Contributor Kate has strong feelings about celebrations and we’ve drunk her kool-aid about leaning into making special events just that: special. Even through COVID, Kate inspired families to find safe ways to celebrate birthdays and has ignited us to do the same.
We’re excited to launch a new birthday bash series to give you local inspiration for ways to bring your kid’s birthday parties to life in special ways that don’t blow a budget, feel impersonal or require you to devote your nights to craft the décor (unless that’s your thing!)
First up, a first birthday that really leaned into his namesake, little Maverick had a Top Gun, all-American party at the runway at Falcon Field Airport. This venue would be incredible for any petite pilot who loves planes. Read on for party details and inspiration.
Falcon Field Terminal has two public viewing areas open to anyone where you can see planes taxiing on the runway, taking off and landing. The air traffic control tower is visible, too, adding an extra cool visual for little aviators who love planes.
The north viewing area, where we had our celebration is open to the public 24/7 and offers several amenities that make it a turnkey party venue like:
- Free binocular stands
- Unobstructed view of the runway (all that separates guests from the runway is a chain-link fence)
- Grassy, flat area for kids to run around
- Wall mural pays homage to the airport’s historic past as a World War II training base for British Royal Air Force and U.S. Army Air Corps pilots.
- A sidewalk painted like a mini runway
- Free public parking in front of the terminal
Let’s be real, as long as there was macaroni and cheese, the birthday boy was going to be thrilled.
We chose Big Nate’s Family BBQ to serve for lunch and I would book them again for a party in a heartbeat. The food was incredible (we had the ‘trinity of meats’ plus their nacho cheese mac and baked beans), and they deliver, which made it perfect for a party when so much is happening. The beans may have stolen the show for a little bit, because there’s bits of brisket and pulled pork baked in, but you guys, the meat was incredible.
We love meeting family-owned businesses, and Big Nate’s Family BBQ fits the bill—it’s owned by two brothers-in-law and their wives. How cool is that? The boys run the pit and the gals run the operation. Tyra, one of the wives that I worked with on my order, is due with baby number three this summer—love supporting mompreneurs!
If you’re having a small party, they have family platters for just 4-6 people and can also accommodate large catering orders as well.
We also served chocolate chip cookies from Batch Cookie Shop. If you haven’t tried Batch yet, they’re amazing, and a locally owned cookie shop by two siblings and their spouses. This month they’re opening a brick and mortar location on Higley and Baseline that will have a rotating cookie menu.
Falcon Field Terminal created such a perfect backdrop we didn’t need to add too many decorations—what can compete with real planes taking off during the party, and the air traffic control tower standing tall next to us?!
Kate brought in a few stand-up pieces like an aviator sunglasses backdrop for the cake smash, and a wooden cutout of the Top Gun logo that said ‘Maverick’ to pair with a balloon arch.
I recently was chatting with Kristen, co-owner of Floured Cupcakes, about a first birthday I’d attended a few months ago and the cake smash fail stories that had been shared, like colored icing staining the baby’s face for days.
Kristen is such a pro in the baking world, because she immediately started talking about how she always recommends whipped cream frosting for smash cakes because it ‘smooshes’ better for classic photos, and other tips and tricks she’s noticed along the way running her bake shop with her sister.
I shared the theme of the party with Floured and gave them creative freedom—they surpassed my expectations with the final design, and also with the affordable price that came with it! It was just over $20 for the cake—and it was made with high-quality ingredients, custom decorated, and delivered.