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

Posts tagged ‘Planning’

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!

 

 

 

 

Balloons, the pros and cons.

A pile of inflatable balloons.

Image via Wikipedia

As a London children’s entertainer of over 17 years experience, I’ve been to a fair few parties. How many I couldn’t possibly accurately calculate, but I’d hazard a guess that I’m probably past my thousandth party.  With all this experience I’ve become acutely aware of what can make or break a children’s party, especially from the entertainer’s perspective. Ideally when hiring an entertainer, the intention is to have a fun party with as little stress as possible. This doesn’t come without some planning and the best parties come from good team work between the client and the entertainer. Communication is vital, make sure you spend some time chatting to your entertainer to make sure they know what they are doing. Personally I feel an entertainer who is willing to compromise and bend to all requests may suggest an entertainer with little or no experience. An experienced entertainer is a source of many hints and tips for making your party successful, so don’t be afraid of picking their brains. A wise client is one who listens to suggestions from the entertainer and works in conjunction with them.  Good teamwork is essential for a smooth and calm party. I don’t know about you, but I like to avoid chaos at all costs.

Let’s start with BALLOONS.

Balloons. What party is complete without them? They provide instant festive decoration and are a party must. Right?

Right. But there are also times when balloons can be the cause of party chaos.

As an entertainer who wants to make sure my client’s party experience is a calm and controlled affair, I walk a tightrope of sergeant major/party-pooper. It’s a fine balance of keeping control but also not destroying the fun atmosphere. After all , fun is what a party is about. But out of control fun can soon descend into very unpleasant chaos. This is easily avoided though by taking some precautionary measures.

When booking a party with Diane’s Puppets, I suggest to my clients that if they are having balloons, to make sure they are kept off of the floor.

Party-pooper alert? Hmm, maybe, but balloons are great fun to play with on the floor as long as there is no other planned activity going on. If you are having a free play /soft play session for your party, by all means cover the floor with balloons. They are a  simple and cheap way of keeping small children busy. Combine balloons with a few bubbles and that is a party in itself. But and this is a big BUT if you have booked entertainment for the party, keep the focus on the booked entertainment. Children find it hard to focus on one thing if there are lots of other things going on at the same time and that inability to focus often leads to all-consuming chaos.

Keep balloons tied up and out of reach if you don’t want loose balloons to become bouncy weapons and missiles, perfect objects to hurl into puppet booths or bash puppets/entertainers/each other with.

Don’t underestimate the noise balloons can create when in a child’s grasp, the squeaking and bursting and general distraction they can cause can’t be over-emphasized.

Helium balloon ‘forests’ can be a beautiful decorative feature, but make sure that the dangling string is just out of children’s reach otherwise expect a few children to take on the role of chief balloon collector and claim them all. If there is to be a puppet show, make sure helium balloons are away from the front of the stage as the constant bobbing of the balloons can completely obscure the view for the majority of the audience and also risk popping on the hot lights. On that note, do bear  in mind that some children are balloon phobic especially if they happen to be autistic and sensitive to noise. Balloons can then be a very terrifying thing, unpredictable and very loud when popped. We want to minimize tears and disruption and maximize fun by thinking in advance.

So to summarize:

  • Keep ‘air’ balloons off of the floor if you are having entertainment and use them for decoration and going away gifts at the end of the party.
  • Make sure the string of helium balloons is just above the reach of the tallest child at the party to minimize squabbles and disruption if you want to make a forest of helium balloons .
  • Tie helium balloons firmly to the child’s wrist on departure- they have a nasty habit of flying to the moon if you don’t. ( The balloons that is, not the children!)
  • Consider tying helium balloon to each of the chairs at the tea table. This is a great way of adding instant party pizzazz but keeps the balloons in a secure place.
  • Be mindful of any left over latex from burst balloons, small children can easily choke. In my time as an entertainer, adults have been known to use the stretchy stuff to make makeshift caterpaults to fire at the entertainer… Hmm. Not great. Silly grown-up’s hey?

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