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

Archive for September, 2011

Banana selling point

All successful businesses need a USP : a unique selling point. For the last 15 years or so I’ve thought that it was my ability to combine entertainment and fast face painting into one party package. This saves lots of money eliminating the need to book a separate face painter.

Fantasy eye make up for big girls

A fast and pretty butterfly

I suppose not many entertainers can offer that, hence the unique part of the USP.  I’m always complimented on my fast and delicate face painting. Of course, there is always a slight compromise on detail when it comes to speed but I do try and make the face painting as detailed and delicate as I possibly can in the time allotted. Do stop by my website to have a look at the different packages I offer including face painting. They start from as little as £140 for 90 minutes.

Well that was up until today.

What changed?

Well let me set the scene.

I was in full swing, entertaining some lovely London children at a delightful 5 year old girl’s birthday party( thank you for inviting me Asha), raising giggles and smiles all around. As per usual , I was starting the entertainment off with my baby monkey puppet, Twinkle. He is a very well loved and remembered character in my repertoire, one of the very few shop bought puppets that I use.

Twinkle, my very cheeky baby monkey. A dear friend.

Actually, before I get to the crux of the story, let me tell a little bit about my current Twinkle. He isn’t the original one that I bought around 10 years ago from that massive toyshop in Regents Street, London. He  belongs to a girl who now must be in her teens. She was one of my little clients who had fallen in love with Twinkle and had begged her mum and dad to buy her one from the same shop. So they did, lovely parents that they were.

The next time I was invited to the little girls house to entertain for her birthday party, she ran up the stairs anxiously telling me to wait. She came charging down the stairs in great excitement, clutching her ‘Twinkle’.

‘Please can we swap?’ She pleaded. I couldn’t possibly turn her earnest request down. How could I disappoint such a sweet little girl? So we swapped, despite her monkey looking very well cuddled.

I only hope that she wasn’t expecting that now she had the ‘real’ Twinkle that he would talk like he talked when I used him at parties. She would be so disappointed.

So I was at the point in the routine that Twinkle plays tunes on a plastic banana. ( It’s hard to explain, suffice it to say it’s very silly) . He plays Happy Birthday to the birthday girl on the banana. It was at that point that it hit me!

THIS IS MY UNIQUE SELLING POINT!

What other London Children’s Entertainer wishes happy birthday to their client with a monkey playing tunes on a banana? Who else could top this triumph of silliness?

Silent Sunday

Tyra who? Naomi, who's she?

Which Witch is Which?

Halloween is fast approaching.

Here in the UK, Halloween isn’t really the big thing that it seems to be in the States, but it’s popularity is ever increasing.

It is very sweet to see groups of little children dressed up in spooky costumes knocking on doors and crying Trick or Treat! Well it is lovely in the nice areas where the people knocking on doors are young and innocent. In some of the inner city areas it isn’t as pleasant. But I won’t lower the tone of the post.

I like witches.When I grow up and I’m too old to be a children’s entertainer,  I might become a witch. It seems like a fun thing to do when your hair goes grey and wrinkles start spreading. It sure beats botox and hair dye. I’d rather use the power of wisdom and age and celebrate the changes rather than spend the rest of my years trying to hold them back.

Sings: ” Holding back the ears…”

In fact, I have my own handbook on witchcraft called The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries which to me is all about being a strong woman.

I’ve made a few witch puppets in my time.

One is a small pocket puppet, useful for quick storytelling. She’s only a few inches tall, not terribly terrifying, but lovely colours, with her green hair and blue face.

Green pocket witch

Then there’s Witchy Poo Poo, she’s a character from one of my original puppet shows .  Fifi the fairy creates her by hastily making a magic spell and getting the words wrong. Instead of wishing for a birthday wish for her mummy, she wishes for a Birthday Witch. ( see what I did there? ) So Witchy Poo Poo is a birthday witch, complete with fiery red hair, wart on the nose and a cloak covered in birthday candles. Look carefully, she doesn’t have any eyes, that makes her even spookier in my eyes. She sure can raise a giggle and a scream from my young clients. Older children really buy into her scariness, even though she is more silly than scary.

I'm a witchy, I'm a witchy poo!

Birthday witchy, come to bother you!

Then I have a very scary witch indeed. She isn’t your typical witch with a pointy hat and black cloak. She is the even more terrifying sort, she is the old lady in disguise. I made this one for my puppet show of Snow White. Here she is the evil queen disguised as a old pedlar woman selling combs. She has really big meaty forearms and one beady eye and a big jutting toothless lower jaw. I know I’d be wary of this lady if I came across here. Wouldn’t you?

Combs my lovely?

Buy my wares, pretty?

Come here my lovely...

Yes, she is a little scary. But don’t we all like a nice safe scare sometimes?

Finally, I’d like to introduce you to a puppet of mine who really has never been used. She is a marionette witch, and because I’m not really a great manipulator of marionettes, ( I prefer fast moving hand puppets) she has languished in a suitcase for years, gathering dust. Not that she minds, mind you. She rather likes dust. She uses it in her magic spells along with spider webs and slug slime.

She has rather fetching red pantaloons underneath her black dress, don’t you think?  She’s wearing  a fine black cloak around her neck. Her broomstick has gone astray, I think it’s flown away or maybe her familiar ( her black cat) has taken it somewhere and hidden it.

I'm casting spells

I'm melting Aargh!

My favourite witch of all time has to be the Wicked Witch of the West from the glorious MGM film, The Wizard of Oz. Can’t you tell?

So which witch do you prefer and why?

I’d love to know.

Top 10 Ideas for Party Bags by Best Kids Party

Party Favors

Image by patchattack via Flickr

It has become a custom that all children expect a party bag at the end of a party, however the term \’party bag\’ is often the term used to refer to some form of gift.Here are my Top 10 ideas for party bags, that won’t necessarily break the bank and you can ensure the children go home with a big smile on their face.

via Top 10 Ideas for Party Bags by Best Kids Party.

Why I don’t make balloon animals

2007-12-28 Roy's Balloon Modelled Poodle 02

Image by Roy Stead via Flickr

Quite often when I take inquiries for my Children’s Entertainment Service , Diane’s Puppets , people ask if I do balloon modelling. I don’t. Sometimes this is a deal breaker and I lose the opportunity to take a booking.

The thing is, I could make balloon animals. I’m a creative person, as my craft blog attests, I can turn my hand to making things. It’s not a problem. It could be another skill that I could use.

But I choose not to.

Am I being foolish?

Some might say so.

I choose not to because I believe strongly  that children appreciate our time and attention over things. Our very materialistic society which bombards our children with advertising constantly teaches that children have to have STUFF to be happy.

I don’t agree.

I’d like to point you in the direction of this  blog post by a very well respected expert in the field of parenting in the UK and a lady whom I admire greatly, Sue Atkins. I found this lovely lady on Twitter. She is responding to a recent UNICEF report that children in the UK are the unhappiest despite our tendency to throw material goods at them. This post didn’t just speak to me , it sang, danced and performed.

This is the reason I don’t twist up balloons to give out to children as part of the entertainment process. Sure , children like it.

But I don’t.

I like to feel good about the sort of entertainment I do. I much prefer to make children giggle, jump up and down, squeal with delight, interact with a puppet, feed them, receive magic wishes and kisses from a puppet, take children on imaginary journeys to feed their very fertile imaginations.

To me giving out balloons pales into insignificance.

Hey, I’m not saying that there aren’t some incredible balloon artists out there ( and I mean artists!) What some people can do with simple balloons is mind blowing,  and kudos to them.  I just won’t be joining them anytime soon.

 

Through a child’s eyes

Today I read a blog post that really touched me.

It was by a lovely lady called Debra.  Please read it. Pure and Simple; Train Ride.

 

This simplicity, this sense of wonderment is what fuels me to go to work every day as a Children’s Entertainer. In order to be able to connect with my little clients, the children at the  birthday parties I attend, I have to keep reconnecting with the memory and the energy of being a child.

This connection is vital for the correct energy with which to approach young children and not be seen and felt as being patronising. Without sounding a little weird, I don’t entertain as much as just play alongside the children. Their sense of humour is genuinely the same as mine. I delight in word play. I adore surrealism. Most children’s jokes consist of surrealistic concepts, the idea of things being out of context.  My funny bone tickles at the concept of putting a banana on your head. ( Come and join the Banana Head Club!) and of course, there is the belly laugh that comes from burps and silly raspberry noises. ( To put it politely).

Silly puppet

Hehehehehuhuhhhehehheheh

 

What other job is it that requires instant trust ? I have to walk into a room full of very young strangers and  gain their trust. I’m often only booked for an hour, so I have to win children over almost instantly. Children are unforgiving but honest audiences, if they don’t like you, they walk away.

What is it that creates that bond? It is energy. I have to attune my energy , find my inner child ( that’s not hard) and bring her to the fore. Young children, ( like dogs) inhabit a world of energy, where they judge the vibe . It’s that gut feeling that us grown ups often lose or stop trusting .  I’ve done some psychotherapy training and one of the core conditions of trust building is something called Congruency. This simply means that you are on the inside what you appear on the outside: genuine, no nasty surprises.  Well folks, what you see on the outside

 

Facepainter too

I'm a bunny wabbit

 

is what you get on the inside. Am I Diane , the London Children’s Entertainer or am I just

 

Silly Sausage Diane?

 

I’m both. It’s compulsory.

 

 

Like a Puppet on a String

Puppets , puppets, puppets, they come in so many forms.

Following on from my previous post about puppets from my youth, I’ve found a suitcase full of marionettes that I made over 15 years ago.

I’ve  never really used them. After making them I realised that marionettes really weren’t my bag. They require precision and grace and a certain patience. They are like the ballet of puppetry: slow moving, graceful and deliberate. I’m more pantomime, I like the fast moving, slapstick, high energy of the hand puppet.

You live and learn.

So I’ve been left with these lovely characters. First there is this man. He is a gentleman, magician type , with his top hat and cravat. He’s rather old fashioned and just a little bit goofy.

A lovely gentleman.

Jolly good show!

He looks rather dapper in his topper and frock coat, don’t you think?

Someone suggest a name for this lovely fellow.

Then I made another puppet. A punk puppet. A rather glamorous and just a tad camp, puppet. He has a pink mohican and lovely drainpipe pvc trousers, a regulation safety pin through his ear and a Union Jack t-shirt.

Check out the underarm hair… I like details on puppets.

Bovver boots and mohican.

Bovver boots and mohican.

Portrait of a Punk Puppet, check out that bobble nose!

Punk puppet posing

Both the Gentleman puppet and Punk puppet were made of stiffened sewn fabric and the Punk puppet has carved wood hands and feet.

Then I made another puppet, a carved wooden head that turned into a sort of Noah. I didn’t have a plan when I made him, he just sort of announced himself.

Naked puppet. I thought he had a certain beauty imbued in his simplicity.

Carved wood marionette puppet

Rosy cheek puppet

Running puppet

I have more of these marionette puppets. I made quite a few. I shall show you a few more another time.

For now, I shall just put these puppets back into the suitcase and into the cupboard until I figure out what to do with them.

Ooh like a puppet on a string... Ah, as a feminist I never really agreed with the sentiments behind that Sandy Shaw song. Those lyrics are decidedly dodgy. Is that why I don’t relate to marionettes?

Tee Hee. 🙂

London Children's Entertainer

Diane, the London Children's Entertainer

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