Party Planning Tips from the Founders of the COOP

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The COOP is a cool modern playspace in Los Angeles that not only entertains kids, but doesn't forget the parent (can you say "cappuccino bar"?).

The COOP was founded by Juliet Boydstun and Lucinda Lent when they couldn't find a great playspace for their kids that they wanted to hang out in.

The COOP has become one of the most popular kids' party spaces in LA, and the place for celebrities to throw parties for their kids.

I asked Juliet and Lucinda what trends they're seeing and any advice they had for throwing great kids' parties, and here's what they said...

What are the three most important things you need for a successful kids' party?

Friends and Family!! The BEST parties are not always the biggest parties -- The BEST parties are the ones that are full of friends and family that love the birthday boy or girl and want to just celebrate and have a great time with them.

Entertainment!!!! It's so important that the kids are entertained. At the COOP there is no need for outside entertainment because there is so much built in fun.... Kids can dance on the electronic dance floor or swoop down our swirlie slide into the ballpit for HOURS on end!! But if you are doing a party at home or at the park ,you have to make sure you get something to entertain the kids. A bouncer, a princess, a balloon artist or a magic show... you want to have something that is going to keep the kids engaged -- and hopefully tire them out as well!

Music!!! So often people ignore the music! Music is such an essential element to setting the party mood. We don't really do kid music at the COOP ... we go for upbeat, fun tunes that are kid appropriate (no swear words) but enjoyable to parents as well. It doesn't have to be loud or overbearing -- but we really believe music is an absolute essential to any successful bash!

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Throwing a party for your child can be stressful - any tips for helping parents stay calm?

Don't stress! I know it's often easier said then done, but once the party is started, do your best to enjoy it. It's a celebration of your child -- so take the time to really enjoy him or her. Things won't go as planned -- there are always a few wrinkles or dropped cupcakes!! No one but you knows that there was SUPPOSED to be a cotton candy machine that didn't show up, so just let go... go with the flow... and ENJOY!!!

What do you do at the Coop to keep parents entertained?

The thing that really sets the COOP apart from every other playspace around is that we are always thinking of the parents too. Our parties are cool and modern looking -- and there are usually "grown up elements" incorporated -- beautiful fresh flowers... coffee... and our relaxing outdoor space that is a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of the actual play area -- and, again -- the music. Honestly -- it's often harder to get the adults to leave a COOP Party than the kids (the kids are usually tired after all the fun!!)

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What party themes are most popular right now at the COOP?

We are seeing a lot of safari parties lately -- Glam Safari, Mod Safari, "Regular" Safari -- we have done quite a few variations on that theme lately. Superhero is ALWAYS a popular COOP theme... as is the Midsummer Knights Dreamy party!

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What are some fun goodie bag ideas?

We NEVER do a party bag of plastic junk that ends up spilled in the backseat on the way home never to be thought of again! It's just a waste of time (and money!) to put that kind of bag together. We try to always include some dress up element in our goodie bags -- something great that will become part of the child's favorite imaginative play/ dress up chest at home. Superhero capes, tutus, boas, fun sunglasses, funky hats.... those are a few of our favorites that we try to always incorporate.

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Cake or cupcakes at a kids party? Which do you recommend?

Oh -- cupcakes, for sure! They are so so much easier to serve and give you the option of including different flavors. Also, with so many allergies and food restrictions these days... it's much easier to have some vegan or sugar free options mixed in with the good old fashioned sweet ones!

What are some budget-friendly ideas to spice up a kids' party?

Pick an image that represents your party theme. It can be a picture of the birthday child in a party hat, a cool stylized image (like a mustache or a bat symbol for a batman party) or an actual branded image (a picture of Ariel, for instance) and run with it. You can add that image to flower vases, birthday banners, goodie bags, candy jars, water bottles, straws -- anything you want! We don't really see much value in buying "branded" plates and napkins. They usually look cheesy and are usually 3 times more expensive than solid ones. Get cool striped or dotted napkins and just put your cool party image on the napkin holder. It's cheaper than the branded napkins -- and it's actually a much cleaner and more modern look for your party.

Also -- you can customize just about anything with a can of spray paint! Turn a dime store plastic dinosaur into a fab centerpiece with some neon yellow spray! We just did an amazing Glam Safari party for one of our celeb clients... and we bought a whole bunch of plastic safari animals in different sizes that we sprayed gold. After the paint dried we added fun decorative elements to them. We hot glued pink marabou feathers on zebras for fabulous manes, and dipped the lions' manes in glitter to make them sparkle!! Spray paint, some sparkle, and a little imagination can turn a dime store reject into a fabulous piece suitable for a celeb!!

Also – balloons! Balloons are so much fun and just add an instant feel of festivity! We are doing a lot of the 36inch diameter balloons at the COOP right now. Extra Large Balloons with ribbons or tassels are such a great way to add fun to a party – and you just need a few to make a really big impact!

Since you're in LA, we know you get a lot of celebrity clients. Please dish, what's it like working with them?

We are so fortunate and feel so lucky to have so many amazing clients -- many of whom are celebrities. But to be honest -- at the end of the day -- the celeb mommies are just the same as us "regular " mommies -- especially when it comes to their kids. We all want our kids to feel special and loved and celebrated -- especially on their birthday. We are so honored that so many celebs have chosen us to create gorgeous parties for them -- so they can create beautiful memories with their families.

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What are your plans for the future of the COOP?

We have big plans for the COOP! We think there should be a COOP in every town and are in serious discussions with a few different groups about branching out and bringing our brand to different cities around the globe. Until that happens -- we have just started to offer the COOP CRATE -- a party in a box that we can ship to you... so you can have a COOP party at home!!! We are so proud of all that we have accomplished and the amazing feedback we have gotten on our business... we really want to share the fun and the party with everyone!

Thanks, Juliet and Lucinda for your great advice! Next time I'm in LA, I will definitely be stopping by!

To learn more about the COOP, check out their website.

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