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Anna's 8th Birthday Party

For the last seven years, we managed to avoid the over-the-top kids birthday party scene with small celebrations at home. However, as Anna's 8th birthday approached, she really hoped for a "friends" party at a legit venue. We emphasized that the party would be her only present from us and when she remained firm, I started looking for a party venue. If she had her druthers, she would have loved a laser tag party, but I convinced her to a pool party instead. One, she loves to swim, and two, I knew that Machine Performance Center (the place where the kids took several months of swim lessons) had just started hosting birthday parties and that it would be a great option.

Machine offers two birthday packages: Gizmo Splash ($350) or Gizmo Blast ($450). The more expensive package included all paper products, tablecloth, cutlery, room decorations, water/juice boxes and two dozens of cupcakes. We went with Blast because I wanted to do zero work. I know myself well enough that …

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