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

Posts tagged ‘Birthday’

A very Special Birthday : A picture story.

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Description unavailable (Photo credit: i.am.rebecca)

Today was a very special day.

My Granddaughter turned 2.

Her favourite tv show in the world  is Luxury Comedy, well, Grandma is an artist so has alternative tastes It  is a strange world of comedy invented by Noel Fielding ( of Mighty Boosh fame) that is weird and colourful and quite bonkers. Despite the odd rude word (which we overlook) it quite captured my little granddaughters imagination. She calls it Boom Boom ( referring to the theme tune).

This is why my ‘birthday card’ to my granddaughter consisted of two paintings of two of the crazy characters from Luxury Comedy. They’re two of Erykah’s favourites:

                                                                                          Fantasy Man

and The Audience ( Fish Finger for later) .

Whilst not strictly conventional fayre for most 2 year olds, my Granddaughter absolutely LOVED these. I should have taken pictures of her reaction upon opening them… but I was enjoying the moment too much. Suffice it to say, after hanging the two pictures in her brand new big girl bedroom ( she has just moved house ) she kept excitedly pulling me by the hand to show me her new paintings when I went to visit.

 

I went over with a small stack of gifts ( mainly books) for her. I’m a terrible present wrapper. This time however, I think I managed something quite inspired . They say necessity is the mother of invention and I needed something to top my stack of gifts . I had a bunch of hair elastics that I had squirreled away for  a rainy day and these made a really sweet ( and ultimately useful) bow topping. See what you think.

A stack of gifts topped with hair elastics.

pretty and practical

When I got to my granddaughters new house , she was fast asleep. She looked like Sleeping Beauty, butter wouldn’t melt. It’s great isn’t it how we forget the tantrums when they’re sleeping?

She’s so beautiful, it almost takes my breath away.

 

I woke her up and we went to sing happy birthday with her cake. It’s one of two, as I was so busy recently, I cheated and bought one from the supermarket and I intend to make a very special one tomorrow that we can all enjoy .

I’ll let the pictures tell the story:

I’m two. Two candles on my cake.

Blow….

Blow, not spit!

Fffffffffffffff phhhhhphhhhhhhhhffffffffffffff

Yeyy! They’re out. Check out the smoke.

Yum. I’m a big girl now so I’ll do it by myself thank you.

 

Because Grandma was so busy on this special day, we’re going to celebrate tomorrow as well. We’re off to the Rainforest Cafe for a very special dinner tomorrow with Aunty Imogen, Mummy, Aunty Riri and Maa and Dandaa.

 

Sigh.

I love being Maa.

 

 

 

 

 

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Partying with the Big Bad Wolf

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your candles out!

London children's entertainer and puppet show provider holds her Big Bad Wolf puppet

Gosh you are big!

Hello, Big Bad Wolf here.

Yeah , you know me, that much maligned and feared character from fairy stories , well don’t believe all you read in the papers or see on the television. I’m actually not asthmatic ( thanks for that rumour Guardian newspaper) and quite capable of a good huff and puff. Blowing down houses? Well maybe not . Not unless they were actually made of straw or paper. Mind you , most people would be capable of that really, you don’t need to be big and bad like me to do that. I’d probably be quite good at playing the trumpet if I put my mind to it.

A trumpet playing wolf, now that is an image to conjure up to the imagination. Mind you, in the world of Diane’s Puppets it’s not unusual to find a monkey playing a banana like a trumpet. I may just give it a go.

I should have beaten Harriet to blowing out her candles today. You should have seen her cake. It was me, dear friends, dressed up as Grandma in bed. It was quite the cake. The firework on the top scared me a little, but it looked pretty.

It was fun at work today, even though Diane had me playing to type. I was made to scare all the boys and girls again, typical scary wolf role but I must admit it was fun. My little brother really had them going . Silly boys and girls really believed that he was the  Big Bad Wolf, as if?! He was teasing them as they were screeching to that silly Red Riding Hood , telling her to be careful of the Big Bad Wolf, he told them he was the little friendly wolf. Was he telling porky pies? Of course not! He IS the little friendly wolf.

There is only one Big Bad Wolf and that , dear friends, is me.

You should have seen their faces when he introduced me, his big brother to them. Oh boy… you should have heard those big boys and girls scream. It made it all worthwhile. There’s nothing quite like getting into role as the baddy, the antihero. There’s just so much to get your teeth into ( pun intended). I threatened to eat them all later.

Diane had to pop up in the show to calm everyone down and reassure them that I was just a puppet: such is the power of my acting skills.

I need to talk to Diane about maybe writing a different sort of role for me. I’d like to branch out lovies. I’d appreciate an acting challenge. Maybe romantic lead?

Suggestions on a postcard please. What would you like to see the Big Bad Wolf playing next. I’m so over playing villain ( although I must say I do do it rather well.)

Plus I am very tired of the indignity of having my tail chopped off each time by that woodcutter.

How VERY dare he.

 

 

Parties for the Very Young

Celebrating those first few milestones

My darling granddaughter on her first birthday.

Birthday parties for children are important and especially important to the very young. Those first few milestones are significant. It’s all about becoming a ‘big boy’ or a ‘big girl’ until you actually are a big boy or girl, then only certain birthday milestones become important like 16, 21 , ( then I daren’t mention the rest , but you get my drift)

At 47, I really couldn’t be bothered if I never saw another birthday again, and I know there are quite a few of you reading this out there who can empathise with that last statement, but don’t let your adult disinterest in birthdays mask  the massive significance our children place on these days.

So when should we start celebrating birthdays? When is the right time to host a birthday party?

This really is down to the individual.

As a children’s entertainer, I have been booked on many occasion to entertain at a one year old birthday party. I’m one of the few entertainers who will take on board the challenge of a baby party.

I know that there are many of you out there who will consider this a waste of time and money. How can anyone possibly expect to entertain a one year old? They are babies , right?

Yes indeed, they are babies, but if you see the reaction those same babies have to puppets , especially if their parents or carers are actively involved in the singing and actions with the puppets, you’d understand why I keep being called back to entertain for  one year old parties.

Those first birthday parties are largely family affairs, and often consist of a mixed age audience. Very seldom do I attend a first year old baby party and it is solely babies. This mixed age family atmosphere makes first birthday parties really special. Tapping into that warm , supportive energy that close family members bring is a wonderful ingredient to a successful first birthday party. I often see older siblings , cousins ( sometimes even grandparents!) joining in with the actions and hopping  with the bunny or helping the birthday child row the boat. It is a special intimate moment to witness. One such party was for lovely Natasha Kaplinksy who booked me to help celebrate her daughter’s first birthday party last year.

So what themes are suitable for first birthdays?

I’ll be honest, I’m not the worlds biggest fan of themes when it comes to birthday parties for very young children. They work great for older children when you can do activity based stuff, like games and competitions , then the capacity to run with a theme is endless. When working with very young children you really have to work with what they are familiar with . So an obvious theme could be animals ( plenty of songs about animals ) or nursery rhymes .

Do be careful that you don’t get carried away with the theme and then throw out opportunity of including all your baby’s favourite songs and activities because they don’t fit within the theme. Most experienced entertainers will work out a way to adapt their routines to fit most popular themes but when working with very young children, flexibility is key. If you don’t go with the flow you may get swept away with the tide!

So to sum up, if you feel like throwing a party for your baby on their first birthday, go ahead! This day is as much about celebrating your first year of being a parent to this child as well as the child’s first milestone. Why not enjoy it together?

Sometimes even babies like their faces painted!

 

 

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

A Special Puppet Show for a Special Birthday Party

The Pearl Dragon and the little Bird who wanted to fly

 

Dragon puppet for birthday parties

Diane's beautiful and fierce Pearl Dragon

 

Following on from Monday’s post about the Chinese New Year and all things ‘ Dragony’ I thought I’d show you more of the cast of my most enchanting puppet show that I perform at kids birthday parties across London.

The story, written by my very lovely friend and one time side-kick ( pre recession!) Lena Augustinson,

Children's entertainer Diane with Aunty Lena and Fifi the fairy

Here is Aunty Lena and her wonderful hat and myself with Fifi the fairy.

 

tells a timeless story of the impatience of youth.  A small bird is in an outdoor cage hanging from a tree ( a magic singing tree as it happens) somewhere in China. He is owned by Little Girl who tells him that he cannot come out of the cage until his wings grow bigger. Little girl puppet Bird puppet for birthday party puppet shows

Little bird isn’t satisfied with having to wait, so one day he takes an opportunity to escape the cage when Little Girl leaves the cage door open after feeding time.

 

He takes advice from the magic Singing Tree who tells  him to find a magic pearl somewhere on the moon and give it to the Ferocious Pearl Dragon to gain his wish to have big wings. But how was bird to get all the way to the moon?

With the help from the young audiences who instinctively understand and relate to this story, Little Bird manages to find himself on the Golden Moon where his adventure really begins.

Monkey puppet and bird puppet for birthday party puppet shows in London

Little Bird meets the trickster Monkey

Beautiful tiger puppet, golden tiger, tiger puppet for birthday party puppet shows

Beware of the Golden Moon tiger Grrrrrrrrr

As all good stories go, this one ends with a happy ever after and a magical transformation.

 

Want Diane to come to your child’s birthday party? Inquire here or call her on 02078209466 for availability.

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

Save the pennies: Be gender neutral

Teddy Bears' Picnic

Image by Cockburn Libraries via Flickr

It’s a tough old world for the party scene out there. Money is tight, we are all struggling to pay bills and now you are facing the expense of a children’s birthday party.

Have you ever considered the impact of gender stereotyping when it comes to expense?

What on earth do I mean?

Well I shall explain.

So many times as a children’s birthday party entertainer, I see the  host struggling to keep up with the party tea, handing out blue/car boxes to boys and pink/ fairy boxes to girls. Sometimes they are left with odd numbers or an unexpected child turns up and they only have the opposite gender box, posing a tricky situation. You try getting a boy to eat his sausages and sandwiches and crisps from out of a pink fairy box. It isn’t easy.

The same applies for party table ware and balloons. It is also very noticeable at going home time and the party bags come out. In that mad scrum of leaving and finding shoes and bags and coats, it is really an unnecessary  extra effort to have to provide the appropriate pink or blue gendered going away gift.

Children really don’t care much about this gendered thing, trust me. Adults are laying on the expectations for them. Why do we have to gender the decor or the party table ware? Unless your theme is pink and girly or Thomas the Tank engine, you are really making things hard for yourself. All this gender stereotyping stuff serves to do is alienate boys if things are all pink , causing them to act up  or vice versa. There are plenty of themes out there that are gender neutral, why not take advantage of their potential.

Think about animals. Every child loves animals whether it is a Jungle or Farm theme or Teddybear’s picnic, there is potential for joy without having to do something different for each gender.

Instead of pink or blue tableware, why not try bright primary colours? There is nothing more visually pleasing than a table decked out in vivid rainbow colours.

As for party bags or going away gifts, a book or a pack of bright crayons and a colouring book always goes down well. Finger puppets are a great going away gift, especially after a puppet party.

My fairyland finger puppet set

A knights tale complete with fire breathing dragon and a tower

A space adventure

Ikea do very cheap and good quality sets . If you are looking for very special finger puppets, I make my own one off story finger puppet sets  available online in my folksy shop. One simple gift nicely wrapped in gender neutral colours is just as appreciated as a gendered bag full of plastic tat and sweets. I’ve even seen children going home proudly clutching their very own daffodil in a pot, or a strawberry plant. Be creative. There is more to childhood than turning our kids into princesses and pirates at every opportunity. Sometimes it is good to just let them be kids and it is considerably cheaper and far less hassle.

And if you are wondering, as a lady entertainer I am personally partial to pink and tutus and all things sparkly. But I do like a bit of rainbow thrown in for variety. Let’s open our minds to the possibilities of gender neutral and save ourselves a few pounds in the process. Can’t be bad.

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