Turk File

Much more than child’s play

by Amanda Jean Harris

Cheryl Savant knows how to party. Children's parties done well top to bottom are something she's been doing since her nearly grown children were quite young. And now she's turned it into a one-of-a-kind local business — The Mulberry Tree.

Located on Johnston Street near UL in a circa 1940s-house, the new business is a party spot for kids (and adults with small parties, showers or teas).

You bring the kids and the cake. Savant does the rest. While other well-known spots like Chuck E. Cheese or Kart Ranch have hosted parties for years, The Mulberry Tree is a blank canvas easily personalized with a layout Savant says is perfect for her vision. It took a year and a half to get the house up to code from widening doorways and installing ramps to the parking area.

Her first parties were hosted in late 2015, and when we took a tour of the place it was set up for a "Weekend in Paris" complete with tiny Eiffel tower, table settings fit for royalty with place card settings, themed window dressings and wall hangings and real dishes and platters. Savant eschews the average plastic and paper used often at children's birthday parties.

"I repurpose and reuse everything," she says.

Savant loves the real glasses and dishes and finds them everywhere from estate sales to Goodwill. She wondered, however, if the children would appreciate the vintage finery.

"We had a punch bowl with glasses out for the open house and offered it to one of the girls and she said, 'It's so fancy,' and I knew they got it," Savant recalls.

Guests enter into an activities room set up with a customized game or craft or both for the party before entering their themed room. Parents can bring photos from home to personalize the space where kids enjoy finger foods and cake before opening presents.

One of the bedrooms in the house serves as a boutique for Savant's party-fun clothing and related items, which is where her business was focused entirely before opening the Mulberry Tree.

Since 2011, her Etsy shop, PinkPopPolkaDot, has shipped to at least 20 countries and throughout the U.S. It includes all manner of custom sewing from banners to diaper covers, skirts for girls and women, family sets of pajamas custom-made for the holidays, and pillows.

The Mulberry Tree and its banners will be featured on the season premiere of David Tutera's show CELEBrations on WE tv, Friday, March 11, at 8 p.m. The local business collaborated with the show on a celebrity birthday party for one of actress Tori Spelling's children.

Savant currently spends most of her days sewing for the Etsy shop and fills her weekends hosting parties.

In addition to the indoor parties, Savant is working on converting the outdoor space with visions of pirate-themed parties and groovy tent-centric flower child fetes.

"We're working on building an actual treasure chest for the pirate party," she says.

While she planned for children's parties, she has hosted small gatherings for grownups like a book club holiday party and baby showers. The house has a charm that only comes with age. And the decor options are an eclectic blend that's only possible because of Savant's mission to go above and beyond. She doesn't believe in one stop shopping. Or one size fits all.

"We have over-the-top themes without over-the-top prices," she says. "It's all about the experience."