Birthday Bash: Toddler of Doom, an Indiana Jones party


I blinked and my sweet, COVID baby, born in March of 2020, is now two?! Time is a thief, but every mama knows that. 

This is my spin on a Disneyland inspired birthday bash that was a little more subtle than a typical character theme, but was decided as the theme this past fall while we were at Disneyland. Although, as I began actually bringing it to life, I did get a little overwhelmed because there’s really not much out there at all for Indiana Jones parties, especially for little guys.

I did find several eight to 10 year-old party ideas online with themed obstacle course activities for the party, but for a two-year-old, they weren’t really fitting. 

Instead, a former contributor suggested a reptile show, and honestly, that was the best decision for the theme to really come to life! 

Read on for local, East Valley party vendors that we used to make a backyard birthday party successful for Maverick’s second birthday, and tips for if you ever invite 10+ reptiles to your home for a show! 



The Decor

I bought a customizable print set from Etsy for signage, party favor tags, invitations and a few other printable details that brought the theme front and center (here’s the link, if you’d like!). 

Once I had those ordered I shopped in my own house for anything gold that could be used for the theme; from there, I added all the plants. (Modern Allo’s owner has a passion for house plants and sells affordable plant clippings that were a nice detail to add to the space, and I felt better about those than silk foliage that wouldn’t have a use after the party.) 

I will say shopping my house was easy because I’m a vintage shopper and have lots of random pieces to shop from; if I were hunting for bargain deals for this sort of theme, I’d start at Merchant Square in Chandler (great prices on antiques).

My only other purchase were a pack of plastic snakes from Amazon that I used on the cake tray and over the dessert bar.

These were all little details, but what pulled the full theme together in a big way was a forbidden jungle themed balloon arch from Helium Dreams.

Finding helpful creative vendors made my job planning the party so much easier, because I trusted her to bring my vision to life without any back-and-forth micromanaging. I sent her a sketch of the space, the theme and a color scheme (brown/khaki) and let her design the concept.

From a recovering type A personality, I want to encourage you: Give vendors creative space! You’ll mentally have less stress from managing every little detail, but they know their products better than you and will probably come up with something you didn’t even know they could do! 

Case and point: beyond just balloons, Stephanie (owner of Helium Dreams) added gold and green foliage to the balloon arches and just made the theme pop even more–something I wouldn’t know to ask for. 

The Fun

We had a mix of party guests from toddlers, tweens and couples without children. I’ve been practicing having a heart for hospitality this year, and wanted to make the party enjoyable for everyone, not just the birthday boy. 

Ya’ll will recognize a famous line from Indiana Jones: snakes, why’d it have to be snakes. 

We took that to heart (full credit to a former contributor for the idea) and invited Radical Reptile Fun to do a private show of their exotic snakes and animals as part of the party.

Radical Reptile Fun is a local, family-owned business who has a passion for educating both kids and adults about exotic animals. (Their animal inventory is 140+!) You may have seen them at library events, the Ostrich Festival or the Arizona Museum of Natural History–they also do private parties!

Maverick loved it, my mum loved it, and so did everyone between their ages of 2 and 72!! 

The owner brought about 10 animals (snakes, big lizards, turtles, etc.) and gave a short chat about each animal  and then allowed time for everyone who wanted to pet the animals, take photos and have their moment with every single animal.

Every animal was introduced by name, followed by fun and informative facts and then Mike, the owner, showed how to hold each animal safely so every child and adult could have a turn. 

One nice detail: The birthday person is always our first person to hold & touch the animals, which Mav was a little young to totally grasp what being the birthday boy meant, but for older kids, this would be a great feature!

Truly, the adults and tweens enjoyed it as much as the kids, and that’s hard to do! 

I was impressed with how he was able to tailor the show for our intimate party, and what positive feedback we got from party guests. 

Also, we have a tiny backyard, and it was totally fine for the show. He really didn’t need a lot of space (all the animals come in one big box he brings in). 

Next, how could we not have a “temple of doom” for an Indiana Jones birthday!? Inflate48 is our favorite local bounce house vendor–they have such options for their rentals. (Including inflatable movie screens like Kira had for last summer’s dive in movie party.)

Originally, we had planned to have Maverick’s party at my parents house and so I selected the taupe/khaki colored bounce house. After we moved the party to my tiny backyard, I was worried we’d have to call off the bounce house, but they have a smaller bounce house for tiny backyards! 

Their mini rental is 8×8 feet and still can hold up to 300 pounds of jumpers, so it was a win/win. It comes in white, and Helium Dreams transformed it into the Temple of Doom with balloon details (plus I threw some plastic snakes inside for extra effects).

The Food 

At just two years old, Mav is already a hearty eater and he loves food (just like his mama). Hosting home parties can be tricky with catering because more often than not, somebody has to go pick it up and miss the first part of the party, which I really didn’t want to do. 

Boca Taqueria catering offers trays that can be picked up the night before and then put into the oven at your leisure prior to the party! It was a game changer. Also, they have online catering ordering to make it easier on moms planning a party at 5 a.m. (just me?!) without having to try to play phone tag with a “catering manager.”

(Truth: Cara managed all the kitchen duties during the party, she was the hostess with the mostess for Mav’s party; She warmed the food and made pitchers of her famous strawberry/mint/cucumber margaritas and jalapeno margaritas (my favorite) and made sure my glass was never empty).

Since the party was 4-6 p.m., it was a heartier menu than typical for a birthday party because it was dinner time for those with kids (including Mav). 

We had beef and chicken enchiladas, rice, beans and for kids specifically had bean and cheese burritos. Of course, their salsas are the best, too. 

The treats 

You already know our love for Floured Cupcakes from Maverick’s first birthday part  to Braylin’s seventh birthday. Of course they handled the full dessert bar this year, too!

Owned by a sister duo who grew up in Mesa (and still live here!), their cake flavors are incredible. I’m a sucker for their cookies ‘n’ cream cake, so that’s what Mav got, ha!

We did a mini cake specifically for Mav then cupcakes and cake pops for guests, they’re just so much easier for serving than spending time slicing a cake for a crowd.

I told the Floured girls my theme, picked the flavor and gave them full creative freedom to bring the treats to life, and guys, they killed it, per usual! 

Guests were blown away at the desserts, specifically the Indiana Jones hat cake pops and maps.

I totally know it feels “safe” to micromanage vendors so you know exactly what you’re getting, but I promise, if you give them big picture ideas and let their creativity flow, you’ll be blown away with what they come back with–promise!!! 

If you’re looking to DIY more than outsource party decor, Krafted Party is a new online shop that has printable bundles, Amazon lists ready to purchase and other mom hacks for those of us who need planning help. Use code EASTVALLEYMOMS for 50% off, too! 


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