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

Archive for October, 2011

Make your own puppet

At a Diane’s Puppets party there is always an option of a simple craft session as part of the entertainment.

I will design the craft around a theme of the clients choice or to complement  the puppet show or story session.

Recently I entertained at a lovely four year old girl’s birthday party where we made our own finger puppets as part of the entertainment session.

Finding a craft that can be easily done in 20 minutes and is not too messy and do-able for tiny fingers isn’t always that easy.

Fifi the fairy

My frken

My friendly piggy policeman

WitchyPoo the birthday witch.

I drew up simple characters from my fairy puppet show and copied them on to card. Cut holes in the bottom for fingers and cut around the outside.

I brought along feathers, yarn and sequins and self adhesive jewels and stickers.

The children were encouraged to colour the pictures in and stick on their own decorations. With a little help from the mummies, this was easily achieved.

Everyone produced their very own lovely puppets which they proudly took with them at the end of the party to show to Daddy.

 

A Mermaid Game for Birthday Parties

I was never  content with just making  bucket sandcastles  when I went to the beach as a child. Even as a 6-year-old, my inner artist was begging to surface.  My favourite thing to do was to make a sand mermaid. I would sculpt her face and tail from sand and then decorate her with seaweed and shells that I retrieved from the nearby rock pools.

 

Rock pools : for me, this was a magical world that was so visually rich and full of potential. What strange and wonderful clawed creature was hiding underneath those fronds of seaweed? What scary creature lived in that pretty shell? Sea anemones, well they were just strange, marvellous,  wiggly beauty , living  animal flowers of the sea and starfish still fascinate me to this day. As a child, all I needed was a beach, a bucket and net and rock pools and I was happy for the day.

Strike that, as an adult I’d be just as happy. I must get myself down to the sea sometime soon.

 

Given the challenge of coming up with Mermaid themed games recently, I turned to my fascination for rock pools. Surely they were mermaid’s gardens?

I had a basic idea of musical islands with a twist:Musical Rock pools.

Music played , children dance and when the music stops  I shout out a rock pool creature or thing.

Seahorse!

Then the children need to find a rock pool with a seahorse in it to stand on.

I found a seahorse!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I made some rock pools from some off-cuts of vinyl flooring. I painted them blue and added rock pool creatures , painted in some seaweed and then varnished them to make them nice and durable. After all, I hope that lots of little feet will be stomping all over them for many years to come at future children’s birthday parties.

Dark, mysterious, magical rock pools

 

Mind your toes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spy a jellyfish

I like playing musical rock pools!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait to play this game at Mermaid parties.

 

 

The King of Children’s Entertainment

Uh huh huh, uh huh, yey yey, I'm all shook up.

I’ve made a few puppets in my time. Just dug out this one I made quite a few years ago.

I must put him into use again. The King of Rock and Roll deserves to rock on.

Elvis with his velvet quiff

Can anyone suggest a suitable plot line to feature this special puppet?

Answers on a cyber postcard, please.

 

 

Fairy Make Over

I love fairies.

I have a pathological hatred  and fear for plastic surgery . Duchess of Alba. Need I say more?

Today I combined my passion and my fear as I gave my darling Fifi a drastic make-over.

 

First a bit  of background about Fifi the Fairy.

 

I think my love for fairies stemmed from a very young age. I remember way back in my childhood, a very special book that was so large it was kept in the airing cupboard. I must’ve been around 2 or 3 years of age and I remember distinctly that this magical book was bigger than me. Opening these precious massive pages revealed a magical world of fairies that I could totally immerse myself in. I think it must have been about that age that I decided that I was going to be a fairy when I grew up.

Let’s just say I didn’t really have the right body type for the job. Fairies are distinctly delicate and I have farmers ankles.

Genetics , what can you do ?

Well, undeterred I did the next best thing. I made a fairy puppet called Fifi and lived out my fairy ambitions vicariously through her. That was about 15 years ago. She’s been through a few phases in all that time. She started out looking like this:

Fifi

She’s never been the prettiest fairy, but she does manage to win over hearts with her special charm.

Like all ladies, time took it’s toll on the fairy and constant use wore her down. She went through another make over and ended up looking like this:Her face was starting to twist and although the children still adored her, it was starting to become very difficult to take a still photo of her without her looking decidedly past her best.

So  today I decided to take Fifi in  hand and to reconstruct. Yes dear readers, I did some fairy puppet plastic surgery.

Out came the eyes, the nose was reconstructed, a new skin was stretched over the face and the eyes were repositioned and new hair ( extra feathers and crochet ringlets ) were fastened in place. She was finished off with a new hair clip and butterfly and a few fresh flowers.

Now Fifi the Fairy feels good. She also looks younger.

Fifi in her new found freshness

Look at her pretty hair!

Pretty ringlets and wings

So Fifi is rejuvenated and ready to go. Her newest adventure will be pretending to be a mermaid.

But more about that soon.

Why not have a Fairy themed birthday party for your next daughter’s party? Fifi can come to your home or venue and enchant the children with her silly songs and giggly chat before beautiful fairy face- painting during tea time ( with fairy cakes?) ending off with a puppet show in a booth all about Fifi the Fairy’s first day at school.

Fairy nice!

 

Mermaids have more fun

Oh the things I do for love.

 

The love of my job that is.

My job as a London Children’s Entertainer and birthday puppet show provider keeps me on my toes, or my fishy tail.

 

I’ve had a request to do a mermaid themed party. Being a lady who likes a challenge, I’ve been exploring all things mermaid and am excited at the creative possibilities of the theme. I’ve unearthed my 20 year old carrier bag full of sea shells that I collected yes, twenty years ago with the idea of doing something creative with them. Who says that hoarding isn’t a useful habit? I’m about to put them to good use after 20 years. I’m still not quite sure what I’m going to do with them as yet, but something grotto-ish will be inevitable.

I’ve found a use for that long blonde wig that I’ve had hanging around for some reason I can’t even remember. I decided to paint my face as a mermaid and try out the mermaid long blonde look.

Oh dear.

Why do wigs make me look like a man in drag?

I thought I’d look like this

My mermaid puppet

 

But instead I got this:

I don't look quite how I expected to look. Sigh.

At least the face painting looks nice

 

I’m not sure that blonde is my colour. I can’t believe I bleached my hair for over 20 years. I’m so glad I’ve found my sense in my forties.

I’m not sure the pearlised white base is terribly flattering for late 40’s skin either…

So I took the wig off.

Ah that's better.

 

I think I shall stick to being a brunette mermaid with grey streaks.

 

 

Diane’s Puppets gets a face lift

I may just be a silly clown, a silly sausage, a silly puppet lady, but this London children’s birthday party entertainer takes her work very seriously. I’d had a good hard look at my website and found it wanting.

Room for improvement? Oh most definitely.

So I’ve spent a few hours  ( well days) sitting at my beloved Apple Mac ( RIP Steve Jobs) and using it’s wonderful capacity to create images simply. This is the result.

Diane's Puppets London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider

Who framed Bobby Bunny?

I’ve chosen a different theme, tweaked the text and decreased the file size of the images ( you live and learn hey? ) I think it’s working well.

But what do you think?

Do have a look here.

I’d love to know. Feedback most welcome. After all, I want the Diane’s Puppets experience to be the very best it can be.

A brief history of Diane’s Puppets in Pictures

Puppets, puppets, puppets!

A picture is worth a thousand words , so how many words are lots of pictures worth?

Here is a collection of my puppets and I, let the pictures tell the story.

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane with Bobby Bunny puppet and Tabitha cat puppet

Bobby Bunny, Tabitha Cat and me, Diane.

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane

Before the recession hit I used to have lovely Aunty Lena

London kids entertainers and puppet show providers in action

We made a great team

Kids moving at a birthday party at a Diane's Puppets party

Getting the children to stretch and wiggle

Child entranced by a puppet show at a birthday party

Bobby Bunny hopping in his show

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane in her puppet booth after a show

Now it's just me but the show must go on!

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane with her face painted like a tiger

Diane can be fierce and brave like a tiger

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane with her face painted like an Easter Bunny

Or gentle like a bunny

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane face painted as a butterfly

Or magical and colourful like a butterfly

London Children's entertainer Diane painting faces

What would you like to be painted as?

Child with butterfly facepainting

You're a pretty pink butterfly!

Fierce pirate face painting

Or you could be a fierce pirate oo arrgh!

Pirate captain puppet by kids entertainer and puppeteer Diane

with a pirate show to match!

Pretty mermaid puppet by puppeteer Diane

We all love a pretty mermaid, this one can fight too!

Shark puppet in pirate puppet show by Diane's Puppets

Watch out , there's a shark behind you!

Jester rod puppet

Whatever show you choose, Diane promises to keep it silly and to keep you laughing

London Children's entertainer Diane waves

Until it's time to wave goodbye!

Diane’s Puppets guarantees a fabulous time for all boys and girls at their birthday party and Diane promises to  be a silly sausage always. Hope to see you soon at a London Children’s birthday party near you!

From Freak to Friend in Forty Minutes

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane

Rainbow on my head

I’m a Children’s Entertainer so my work clothes are somewhat bright. I stand out in a crowd. I love my work outfit. I wear it on my way to work . When I walk down London’s streets on my way to a birthday party I often get stared at. Sometimes I get whistled at , sometimes I raise a smile from old ladies but the most common reaction is laughter , especially from teenagers. Upon explaining that ‘ These are my work clothes’ , the derision quickly changes to interest and sometimes to admiration. Yes, folks, I get paid to play and  make people laugh at birthday parties, how cool is that?

Today I had a little birthday party for a  sweet three year old girl in Chelsea. When I walked in, there was a small boy who was sitting on his mummy’s knee who burst into tears when he saw me.

My heart sank.

Mummy explained he was a little freaked out by my hair. I can understand, it’s not everyday that you meet a lady who wears a rainbow in  her hair. When you’re three that must be a little disconcerting to discover.

I made the decision to avoid all eye contact and play to the children who were in front of me and not focus on the little boy. I made a conscious effort to comment about my silly hair and call myself a silly sausage. There’s nothing like humour to cut tension.

I kept half an eye out for the little boy in question as I continued with my routine and smiled as I saw his tears turn first to smiles and then to laughter. I didn’t quite manage to persuade him to have a cuddle from the bunny puppet like the other boys and girls but I knew I had turned his fear into interest and I didn’t want to push my luck.

He never left his mummy’s lap but I managed to turn myself from a ribbon monster to a funny lady in just forty minutes. I even had a kiss blown in my direction on departure.

THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!

London Children's entertainer and puppeteer Diane

Birthday party entertainer/face painter and puppeteer Diane of Diane's Puppets

Colouring in for Halloween

Here's a picture of Witchy Poo flying through the sky for you to print out and colour in

It’s Party Time!

The Passage of Time

Image by ToniVC via Flickr

So you’ve decided to plan a birthday party for your child’s special day.

You’ve decided on the date, chosen a theme and decided how many children to invite.

Have you ever considered the importance of the time that you host the party and how it may impact on how the party is scheduled? Have you ever considered the timing of the eating session and how that impacts on the behaviour of the children at the party?

I hope to help break things down for you in this post so you can make clear informed choices for your child’s next birthday party , to make it the best party it can possibly be.

 

Traditional tea time

From 3pm up until 6pm

The traditional tea time party is usually the first choice of most people, commonly starting at 3pm and ending at 5pm or thereabouts.

If this is your first choice time slot, do remember if you are going to book an entertainer and /or a venue do book well in advance to ensure that you manage to secure that time slot. It may be the first choice of many other parents hosting a party that day too.

At a Diane’s Puppet’s party, I’ve found that the most successful schedule is to have  45 minutes to an hour’s entertainment before having tea, leaving the thirty minutes tea time at the traditional hour of 4pm. This leaves thirty minutes at the end ( I usually perform a puppet show in a booth at this point) sending the children home, happy and fully partied out at 5pm.

This timing works well on weekends or during holidays when school turnout isn’t an issue or when there aren’t too many younger siblings who rely on afternoon naps.

Midweek tea parties

Midweek parties are best held after 4pm, allowing children to get to the party immediately after school.

Do remember that the children will be coming to the party a little tired and ravenous after a long school day, so it will work best for all to feed them first. Allow 15 minutes for them to arrive / change out of school clothes and then sit them down to have something to eat. Maybe leave the cake and sweets until later on in the party to avoid the inevitable sugar rush.

At a Diane’s Puppets Party I often face paint during the eating time to avoid the boring queuing up.

Facepainter too

I'm a bunny wabbit

Weekend parties

If your first choice tea time slot has already been booked when you call up your entertainer, have you ever considered having a lunch time party?

Lunchtime Parties ( 11-1pm) ( or 10.30am-12.30)

Many of my clients have become firm fans of the lunchtime party once they have tried it. This party time slot is fantastic for those parents who are organising a party for a child with younger siblings as it doesn’t clash with nap times, allowing the younger siblings to be able to enjoy the party too. Your birthday child doesn’t have to nag you all morning about when their party is as the party begins when they are fresh and ready and full of excitement.

One of the biggest benefits of hosting a lunchtime party is that there is very little wastage when it comes to the eating time. Instead of throwing away a mountain of disregarded sandwiches after a tea party, why not prepare a simple hot dish of pasta or shepherds pie and watch the children eat it all up!

This can be very cost-effective too and is also much less labour intensive to prepare than the traditional snack foods of tea time.

Children are always hungry at lunch time , I’ve never seen food go to waste at a lunch time party.

At a Diane’s Puppets party, I usually suggest scheduling the eating time at 12 noon when the children will be good and hungry and really ready to wolf down their food like the Big Bad Wolf!

The children go home after a puppet show that finishes at 1pm leaving you with the rest of the day to put up your feet and relax.

The birthday child will appreciate having the afternoon to leisurely tear open their presents when they’re not too tired to enjoy the experience.

 

Times to avoid

There are times that clients sometimes request parties that cut right across tea and lunchtime.

Parties that are held between 1-3 pm or 2-4 pm are really awkward in so many ways.

From an entertainer’s perspective, parties held at these times limit the day to only one party as there is no leeway to be able to fit in another party in the day, given the travel and change over times needed. For an entertainer this doesn’t make good business sense nor does it help our other clients. We like to try to be available to as many clients as possible, we hate having to turn down customers  and disappoint our young clients.

From the guests perspective, these times straddle eating times, making it awkward to know when to feed children. They’re both straight after lunch but before tea , so unless you are planning having a party that doesn’t really entail feeding the children, this isn’t ideal. The eating time at a party isn’t just about feeding,  it creates a good break that punctuates the party. It is very hard to maintain concentration for two hours straight even for an adult, let alone a small excitable child.

Also remember that your guests may have other parties to go to, and if your party straddles that awkward time zone, your party may be the one that is not attended.

Ultimately, the client is king. We entertainers want to help our clients to have the best party experience they can possibly have.

I hope this information has helped you make an informed choice as to which party time would suit you and your child’s party needs the best.

Happy partying!

 

Diane

Hope to see you at a birthday party soon!

 

 

 

 

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