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

Archive for the ‘for parents’ Category

A Cuddle from a Tiger Who came to Tea : A Real Life Fairy story

A true fairy story

Once upon a time there was a lady who brought fun and silly antics with her whenever she went out to work. Children's entertainer and puppeteer Diane

Like the seven dwarves in another fairy story she loved her job and would sing and whistle while she worked.

She loved bright colours and would tie a rainbow of ribbons and clip crocheted daisies in her hair. She really was a very happy lady.

One day she left her colourful house, with its angels who lived on the kitchen ceiling

Painted kitchen ceiling Madonna and Angels

The lady's kitchen ceiling

and pink leopards on the walls,

Pink leopard painted walls

Pink leopard walls in the lady's kitchen

and pretty magical mosaic fireplace

colourful mosaic fireplace

Magical fires burned here

stepping out into the cold air with a song in her heart and a bag of face -paints on her shoulder, dragging a pink suitcase full of funny puppets and cheeky characters behind her. The puppets grumbled as they rumbled across the cracked paving, bumpety, bumpety bump. The lady blew magical cold air smoke from her mouth as she ran for the big red bus. Rarrrr! She was breathing fire like a dragon.

Fire breathing dragon puppet

Rarrrrrrr!

The big red bus took her to a nearby land called Clapham . There was a big green park in the centre of this land and in the centre of the park there was a pond. It was so cold that the  ducks were skating on the frozen water. Brrr, their bottoms must’ve been so cold.

The lady trundled her grumbling puppets in her pink suitcase until she came to a door with a magical number painted on it. Bright bouncy balloons bobbed as she knocked on the door.

Ten little children and a  birthday boy called Rory were gathered in the house. Rory was three, what a big boy!

Grumbling no more, the puppets popped out of the pink suitcase one by one and made friends with the little boys and girls and big boy Rory. The funny rabbit Bobby Bunny made everyone giggle with his naughty snoring when he was supposed to be sleeping. He loved giggling with the boys and girls as they hopped together.

White rabbit puppet

Sleeping Bunny Bobby

A funny clucking hen and a mooing cow played a Dingly Dangly game and the lady kicked up her legs and did the Can Can which made the children giggle. A naughty monkey called Twinkle

Cheeky monkey puppet

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

played Happy Birthday on the banana to Rory and learned how to say please. A fairy came to visit and sang Happy Birthday to Rory and sprinkled magic wishes on his toes.

Fairy puppet Fifi

Fifi eating her wand

Then tummies rumbled and it was time for tea.

In the kitchen the lady had laid out all her beautiful colours ready to paint the children’s faces. She painted princesses with golden tiaras, flowers and pink and tigers with terrible teeth and wiggly black stripes , all with very sparkly noses .

Tiger face painting

Diane says Rarrrrr!

Batman made sure everyone was safe. All parties need a Superhero, just in case, you never know.

Rory was painted as a tiger and had tiger paws to match. Now his face matched his very lovely name. Rory could roar with the best of tigers. RoAAAAAAR!

After a nice cup of tea the lady felt very happy. She really did love her job. Children around her were smiling and playing and pretending to be tigers and princesses.

Feeling satisfied , the lady went to pack away her cheeky puppets since they had all collapsed in a big exhausted heap after all the excitement of the party.

Rory the tiger came to help.

As the lady put the lion back in the pink suitcase, Rory said: I’d like a cuddle.

The lady asked : A cuddle from whom?

” The lion” answered Rory, who was feeling very brave now he was a 3 year old tiger.

So Rory had a cuddle from a sleeping lion.

The lady went to put back the chicken. She had stopped clucking and her feathers were ruffled and ready for bed.

“I’d like a cuddle” said Rory.

‘From the chicken? ‘asked the lady.

“Yes.”

So Rory cuddled the chicken.

The lady zipped up the suitcase , the puppets had all gone to bed.  Rory the terrible tiger stood still.

” I’d like a cuddle” said Rory the tiger.

” But they’ve all gone to bed! ” said the lady.

” Who do you want a cuddle from?”she asked.

“YOU!” said Rory the tiger.

So the lady went home, skipping and hopping, happy to have been cuddled by a tiger.

As she stepped down from the bus, powdery snow started to fall from the sky.

The lady sighed.

It had been a perfect day.

She unlocked her door and went into her colourful cosy  house to eat a slice of lemon drizzle cake and have a nice cup of tea.

Celebrating the Silly: My 100th post.

Diane’s Puppets : Kidspartyheaven. This is my one hundredth blog post.

To commemorate such an auspicious occasion I thought I’d take time to be a little serious and introspective .

Times are tough right now, especially for parents. We are all struggling to make ends meet in this very challenging financial time and this can be very stressful for parents. No parent wants to pass their worries onto their children . We want childhood to be an idyllic time, full of fun and new experiences. We want our children to have a better childhood than ourselves and this can be very tough to achieve, particularly right now.

Girl watching punch and judy show

Creating memories of my own

In my day job as a Children’s  Party Entertainer and puppeteer, I see parents doing their utmost best to provide the best childhood experience they can for their offspring. I applaud my lovely clients for realising the importance of creating good memories and the celebration of milestones for their children. Without wanting to sound like an advert for credit cards or package holidays, this stuff is priceless. But obviously it comes at a price, this is why I try and tailor my party packages to allow people to budget for what they can afford. This is also why I unashamedly display my prices on my website. It is the first thing I would look for, as a consumer, if I was looking to throw a party for my own child.

It is stressful just to live right now, jobs are at risk, things are impermanent. I feel this in the pattern of bookings I’m getting: everyone is very last minute. This reflects the consumers anxiety about  how hard it is to forward plan with no ability to be able to trust in our financial future. I too share your concern. We are all in this together.

We are told that the way out of this awful state is to start being confident, to start spending and trusting again. Easier said than done right?

I believe it is important to start with our emotions, to lighten up , to try and start being less gloomy. Our children pick up on these emotions more than anything, they live in an emotional world, rather like dogs. ( I’m a fan of the Dog Whisperer, can’t you tell?) I’m on a one woman mission to

Respect the Silly

silly pirate facepainting

Ooo Aargh Matey!

It may sound silly. It probably is. But there is a serious side to all of this. If we continue to live in the very grown up world of doom and gloom and recession and financial ruin, well… I don’t really need to spell it out do I?

We all need to laugh. We all need to feel good and light. It makes us healthy.

On this note, I’ve been busy making stuff  to lighten up our lives in the medium of crochet.

crochet pincushion tooth fairy box

a toothfairy box/pincushion

 funky Crochet rainforest toddler frog hat

Toddler rainforest frog hat.

Cute bumblebee beanie hat

My darling granddaughter modelling a bumblebee beanie

Crochet flower fairy doll

Of course I make fairies!

In my very modern way, I learned to crochet via Youtube a year ago. I’ve now got my own Folksy shop and a website.

Logo for Crochet bright and beautiful

Click on fairy to go to my website

It’s my way of staying positive and trying to bring lightness and brightness back into our world. If you are with me, please spread the word!

If you’re a social networking person, add me on @CrochetBandB on Twitter or www.facebook.com/CrochetBrightandBeautiful  on Facebook.

Right, it’s time to go to work.

Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to work I go…* whistles*

A Birthday Party away from Home : Checklist

So you are having a birthday party at a venue. There was just not enough space at home or the thought of having a bunch of marauding kids and accompanying parents in your home was just too much to bear. Fair enough.

So you’ve booked a venue and have loaded up the car ready to drive off for your party.

 

STOP!

 

Before you put that key in the ignition and drive away make sure you have the following things:

 

  • Matches or lighter ( I can’t count how many times I’ve witnessed blind panic as parents realise they’ve nothing to light the birthday cake with. Not many people smoke these days, so do come prepared)
  • The venue’s caretaker’s contact number ( in case of problems accessing the venue)
  • Your door keys ( Easy to forget in the fuss to pack stuff for the party. It’s all good until you can’t get back in the house… )
  • A list of guests and contact phone numbers of the parents in case of emergencies
  • Your phone ( fully charged)
  • Batteries for any camera/phone/ camcorder
  • Entertainer‘s mobile phone number ( if using entertainment services)
  • Checkbook or cash to pay the entertainer ( if using entertainment services)
  • Tablewear ( plenty of cups /plates/ paper napkins/ tablecloths)
  • Decorations (banners/bunting/balloons) and sticky tape or blue tack
  • Party bags or going away gifts
  • Food and drink for the guests
  • Drink for the parents ( if you are serving wine, don’t forget the corkscrew!)
  • Music player
  • If organising your own games, sweets for prizes.
  • The Birthday Cake with candles
  • Black rubbish bags for clearing up
  • A small first aid kit just in case ( try packing some arnica cream for bumps, plasters, cotton wool and antiseptic, maybe some sting relief for outdoor parties)
  • A toilet roll ( just in case!)
  • Pass the parcel ( if you are playing it)

So, it’s all packed,  now off you go! Have fun like these children did !

 

Happy children at a birthday party

Diane's Puppets meets Waybaloo

Punch and Judy: The Debate Continues

Watching Mr Punch , age 5

That's the way to do it!

My first experience of puppets was on Skegness beach.

Here I am, dolly cradled in my arm while I was transfixed by the antics of Mr Punch.

I couldn’t understand his strange squeaky voice and I never really understood the story but I was drawn in to this weird world with its shouting and slapsticks and cries of THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!

The crocodile ate the sausages and sometimes he even ate the baby. I took it all in my stride. I was a little scared of Mr Punch and never understood why he kept hitting everyone with his big stick but the fear was part of the thrill.

That was way back in 1969, I was 5 years old and England wasn’t politically correct.

Some may say those were better days, I’m not so sure. I appreciate people being sensitive to others feelings.

I grew up to be a children’s entertainer and puppeteer,  an artist and a mum of two girls and grandmother to one beautiful granddaughter who is my continuing inspiration.

Puppet lady Diane and her granddaughter

Grandma, what's that on your face?

I also grew up to be a feminist and understood  that the Punch and Judy story may not be a mythology that is terribly healthy for children in the long term.

It took time for me to get to that position though.

When I first started out on my journey as a Children’s Entertainer I thought that doing Punch and Judy was what was expected. So I made a set of characters and very handsome they were even if I say so myself. I sent away to have a swazzle made ( the secret voice changer to make Mr Punches peculiar voice) and practiced with this strange aluminium and tape contraption sitting on my tongue. I had plenty of near misses and almost swallowed the swazzle in getting my technique sussed. Still, it remained a challenge to make Mr Punch understandable and I understood only too well why I struggled as a child to understand his strange buzzy voice.

Punch and Judy puppets made by Diane's Puppets

My Punch and Judy set, minus my very large crocodile.

Toby dog puppet by puppet show provider Diane

Traditional Toby dog to start the show

Punch and Judy puppets made by Diane's Puppets

The very dysfunctional family

Big green crocodile puppet for birthday parties

No Punch and Judy is complete without this character

Let’s just say I made lots of very small children cry with this very first performance. They didn’t cry because the show was terrible, it was just that I scared them. Today’s children are more sensitive than the 1969 lot! Maybe that is because in today’s world , there is a lot more to be afraid of. ( There’s a debate in there somewhere)

Punch and Judy didn’t start out as a children’s show. It was the satire of the day, the Spitting Image or Rory Bremner show of its time. This is why there is parody of domestic violence, drunkenness, child abuse and features classic characters such as the Beadle  and the Hangman. In a very silly scene, Mr Punch manages to trick the hangman into putting his own head into the noose to demonstrate how it was done, and Mr Punch hangs the hangman.

The show was a  morality tale , where Mr Punch is supposed to get his comeuppance in a final battle with the Devil himself. There was such public outcry when Mr Punch lost the battle to the Devil and was dragged down to hell, that the story morphed into Mr Punch finally beating the Devil and becoming the ante hero that we all know today. The morality tale  became twisted .

So unless I get a specific request and lots of nagging to bring Mr Punch out again I shall stick to making children laugh rather than cry at birthday parties and puppet show events.

Mr Punch will remain in hibernation until further notice.

THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!

Colouring in for Halloween

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

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.

 

 

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