When your business is all about taking the time and the space to have some serious fun, it’s easy to think the outdoors are your best option.
That’s the idea Laurie Ware Mason, the owner of GiddyUp Mini Golf and Jumping Jacks Funhouse inflatable bouncy houses, is actively trying to dispel these days, that you don’t have to be at an outdoor festival to have the kind of fun her businesses offer.
Mason recently launched the inaugural Home for the Holidays event at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, where she has set up a Christmas playland so full of holiday cheer it would make Santa’s elves jealous.
From Dec. 6 to Jan. 3, Home for the Holidays will run at the fairgrounds’ massive Expo Building, filling it with activities, games, and fun for the whole family.
Mason said her first week or so in business was filled with private parties, so the weekend of Dec. 12 was her first real opening for the public. Set up under a single company called Flathead Fun, Mason wanted the Expo Building to ooze holiday charm.
“It just feels like an absolute fun, Christmas wonderland,” she said in an interview in between hosting a private party and opening for the public for the afternoon. “We built a village by hand, and we painted all sorts of Christmas decorations.”
The building’s interior is set up like an exclusive golf course just for kids, with nine holes of mini golf in the middle of a ring of seven bouncy houses and numerous games. And in the middle of the mini golf sits a Christmas village, ready to be explored.
There’s also an area set aside especially for the littlest of holiday partiers, with a bouncy house reserved for young kids so parents can breathe a little easier.
“Parents can come and not fear that their kids 4 and under are going to get trampled,” Mason said.
If kids visiting the winter wonderland aren’t busy playing mini golf or visiting the new Candyland bouncy house, they can try their hand at a variety of games, including inflatable basketball, a pit-stop challenge during which they race to change tires on an old truck – “The kids are just loving that,” Mason said – a bean bag toss, hula hoops, a cow-milking contest, and plenty of photo opportunities, such as sticking their heads through a cut-out of a gingerbread man or sitting on Santa’s sleigh.
And speaking of the Big Man himself, Santa Claus will visit Home for the Holidays on Dec. 19, bringing extra Christmas cheer.
Entrance to the winter wonderland costs $8 per person, but Mason said parents can purchase a punch card and get in free with their kids on subsequent visits. There’s also a special for Toddler Tuesday, during which kids 5 and under get in for $5.
Mason also offers an area for private birthday parties, with space blocked off for the party-goers, along with a private bounce house, three holes of golf, and three tables.
“Those are really starting to book up, so that’s good,” Mason said.
And once all the playing starts to wear on a visitor, they can wander over to a concessionaire’s space to buy sweets, drinks – including hot chocolate – non-dessert foods, and check out vendors with Christmas items like wreaths.
Since it’s the first year for Home for the Holidays, Mason said she’s still trying to work out bugs in the system, but believes that support exists for an indoor winter option for families. Plus, it’s a way to show she operates the Flathead Fun businesses year-round.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Mason said.
Home for the Holidays is open to the public on Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Large and/or private parties can call to reserve evenings, at 406-270-1258. It is closed on Mondays and on Christmas.