We’ve been filling our days with more of the usual Florida fun — park visits as well as pool and beach time. For today’s blog post, I wanted to back up a bit and share a little bit about the family birthday party we planned for Chase on his 7th birthday on Friday!
Reptile Birthday Party
The theme for Chase’s party came to us in a roundabout way. We’ve been looking to adopt a lizard or gecko for a while and I’ve been actively perusing various reptile rescue websites for a while. Ryan and I agreed on a leopard gecko for Chase for a myriad of reasons with their relatively small size, laidback personality and fairly easy upkeep topping our list. We told Chase we would consider getting him a leopard gecko when we moved into our new house but, in the back of our minds, Ryan and I really wanted to surprise him with a new reptilian friend on his birthday.
When we booked our month-long stay at a VRBO near family in Jacksonville, I realized we’d be in Florida over his seventh birthday and started to look into Jacksonville-area reptile rescues. I quickly stumbled upon Southern Reptile Haven and reached out to them about leopard geckos. They did not currently have any in their care but when I saw that the rescue also brings some of their rescued reptiles to events and parties, I immediately booked them for Chase’s special day!
I checked in with the rescue about a week before the party just to nail down some logistics and asked about leopard geckos again. The rescue recently had three in their care that were recently surrendered and assured us that one of the three seemed like she would be a perfect fit for a family with young kids. Sign us up!!!
The idea to surprise Chase with the leopard gecko in the middle of his party had our whole family so, so excited. Southern Reptile Haven arrived and set up two long tables with about a dozen different kinds of reptiles — various snakes, a tortoise and a few lizards. When I tell you they knocked their presentation out of the park, I mean it!
They were so knowledgeable and engaging and entertained both children and adults. (Well, most of us anyway! My two nieces were nooot into the reptiles — haha!)
We were all able to gently touch the reptiles we were interested in and they even let the kids hold some of them as well.
Our leopard gecko was part of the presentation about 2/3 of the way through and the minute Haley from Southern Reptile Haven put the gecko in Chase’s hands, she crawled up to his shoulders and comfortably perched close to his neck.
When we asked if Chase might want to keep the gecko on his shoulder, he looked at us in quiet disbelief and said, “Yes. Wait, really?” He was pretty calm about the whole thing which I took as a mix of trying to be still and quiet around the gecko on his shoulder as well as maybe not fully grasping what we said to him.
About 5 minutes later, Chase came up to me and said, “Mom, what do you mean I get to keep her? Like forever?” Once he fully understood the leopard gecko would be coming home with us, he was thrilled and didn’t leave the gecko’s side for the remaining three hours of the party. (Apparently he thought we were initially asking him if he wanted to keep her for the rest of the party — not forever!)
When we told him it was time for his new gecko to have a break from all the holding and attention, he gently placed her in her cage and still didn’t leave her side. He just quietly talked to her and has been 100 percent obsessed with his new little friend ever since!
After a brief stint where Chase named his leopard gecko “Climby,” she is now officially “Lucky 7” — or “Lucky” for short! Chase gave her the name “Lucky” because she’s getting a second chance at a good life and “7” because he got her on his seventh birthday. It’s been less than a week with Lucky in our home and we’re all finding her fascinating! Watching her hunt crickets, rest in Chase’s arms and take in her surroundings has been a lot of fun for all of us.
But back to the party!
The whole party was a really laidback family affair since all of Chase’s best friends live in North Carolina. Family and a few friends came to celebrate our special guy and we kept party prep nice and simple!
I ordered chocolate and vanilla cupcakes from Whole Foods and I added assorted mini frogs and lizards on top of the leafy green icing.
The small cake was a simple vanilla cake (with no piping) from Publix and I added more reptile toys to it to stick with the theme in an easy way!
For food, we served Chick-fil-A nuggets (Chase’s request!), kale salad, pasta salad, fruit, veggies and chips and dip.
As for games, they weren’t anything fancy (much like the games at Ryder’s slug party!), but the kids had a blast with them! First up was a “find that reptile” game and the kids had to find five hidden reptile toys hidden around the yard (these also served as part of their party favors). Once they found five toys, they won a prize.
The prizes looked like their choice of one of these fuzzy snake snap bracelets and they were a huge hit!
The second game was a totally made up game that had the kids tossing plastic snakes onto the back of a blow up sea turtle pool float to see if they could get them to stay on the shell.
I thought this game would be a breeze but the snakes flew off over and over again. At least the kids seemed to enjoy it!
We all had such a fun time coming together to celebrate Chase’s seventh birthday and I’m do glad we could celebrate with family — and our newest reptilian family member!