A Week-long Celebration!

I celebrated a birthday in July.  My next milestone birthday is a few years away, but I still wanted to do something special.  I had lots of theme, venue, and activity ideas, but couldn’t settle on one idea for one night (or weekend for that matter).  Instead, I decided to compile my ideas into a week-long birthday celebration!  The idea was brilliant (if I do say so myself!).  This allowed me to 1) visit some of my favorite locations, 2) visit new locations, 3) spend different nights with different friends (never a dull moment), and 4) select activities of varied price points in consideration of my guests pockets.  My guests and I had a fabulous time, and look forward to next year’s week-long birthday celebration!

Week-long birthday celebration agenda

Day 1 –  Dinner at Lalo’s

Activity:  Secret Message:  Take a stack of note cards and write an odd statement, Place one note card under each of the guests’ plates. As they are seated, ask each guest to read their own note card silently. Explain that throughout the meal, they must at some point say their secret message. To win, a guest must make it through the meal, say their message once, and not get caught.

Day 2 – Chocolate tasting at Chocolat du Bouchard

Activity:  None needed.  There’s chocolate!

Day 3 – Wine tasting & dinner at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

Activity:  None needed.  There’s wine!

Day 4 – Activity:  Thursday Night Out Downtown Oak Park

Day 5 – Dinner at Maya Del Sol

Activity – Live music (Found out the live music segment is on siesta the rest of the summer.  But that’s okay.  Had a great time anyway!)

Day 6 (day) – Activity:  Drink while you paint a picture at Arts N Spirits

Day 6 (evening) – Activity:  Glow in the dark Miniature golf at Putting Edge

Day 7 – Brunch at Chicago Chicken & Waffles

Activity:  None.  It’s brunch – just relax and enjoy great food and great company!

How did you celebrate your birthday this year?


Experts Share Tips after Bounce House Blows Away — article from Special Events

Having a Bounce House at your child’s birthday party?  The article Experts Share Tips after Bounce House Blows Away, from Special Events, is a must read!

image from Special Events -- A bounce house from China Inflatables Inc.

The inflatables industry is in the hot seat after an Arizona girl received a concussion last week when what her family described as a “microburst” of wind blew the bounce house she and a friend were playing in onto the roof of a house 100 feet away.

Some in the industry question why the bounce operator allowed the unit to operate that day when the day prior, the National Weather Service predicted winds in the area of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.

“Under no circumstances should an inflatable be set up when the wind speed is over 15 mph,” Michael Solaimani, owner of Jump for Joy Moonwalks of Richmond, Va., tells Special Events.

“In an inflatable with a covered roof, the air temperature can be warmer inside than it is outside the inflatable,” Solaimani explains. “When a burst of cold air is blown in, you get a ‘hot air balloon’ effect. This will give an inflatable an instant lift if there is enough temperature difference between the outside and inside air temperatures. These are all things that we take into consideration when we purchase our inflatables as well as when we are setting them up.”


Geoff Wiley, manager of Bellevue, Wash.-based Better Bouncers, stands up for responsible inflatables operators.

Five years ago, inflatables stakes were only 18 inches long, but “now we use 3½-foot stakes,” Wiley says. He regards the “microburst” incident as a freak occurrence, noting that even the new, longer stakes can’t hold down a bounce house in winds “strong enough to uproot an 80-foot tree.” Instead, he points to supervision as the key to safety. While Washington state won’t allow inflatables to operate when winds hit 25 mph, Wiley’s firm draws the line at 20 mph.


Established operators express frustration at competitors who compete on price while failing to meet insurance and safety standards.

“I do strongly feel something needs to be done to stop the people coming into this industry that do not have insurance and have not had the proper training that is necessary to operate an inflatable business,” Solaimani says. “It’s these individuals that are hurting our industry and driving our profits into the ground.”

And shoddy performance by some inflatables operators not only hurts that segment of the industry, but the event planners who hire them as well.


David Peters, head of Orlando, Fla.-based Absolute Amusements, is a veteran of the amusements business and was once a partner in the largest inflatable manufacturer in the U.S.

“I have spoken with literally thousands of event planners that think, ‘It cannot happen to me,'” Peters says. “I urge all planners to do their homework, visit the inflatable rental company in person, review the insurance with an insurance professional, and to also get insurance themselves. I have seen planners lose ten years’ worth of earnings, sometime more, in a single moment when found guilty of negligence for not taking these simple precautions.”

He adds, “These are the stories nobody wishes to talk about, the stories that get sealed in a judgment with a gag order–the stories that are too embarrassing for planners to tell.”


Creative Operational Concepts, with offices in Nashville, Tenn., Henderson, Nev., and East Longmeadow, Mass., provides staff training for inflatables suppliers as well as other amusements. Cindee Huddy, chief operating officer and co-founder, offers these safety tips:

  • Inflatables for individual residential use should be properly anchored; ground anchors provided by the manufacturer should always be used.
  • Additional weights such as sandbags with the appropriate weight can also be used in conjunction with the anchors.
  • Tie downs and anchors are best suited every 5 feet on an inflatable for security purposes.
  • Individuals should always follow the manufacturer guidelines for set-up and operation.
  • When in use, all inflatables should have a designated attendant supervising the children. This individual should be at the inflatable at all times and not just in the general vicinity.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines with regard to weather. Inflatables should not be operated on days with a sustainable wind.