So, when I was researching all the options for my daughter’s
2year birthday I found that The
TurtleBack Zoo was pretty reasonable.

The cheapest option there is the outdoor picnic area that is
under a wooden pavilion. There were probably 4 other parties there that day in
September 2007. We were able to reserve 4 tables for our party, which was
enough. I had one table for the food and the other three for guests to eat on.
I had to pay for at least 15 guests at a reduced rate of $3/guest (parents
included!) to reserve my spot. That was $45 and any additional guests they keep
track at the front (people announce themselves as part of your party when they
enter so they don’t have to pay) and you pay for them on the day of your party.
Since I had
guests total it turned out to be
$75. The dicey part here is the weather, of course. We lucked
out because it was beautiful but if it rains you are still under a pavilion.
There is also a nice play area nearby but a little too scary for the young
ones. (note: I did not pay for my family’s admission—I guess it is free for the
birthday girl and her parents) 

The Food

I had 16 adults and 9 children (not including
us). That was 7 families and three family members. I always worry I won’t have
enough food but this time we definitely over ordered. I ordered from
Pizza (973-992-4500)
, which does a lot of their parties.

Ziti full tray               $55
chicken fingers           36
stuffed mushrooms    35
24 sandwiches            60
meatballs                   30
full tray salad             25
tax                           16.87
delivery/tip             21.25
total                        $279.12
There was way too much salad (had to throw that out,
boohoo!) and we had 12 extra sandwiches—but I remember those were delicious. We
had a lot of chicken fingers left over, too. I also ordered some fries from
McDonalds nearby for the kids. The stuffed mushrooms were delicious and were
all gone.

So, with a revised menu (no salad or meatballs and 12 sandwiches @ $30)= $194.12

The cake we got from Wegman’s. My mom brought it up for me
since there isn’t one around here. I think their cakes are so delicious and
they are very reasonable. I don’t remember the size but it was more than enough
for our party. It was

Favors and decor

For favors and tableware I bought goody bags, zoo themed
favors, table cloths and paper products (just for the kids in zoo theme) from
Oriental Trading. My only complaint was the table”cloth”. It was more like this
plastic stuff that you had to peel apart. It was also too small for the tables.
I had to have my hubby run out and buy some more tablecloth from Shoprite
before the party. Their tables are very long so I would suggest getting a long
one in a solid color. I saw another table with very cute pink paper tablecloths
that covered the whole table.

I got a personalized Happy Birthday sign and a bean bag toss
. Glad I got that because it kept the kids entertained before and after
meals. We hung up the sign with string to the wooden posts.

For favors I put in animal crackers, animal face masks,
bubbles container, and stickers.


For drinks, we put the sodas in our big coolers with ice. I
also brought some chips. You should remember to bring bowls for the chips and
cups for the adults. I had Master Pizza provide all the plates and
forks/knives. I also considered doing coffee but that was just too much.

For invites I only had to make around 10 so I got a kit from
Hallmark with an animal theme. I printed out the writing on my computer. That
probably cost around $10-15.

So, this is the final breakdown on costs:

zoo admission                            $75
Favors and tableware                  62.50
Food                                          194.12
Drinks, cups, ice, fries, chips     75.23
Cake                                            45
total                                          451.85

Overall, it was a nice experience to have the kids enjoy a
zoo for the day and have a little better food than pizza and hot dogs. Also, 2
year birthdays are that borderline where you still want the parents around. 
can further shave costs
by just doing pizza–which is kid and parent friendly
and a Costco cake. Or you can just order the sandwiches for the adults and make
your own peanut butter and jelly for the kids the night before. I didn’t mind
having the other parties going on. The pavilion is pretty big and you don’t run
into each other much. Also, they have a guy that comes out with a wagon to
gather the stuff from your car and help you bring it back after the party. 
There is also an indoor pavilllion that costs
more to reserve. Looking back, it was a bit of work and the cost ended up being
pretty high. But, a lot of the toddler places cater just to the kids and not to
parents. And if you luck out with a beautiful day the kids will have a great day at the zoo!