Taking the stress out of your child's annual celebrations!

Archive for May, 2011

Save the pennies, get crafty!

A beautiful card isn't hard to make.

A great way to save money when it comes to children’s birthday parties, whether you are attending as a guest or are the host, is to have a go at making your own birthday cards and/or party invitations. Now before you all shout at me : “But I’m not artistic!” there is no need to be that creative in order to end up with a really lovely card. What makes a card special is personalization. Find out what the recipient really likes, be it fairies or  cars , superheroes, animals or pirates and let that be your starting point. The Internet is a fantastic source of imagery. Find a suitable starting image and print it out and trace it off . Decorate with felt pens, inks, glitter glue and let your imagination rule the way. Include the child’s name and age for a special touch. Cut out your images and glue them onto a folded piece of card or for real ease of use, blank card sets are available at most good stationers and from many internet suppliers.

When it comes to invitations to parties and you have booked a children’s  entertainer, do remember to ask the entertainer if they can supply you with invitations. Most good entertainers will be happy to send you a pdf file invite that you can print off yourself at home.

Come on, don’t be scared of being crafty! You may even find you end up with the crafting bug. I know I did.

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Birthday parties and the great British outdoors

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Image via Wikipedia

Summer time is coming, hooray! We all look forward to those long hot days and balmy evenings…

Okay, wake up now, this is England after all. I don’t know about you, but I’m not so trusting about the weather. Our lovely island has a special feature in that if it is sunny outside and you plan an outdoor activity, best pack the wellies. You’ll probably need them. This is fantastic for gardens and the countryside and the lush vegetation of our countryside and our parks, but not so lovely if you are planning to hold a party outdoors.

Every year, around this time, I get numerous requests to entertain at birthday parties held in the great British ( London) outdoors. When the weather is fine, there is nothing nicer than to gather a group of children underneath a big oak tree in the park hung with pretty bunting , sit them down amongst the daisies and buttercups dotted in the grass and tell them stories and play fun games and chat with puppets. This is a childhood idyll at its best. It is also a very cheap ( free) venue, saving wear and tear on your freshly decorated home.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you are planning to host a party in the great British outdoors, have a plan B. Make arrangements for a nearby suitable venue ( gazebo/ shed/ any form of shelter possible better than a leaky tree) that you can easily decamp to if necessary. It’s not being negative, it’s clever. You won’t appreciate how much you’ll thank me if next time the heavens open at your party in the park.

Remember, picnics outdoors can attract all sorts of bugs, so remember to pack  a basic first aid kit including an insect sting spray . So many times a party has been ruined by a rogue wasp or bee. It’s hard to pacify a stung panicked child without some sort of pain relief.

If you are hiring an entertainer, especially one who has kit to set up, please check with them first before you book them that their set up is suitable for outdoors. There may be safety issues with gusting winds/ uneven ground etc. You may have to come to some sort of compromise as to what they offer in terms of entertainment, and have a less structured session for the outdoor setting. Bear in mind also that it is fairly hard to focus children’s full attention in a venue without boundaries ( walls). Try seating the parents and children in a semi circle  to form a  natural boundary in which the entertainer can operate.

So have fun partying in the park.

Let’s all cross our fingers for good weather this Summer, I have a fair few outdoor parties to entertain at!

Diane’s Puppets, as recommended by the nicest people!

Diane and her puppetsIn my time as a children’s entertainer on the London birthday party circuit, I do bump into some lovely people.

One of the sweetest and most genuine was Natasha. What a lovely caring lady and how kind of her to say such lovely things about me.

The best recommendations in my business in my opinion come from the children themselves, but probably the most powerful come from those in the public eye.

To all my lovely clients, a big thank you for your kind words and positive feedback.

The business of being silly is sometimes quite hard work, but oh golly I love it!

As Mr Punch says: THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!

Entertaining London’s Children

Watching Mr Punch , age 5

As a London Children’s entertainer, my work consists of entertaining London’s children, from babies up until around 8 years old. By then they’re all too grown up for the simple joys of puppets, apparently. It’s funny, I first encountered puppets as a child on the beach front in Skegness. It was Mr Punch, hitting Judy over the head with his slap stick and shouting THAT’s the way to do it! I was dressed to match my dolly who watched with her still glassy eyes from my lap as I cradled her gently. She enjoyed it as much as I did. I remember her telling me so.

Despite the clear domestic violence and the real lack of story and plot line,from that first crude puppet show, I was hooked. I’ve been hooked on puppets ever since and now , 42 years later, I’m still in love with the magic of puppetry.

My, how things have changed since those days.
But I still believe there is a constancy in the simple joys of puppets and the journey into imagination that they facilitate. No electronic game or fancy doodah can replace this simple joy.
And for that I am eternally grateful.

That’s the way to do it!

Brand spanking new website!

I’m so excited, I’ve finally taken the plunge and sorted out a proper website for my business. It’s been a long time coming and my old free tripod website o has served me well, but I realised it was time to take what I do seriously and be a ‘proper’ grownup. In my line of work it is sometimes hard to be taken seriously, even by myself. So I’m pumped.

Announcing

www.dianes-puppets.co.uk

I do hope you like it , dear readers.

Over the last 18 years my job as a children’s entertainer in the London area, providing puppet shows for children’s birthday parties has brought me much joy. I hope to be in my dotage when I retire , which I hope is in a long time. I’m 47 now and don’t anticipate retiring until my arms , legs and voice give in. Roll on granny in the sparkly tights , say I! I hope to be famous around these parts for that old lady who brings joy to kids  one day.

Here’s where it all started: It was on a beach in Skegness. I was about 5 and dressed to match my lovely dolly. There was a puppet show on the beach and a certain Mr Punch who by turns terrified and delighted me.

Intoxicated by Mr PunchMy love affair with puppets was born here.

Cheap piece of tat or something special? The prize debate.

Crochet cuteness handmade by Diane

Parties often aren’t complete without games and games are often not complete without prizes. The question is , what do we give for prizes?

Personally as a mum, I’m not too keen on sweets, although they are a good cheap option. Many children aren’t allowed sweets for various reasons. So what do you do then? There is the option of going to the party supply shop and buying a host of cheap plastic toys. Now what happens when those toys get home? If your home is anything like mine, there are baskets and boxes full of bits and bobs, mostly comprising of bits of plastic and cheap tat. Are these toys really good value for money? I’m not so sure as they are often destined for the rubbish bin after about half an hour of play.

At a Diane’s Puppets party, I like to make my birthday client feel special. I’m a crafty sort of lady, trained in Fine Art in my youth and the sort of person with constantly busy hands. I like to put my finger -fidgets to good use and have recently taken up crochet.  I love it! How wonderful to create lots of little pretty things. Now I’m able to master the ‘yarn over pull through two’ I’m churning out a myriad of cuteness which I turn into badges or fridgies or hairclips. The birthday boy or girl receives a hand made card with a crocheted applique attached. Boys can look forward to being the proud owner of a cute car or monkey or space rocket.

delicious crochet!

In these hard bitten economic times, I feel the personal touch is what it is about. Less plastic tat, more handcrafted cuteness say I?

Do you agree?

Pirates aren’t just for boys you know!

Children's entertainer Diane makes all of her own puppets

My beautiful mermaid Marina is a feisty lass. She dons a fake beard and pirate clothes to outwit my pirates and steal back the treasure. She uses her brains to bamboozle the pirates and her considerable fighting skills to engage in hand to hook combat with the other pirates .

She can certainly hold her own with the boys.

She is a girl after my own heart.

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