Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pittsburgh Spotlight: Toys 2 Try

Each year since Leo was born, we've had a birthday party in Pittsburgh. When Zoe came along we made it a joint birthday party. Well, this year Leo really wanted to celebrate in Philly AND in Pittsburgh, so we had a Philly party on Leo's birthday and for Zoe's birthday (well, once we got home from camping) we headed to Pittsburgh to celebrate with friends and family there. 

Our birthday parties up until now have been pretty formulaic - rent pavilion at park, invite friends, bring assorted snacks and drinks, let kids play at playground, and eat cake. It's fairly easy, low key, and fun for both kids and adults. Unfortunately this year, with my father's passing, I was not in the headspace to reserve a pavilion in advance. When I finally realized I hadn't done that this year, they were all booked up. biggie...we will just have it at my mom's house. She has a big yard and we can replicate our formula there. So that was the new plan. Until we saw the forecast - thunderstorms were predicted all day. 

At this point the party was in just a couple of days...we were faced with a lot more cleaning/childproofing than anticipated to move the party inside - but even if we did get the house ready - what the heck were we going to do with a dozen kids between the ages of 1 and 9 in my mother's living room?!?!  I was starting to panic - this is where Toys 2 Try entered. 

I had visited Toys 2 Try at their former location a couple of years ago and had a good time. It's a great play space combined with a toy store (and some of the toys for sale are incorporated in the play space - hence the name). I checked out their website and they had a reasonably priced party package that included pizza and juice for the kids -  I thought I'd give them a call on the off chance they had availability. 

Luckily they did! I booked it and sent a note to our guests about the change of plans. I was still a bit nervous since I hadn't seen their new space and had never done a "package birthday party" before. The play space is owned and managed by a sweet family and they were super helpful both leading up to and the day of the party. I asked if we could bring additional food/snack and at extra pizzas to the order to feed the adults and they were very accommodating. When we showed up the day of the party everything went off without a hitch!

The space was large and well designed. There were active spaces and more mellow spaces. Not pictured are the upstairs areas which included a sandbox, kitchen/shopping area and arts and crafts table. Downstairs were two separate rooms for climbing and tumbling.

The outdoor space was large and generally awesome. There are also picnic tables out there which gave the adults some space to spread out and chat (there are still more adults than kids at our parties). Inside there is a long table that they set up for the kids to eat pizza/cake/etc.

The couple who own the space and their daughter were all on hand and took care of everything from decorating, to handing out pizza slices to clean up. I do still really like DIY parties, but it was really nice to just enjoy the party for once. They even planned an activity (making marshmallow snowmen) but the kids were having so much fun playing that we skipped it. Everyone in attendance seemed to have a good time and I was shocked at how easy and affordable it was to throw together a party at the last minute.

And of course, as always, jb and I teamed up on the cake.  jb baked the cake itself and whipped up the icing, and I decorated it (Thank you, Pintrest) - which was difficult in the heat and humidity. Each bit of icing I added seems to melt off immediately...but it turned out ok considering. At least the 3 year old of honor was impressed, and that's all that mattered, really. 

Toys 2 Try was the perfect host for our party - and I realize we don't even live in Pittsburgh, and only a few of our readers do, but if you have the opportunity to check them out - either for a party or just for a playdate (you can pack a lunch and meet friends there), you totally should. (No we didn't get a discount or anything for this post - we really just had a fantastic experience.) And happy birthday Zoe!

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