The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is the “purr-fect” place to host your little animal lover’s next birthday celebration. Bonus, it’s also a party that gives back to a great cause. With an awesome party room, exciting activities, a tour of the facility and a meet and greet with a shelter animal, all of your two-legged guests are sure to have a waggin’ good time!
5452 NE 22nd Street
Des Moines, IA 50313
Phone: (515) 262-9503
Making a Reservation
Making a party reservation was a painless process. I reserved my daughter’s birthday party on-line about a month before our chosen party date. Once the party was booked, I received an email confirming the date along with the information that a Party Coordinator would be calling me. The Party Coordinator follows up by phone to confirm the date and number of people that will be attending.
You will want to note that ARL’s birthday party schedule fills up fast and they require reservations to be made at least two weeks in advance. They host parties on Fridays at 5:30 to 7:30 pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, 2:00 to 4:00 pm, and 5:00 to 7:00 pm.
ARL offers one party package that costs $220 for up to 10 guests ages six and up (including the birthday kiddo) and five adults. The party package includes:
- 1.5 hours of activities lead by an ARL educator;
- an additional half hour for your personal birthday celebration;
- souvenir plush dog that all guests sign for birthday child;
- all kids leave with an “adopted pet” and adoption certificate;
- face painting;
- a special visit from an animal guest; and
- printable invitations.
- $100 of your total party cost is a tax deductible donation to the ARL.
Please note: For those with peanut allergies, peanut butter and other peanut products are used and are present throughout ARL’s facility. Additionally, I want to warn you that we had a few kiddos that didn’t end up attending the party due to peanut allergies, severe allergies to dogs and cats and one poor friend declined to attend because they are extremely scared of dogs.
The party package includes a link to a PDF birthday party invitation.
On the day of the party you will make your way to ARL’s “party room” and will be greeted by a party host/hostess. The room is cheery and decked out for a birthday party. A long table was set up with a craft activity where the kids colored and cut out cute kitty masks. Once everyone was somewhat settled (it was a party for 7 and 8 year olds:) the party hostess called each kiddo over one by one to paint their face, either as a puppy or a kitty. In addition to the craft activity and the face painting, the hostess also got a wheel out for the kids to spin and play a game of “animal” charades.
Once everyone’s face is painted, it’s time to tour the facility. The hostess went over the rules of the tour, such as, no yelling and using “indoor” voices and moving to the opposite wall if an animal walks by. During the tour the hostess also educates the kids about shelter animals and ARL. On our tour we only saw a few dogs, but A LOT of cats. Like over 1,000!
At the conclusion of the tour, it was time to head back to the party room for the “pet adoption ceremony”. As part of the earlier craft time, the kids also got to write names on pet tags and color a pet carrier. The party hostess called each kiddo up individually to pick out their pet (a stuffed animal) and then gave them an adoption certificate, which included the pet’s name and the date of adoption.
After the adoption ceremony, it was time for the birthday kiddo to open her gifts and enjoy some of her birthday party snacks. Towards the end of the party a “special guest”, a female cat, was brought in. The party hostess asked the kids to sit in a circle and laid down the rules for interacting with the animal. Party guests were allowed to pet the cat, but weren’t supposed to pick it up. They also were to let it have room to walk around and explore. Once the meet and greet time was up, the kids washed their hands, we cleaned up and headed home.
Food & Drink
You are welcome to bring a birthday cake or cupcakes and drinks to the party. You can also bring other food like pizza, veggie/fruit platter and chips/dips if you would like. Additionally, you’ll need to bring along paper plates, napkins and any utensils or cups you’ll need for the food and drink you’re providing. There is a refrigerator, microwave and sink in the party room.
My daughter chose to bring doughnuts as her birthday treats and I couldn’t resist serving “puppy chow” and gold fish. I’m always a sucker for a theme!
How You Can Help the Shelter Animals
Birthday parties at ARL are a great opportunity for kids to learn that one person can make a difference in the lives of animals. In lieu of gifts, we asked that guests bring items to donate to ARL. Find a list of items that they need on their website.
The kids receive a lot of stuff at the party. Luckily, my daughter had attended a party at ARL before and I knew this. Before the party I purchased bags for each of the kids and then wrote their names on it, so we could put all of their goodies in one spot. There’s really no need for anything additional to the items provided by ARL. However, my daughter had seen a cute idea for making “dog collars” out of candy necklaces, so we made those and included some Scooby Snacks and puppy and kitty stickers in a small “doggie bag”.
From a parent’s perspective ARL is a great place to have a party. The party host is in charge and you don’t really have to do too much besides wrangle a stray kiddo every now and then. You do have to bring and hand out the food, but keep it simple and even that can be easy-peasy. The only complaint was that it went by way too fast!
Have you hosted a birthday party at ARL? If so, give it a shout out in the Comments below!