, from the invitations to the photo thank-you cards that featured each little guest.
By Annette McLoughlin
I used to love to plan and throw my own children’s birthday parties; all from scratch and personalized, from the invitations to the photo thank-you cards that featured each little guest. It was a labor-intensive labor of love and I spent the days leading up to the epic events running around and fretting about the weather, the crafts, and the quality of the goodie bag.
And I was confident that my Martha Stewart gigs were a success until the year a precocious (and never again invited) little guest walked up to me and said, “I’m bored. I want to go home.” Disillusioned, I stopped throwing the homey-crafty birthday parties and gave in to a high-octane and uninspired menu of play gym/jumpy castle/magician/balloon guy affairs. I resigned myself to the post-idyllic birthday party years. Sigh.
Well I’m happy to now say move over Leapin’ Lizards! Parents, break out your good cameras, the memorable birthday party is back! We have someone in town to help us turn back the clock and create charming, photogenic celebrations for us!
Julie Ontaneda of My Classic Party LLC is a working mother of two young children who was surprised to discover, when her children became old enough to attend birthday parties, that most of those parties lacked personalization. “My son is 5 and my daughter is 3½. They’d get invited to parties at gyms that were all the same and impersonal.”
Julie’s own busy life as a working mom meant that she was able to appreciate first-hand the challenge in putting together a party and the lure of the play gym party package. She saw an opportunity to market traditional and classic options for these important events. “I thought about how parties used to be and thought there was a need … parents are busy and don’t necessarily have the time to do all the running around and planning.”
She carved time out of her own busy life to nurture the concept and create a party planning business. “I started to work on it at night after my kids were in bed. I did the research, created a website, and launched it in December at the Mistletoe Magic celebration in town.” And after a breathtaking start of multiple, back-to-back parties, she’s working at a slower, steadier tempo, giving her the time to learn and grow her new business at a moderate pace.
Julie’s career in banking is a complement to her creative spirit and helps to round out her entrepreneurial capabilities. “My job has helped me in terms of working with clients, improving my timing and streamlining my costs.” Since a lot of party planning is last minute, good timing is vital in this business.
A business background also helped Julie structure an organized tier of options for people considering hiring My Classic Party to host an event. “I can get as involved or not as people want.” There are three packages and three levels of involvement. The most minimal, “Sample of Cake,” offers personalized paper goods only — invites, cupcake toppers, banners and decorations to go with a theme. The middle package, “Piece of Cake,” includes the full planning of activities, the planning of the menu, and the paper and décor. “Icing on the Cake” includes everything in the first two levels as well as the actual, physical set-up of the party. Julie is never involved in the hands-on management of the party itself, however, at any level. She returns at the end to pick up any rental goods.
Julie welcomes theme requests and offers her own ideas to those who want guidance. Past themes have included butterfly gardens and the Disney Planes movie. “For the Planes party we rented a movie screen and showed the movie in an airplane-like setting complete with trays for “airplane food.” Her next party promises to be a gas… “A hot air balloon theme at Morgan’s. We’re making it like a giant photo booth. One wall will be covered in blue fabric (sky,) there’s going to be a big basket, and a giant balloon … kids will pose in it and take the pictures home.”
Her parties can be customized to meet a budget and can also span any age. “I have a shower coming up and for Halloween, I did a teen party,” she noted.
Julie’s message to prospective party hosts: Don’t be put off by the fancy sound of a party planner. “People think party planners are going to be more expensive than the play gym party, but they’re generally not, so compare prices, and don’t be afraid to try something new!”
Don’t be afraid to add My Classic Party to your list of options to pursue when you’re ready to host a party. For more information, visit myclassicparty .com.