Chicago Suburban Family


Special Occasions Party Planner

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Unforgettable events begin long before the guests arrive

Parties By the Pros:

  • Crystal Lake Park District – LEARN MORE
  • Cantigny Weddings in 2018
  • Mon Ami Gabi
  • Fleetwood Roller Rink – LEARN MORE
  • Chateau Orleans Banquets

Tips for Throwing an Engagement Party

23 Winter Birthday Party Ideas

Party Places:

  • Fleetwood Roller Rink – LEARN MORE
  • Safari Land ~ Let Your Adventure Begin!
  • Scuba Emporium
  • Oak Brook Park District
  • Rock ‘n’ Kids


Unforgettable events begin long before the guests arrive.

By Sherry Wells

Every special event — from a wedding, quinceañera, family reunion, to a milestone birthday celebration — starts with a wish to bring together the people you love in celebration of life’s most precious moments.

Whether a small gathering or a large soiree for a couple of hundred guests, a successful party will be remembered for years. The basics of party planning are the same regardless of the size of the guest list.  Just be realistic, make a plan and stick to it. Try to get as much done prior to the day of the event as possible. We’ve put together some helpful advice about how to create a memorable event with unforgettable flair.

Being a good host means planning well and considering the variables involved in having a party: the reason for the celebration, the size of the event, the venue, the budget, the time of year and more.  Allow adequate time for planning. Many event planners suggest three months (for events other than weddings) as optimal, but many hosts work with less.

The date of the party is usually the first decision made. Next, consider the person or people for whom the party is being given and the demographics of the guests. Knowing who is coming to the party affects everything from the types of dinnerware, the music and the seating.

Everyone works on a budget. Not all of us have the resources and time to hire wedding planners and party organizers to celebrate important days of your lives.  Since we often think of the celebration as synonymous with splurging, these special occasions can feel challenged. After all, it’s hard to enjoy yourself when all you can think about is the amount of money a party or wedding planner is charging you. You don’t have to skimp on an anniversary, birthday, engagement or any other special days just because you are on a budget.

It’s important to get the location of the party set because the setup, timeline, flow, decor and more can be dependent on the space. If you’re going to have a party and it’s not going to be in your home, then you have to find a venue.

If the venue presents safety issues, hire a professional — a lifeguard for a pool party or an off-duty police officer for security — to ensure the safety and security of guests. Reducing risk is a worthwhile investment.

Having a party at home eliminates the cost of renting a space, but there are advantages to having your party away from home. There is no lengthy at-home preparation, house cleaning,  yard work or post-party cleanup. When it’s over, you can just walk away.

Think about decorations and themes after selecting the venue. Some decorative items may be included with the rental, while at other places you may need to bring in flowers and decorations specific to your plan. If it’s a theme party, keep the motif in mind when selecting a venue and assessing decor.

Inspiration can be found anywhere. You can find decorative ideas on websites like Pinterest. But you should focus on what makes sense for the occasion and the interests of the person the party is for.

There are several DIY party ideas and accessories available on the internet that will help you celebrate that special occasion with much gusto and style. Celebrating a special day- be it your own wedding, engagement, throwing the best birthday bash, or a theme party, it is rather a challenging and exciting time, that churns up your creative juices that can leave one exhausted and confused. Especially when one desires to be innovative and wishes to throw a party that leaves the guests spell bounded.

There are several websites that provide amazing Party Loot Bags and accessories that are affordable and unique.

If food is a priority and your budget allows, party planners suggest hiring a good caterer to cut down on a host’s prep time and allow them to enjoy the event. Event planners work on reduced costs and can get better prices with vendors, so hiring an event planner or caterer may save you money. Most venues have a list of event planners they’ve worked with and can recommend.

Choose the caterer which follows your budget and try to set the menu accordingly. It is really important to stay within your budget because you have many other things to consider as well.

Food choices will vary according to the age and tastes of the guests. Older guests may prefer more traditional fare and modes of serving, while younger guests respond to interactive food stations that involve more decision-making, such as building their own burger and choosing their own toppings.

Hiring food and drink servers frees a host to mingle with guests and enjoy the festivities. If you can’t afford a service staff, recruit family members or college students to tend bar or serve.

Another option is a self-serve buffet, which just needs to be refreshed periodically, and limit the drinks offered to options that don’t have to be made on the spot, such as punch, beer, wine and premixed cocktails.

Any entertainment you choose should be appropriate to the occasion and the environment and not compete with it.

Why not pump up the fun and up the ante with an engaging interactive party activity. Not only with this give your celebration a unique twist beyond just drinks and a bite to eat, but also creates great social interaction between your guests. Quick and simple competitions help generate fun competitive rivalry and a guarantee of a memorable celebration for all involved!

As obvious as this one sounds, be sure to enjoy yourself. A well organized party offers a great way to catch up, celebrate and share quality time with family and friends.

Parties By the Pros…

Crystal Lake Park District
How can we help make your party or event a success? Crystal Lake Park District community rooms and facilities provide a unique backdrop for any family party or special event. Additionally, most facilities offer breathtaking views of our parks and beaches. We can accommodate groups of any size, 10 to 200. Our venues suit any style of event, casual to elegant. For more information call 815-459-0680. .

Cantigny Weddings in 2018
Wedding memories you’ll cherish forever begin at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, the beautiful 500-acre former estate of Colonel Robert R. McCormick. Choose from four beautiful garden settings for ceremonies and three elegant reception venues including the new-for-2018 Woodside Pavilion at Cantigny Golf. Incentives are available as we fill out our 2018 bridal calendar. Contact our professional planners at or 630-260-8145. For details, visit

Mon Ami Gabi
Planning a special event? Our traditional French bistro is perfect for your next private party, business gathering or special event. Mon Ami Gabi is pleased to accommodate parties in our two private rooms and dining area (up to 250 guests). Available seven days a week for lunch, dinner and breakfast meetings, choose the cozy, always-accommodating Mon Ami Gabi. Contact Jessica Cavanah to inquire: or call 630-472-1900.

Fleetwood Roller Rink
Fleetwood Roller Rink (established 1957). hosts public skating, birthday parties (our specialty) privates and fundraisers. Is there a more exciting way to celebrate an occasion We certainly can’t think of any! If you have a date in mind just call and let us know. We’ll check availability and begin to put your party plan in motion. Raise big money for your organization and have fun too! Parties available 7 days a week! Call (708) 458-0300 for more info. Check for our ongoing specials and public skating times .

Chateau Orleans Banquets
Chateau Orleans Banquets is the elegant banquet hall directly attached to Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe in Darien. Not only does it make the perfect destination for weddings, it also can accommodate business meetings, special events, private functions and so much more. The room which can hold up to 300 people can also be divided into different sizes as well to accommodate parties of any size! The room features a spacious dance floor, a stage and a bar. The food is exclusively provided by Chuck’s and the menu offers a wide array of choices for you and your guests. Be sure to take advantage of our renovated Gazebo which makes for a perfect picture spot in the spring and summer! For booking and pricing contact our Banquet Managers at 331-431-4000 or visit our website at for more information.

Tips for Throwing an Engagement Party

Invitations & Guest List.
A formal, printed invite is not required. If you need to cut your budget somewhere, this might be the place to do it, especially if your guest list is small. Social media works just fine for this casual get together. Don’t invite anyone that won’t be invited to the wedding. If the couple hasn’t set their wedding guest list, stick to very close friends and family, just to besafe.

Decor doesn’t need to be a budget-buster.Share the bride and groom’s love for each other with a photo board and a welcome sign in the entryway to set the tone for the event. Personalize your party by adding the happy couple’s monograms to various areas around the party. Add some festive color to each table. Start with a pretty jar of colorful flowers, and then attach a cluster of bright balloons.

No one will expect games at an engagement party. However, you can prepare a few activities to break out in case of emergencies.Play bar-style trivia games about the couple’s love story. Create your own engagement-themed photo booth props to get people into the mood! You don’t necessarily have to have a photo booth, either… once guests have a glass or two of wine, they’ll start using them in all of their iPhone snapshots.

Food & Drink.
Make sure to set a party time that coordinates well with your budget. If you only want to serve small bites, don’t host the event around a meal time. Creative and affordable meals can be things like a baked potato bar with green salad, spaghetti and meatballs, hamburgers and munchies, or chili and cornbread. Each of these things can be easily prepared for a crowd ahead of time.

If you want to serve alcohol, keep it simple amd stick to beer and wine. Or, set up a mimosa bar – guests can pick their poison by adding a variety of different juices and fruits to their champagne

Give your desserts a dash of custom appeal by making donut diamond rings. Just print out diamond shapes and add edible glitter to create your very own “rings.” (See photo.)

Toasts & Gifts.
Toasts are not as expected at an engagement party as they are at a shower or rehearsal dinner. However, the host can kick off the th eparty with a welcome toast to the couple and guests.

Guests shouldn’t feel obligated to bring a gift for the couple, but some people don’t like to come empty-handed. Even if there are many gifts, don’t make time to open them the way you would at a shower. Have the couple simply take whatever was given to them at the end of the night.

23 Winter Birthday Party Ideas

By Rhonda Franz

Children with winter birthdays might have the good fortune of sharing their special day with classmates, but they also get the short end of the stick when it comes to outdoor activities. If party guests trek over snow and ice to help celebrate, reward them with a spectacular time. Don  your hats, your coats, and your sense of adventure.

Games & Such…If It Snows

  • Snow Angel Competition. Indicate on the invitation that party guests should dress for the outdoors. Divide the party into two teams and see how many snow angels each group can make on their side of the yard for a designated amount of time.
  • Snow Man Creation Competition. Provide a variety of accessories for kids to use as they build their snowman. Items include winter coats and scarves, hats, rocks, sticks. Adults and siblings judge snowman appearance on elements including speed of construction, creativity, use of materials, largest, etc.
  • Snowy Day Obstacle Course. Set up an obstacle course with:Balance beam walk (line is drawn in the snow where children have to walk as if they were on a balance beam);
    Somersault station: do a somersault in the snow while wearing bulky coats and hats;
    Angels obstacle: make three snow angels on the ground before running to the next obstacle;
    Snowball bounce: make a snowball and try and shoot it through a basketball hoop or in the center of a hula hoop laid on the ground;
    Sled station: push yourself on a sled (while lying on stomach and using hands)

Snow a No-Show? No Problem

  • Paper Snowball Fight. Wad scrap paper or newspaper into snowball-sized balls (about ten balls per child invited), and put in a box or bucket. Use a large space outdoors, or indoors with furniture moved aside. Line up chairs or boxes across the room to create a barrier and scatter the paper snowballs, about half on each side. Divide kids into two teams. For three to four minutes, let kids throw snowballs back and forth over the barrier. Whichever team ends up with the fewest snowballs on their side wins the game.
  • Winter Bingo. Have popcorn and hot chocolate available during the game. Search online for age-appropriate “winter bingo game printable” and print out on card stock. Make sure to have enough game cards for each participant, and don’t forget to print and cut the game cards out ahead of time, too. Save these game cards in a gallon-size zipper storage bag for future snow days.

Party Activities

  • Play a game of Twister with children wearing all their winter accessories: hats, scarves, and mittens.
  • With adult supervision, let children follow directions for making a cup of hot chocolate—while wearing mittens.
  • For younger children, a read aloud from The Snowy Day or The Polar Express.
  • Serve popcorn and show winter-themed movie.

Snack/Treat Ideas

  1. Have kids thread large marshmallows on short kabob sticks.
  2. Serve apple cider with cinnamon sticks.
  3. Let the guests help make snow candy. Jobs include gathering the snow, mixing syrup or sugar on the stove with supervision, and pouring in the snow.
  4. Cut angel food cake cut into large cubes to look like blocks of ice.
  5. Let party guests make snowmen using large marshmallows, pretzel sticks for arms, miniature peanut butter cups and cookies for hats, and licorice pieces for faces.
  6. Serve up winter snow cone from snow outside and grenadine syrup or snow cone syrup.
  7. Pass around apple slices with small bowls of caramel dip.
  8. Hot chocolate bar. Provide guests with a variety of toppings to customize their hot chocolate with a variety of choices: whip cream, sprinkles, and ground cinnamon.

For the Goodie Bag

  1. White cake pops
  2. Craft kit for children to make their own snowman at home. Include round construction paper pieces for the body, and craft materials for face, hat, buttons, and arms.
  3. Include a kit in zipper storage bag for kids to make an edible snowman at home (just like the one they made at the party).
  4. White gumballs.
  5. Cocoa packets & small mugs.
  6. A pair of mittens or gloves.

* Make sure you let parents know what movie you will be showing at the party ahead of time.

Party Places…

Fleetwood Roller Rink
Fleetwood Roller Rink (established 1957) is a family owned business. Our venue hosts public skating, birthday parties (our specialty) privates and fundraisers. We promote family fun for all ages plus for “health sake, roller skate” Come visit us and join in our fun.  Instruction available every Saturday at 1 pm   Check for our ongoing specials and public skating times .

Safari Land ~ Let Your Adventure Begin!
Safari Land has everything you need for a complete adventure. Whether it’s bowling, video games, rollercoaster, kiddie carts, food or other fun, Safari Land is the place for your party. Come ride the tiger terror…take a spin in our 360 degree, full-motion, 3D flight simulator,…play in our soft play area, or throw some strikes during cosmic bowling. Contact us today for additional event information and to book your next adventure of a lifetime. 701 W. North Avenue, Villa Park. 630-530-4649. Visit .

Scuba Emporium
Back in 1974 when Patrick Hammer opened his first SCUBA STORE , in the local area, many people thought he was nuts. Today after tens of thousands of certifications, and earning the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) highest rating of Platinum Course Director, he is still overseeing the day to day task at SCUBA EMPORIUM, a PADI Career Development Center. Located at 16336 S. 104th Ave. in Orland Park. For young adventurers, the Bubblemaker Party is an introduction to the thrill of breathing underwater and a unique and exciting party idea! For information about scuba, snorkel and swim lessons and party options, call 708 – 226-1614, or visit: .

Oak Brook Park District
Book your next party or special event at Oak Brook Park District. Our new Inclusive Family Locker Room is now available! This innovative new feature makes it easier for families to enjoy all the benefits of Oak Brook Park District’s nationally recognized and award-winning facilities. The public community space features lockers, suit dryers, and sinks. Families enjoy access to private dry changing areas and rooms fully equipped with showers and bathrooms! The fully accessible facility ensures families that have children with special needs or adults that require the assistance of home health aides can access to the very best in park and recreational opportunities. Visit for more info.

Rock ‘n’ Kids
Kid Rock ‘n’ Roll parties really keep the beat! Our interactive parties are filled with music, dance, instruments, props, creative play, and fun! Our energetic party leaders will bring the music entertainment to your indoor or outdoor location. Get your camera ready for our musical parade, parachute games, the freeze dance, a balloon celebration and much more! Our parties are for 1-6 year olds. Sing, dance and play the Kid Rock way! / 847-961-6584.


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