1. Do your research
If you’re going to spend some money on entertainment for your child’s party then you’ll also want to spend some time making sure you get the right deal. It may be obvious but think about what your child likes and what they don’t like. If your child has a phobia of clowns then you may want to steer clear of these funny folk.
It's important that you also check each entertainer's legal details such as current Working With Children Check and Public Liability Insurance.
2. Know what you’re paying for… What am I paying for?
When hiring entertainment, you are paying for more than just the hour or so that an entertainer will be at your party. The entertainer needs to cover expenses such as travel, insurance, advertising, equipment, and the time spent rehearsing to hold a group of children’s attention for an hour or so.
All of these things add up so don’t be surprised that you may spend hundreds of dollars for what looks like an hour of work.
BUT! You don’t want to be surprised by hidden charges. Some entertainers and companies will charge a one-off payment while others have a base rate and then charge extra for things like travel, amount of children, extra entertainers and any nasty damages that might occur.
Moral of the story is… Get a quote and check all the details before paying.
3. Food Glorious Food!
Everybody loves food. That’s a no brainer. And children not only love food, but if they haven’t eaten, you’ll run the risk of having a group of flaked out, irrational, miserable, party-poopers.
Plan your party around meal times and make sure that the children have eaten before trying to hand them over to a magician or pinning a tail on a donkey.
4. What’s the Time Mr Wolf?
Timing is crucial. Get it wrong and you’ll be curling into the fetal position while the tired tykes run riot. This is more important for children under the age of 6 but let’s face it, nobody functions well when tired.
The best times of day for kids are early in the morning and after food. This usually falls into the 9:30am-11:00am bracket. The next best time is around the 1:00pm mark after a nap and food.
5. Location, Location, Location
There are many factors to consider here. If you’re outside then you don’t have to vacuum the grass, unless that floats your boat of course. Or maybe you don’t want to spend hours looking at weather predictions so you’ll plan for the inside option.
Whether you choose inside or outside here a few pointers to consider for making the entertainment work.
Save a space for the entertainer. If they need to set up equipment then make sure that they can do this without being bombarded by children or tripping over scooters and knee high chairs.
If the entertainment involves speaking or music then inside will work better on most occasions. If hosting inside is not an option then try to reduce any background noise outside and hopefully the entertainer has either a loud voice or a P.A system.
The entertainer should be prepared for all scenarios but you don’t want to set them up for disaster.
6. Let the Entertainer do their job
You’re paying the entertainer to make things a bit easier for you by amusing the children and keeping them occupied. If you’ve planned well, have chosen a good time and have fed the kids then you might have some time to chat to friends or perhaps even relax and enjoy some entertainment yourself.
Also, don’t feel like you have to help the entertainer setup and pack up. Your paying them to do that so go and enjoy yourself.
7. Don’t Over Do It
Everybody wants the best for their child but children also want the best for their parents (they realise this when they’re older).
Be reasonable and don’t pack too much stuff in. A party that is short and sweet and has the kids smiling as they walk out the door is ideal. A four-hour marathon that involves several party games, face painting, trivia, jumping castle, a banquet fit for kings and queens followed by an hour of crying and fighting as kids lose the plot… is probably not ideal. But it does happen.
You’ll be exhausted after an hour or two and so will the kids, so keep it short.
And if you are having entertainment then don’t put on everything at once. You don’t want to waste your money by passing a parcel or bringing out the cake while your entertainer has just started.
8. It’s all about me!
Hopefully your entertainer will be the centre of attention at some stage. If they’re good, then they will also make the birthday girl or boy feel very special too.
Some children may not like the idea that that they are not getting all the attention and that some clown is getting all the laughs at their party. Who can blame them? Some adults don’t like that either.
This scenario is best avoided by talking to your child before the party. Let them know that they are special and loved and that someone will be coming who will be a lot of fun for everyone. Every child is different so tactics will vary but it is important that the birthday child knows that they may need to share toys, friends and stage time.
*This article was first published on a blog for Melody Shakers.
Author: David Thurlow
Fun Stuff for Kids (The Blog) is all about providing parents, teachers and child carers with helpful hints, educational articles and fun ideas that children will love.
David Thurlow is an educator, entertainer, musician, husband, father and casual blogger