Well, our little friend Willow had different plans. When she turned four, she told her mom she wanted a Build-a-Bear party. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Build-a-Bear lets you make your very own, reasonably priced stuffed bear and then completely drains your wallet on every bear dress, shoe, hat and accessory known to man. It's fairly genius actually. Parents see the $10 bear hanging right near the entrance. They innocently assume it's harmless, affordable fun. And then they get sucked further into the store and start to notice the alarming assortment of accessories that their child will surely be begging for as soon as the Build-a-Bear has been given life.
Did I say alarming? Yes. These bears have completely put Barbie to shame. There are coats, hats, shoes and glasses for every occasion. There are licensed Princess items, Girl Scout outfits and cheerleading uniforms for various professional sports teams. Oh, and underwear. $4 per pair, teddy bear underwear. Good grief.
Back to the party. So our little friend Willow wanted a Build-a-Bear party. The closest store is a good 2.5 hour drive from our neck of the woods. No problem. Her mom arranged transportation, issued invitations a good three months in advance and put the wheels in motion to make this Build-a-Bear party happen!
This Build-a-Bear store (Excuse me. "Workshop") just happened to be in the BEST mall I have been to in ages. It was huge and had just about every store you could possibly imagine. It was like Disneyland for moms. And here I was, at the most fabulous mall, surrounded by 3-4 year olds on a pilgramage to Build-a-Bear. This is not the "joy" part for today's post.
Turns out the mall was like an amusement park for kids too. The kiddie play area was twice the size of the one at our little mall at home. There was the food court where we had gigantic pizza slices, followed by a Tinkerbell cake large enough to feed an army. The birthday girl opened her presents and we were off to take in the sights. First stop: The Carousel. Yes, a carousel!! Our local mall has a photo booth. This one has a carousel! Then we hit the Lego store and the Disney store and finally, Build-a-Bear.
I must admit I was a little skeptical about the practicality of throwing a birthday party that required 5- hours of round trip travel. I doubted that a big-city mall could provide much amusement for a group of pre-school aged children. Honestly, I questioned the sanity of Willow's generous, loving mother to even attempt this monumental feat of a birthday party.
But here is the final verdict.
When someone asked my 4-year old where she went for this birthday party, she replied without missing a beat, "Disneyland."
Oh, and if you need birthday gift ideas for our soon-to-be 5-year old, that poor little bear is going to need some accessories.