Tasked with planning an unforgettable birthday party for a 13 year old girl, the EncinoMom team started kicking ideas around. We wanted to make it memorable and fun. It was going to be held on the actual birthday which was a Tuesday this year. The kids get out of school early on Tuesdays, so the guest list was confined to girls from school in order to take advantage of the extra time on a week night. This Summer birthday party is usually pool or beach themed, but with school starting earlier and earlier each year, we decided to use the novelty of an after school soireé to our advantage.
It started with a Limo ride! The girls were picked up from school in style by a black stretch limo from G & A Limousine Service. Stocked with sodas and sparkling water (the girls all still ordered beverages when they were whisked through the drive through at Taco Bell) there was an air of excitement from the moment the car arrived. The sheer delight of being in the car without any parents and getting to order whatever they wanted at the drive thru was perceived as a big treat! The parents followed the limo to the various locations with cell phone access to the girls (and the driver) and were on hand to doll out cash and credit card payments as needed along the way.
The logistics at the drive thru were somewhat comical due to a car slipping between the parent car and the limo and engendering quite a bit of confusion for the Taco Bell crew who had been asked to “bill us for our order and the car behind us.” It was easy to sort out, but none the less, it was pretty funny.
Over the course of party planning discussions, we discovered that our Birthday girl had recently adopted a dog from the Best Friends Animal shelter in Mission Hills, California and that the girls on the guest list also had close ties to dogs. Some girls have dogs, others foster animals, volunteer, or care for pets as pet sitters or dog walkers. One girl is even planning to become a veterinarian someday. Enter The Make It Count Project.
I had just been to a meeting where I was introduced to Amy Brown and her company which brings charitable acts to the goody bag. I absolutely loved the idea and when I explored her website, I discovered a couple of options that fit our scheme perfectly! The idea is that party guests actually participate in creating the party favors which are then donated to charity and guests go home with a good feeling and a small token of appreciation. Taking stock of the number of nail polishes and lip glosses that clutter the shelves of tween aged girls’ rooms, it didn’t take more than a minute to decide.
When I pitched the idea to the team, the Birthday Girl was immediately onboard and knew exactly where she wanted to donate the dog toys that her guests would assemble. There are several choices provided by Amy’s company, including stuffed animals to create and donate to a Children’s Hospital (another choice, close to our hearts). I was thrilled that the concept was met by so much enthusiasm and hope that you are inspired to check it out because this idea is so rich!
It was decided the next stop for the rolling party would be a shady park located between the Taco Bell near school and Best Friends Animal Shelter where Toby was rescued just a month prior to the party. When the girls arrived at the park, the table was set with a place for each of them to create their own dog toy. There were instructions in the box along with an example (shown above).
The toys were so cute, some of the girls wanted to keep them for their own pets. However, when they saw the party favor they would each receive for their participation, there were no hold outs.
The only skill required to complete the toys was a little commitment and the ability to braid. For 13 year old girls, this turned out to be right in line with their interests and abilities.
Also included in the box was a note to the Birthday Girl and the special gift of a dog blanket for her to keep for Toby. I’m not sure if that is a regular part of the service, but it was the perfect touch – extremely thoughtful and thoroughly classy.
Next the girls would pile back into the limo and head up to the Best Friends Animal Society Shelter while the parents would gather the box of dog toys and toss the fall out from Taco Bell in the trash. Easiest party clean up in the history of parties AND no heroic pre-party cleaning sessions or set up at home! At the shelter the girls were met by the Manager, Michael Carmen and volunteers who not only gave them a tour, but allowed the girls to individually deliver their gifts to the grateful dogs.
We love this party concept because there are so many winners! For the parents, there is very little prep and the cost is about the same as a swim party at home. There were a few phone calls to make, letting the shelter know of the planned visit and getting permission to bring the donation, arranging for the limo and creating an ordered map with the addresses and phone numbers of all locations, including the guests’ drop off destinations. Minimal set up and clean up at the park, with the added benefit of no mess at the house when the party was over. Cost for the limo for 3 hours was $199 (+ gratuity of 20% or more), party favors/project about $100 (minimum, depends on the number of guests) plus “catering” by Taco Bell $55.
The Birthday Girl turning 13 years old gets to be the bell of the ball! Having your friends picked up from school in a Limo is a great privilege. This group of girls excitedly dressed up for school on the day of the party and brought shorts to change into in the car while on their way to the park. The had the freedom to act like kids, to act like adults, to have some freedom, play their music, eat junk food and then nurture the community by doing something selfless. The emotions visible in these girls while they visited the shelter were strong and kind. You could feel their hearts swell as they had the opportunity to contribute something meaningful.
Then of course, the community benefits by the ripple effect from the good will demonstrated by the girls’ act of charity. The shelter benefits from additional awareness and the dogs, the dogs feel the love and attention that they so deserve. I’m so appreciative of all of the components and people that came together to execute this party plan, but I’m especially delighted by the heart and mind of Amy Brown and her company The Make It Count Project. It’s this kind of inspired entrepreneur that is making the world a better place for all of us.