IBJOpinion

WEB REVIEW: Out of kid party ideas? How to skip Chuck E. Cheese

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Jim Cota

With four young kids at home, we’ve certainly thrown and attended our fair share of birthday parties. While my wife seems to have some sort of sixth sense for identifying a theme the kids will enjoy, I’d likely be at a total loss if left on my own. I suspect there are others like me out there, and this suspicion was confirmed this weekend at—you guessed it—a birthday party for a 5-year-old.

The theme was “puppy party.” All the attendees were to adopt and take home a small stuffed puppy. The invitation was classic: It mentioned that all the guests would have the opportunity to adopt a puppy, followed by a note to parents: “Don’t be alarmed, it’s not a real puppy.” Without that note, attendance would have surely suffered.

The hostess had prepared adoption papers for all, gave each puppy its own blanket, treats and housing to carry it home. She even had her husband, an animal lover in his own right, play the role of veterinarian, allowing each puppy to have a thorough checkup before its adoption was final.

It was a great idea, fairly simply accomplished, and it went over great with all the girls.

While we were there, I overheard a discussion about the idea for the party.

“I got the idea from a website,” she said, “called BirthdayPartyIdeas.com. It’s full of ideas for parties of all kinds, for all ages. And the best thing about it is that the ideas come from people who use the site, so no one is trying to sell you anything.”

Well, with an endorsement like that, I had to follow up.

The site certainly has some things going for it. Even a cursory glance will tell you there are thousands of party ideas here, ranging from little kids to adults, truly covering everything from cradle to octogenarians and beyond. The site was launched by Brad Maxwell in 1999 and has been built to become “the largest collection of party ideas in the world,” a statistic that would be exceedingly difficult to prove or disprove. The team solicits ideas from readers and compiles them into a growing database. The ideas are generally theme- or age-based, and the database contains ideas regarding format, activities, decorating, games, food and invitations. You can either submit brand new ideas (if there are any new ideas out there) or add your own twist to an existing idea.

Not all ideas are created equal, of course. So each month, the Birthday Party Ideas team selects a winner for the best idea submitted, an honor they’ve been bestowing every month for the last 10 years. Perhaps the easiest way to find a great idea is to just peruse this list of winners.

It doesn’t cost anything to search the database or use any of the site features, and it’s also free to submit your own ideas. The site appears to survive on revenue from advertising, including Google and banner ads, which is nice for anyone trying to find an idea fast without having to create an account or become a member.

As a result, however, the owners haven’t had much of an opportunity to devote resources to site design or usability. The party ideas are good, but reading through three pages of text that hasn’t been formatted and offers no line breaks can begin to feel like a word search. This deficiency leaves the door open to competitors. Even some small attention to detail could make dramatic improvements to the site design and make the whole thing easier to use.

Still, the success of this site rides on the strength of the database and the ability of parents to find workable ideas for successful parties. If those parents are as busy as we seem to be, they’re likely doing their searching at the last minute. Suffering through bad graphic design is a small price to pay to find a great idea and create a successful event.•
__________

Cota is creative director of Rare Bird Inc., a full-service advertising agency specializing in the use of new technologies. His column appears monthly. He can be reached at jim@rarebirdinc.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

ADVERTISEMENT