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

Archive for the ‘Party planning’ Category

Don’t Panic Mr Mainwaring!

If you can hear those words in your head uttered by the lovely Clive Dunn from the 70’s sit com Dad’s Army, then you’re probably of my generation or maybe you watch TV programs from yesteryear.

Either way, they encapsulate something I’d like to say to you lovely parents when hosting a party for lots of little strangers and their parents.

Don’t panic! It will all be fine.

Sometimes when faced with a big space like a church hall, children will feel the urge to run about. Some will even do that lovely slidey knee thing. ( I wish I could do that and get away with it, but I fear I may never get up again if I tried!)

If they do start to run about, it’s not the end of the world.

Don’t panic!

Your energy will translate to the children , they can smell the anxiety , just like dogs and they will sense it as fear. That makes it hard for you to take charge and remedy the situation ( if you don’t like the running about, some do!)

 

So what do you do if you feel that your party is starting to tip into chaos?

  • First take a deep breath. Remember your energy is paramount. Calm your breathing down.
  • Ask the grown-ups ( or get another adult to help with this) to quieten down. (You’ll be amazed at how much adult noise affects behaviour of children in a party situation)
  • If you have an entertainer and they are able to help, ask them to start an activity. The children will listen to a stranger.
  • Gain the attention of the children by making a sound that they won’t expect : blow a whistle, bang a tambourine or get a bloke to shout ATTENTION!
  • Once the attention is gained, harness the enthusiasm and energy of the children and announce a  game  in a good confident , projected voice.
  • Don’t ask who wants to play … just say WE ARE GOING TO PLAY…Give the children a choice and many will choose to keep on with their own invented/slightly dangerous(?) game.

Play games that involve non competition and action. Try the Hokey Cokey ( Get the grown-ups going too, they’ll enjoy this one especially if they’ve had a glass or two…) Go on a Bear Hunt , Be the Grand Old Duke of York ( or get a suitable bloke to be Sergeant Major and play a version of “Simon Says.” Kids love following instructions! Play Ring a Ring a Rosies with smaller children.

 

I can’t stress enough how your energy and that of the other grown-ups will affect the behaviour of the children.

Just because they’re running around doesn’t mean they’re being naughty. They’re using their imaginations to fill in the gaps. They’d much rather the adults join in with them and have fun all together.

So Grown-ups , are you ready for the challenge?

 

YOU Put your Right Foot IN

Your right foot OUT

 

So next time, don’t panic!

Get Involved!

 

 

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

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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