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Over 50 Children’s Birthday Party Questions Answered Right Here and Now, Completely Free Of Charge And Without Obligation

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Question Categories:
Pre-Party Planning   |   Party Venue   |   Entertainers and What to Expect
Party Games   |   On The Day Problems   |   The Party Banquet   |   Everything Else

Pre-Party Planning

Get the planning right and you are off to a good start,
Questions 1 to 14 will help you do this.

Q1 - At What Age Do You Suggest I Start Involving My Child In The Organisation Of Their Party?

I would say as soon as they are able to make a decision, you can do that even with a young child. You could say to a four year old “would you like to go to the farm or perhaps you would like a magic and story party, or would you like to go to the local soft play area and play there?

You must be comfortable with all that you offer, and obviously you make the choices simple and suitable for your child and let them make there own mind up. You might give them a little bit more information about what would happen at a magic and story party or what things they will see and can play with at the farm. You know your child and how they are likely to react to the options, so together you can find the right thing for them.

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Q2 - Is There A Maximum Age For Birthday Parties, How Do I Decide When To Stop Parties For My Children?

There’s no maximum age for a birthday party, the age to stop doing birthday parties is when your son or daughter wants them to stop... when (s)he decides that they don’t want a party any more.

If you say to a youngster of x age say 7 or 8 or wherever you decide to pitch it, that this will be their last big birthday party and that same year all their friends are going out on an adult type of treat, to the cinema or a restaurant or something, they may well want to do that too.

Your child may perceive a party as being babyish when they really want to be enjoying a grown up treat and vice versa...

If you say right, to your son or daughter, we’re going out on a grown up treat and all their friends are having a birthday party (s)he may feel that they’ll be missing out on 20+ presents and a traditional party which they may want.

So my advice is to sit your youngster down, say “it’s your birthday coming up, what would you like to do?” You may wish to give them some options, by saying “you could go to the cinema or a restaurant or have a party”, and all of the options you offer them you must of course be comfortable with. So maybe don’t offer the trip to Disneyland California if this is not acceptable to you, because Murphy’s Law says, (s)he will choose the one that you don’t want them to choose, if you do.

Give them two, three or four choices, let them pick the one they want, it might be a party, it might be a treat and they’ll find there own level.

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Q3 – My Child Is Going To Be 10 Years Old – That Is Too Old For A Birthday Party Like I Arranged In The Past, Do You Have Any Suggestions Of What I Can Arrange For This In between Age, Too Old For Parties, Yet To Young For More Grown Up Activities?

This is a challenging age but here is a great idea if your child is aged 10 to 15 years next birthday and likes magic…

Mr Mysto has created a party for this age group, he calls them Young Adults, the first section, usually about an hour long, is some stunning Close up Magic for the children to enjoy, not baby or children’s magic but more the sort of material Mr Mysto would use for a grown up audience, but always age appropriate of course.

This is followed but a workshop where the audience learn to perform a trick, with hands on coaching from the master himself and finally a levitation of the birthday child.

Yes your youngster will float in the air in your front room.

The 2-hour straight through (i.e. no food break in the middle) party could be in your own home or a local hall.

The ideal number is around 10 or 12; you will probably find that at this slightly older age, your child’s circle of friends is more tight knit than it was a few years ago, so there is no need to invite the whole class.

Read more about this highly entertaining party for older children

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Q4 – My Child Is Going To Be three Years Old – Is This Too Young For A Birthday Party With A Professional Entertainer?

The answer is in 2/3rd of cases yes your little one is too young. However, 1/3rd of the time it might be right for you, here is how to decide for your child…

A professional entertainer will need you to be able to tick these three boxes for the party to stand any chance of working for you and more importantly for your child…

  1. The birthday person must be amongst the youngest of his or her peer group. So that generally the children are three plus and not three minus. If your child is three and all the others are really 2 1/2 years old, then don’t employ an entertainer this year.
  2. You need one or two slightly older children, five years old is ideal, but eight years old is too old. These slightly older children show the little ones what to do, they have been to parties before and have slightly more experience and because they are only a little older the three year olds will usually treat them as their own peer group. However, to a three year old, an eight year old is an adult.
  3. You need to be comfortable with your entertainer thinking the party is 100% about the children and nothing about the parents that will inevitably want to stay at your party. Some parents think the party is a social for them and a baby sitter looking after the children. That’s fine if that is what you want and if that is the case you need a professional, safe crèche and not an entertainer. See question 11 on more about parents at children’s parties. If you want the party to be all about the children and nothing about the parents, then the chances are your entertainer will have some methods and tactics to ensure the parents are contributing to the parties success for the children and not detracting from it. I suggest your ask your entertainer about their methods and make sure you are comfortable with them.

Now if you can tick ALL those boxes for sure, then your party stands a good chance of being successful. I suggest you now check out question number 24 on how to choose the best entertainer for your party.

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Q5 -Is It Important To Have The Party On The Day Of The Birthday? I Am Interested In Your Thoughts?

Obviously this is a matter of personal choice, but as always I come at this question from the point of view of the children. Children either understand the calendar or they don’t.

If your child is having a 6th birthday or younger then it is unlikely that they really understand the calendar and if that is the case for you, then from your child’s point of view their birthday is when Mummy and Daddy tell them it is, so you could have their party on any day and they would not know the difference.

If, however, they are a bit older and do understand the calendar, then they are old enough to explain honestly that their birthday is on that day, but their party is on this day.

A great way to explain this is by the number of sleeps until their party day.

It is much more important to ensure your child has a great time at their party, than having it on the right day. Children usually don’t care about time, date or place, they only care about how much fun they have, how special they are made to feel and how many and what presents they get.

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Q6 – What About Themed Parties, What Do You Advise About These?

Well, this is a big subject actually. If your son or daughter wants a themed party and your comfortable with it go for it, there are loads of themes out there but there are some pitfalls.

Don’t ask your entertainer to change his show to fit your theme; it usually looks exactly what it is, bolted on and naff. If an entertainer can do something within your theme, then he will suggest it, so if you are talking to the entertainer on the phone and you say “We’re considering a Spiderman theme” and the entertainer has got a Spiderman trick, game or story that he can perform in his show, he will tell you and be very proud of it.

However, if you say look I want this to be a Spiderman Party and I want everything in the party, including your show to be Spiderman orientated, the entertainer will either turn down the show (most professional response to a show he can’t do) or he will be scratching his head wondering what he is going to do. If he then tries to change his shows to fit your theme, it will end up being less than you or the entertainer wants.

What you can do, is have your invitations, tea plates, cups, tablecloths, cake, decorations and party bags, all these you can organised to fit the theme.

Your entertainer may even be able to organise a game or two that fits your party theme.

You could ask your entertainer if they have any themes that they do already and then choose your theme to fit the show (much better than the other way around).

If you need any help finding shops that can help you with things for your Themed Party, call our Party Advisors on 01737-350586 they will point you in the right direction, the service is free and without obligation.

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Q7 – What About Fancy Dress, Any Ideas That Might Help Me?

Fancy dress is usually fun for the children, but I’m not very keen on making fancy dress compulsory for all the guests, if you inflict fancy dress on a guests parent and they don’t want to play the game, they may find they’ve already arranged a trip to granny that day that means their little one can’t come to the party!

If you make fancy dress optional then those who want to can and those that prefer not to don’t. You may as a parent running the party have a spare cowboy hat or a tiara to one side just in case you have one child arrive not in fancy dress and everyone else did, you can quickly give them your cowboy hat and they can feel part of the party.

I don’t advise necessarily making a big competition out of fancy dress either, especially with younger children or if some didn’t make the effort. However, if you do want to make it into a competition you could let the children judge so that it’s not an entertainer or you as a parent deciding who the winners are of the fancy dress, but the children. The boys could judge the girls and the girls can judge the boys or the big ones judging the little ones and visa versa, or anything else that seems appropriate at the time.

I do have one other thing to say here, if the children arrive with things in their hands, swords, wands, hooks anything like that, you want to take them out of circulation and find a safe place for them. Say to the children in a firm tone of voice “all the things you are holding in your hands need to go on this table over here.” Make sure everyone complies, they are just an accident waiting to happen - you don’t want a youngster scratching his eye with a hook on!

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Q8 - There Are 30 Children In My Child’s Class, Do I Have To Invite Them All? If Not How Do I Get Over The Problem That I Am Missing Some Youngsters Out?

You only invite the children that your son or daughter wants at their party, there is simply no reason, obligation or compulsion to invite everyone unless you or your child wants them there.

First you think about the space, how many children will fit in (see question 20 for how best to do this). For purposes of demonstration lets say that is 20.

First include the birthday person and any siblings, then add in any family friends cousins for instance that you wish to invite and take the answer from 20 (in our example). So now we might have 16 other people that we can invite.

Then you help your child pick the friends that (s)he wants. They might be friends that have been to play or have visited or people that (s)he talks about most often.

The only exception to this is if you are inviting all but two children, if that is the case I suggest you should invite them all, unless you know a particular child is VERY disruptive, then you have every right to leave them out.

If you are inviting the whole class teachers are usually very helpful at handing out invitations, however, if you are not inviting all, then teachers may not be so willing to help distribute your invitations and this may be a small challenge that needs to be overcome.

Also remember that if you do have 30 children in your class and you do invite them all, the chances are you will receive 29 reciprocal invitations, each one will require time, fuel and a present and this might not be your wish. So 29 weeks out of the next 52 your child is going to have a party to go to.

If anyone questions why you have not invited the whole class (or their child) simply say that you sat down (your child’s name) and agreed with them who they wanted at the party. We have limited space and the people invited were the ones that your child chose.

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Q9 - What About A Check List, Every Time I Have A Party I Forget Something, Any Advice?

Q10 - I Am Way Out In The Sticks What Help Can I Give My Party Guests To Find Us?

There is a very good web site called… http://maps.live.com -this will help pin point your party venue; you will then be able to print off copies of the map to give to all the guests.

Next you can make sure all the guests has the venue post code, with modern day Satellite Navigation Systems your post code will make finding the right area very easy.

Next I would put balloons every 50 to 100 yards from the nearby major road to the party venue. Place them so as the guest gets closer to the venue the balloons get closer together. I would also make those balloons all the same colour and you can tell the guests before hand what colour. You say once you come off of the main road at whatever junction you simply follow the red balloons all the way.

Tie the balloons up securely especially on a windy day and make sure you use a few balloons at every point just in case one breaks loose or pops.

You can also put your home phone number or your mobile number on the invitations so that if anyone should get lost they can phone you and you can guide them in.

If you do all the above and your guests still can’t find the venue, perhaps you could pick the guest up and take them home afterwards or send a stretched limousine, okay only joking.

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Q11 - Parents, Some Parents Just Like To Stick Around During The Party, What Do You Advise?

If your party guest is three years or less then parents will stay, it is right for them to stay and they are more than welcome at most parties.

If your party guest is five years old or above most parents should be encouraged to leave and collect later at the end of the party. We call this dump and run! They should leave their child, go shopping or do something for themselves…

Why is this?

Parents that want to stay usually do so because their child is a bit shy and nervous on arrival and mum thinks that if she leaves then the little one would cause us entertainers and you a problem. Actually the reverse is true, if mum leaves a shy nervous youngster, there is usually some tears for a few seconds after mum makes her exit and after that they integrate into the party very well. However, if mum stays then the shy nervous child won’t leave mums side and will not take part in the party.

The reason for this is that mum represents a security blanket and everything else is a risk. If you are a bit nervous and you have the security of mum, why would you take a risk?

However, if mum disappears, now the security blanket has gone, hence the tears but a cuddle and re-assurance from the entertainer or the party giver and all is soon okay.

All professional people that work with young children know this,…

Example; will the teacher allow you to stay at school if your child is a bit nervous on arrival? Of course not, they will kick you out the door at a rate of knots, for the very same reason. If they can get rid on mum, they get rid of the problem, if mum stays so does the problem.

The uncertain age is four years of age, at this age some mums will leave happily, others will insist on staying. Some mums with children of this age have very limited experience of leaving their children and so my advice is to go with the flow, if mum wants to stay, so be it.

If mums do stay they must understand that your party is 100% about the children and nothing about them. All entertainers will have a problem with parents staying at the back of the room and having a mini party of their own.

They are effectively saying, an entertainer, good, right you entertain the children over there and leave us to have a social gathering over here.

I bet they are the same people that complain in cinemas and theatres that people are talking around them and they can’t hear the performance.

For many young children, your party could be their first theatrical experience and we should be showing them the right way to behave right from the start and what is expected of an audience.

Parents should be invited to watch the show, take part in the party and understand that your party is children’s time and the adults should respect that. If parents are talking behind the children then it creates a conflict in the children’s minds between the entertainer in front and the parents behind and distractions distract.

If parents don’t want to watch the show then they should leave the room completely.

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Q12 - Why Is Timing A Children’s Party So Important And How Do I Get It Right?

The way to time a children’s party is to start with the food break, what time would the children normally be eating and make that the middle point of your party. So for instance if your children would normally have lunch at 1.00 p.m. then time your 2 hour party 12.00 p.m. to 2.00 p.m. If tea would normally be 4.30 p.m. for your child, then time the party 3.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.

A bad time to have your party would be 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. if you do, you will be feeding the children at 3.00 p.m. and at that time it is too late for lunch and too early for tea.

A poorly timed party will either have the children distracted in the first part of your party because they are looking for something to eat or they will not be hungry when you serve your party banquet. Lots of food is then wasted and you join a group of party givers that say that children don’t eat much at birthday parties I wonder why?

The other thing that may be going on is your entertainer (if you are booking one) will probably want to perform at two parties in a day (especially at weekends). If you book your party 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. you would be cutting across the two parties. This may make your chosen entertainer unavailable or it may put the price up as you would be stopping the entertainer booking a second show that day.

With a weekend party your child may well be very excited about the party and as a result may wake up earlier than normal. If they wake at say 6.00 a.m. (many report much earlier than this) and the party starts at say 3.00 p.m. then your youngster would have been awake for nine hours and that is a long time to wait for anyone but especially and excited child.

If your child is of this type, you may consider a lunchtime party. Setting your party at this time your child will only have about half as much time to wait for the action to start.

Also lunchtime parties allow your child all the afternoon to get their feet back on the ground and open the presents after the party is over.

I certainly recommend lunchtime parties for younger or very excitable children, unless there is a very good reason why this is not a good time for you.

Two words of warning here though… If you are thinking of booking a church hall these are usually not good on Sunday lunchtime. Also lunchtime parties does need mum to get her act together with the food a little earlier, but all in all it is worth it.

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Q13 - What About General Decorations At A Child’s Party?

If you are decorating for yourself, well that is fine, you are a grown up person and you can make your own mind up about these things, however, if you are decorating for the children, then my advice is leave the decorations in the shop and money in the bank.

Why?

Children don’t notice the decorations and care even less. They are much more interested as to what is going to be happening, how much fun they are going to have and what they are going to win. If the children are interested in the decorations then the entertainer can’t be up to much!

More information is given about balloons in questions numbered 30 and 38. Balloons in the right place are fine, on the door to show people where to come in and firmly stuck to the wall out of reach of the children, if you want to, but please don’t leave them loose on the floor.

On the floor they are a dangerous distraction and should be avoided at all costs.

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Q14 - My Child Wants A Bouncy Castle, What Are The Pros and Cons?

A Bouncy Castle at a child’s party needs careful thought if it is going to work for you; there are some challenges and some benefits.

The benefits fall into three areas…

Most children love a bounce on the castle; in fact a Bouncy Castle can be like a magnet for children. They are not very expensive when compared to other forms of children’s party entertainment. Usually easy to arrange as the castle people will often deliver to your party venue, set you up, show you what you have to do and then come back later and pack it away again.

However, there are some serious downsides to a Bouncy Castle party…

Whilst they are very attractive to children to start with, that enthusiasm is only for a limited time. After around 15 to 30 minutes of bouncing most children are ready to move on to the next activity. So if you thought, by arranging a Bouncy Castle, all your party planning and entertainment questions were over, I am afraid to say, it is time to think again. Children don’t participate in any activity for very long. They like and need a variety of things to do. The best way to explain this is to think about what your children’s teachers do in school, they do little and often, they change the activity at frequent intervals and they have lots of different things going on. That way they keep the children’s interest, attention and imagination. A Bouncy Castle is the same thing, followed by the same thing, followed by the same thing. Usually you carry the risk of the weather, so if planning a Bouncy Castle in the garden and your party days turns out to be a rainy day, you still have to pay for your castle and you have all the party guests inside your house wanting to be entertained. Basically you need a plan ‘B’ If you hire a local hall you must make sure the ceiling is high enough, the hall allows a Bouncy Castle and the door is big enough to get the castle in There is a risk, that with lots of children on the Bouncy Castle at the same time, that one youngster will land on top of another with resulting injury and tears. It is also possible that children can fall off and land on the surrounding area and for this reason I suggest that you make sure that the Bouncy Castle people also supply mats that give a softer landing. I am pleased to say serious injury is rare but certainly not unheard of. However, There is the recent case of Sam Harris, who’s tragic case was widely reported in the media after his parents was awarded damages likely to exceed £1 million. It is critical that you read the story on the BBC website.

You need proper adult supervision ALL the time children are on the Bouncy Castle. If Bouncy Castle is one item amongst many at your party, that’s great but make sure it is turned off when the next activity is taking place. If you are booking an entertainer in addition to your Bouncy Castle I suggest you mention this to the entertainer before you book both. The chances are the entertainer will have some advice for you that might save you money, stress or both. It will also mean that your entertainer is prepared for what is going to happen and can take your instructions before hand. You can agree, if, where, when and how up front so you don’t get any surprises on the day. One other small point, it doesn’t happen often but I have heard of it…If the children are bouncing after the food break, with lots of fizzy drinks in their tummies, okay enough said.

A great place for Bouncy Castle is at a school fair or similar event where lots of things are going on. You can than regulate the number and age on the Bouncy Castle at any one time and also limit the amount of time children spend on it.

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Question Categories:
Pre-Party Planning   |   Party Venue   |   Entertainers and What to Expect
Party Games   |   On The Day Problems   |   The Party Banquet   |   Everything Else

Party Venue

Questions 15 to 21 will help you choose the best venue for your party.

Q15 - Should I Party At Home Or Hire A Venue What Are The Pros And Cons?

Well actually this is fairly easy, have the party at home if you possibly can.

Why?

Well, there are actually 11 reasons why you should have your party at home; here is a list of them for you…

  • You can’t leave anything at home – if you go to a hall then you might forget the coffee or the milk or something, it can be a real pain in the bottom.
  • You know the toilets are clean; there’s nothing worse than turning up a hall and finding that the toilets are not all they might be.
  • Emergency change of clothes, sometimes children have accidents at both ends of their bodies and when spillages happen and they need an emergency change of clothes, you’ll have some clothes around at your home which you probably wouldn’t have if you were in the local hall.
  • There are no hall costs; halls in Surrey, South London are going to cost you somewhere between £40 and £70, if you’re having your party at home that’s a saving that you’ll make instantaneously
  • It’s always available when you want it, when you go to a hall, the hall may say you can have it this day, but not that day as it’s already fully booked and you really wanted the party on the day the hall can’t do. You know your home is always going to be available when you want it.
  • No petty rules to obey; some halls won’t let you stick things like decorations on the wall or whatever; at home there are no such rules to obey. You make up your own rules.
  • No time constraints, you can have your party whenever you want it, although I’ve given you some advice about timing parties in a different question.
  • No paperwork to fill in, some halls want to go into great detail about what you want the hall for, how many, what age, who’s looking after them etc etc. not all of them, but some will ask everything but your blood group.
  • There’s no tracking down the right one – you know your home is going to be suitable. Usually it’s perfectly adequate, the vast majority of homes that parents feel will be okay, are.
  • You are your own boss, you can do what you want without anyone looking over your shoulder and telling you what you can do and not do.
  • And you can easily give directions to your home, you know where it is and you know all the local landmarks, people will usually be able to find your home very easily, it’s not always the case with halls.

So there are the main reasons I would have your party at home, however, the bottom line is of course what you want. Entertainers will be equally happy at home or in a local hall. I suggest you have a look at question 16, on the type of halls that work best for children’s parties and question 20 on how to decide how many children will fit in your home.

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Q16 - What Is The Best Sized Hall, If We Were Going To Have It In A Hall What Should We Be Looking Out For?

Ok, you want a hall that is sized like a big front room, what you don’t want is an aircraft hanger. An aircraft hanger usually comes with a very high ceiling and a wooden floor, this combination make for a noisy party. The clue is the badminton court that you very often see painted on the floor, if you get one of those halls the acoustics are usually very poor, it’s very hard to hear what people are saying (even if the are standing right next to you), the children are always over there when you want them over here, they’re very hard to organise and the whole hall lacks atmosphere, it just too big.

If you get a hall that’s sized like a big front room, if you walked into it and you thought ‘if this was my front room at home it would be big room, that’s the size of hall you want. It very often comes with a carpeted floor, lower ceiling and is cosy.

A great question to ask the hall people is, “how many people fit in your hall?” If the answer is say 30 or 40 then that’s a great sized hall, you could have the entertainment at one end, the food at the other, that’s a beautiful sized hall. If they say oh yes it holds 150 in there you know you’re getting a hall that’s too big to be ideal.

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Q17 - Some People Are Organising Little Arts And Crafts Activity Parties For Their Children Any Tips On Halls For This Kind Of Party?

A nice small hall will keep things compact and much easier to handle, if you do find yourself in a big hall, I suggest you put a row of chairs across the middle of the hall and tell the children that the party’s on this side and they’re not allowed over that side and be quite firm if they do start moving chairs and getting onto the wrong side, bring them back and say “the party’s over here, we’re not allowed over that side, there might be crocodiles or scary monsters on that side.” All with a big smile and a friendly face of course.

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Q18 - Can You Help Me Find a Hall For My Child’s Party?

Yes of course we can, we have a massive database of local church halls, village halls, community centres and the like, in the south London and southern Home Counties area. Virtually all of them we have worked in and are suitable for children’s parties. Over 80% of which we have the phone number of the booking secretary and all are priced sensibly. Obviously some are cheaper than others, most have rules to obey and forms to fill in, but all are open for you to hire.

The best bit is that this information is available to you completely free of charge as a gift from us. All you have to do is call our party advisors on 01737-350586 and they will give you the information you need over the phone, straight away, no obligation on your part and 100% free of charge.

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Q19 -I Live In A Suburban Area And I Don't Have A Choice, There's One Hall In The Village On Its Own, Do I Use That Hall Or Do I Travel To The Next Village?

That may be the truth then it’s a decision for you to make, do you want a great result at the party but a longer travelling distance or are you going to put up with a noisy party?

I would suggest you should start with what is going to give the children the biggest result and go there. Obviously you need to be sensible but a few extra miles and a great party would be my choice and I guess the choice of your child.

Another thing to think about here is you probably will need a bigger hall if you employ the services of a bouncy castle for instance, if that’s going to be inside you’re going to need enough headroom to make sure it fits in, ask your bouncy castle people how high it is and then obviously check with the hall to make sure it is going to be big enough.

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Q20 - If I Party At Home, How Can I Tell How Many Children Will Fit In My Space?

You obviously need to have enough space for the number of guests that you’ll be inviting, so here is a handy way of calculating how many will fit in your space….

Make your party room as rectangular as you sensibly can, so do push back the telly and take the coffee table out, but I wouldn’t get into major three piece suite removal or anything like that unless you really want to.

Go to the opposite end of the room to the door, because that’s where most entertainers will set themselves up, for many families that will be by the bay window or the patio door. Give your entertainer two lady size paces, it will be about four feet, that’s the space most entertainers are going to need to work in. Then pop your children on the floor in front of that imaginary set up and you will able to guesstimate how many children will fit across and how many children will fit back, so you might say I could fit four children across and I can fit five children back, 4 times 5 equals 20.

If you’re happy with 20 then go for it, if you’ve got 21 then it’s no problem you’ll squeeze them in there somewhere. But if you want 30 children at the party then your house is not going to be big enough and then it is plan B, the local hall.

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Q21 - I Want To Party At Home, But I Am Worried The Children Will Wreck My Home And Generally Not Treat It With The Respect I Want, Can You Put My Mind At Rest?

Now the big fear that many people have about having their party at home, is that the children will be running all over their house, in their bedroom, tipping toys out the little one’s bedroom, and this is a risk but one you can easily manage.

If you are not employing an entertainer then set the ground rules for the children straight away. Say the party is going to be down here today and we are not allowed upstairs except to go to the toilet in which case you must come straight back downstairs or you will be missing out on all the fun things we are doing and I don’t want you to miss them.

If an entertainer is planned, ask him entertainer how they would avoid the situation you fear and what you are looking for is something that you can picture happening in the real world.

If you hire a really good entertainer for the whole party your fears are ungrounded, it will not happen. The children will be involved with what the entertainer’s doing immediately they walk through the door and they won’t want to be doing anything else. They will be hanging on the entertainers every word; they will be having so much fun, the desire to do anything else will not enter their heads. In addition a good entertainer will set the ground rules as to what is acceptable and what is not, in much the same way as a teacher would. However, unlike a teacher, a good entertainer will do it in a fun way.

Big tip… Don’t plan for a magic party in the garden – it’s a big risk, if you’re planning to have your party in the garden you need to have a back up of what you do if it starts to rain or the grass is wet on the day. Wherever you think the back up is going to be, that’s where most entertainers will want to do their show. Most entertainers will only consider going outside if the grass is dry it has been dry for a few days there is a flat area of ground for his show and the audience there is no wind.

In addition entertainers would not want to be outside if your garden has lots of outside toys these will be big distractions for the children and make life difficult for the entertainer. (see question 30 and 38 on distractions). Plan on your party being inside and you’ll be planning a good party.

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Question Categories:
Pre-Party Planning   |   Party Venue   |   Entertainers and What to Expect
Party Games   |   On The Day Problems   |   The Party Banquet   |   Everything Else

Entertainers and What to Expect

The most important part of any children’s party is what entertainment you provide,
Questions 22 to 40 will help you get it right for your child, your guests and of course you

Q22 - Can I Ask Something Interesting Here About Your Last Answer About The Entertainer Being Able To Capture The Imagination And Control The Children Right The Way Throughout The Party. I've Been To Lots Of Parties Now And I Have To Say That Most Of The Entertainers That I've Seen Turn Up, Often After The Party's Started, Then Spend The Next Ten To Twenty Minutes Setting Themselves Up And Only Then Do They Start Engaging With The Children And The Children Are Then Hopefully Entertained Throughout The One Hour Of The Show. Afterwards The Entertainer Wants To Pack Up And Go As Quickly As They Can. Now That's Been My Experience, Now I Know With You It's Different And You Operate Very Differently, But Can You Explain This And How On Earth Do I Tell The Difference Between An Entertainers That's Going To Do What I've Just Described Versus You?

The fundamental difference is whether you book an entertainer to run the whole party for you or just a one hour show.

If you like playing games with your children, have time to do the necessary research to plan enough games then this could well be the right option for you, it could mean less of a budget is required (but not always – I will explain in a minute).

If you do book a one hour show, then I would try and book it for the last hour of your party with the food break immediately before the show. If you do that then the entertainer can set up while the children are eating and clear his set after they have all gone home.

Children and magic props don’t mix very well, an entertainer would usually want to do this by himself, and if you have a situation where the children have nothing to do whilst the entertainer is setting or clearing it would take a special entertainer to be able to cope with this situation.

A good solution is to book the entertainer to run the whole party for you, it takes all the hassle away, gives the children a great time, assuming you pick a good one (see question 24 on how to book a great entertainer -for your party)

A good entertainer will be at the party venue, whether it’s your home or the local hall, at least half an hour before a party starts. Now all the setting up is done in the entertainers time not in the clients time.

He’ll want to spend some time with the birthday person, so that (s)he is very comfortable with him, he’ll want to make them laugh, and he’ll want the birthday person to become his friend so that come the start time of the party they’re already involved in it.

As the guests walk through the front door (or hall entrance), very often somebody will say that new arrival child’s name, they’ll say “oh Christopher’s here”, perhaps a parent will say “hello Christopher” a good entertainer will tune into that and as soon as the guest walks into the party room they will say “Christopher I’ve got something for you, come here mate”

“There’s your name badge/sticker” and will pin the name badge on them and say “where would you like to sit, over there, OK, pop yourself next to Jonathan there” and then will find something in his ear, a coin or something and as soon as he has done that Christopher is then be involved in the party, so there won’t be any chance for them to be running around bumping into things, trying to get upstairs or whatever, they’re involved in the party. What you said Paul will happen if your entertainer is only booked to do a one hour show, especially if the party is not properly planned to allow the entertainer to set and clear without children around.

A good entertainer, booked for a one hour show, will try and advise the client how best to use him. If the client is willing to have the entertainer help with the party planning they will advise that the food break to happen before the show the children go home straight after.

It is a popular misconception that booking a one hour show is considerably cheaper than booking the entertainer for the whole party, this is often not the case, let me explain…

The fixed costs of travel etc are the same whether your entertainer is with you for one hour or three hours, so the first hour you book will always be the most expensive. If your entertainer is providing things like Party Bags, Invitations, Thank You Notes etc etc then by the time you have added the cost of buying all those things, then your entertainers whole party package becomes much more attractive, it is worth costing these things out, you may well find that having the entertainer run the whole event for you is only a few pounds more than a one hour show, then all the hassle and worry disappears AND the children have more fun.

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Q23 - My Friend Had A Great Entertainer But I'm Not Sure I Want The Same Person For My Sons Party, What Are The Pros And Cons Of Having That Same Person?

If your friend had a great entertainer then that would be a good place to start.

By talking to that entertainer you can see if they have a different option for the show or for the games or both. The personality of course will be the same, (and that’s no bad thing if you enjoyed it) but if they come up with a completely different show, so that the children won’t be seeing the same thing and a completely different games set, then it will be very similar to having a completely different entertainer.

The most important thing about any children’s entertainment is the relationship between the entertainer and the children. If they like the entertainer and they get on with him then it doesn’t really matter what the material is and long as it is suitable and relevant to them, they will enjoy it.

Always remember that most children like seeing the same things, unlike an adult, if you say to a child that we are going to watch the same video or DVD over and over again they’d probably jump at it because they liked it and will enjoy watching it again. However, if you say to an adult we’re going to see the same James Bond film that we saw last week, they will probably say that they’ve seen that. They wouldn’t necessarily want to go and watch it again.

So the same entertainer can work very well for you, think of it from the child’s perspective, they usually don’t mind seeing the same things again, but also if the entertainer can produce a different show, it will broaden the children’s horizons, show them new and different things and that will be for their benefit as well. Whilst still being the same friendly person they have already become familiar with from your friend’s party.

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Q24 - Choosing An Entertainer, I Want My Child And All The Guests To Have The Time Of Their Lives, How Can I Make Sure The Entertainer Will Deliver, Especially When I Have Not Had Any Experience Of Him Before, How Do I do This?

Research is important….

You could start by asking friends, but remember your friends are unlikely to have had a lot of experience and will have little to compare their entertainer with.

Let me share with you a story about a disco, not necessarily a children’s disco but any disco. Our DJ turns up at every gig and plays the same records, he plays these because he likes those records, but unfortunately 90% of the time his audience does not enjoy his selection, they do not dance and the DJ has not performed well.

The party is less than it might have been.

However, at the other one show in ten he goes down a bomb, everyone likes him, they dance all night and they go home thinking what a great DJ, the booker may well write to him thanking for putting on a great show. If your friend was one of the guests at that last show, they may well recommend the act to you. They do so in good faith, but they don’t realise that nine shows out of 10 the DJ is unsatisfactory.

Can you see how important a lot of experience is?

However, because you know and trust them, your friends are a good place to start.

Make a list of any questions you want answered, that will help you collect all the information you require.

Next is to either read on a website what the entertainer can do for you or talk to them on the phone. What you are trying to do is picture your child taking part in and enjoying their show; does the entertainment sound right for you and more importantly for your child?

Know what you want, do you want a one-hour show or someone to run the whole party for you (The whole party choice is often the cheaper option overall).

Talk to lots of entertainers, that way you will get a feel for what is out there and you will often find one or two that feel right to you…

Check price, if the quote is way to low then you have an entertainer that has a low opinion of themselves; rarely will this type of act be the best, they may find getting bookings difficult or be very inexperienced.

Obviously nobody wants to pay too much, by checking lots of entertainers you will get a feel for what the prices are and will be in a good position to decide what is best for you.

Remember that it is better to pay too much than too little. If you pay too much all you waste is a little money, but the chances are you will have great memories and the little extra you would have paid is soon forgotten because your child and all the guests had a great time. Paying too much is not ideal but much better than having a bad experience that the children don’t enjoy and you feel you have wasted your money. The party for your child is over for ever and the money wasted is often remembered for a long time.

Check what you are going to get for your money. Apart from the entertainment you may well receive party bags, invitations, Thank You Notes, Balloon Models for all the children, Name Badges etc etc.

Does this meet with your wishes? Are you happy that someone else is taking care of all details or would you prefer to do some or all of it yourself?

For many clients paying a little extra for all these things is well worthwhile as it saves a small fortune when compared with doing it all yourself. As you only pay for what you use it will stop the wastage feeling many have when faced with a few leftover party bags.

Doing all the invitations and party bags yourself for many is a expensive pain in the bottom but for others is a labour of love.

Ask entertainer how they would look after your children and look after your home. Can you see their answer working in the real world?

Next take references…

Most good entertainers will offer previous client references, but if they don’t, ask the entertainer for three references. You want two from the last two parties with the same age children and one taken totally at random from a day you choose, say…Can I have the party you did last Sunday afternoon, irrespective of the age of the children. The one taken at random is to make sure you aren’t just given the last parties that went all right.

TAKE THEM UP

Make a list of what you want to ask the reference, but basically you want to know about the following…

The relationship between the children and the entertainer, if that works most other things will fall nicely into place and visa versa. Was the show suitable for the children, in terms of the material, jokes and presentation? Did the entertainer live up to the promise, i.e. what was said on the phone did actually happen on the day, did he walk the talk? If you could go back and do it all again, would you still book the same act? Don’t listen to only what they say, but also how they say it. Was it an enthusiastic “yes” or a “he was okay I suppose”

Next you are looking for a guarantee…Is your entertainer confident enough to say to you, that you only pay if you are 100% happy with all they do for you. You must agree that the show is right for your children, the games are novel and different, the persona with the children is fun but in control and everything goes to your complete satisfaction otherwise you don’t pay.

I’ll be honest here and say that not many offer such a guarantee, but if you find one that does you will be booking someone that has a huge amount of confidence in their own ability.

If budget is a challenge for you, then an entertainer that offers interest free payment terms would be a plus for you.

Does the entertainer appear to have your best interests at heart or do you feel they are just after the sale and your money?

Usually it is better to go for a full time entertainer rather than an entertainer that is part time. At least the full time guy will be keen to do a good job for you; his living relies on what you say about him to your friends. He has no back up income from his proper job! Don’t get me wrong I am not saying all part time entertainers are poor, there is some very good ones out there, but it is a percentage thing, what is more likely to deliver the result you want?

Trust your instincts, if you feel it is right for you, then chances are it will be alright on the day, so go for it.

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Q25 - Is Booking A Member Of The Magic Circle A Guarantee Of A Good Magician?

You will probably not be surprised to hear that it is not, there are some great magicians who are members of The Magic Circle in fact amongst the best in the world, but also some that are less experienced, likewise there are some great magicians who choose not to join The Magic Circle and others that would not pass the tougher entrance exam that is in place these days.

Let me tell you a little about the rankings of members…

You can join The Magic Circle by paying a joining fee and an annual subscription. If you live in the London area this amounts in total to £250.

You are then invited to an informal interview with the examination secretary. He will ask you about books you have read, the magic you perform, how long you have been a magician and other general type questions just to make sure you are not wasting your time and the time of the clubs examination system.

Assuming that all goes well you will be invited to take an examination. Your act should be around 10 minutes and the performance of the classics of magic is suggested, but is not compulsory.

The setting of your examination is the Devant Room at The Magic Circle headquarters, in front of a small audience of usually not more than 50 members. The three judges will mark you on magical content, presentation, dress and patter.

Their recommendation will be sent to The magic Circle Council who will nearly always rubber stamp the examiners decision and if you have passed you will be awarded a Certificate a Blue Button Badge and allowed to use the initials M.M.C. after your name.

So you see you could become a member of The Magic Circle with just 10 minutes of half decent material. I think you will agree that is not enough to make a truly great party for you and your children. So membership of The Magic Circle can be no more than a guide.

At any time after that you can put yourself forward to take an advanced examination for Associate of The Inner Magic Circle. This is a bit like the ‘A’ level a higher level of skill, presentation and audience control is required, if you pass you will have the letters A.I.M.C. with Silver Star after your name.

That is as far as you can go under the examination system; however, by the call of the President in Council you could be awarded Membership of The Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star. (MIMC).

So if you are looking for membership as a guide then look for AIMC or MIMC at least they would have taken the higher level examination.

WARNING: However, you must check that the type of magic they perform is the type of magic your want. They could have taken their exam as a mentalist and you want them to perform as a children’s magician. So make a list and check you are getting what you really want.

There is a difference between a skilled “magician” and a skilled “entertainer”. The entertainer is all about the personality. They don’t count the number of jokes you tell or how you tell them when you are examined for entrance into The Magic Circle.

As far a children’s magician is concern, it is all about the relationship between the children and the entertainer. If that relationship works then everything else will fall into place and visa versa.

Look at it like this, if you like a singer, then the chances are you will like most or all of what they sing. If you don’t like the singer you will not appreciate or like any of the songs. In the children’s entertainment business, just switch the song for the magic. If you like the magician chances are you will enjoy their magic and visa versa

Membership of the Magic Circle is good, but it is far from the whole answer.

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Q26 - What Is The Right Time To Book An Entertainer, I Mean How Far In Advance Of Our Party Should I Be Looking To Book?

The time to book is when you are 100% sure you have the right person and you (and your children) are not going to change your minds.

Never be bounced into booking an act, if they put try and put pressure on you, take all the time you need to find the right person. See question 24 for tips on how to do this.

Once you have made up your mind, the minute you are 100% sure that you have the right person and the right package, then that is the time to book. The earlier you book the more chance your entertainer will be free on the day you want. Obviously if you are flexible over dates and times or you are happy to party during the week (after school party) then you could leave it a little later.

In principle the good entertainers will be booking about one to two months or more in front of the dates.

The time to book it is when it is right for you. It is never too late to call but earlier the better for you and the entertainer.

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Q27 - Should I Expect A Confirmation Letter From My Entertainer? What Else Should I Receive From Them?

You should absolutely expect a confirmation letter from your entertainer, if they do not say on the phone that you will get one, insist that they send you one.

You want to make sure that the entertainer has understood ALL the details of your booking. The confirmation needs to set out the time, date, place, your child’s name, age and gender and the agreed fee, also the payment terms. On the back should be the terms and conditions under which the party will take place, these are the legal ‘E’s’ of what you are signing up to, you should read them to make sure you are happy with them.

You should check the confirmation and if any mistakes have been made you should contact the entertainer and have them corrected as soon as possible.

Check any special requirements your entertainer my have, for example many will ask for a parking space as close as possible to the performing area. Much better to arrange this than have the entertainer making long trips to his car instead of organising things at your party.

You need a receipt for any money you have paid as a deposit or a booking fee.

Some entertainers will want you to sign and return a contract and you want to do this as soon as you can, as it may be that your booking is not confirmed until they have that signed contract back.

A good entertainer might also supply you with some other things that will help you. A Party Schedule that details the times that things happen is very useful. Something that will help you organise things before the day, a sheet of hints and tips all these things help you get it right for your child and it helps the entertainer deliver a great show for you.

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Q28 - Is Paying A Deposit Or A Booking Fee Essential? What Are Benefits And Pitfalls To The Client?

Most top entertainers will ask for some kind of commitment from the client. The entertainer is committed to be at the agreed time, date and place and many ask for a small commitment in return, typically that would be £25, which could be paid on a credit or debit card or any other way the client chooses. It is important to point out this is NOT an additional fee but part of the agreed fee.

Some acts will ask for a deposit cheque and I am comfortable with that, however some will ask for the full fee and that in my opinion is not right, you should never be in a situation where you have paid all the money before the party.

You should only pay after the party is over, so long as you are happy with the entertainer’s contribution to the whole event.

The upside of making a small payment is many clients often feel their booking is more secure having made a payment and if they feel better that cannot be a bad thing.

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Q29 - I Am Thinking About People With A Very Small Budget For Entertainment, Do You Have Any Suggestions Of What They Can Do?

Yes of course…

First you can arrange all the entertainment yourself, if you think this is right for you, then make the party a bit shorter, keep the number of guests down and see questions 41 and 42 on Party Games

The next option is to employ an entertainer for a one hour show. This will cost less money than a two hour or two and half hour party and help you fill some of the time. You will of course need to have some games to play for some of the time, but a lot of the hassle will disappear. If you were to party during the week, i.e. Monday to Thursday, perhaps after school you will have more entertainers to choose from and you could well benefit from a midweek discount that some entertainers offer.

If you find a really good entertainer, one that really does have your best interests at heart then the chances are they will offer you easy payment terms, basically it is interest free credit. You simply pay what you can afford when you can afford to pay it with a series of post dated cheques. This usually makes life easier for all people but especially for those on a tight budget.

If this sounds like a good idea to you, then when you book your entertainer ask if he is willing to allow you to pay with a series of post dated cheques with a banker’s card. Chances are a very busy entertainer will not be desperate for your money and would be happy to help you. The worst thing they can say is “no”.

Then you can put that into the melting pot of whether that particular entertainer is right for you.

Also look out for our Deal of the Day; this could save you a tidy sum.

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Q30 - Why Has My Entertainer Asked For Me To Clear A Room, What Is The Problem With A Few Toys And Presents Being In The Same Room That The Entertainment Is Going To Be Held In?

Well, no matter how focussed your child is there’s always going to be some children that will be distracted and distractions will distract.

If you’ve got toys, balloons or presents around the place, some children will be distracted by these and they will want to play with them. So your entertainer is giving you some very sound advice here, clear the room of all distractions (or at least as many as you sensibly can) and there’ll be nothing for the children to concentrate on other than the show. That’s where you’ll get the most enjoyment and the best involvement from the children and the best show from the entertainer.

Your entertainer is the expert in his field and you want the best you can get from him, so it is sensible to follow his advice, it almost certainly comes with your best interest at heart.

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Q31 - My Spouse Want's To Video The Entertainment, Is That Usually Acceptable By The Entertainer?

It can be – if it is very important to you, I would ask your entertainer before you book, many magicians will have a challenge with people videoing their whole show. If they are members of The Magic Circle they will be duty bound to keep magical secrets, in fact any magician should be thinking along those lines and a video on them all the way through would not be good. However, having said that, most entertainers would not have a problem with you recording parts of the show and they will tell you which parts, usually when the children are helping the entertainer. For most entertainers recording other parts of the party, the games, warm up and food etc should not be a problem, but the golden rule is ask if it is important to you.

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Q32 - Can I Ask Why Magicians Have To Protect Magical Secrets?

Magicians have to protect magical secrets because the entertainment and the wonder are all in the secrets. Without the secrets, magic loses all its fun. If your magician is a member of The Magic Circle he has vowed to keep magic secrets. If he were to allow himself to be videoed where the material he is actually using could be slowed down frame by frame to find out how a trick is done, then the magician is potentially in serious trouble with The Magic Circle. The footage might wind up on YouTube or the internet somewhere. Yes he could be in serious hot water.

Now as entertainers we have to balance that with the desire for parents to record their children’s birthday parties and of course we want you to do that. The balance that I draw (and I think this would apply to most magicians) is when the children are up helping, they’re on the stage area, they’re helping me in the show, then I don’t mind being videoed. If there is space, I don’t mind people coming behind me and to one side and videoing the children’s faces. However, I prefer not to be videoed if the children are not helping on stage, there’s no need for that. It is better that you just watch the show and enjoy the children’s reactions when watching.

In all my shows there are lots of opportunities for children to be helping on stage, taking part in the show, and in those parts I have no problem in being videoed. In addition you can use your video camera for the…

  • warm up
  • party games
  • party tea
  • prize giving

All these areas will be fine with most magicians.

Of course your video should be for private viewing only. You would breach your entertainers copy right if you were to show his show for any commercial reason or put it on the internet.

One other thing, if your entertainer allows you to video the children and use that footage on the internet you have to be very careful. You will need to get ALL the parents to sign their permission for their children to appear on your video, even if they are only for your personal site, with no commercial intent. If you need help with such a form give us a call on 01737 350586 we will explain the rules and give you a sample form as a gift.

As always if it is important to you, ask your entertainer before you book.

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Q33 - And Presumably Still Shots Are Fine, Just The Normal Photography?

Most entertainer will not have a problem with still shots, however, just one small point, don’t make the photographs into the main event i.e. let your entertainer perform and don’t get in his way too much, work with him and not against him and all will be well.

You could ask him to tip you a wink when a special bit is coming up so that you can get yourself ready and not to miss the moment.

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Q34 – Presumably Entertainers Are Protective Because It Is Copyright Material?

There are no rules on that just because there is a copyright. Most entertainers probably wouldn’t be too worried if little bits of his show appeared on the internet, he wouldn’t like the whole show there and if you went that far you would indeed be breaching the entertainer’s copyright.

However, it is very different with the guest children, if you put a child’s face online even for a second; you need to have that signed off by that child's parents.

What I mean by that is you need written permission from the child’s parents that they don’t mind there child appearing. This applies even in a non commercial environment.

The form is basically very simple and you can draw it up yourself. If however, you would like to see one to use as a model, then call our party advisors on 01737-350586 and they will arrange for a copy of ours to be sent to you by E.Mail. Obviously this would not be charged for, call it a little gift.

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Q35 - Face Painting Has Been Suggested As An Activity At A Party, Do You Advise It, What Are The Challenges?

Yes, nothing wrong with face painting if your child likes it, but there are some challenges. The main challenge is that your face painter, at any given point, is going to be spending 100% of their time on one child and no attention will be given to the other children that you have at your party. So face painting works if it is part of any overall entertainment package and you have other things going on. Those other things do not have to be professionally arranged so long as you can picture what the other children will be doing when one child is having their face painted all will be fine. We can arrange Face Painters for you if you want us to.

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Q36 - Are You Talking About A Face Painter As A Main Entertainer Or Activity?

No - it’s secondary, if you’ve arranged a magician for instance or some other major activity going on, the face painter is an extra add on to the main entertainment, where during the main show, the face painter can tap a child on the shoulder and ask if they’d like their face painted.

If the child accepts the invitation to be painted, then they are lead into a corner and positioned so they can still see the magic show (or whatever you have arranged) while they are having their face painted. Children being painted like this is fine and works well, but if your face painter is the only activity going on, you absolutely must have something else prepared otherwise you’re going to have all the other children doing absolutely nothing while one child is having their face painted.

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Q37 My Entertainer Wants To Start The Party With A Warm Up? What Is This And Why Is It Important?

The warm up sets the tone for the party, it lets the children know where they stand and they discover that your entertainer is a nice, fun person, but also the boss. He is going to be a bit like the teacher at school and is going to be the person running the show. He is however, a little different in so much as he is great fun.

The warm up is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ANY CHILDREN’S PARTY Do not underestimate its importance. It is the one element that professional entertainers usually understand fully but the occasional party giver misses out on as they don’t understand what it is, how to do it and why it is important.

There are more warm ups than there are entertainers as most entertainers have more than one. They can last from 5 to 20 minutes, they have the children doing fun things, it makes them laugh and it could well give them an opportunity to stray slightly from the straight and narrow; just so that the entertainer can bring them back and demonstrate very gently as to what is or is not allowed. It helps the children discover where the boundaries are, and once they know, the party is usually plain sailing from there on.

When a child enters the party room for the first time, they are not quite sure what is going to be happening next, and it is that very small window of opportunity (it might only be a few seconds) that the entertainer/party organiser needs to grab that child’s attention and integrate them into the party.

The warm up will also ease away any shyness (at the youngsters own pace – don’t force the issue, it will usually make it worse.)

Also the parents that might stay at the party will discover what is expected of them, remember this is a children’s party and is NOT a social event for parents with a baby sitter looking after the children. Your entertainer should agree with you before hand what will happen with parents to make sure the children have a great time.

See question 11 on more about parents at children’s parties.

If you are thinking of hiring an entertainer for your party, ask if they do a warm up and what form it would take. Remember the objectives of the warm up. Can you see your entertainers warm up achieving these objectives?

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Q38 - I Don’t Know Any Child That Does Not Like Playing With Balloons, But My Entertainer Is Not So Keen, Why Is That?

Balloons are a distraction; they are fine in the right place, on the door to show people where to come in, as decorations, if you really want decorations, (see question 13 about decorations) but if you leave them loose on the floor, the children will play with them, some may pop, many children and even some adults don’t like sudden unexpected loud bangs and then you have little bits of balloon on the floor and they become a serious choking hazard especially for young children who tend to put just about everything in their mouths.

I would advise you don’t leave any balloons loose on the floor.

Some inexperienced party givers tie Helium filled balloons to the backs of the chairs at food time; another mistake, children turn around and play with them, some pop, some end up on the ceiling (which in many halls is a high ceiling, often causing distress to the child who has lost his balloon) and whilst they are turning round the children could well be pulling on the table cloth and spilling the drinks and of course the whole thing is wasting time that could be used having fun with your entertainer.

I am sure your entertainer would not want you to rule out balloons completely I guess he just wants you to think carefully how you are going to use the balloons and where you are going to put them. A good idea might be to put them in a separate room and give them to the children as they go home.

If your entertainer is any good he will not need any help filling the time and when he sees time being wasted that he could fill with super fun things for the children he could well feel a little frustrated. Your entertainer would also want the children focussed on him and not distracted by anything else and balloons are a big distraction.

My advice is go with what your entertainer has suggested, after all he is the expert.

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Q39 - CRB Certificate! What Is It And Why Is It Important?

CRB stands “Criminal Records Bureau” it is the police check that the person investigated does not appear on any Police records. Generally it checks that the person is an upstanding person and not one with any black marks against their name.

All entertainers, especially those who wish to entertain children should have one. There are two levels Standard and Advanced. If you are working with children more relevant checks are carried out for the “Advanced” version and that is the one you should make sure your entertainer has.

Remember they are only accurate at the time the check was carried out so make sure your act has a certificate that is not too old.

To get a CRB certificate, you must apply for it. The police carry out all the checks, but the level below that would be an approved company, it might be a Local Authority Schools Department, regional level of the Scouts or bigger companies that can collate all the information needed by the police to carry out the checks. Then it is simply matter of filling out the forms, paying a fee of around £50 and waiting whilst the check is carried out normally around three weeks.

In any case it is not good practise to leave the children alone with your entertainer, a youngster may need the toilet, most entertainers will insist that another adult is in the party room with them for a number of reasons.

Above all else it is great fun to see the children having a good time, so don’t miss the show.

When you book an entertainer, ask if they have one and if you are concern ask what the certificate number is. If you are still worried then ask them to bring it with on the day of the party and make sure you check it when they arrive. Most entertainers would not be happy with the certificate leaving their office so asking for it to be put in the post is unlikely to happen.

It is impossible to photocopy a CRB certificate due to the special paper it is printed on.

In my experience very few mums ask when booking their children’s parties but ALL head teachers, local authorities and most companies ask for them and expect to see them.

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Q40 - I Notice That Some Entertainers Give Balloon Animals etc Out At The End Of Some Parties, And Whilst They Are Sometime Impressive, Is It Possible To Have Some Monster Big Balloons That Are Truly Spectacular?

It depends on the entertainer; a few are very talented when it comes to making big balloons models but far from all.

The big thing of course is to ask your entertainer, they will be able to tell you if it is possible and how much your investment would be.

Some entertains make these giant balloons part of a spectacular package and if this is available you can find out the details direct from your entertainer.

Bottom line is yes it is possible but you might have to search a bit for it.

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Pre-Party Planning   |   Party Venue   |   Entertainers and What to Expect
Party Games   |   On The Day Problems   |   The Party Banquet   |   Everything Else

Party Games

Questions 41 to 43 will help so you get it right at your party

Q41 – Party Games – How Do I Choose Which One’s Are The Most Effective, How Many Should I Have And What Type?

To start with you need more games than you think. You may think that a particular game will last for 10 minutes and you may well be right, but ONLY if it is a fun game, with lots of prizes AND you put it across in a highly entertaining way. More usually a game won’t last for more than three or four minute. So you are going to need a lot more games than most people think.

Secondly, never play elimination type of games, games like the traditional form of musical bumps will have half the children for half the game sitting in the corner doing nothing and the devil makes work for idle hands.

"I saw this exact scenario you know Clive with a party a year ago that we went to with musical chairs and it ended up with fights and crying, it was a horrible mess and your dead right you just can’t do it can you."

Elimination games are fraught with danger… do you want me to let you into a secret? You can change those games, keep the good bits, eliminate the bad bits and you’re left with a great game on your hands.

Here’s an example to show you what I mean…

Set musical bumps up as a competition between the children and you (the entertainer); say you are the best player in the whole world at musical bumps and you (the children) will never beat me, but they always do, and if you can fain being very cross with them for beating you (in a fun way of course) it becomes a fun game but you can only play it 3 or 4 times before the joke starts to wear a bit thin and then the prizes should be distributed to the best players and then on to the next game.

You can use this game at the end of your party if you’ve got one or two children that haven’t won a prize. Prizes, (as I say in question 43), you should have prizes for each and every game so that children are more motivated to play every game.

Try and arrange lots of helpers, brief every adult before the party so that during the actual event every adult knows their job and what they’re supposed to do, if you want someone to switch the music on and off for instance whilst your doing whatever is necessary for the game.

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Q42 - Are Traditional Games Still Fun For Today’s Children And Where Can I Find The Best Games?

Traditional games still work to a point; however, I wouldn’t have my whole party stuffed full of pass the parcel and musical bumps. You should arrange some games the children haven’t played before.

So long as the children have not played a particular game before, i.e. a game that is new to them, it will carry the novelty factor even if is actually a very old game. It’s new if you have never heard of it or played it before.

The best place to look for those games is in the library; they will have lots of books on party games that you can borrow. Also the internet, there are many sites out there which are just for party games…put party games or children’s party games into Google and you will get a host of sites and of course entertainers.

If an entertainer is performing for part of your party perhaps a one hour show, you could ask them for a couple of games, a decent entertainer would gift you two or three games. Remember if you are doing the games yourself you are going to need to allocate some time to prepare your games. Also have a look at question 41 for some more on party games, but importantly you are going to need more games than you think so make sure you have lots and lots of games to help you fill the time and make it a fun occasion for all the children.

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Q43 - Prizes For Games, What Should I Be Arranging?

Well if you’re doing the party yourself you’re going to need to arrange lots of games, I talk about games in questions 41 and 42 but for now lets concentrate on the prizes. To help encourage the children to play, the best way is to offer a reward in the form of a prize for the winners of each of the games. When you organise lots of games you may think that you need lots of prizes, well actually and interestingly you don’t, but you do need markers of some description for the children to collect.

At the end of each game you want to be able to hand out something to indicate who has won the game, often there will be more than one winner of course depending on the game. The three best markers are…

Counters that the children can collect and put into little piles on the window sill next to their name, this system works best for the occasional party giver, they are cheap to buy and can be re-used at another party later. I suggest that you have lots so that you can be generous with your prize giving. You could have a bigger counter that is worth say five or perhaps 10 small counters. Badges that are pinned on the children. I like the badge system as it is easy to see who has won what and how many, but is harder for the occasional party giver to arrange. Scorer, have someone with a clip board and a pen and record who has one and how many. This is my least favourite as it is harder for the children to see what they have won and how many. It also removes the competition element that keeps children interested in playing the next game, unless your scorer has a big personality that is constantly calling the scores in a fun and exciting way.

I suggest you don’t give out actual prizes for each individual game because it creates the “he’s got one I want one too” syndrome and it also creates the situation where a child has a prize and does not know what to do with it or where to put it. They are frightened that if they put it down someone else will pinch it, eat it or play with it. It ends up being collected by an adult and if that is the case, why give it out in the first place?

Some games will have a clear winner and other games the game organiser will decide the winners and by mixing the two you can make sure that every child has won a prize and if you wish that the birthday person can be the overall winner.

It‘s important with a child’s party (especially young children) to make sure that everybody wins a prize at some point during the party, you want everyone going home a winner.

So when do the children actually receive their prizes? The answer is simple, at the end of the party just before they go home. The prize could be their party bags or any other gift you wish to give. As a general rule I would suggest that all the children’s prizes are the same i.e. all the children win everything so as not to differentiate too much between children. The only exception to this general rule is in which order they collect their prize. It is impossible to hand out 20 party bags simultaneously so you could start with the winner, the child that collected the most counters or badges and then the next best overall player and so on.

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On The Day Problems

And what to do if it happens, questions 44 to 46 tackle some common problems

Q44 - What Happens If My Child Goes Sick On The Day When I've Booked An Entertainer?

Well it is very important to contact your entertainer straight away and tell him what the situation is, but the most important thing is to do what’s best for your child, so you take them to the doctor, the doctor say’s what the doctor believes is in the patient’s best interests.

Now, take a situation like Chicken Pox, if your youngster goes down with chicken pox, some doctor’s take the view that “I’d rather Chicken Pox be had by young children when they can get over it quickly, when it doesn’t really affect them, rather than get it as an adult where it’s much more serious.”

So they would take the view, have your party if your little one wants to, spread the Chicken Pox around, tell other parents that their children could well get Chicken Pox and that’s no bad thing for them as it gets it out their system.

Other doctors would say “isolate them, keep them in bed, don’t let anyone near them, I don’t want an outbreak of Chicken Pox on my patch thank you very much” and the doctors word is final.

Next thing is what you’re comfortable with, do you want to postpone the party or do you want it to go ahead, is your youngster up for a party and go with your gut feelings.

As far as the entertainer is concerned it’s an occupational hazard, it happens from time to time, they will ask you to reschedule the party, usually for a mid week day, most really good entertainers will fill the weekends very quickly and very easily, and if you postpone out of one weekend slot and you go into another weekend slot that would cost them a party. Whereas if you postpone to a mid week day that’s less likely to cost them, it might still cost them but it’s less likely to.

Most entertainers are pretty cool about this kind of situation, so the most important thing is to do what’s best for your child and then talk to the entertainer, do what the doctor says and then, when you reschedule the party you’ll probably need another set of invitations, if your entertainer is providing them they may well gift them to you, we certainly would.

You may be asked to pay a higher deposit or booking fee, perhaps up to 50% of the fee, but what you mustn’t do of course is to cancel the party, because if you cancel it then the entertainer would have lost out completely and a cancellation fee may well become payable. This could be very high (up to the full fee) for a late cancellation.

The other thing is, you’d be depriving your little one of a party they’ve been looking forward to for weeks or months and just because they happen to go sick on the day or the day before then that wouldn’t be very nice for them, so reschedule it, it shouldn’t cost you any extra but expect the party to be on a mid week day.

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Q45 -We Have To Cancel And There Is Just No Way That We Can Reschedule The Party, What Would Your Response Be To That And What Would You Advise Parents?

If you are concerned about that or you think it may affect you ask before you book.

A cancellation is very bad news for most entertainers, who rely on performance fees to pay the mortgage and feed their wife and children. Cancellations, especially last minute cancellations very much go against the grain you may well find yourself paying for a party that you haven’t had.

In the case of a cancellation the terms and conditions of your booking should be on the back of the entertainer’s confirmation letter and if they are not, contact your entertainer and ask them what their conditions are.

If it concerns you, ask what you are signing up to before you book so that you know. If it happens look at the back of the confirmation letter and that will tell you what the entertainer is expecting to happen, but expect a cancellation fee, possibly up to the full fee.

Postponement is much better than cancellation if at all possible.

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Q46 - What Happens If The Entertainer Calls In Sick The Night Before Or On The Day He's Expected To Turn Up At My Party?

Really good entertainers will be working in a group; there’ll be more than one, so the chances are you will get a last minute replacement, not ideal but better than nothing.

Now your entertainers is only going to be paid when he’s doing the party himself, so he’s looking to be there by hook or by crook, but if he is totally incapacitated, his legs fall off on the day of your party or the day before your party he’s not going to be much use to you.

Good entertainers will be working with friends and colleagues somebody would step into the breach and the unwritten rule amongst entertainers is that it is done at the same fee, so whatever fee was quoted to the client, whatever the client was expecting to pay that is exactly what they would pay.

Although your entertainer would not want a change at the last minute any more than you would, if that is happening you would probably have the replacement entertainer call you with both the problem and the solution i.e. the entertainer you have booked is not able to come himself because *****, but I will be coming along instead.

If you are in any way concerned about this ask your entertainer before you book, what would happen if they were unable to appear. Ask them if they work with other entertainers and also ask how many times they haven’t appeared for a party through sickness or whatever in the last year or two years. Throw that into your melting pot of decision making before you book your party entertainer.

I am pleased to say that I have never failed to appear as booked, but I have been able to help other entertainers out on a couple of occasions.

In conclusion this is a very minor problem as it very rarely happens.

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The Party Banquet

Questions 47 to 52 will tell you all your need to know about food at children’s parties.

Q47 - How Do I Decide Which Is The Best Food To Serve At Our Children’s Party?

To start with decide whether it is to be catered, fast food take away (MacDonald’s, Pizza, KFC etc) home prepared food, whether it is to be hot or cold food. Of course your birthday person can usually take an active party in this. You could give them some options; by asking if they want…..

And then give him TWO options, ask him, would you like Chicken Nuggets and Chips or would you like Fish Fingers or whatever. Remember it is their special day so as a treat let them have their favourite food, but importantly you must be comfortable with whichever they choose.

If it is to be hot food, allow lots of extra cooking time, it always takes longer than you think. You are not cooking for one or two now you are cooking for perhaps 20 or maybe more so allow plenty of extra time. This is even more important if you are in a local hall as their oven will probably not be as powerful as your own one at home and this will mean food will take even longer to cook.

Drinks, there are lots of ways of doing drinks, the solution I like best is the juice carton where the straw goes in the top of the carton. Juice is a healthier option and the design means spillages are kept to a minimum. My next favourite is a cup of squash with a lid on where the straw pops through the lid, anything else is likely to result in a spillage or two so be prepared!

If you know that some of your guests are vegetarians or you are not sure then perhaps some veggie burgers is the answer for you.

Carrots, Cucumber etc and dips are also nice especially if you expect some parents to stay at the party. I am not suggesting you have to feed all the adults (unless you wish to) but having a small nibble and a cup of tea or coffee would be a nice touch.

Big tip…When feeding children it is important to only make savoury food available to start with and once that is finished, then and only then do the sweet things make an appearance. For most children if there is a sweet option to start with, that is what they will go for.

In addition, when the sweet things are served make sure that the children only take a reasonable amount. Some children try and load their plates with far too much sweet stuff, much more than they could possibly eat, leaving others with none.

Some children suffer from “Eyes Bigger Than Belly” Syndrome.

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Q48 What About Accessories on The Table, Is This A Good Idea, What Do You Suggest?

Absolutely No! Don’t be tempted

The things some inexperienced party givers are tempted to do, is place noisy blowers on the table at tea time, these…

  • Wastes time
  • Create a lot of unnecessary noise
  • Wastes money

If you really want to buy these things, then add them to your party bags, but please don’t put them on the food table. Children can’t eat and blow at the same time, so while they are blowing their food is getting cold and it is stretching out the length of your food break. You could well have an entertainer standing around doing nothing, whilst the children are all giving the adults a headache.

My suggestion is leave all those toys in the shop and the money in your bank account. If you must buy them, don’t give them out until the very end of your party and then the parents will have the fun and noise on the way home!

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Q49 - What About If I Am Limited For Space At Home, I Have Enough Room For The Guests And The Show, But I Have To Feed The Children In The Same Room, Is This Going To Be A Problem?

You can have the food in the same room as the entertainment.

I suggest you stand the children up and move them to one side whilst you put a ground sheet on the floor. The ground sheet could be a sheet from your double bed or a camping ground sheet.

The ground sheet does a number of things for you…

  • It shows the children where to sit.
  • It collects most or perhaps all the spillages.
  • You can stand the children up at the end of the meal, brush the crumbs off their tummies and the throw the waste food out for the birds.
  • Happy children, happy parents and happy birds.
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Q50 - When is the Best Time to Cut the Cake and Sing Happy Birthday Etc? Any Suggestions?

If your party is following the tried and trusted formula of entertainment, food and then more entertainment, a formula I would certainly recommend, professional entertainers use this party plan because it works well and if it is not broken, don’t fix it.

The answer is straight after the food, this does a number of things for you… All the children are in one place and don’t need organising. If you wish to feed it to the children after the ceremony you can. Slow eaters can finish their food whilst the majority are taking part in the ceremony. If you wish to take it away, cut it up and pop it in the party bags, then you have all the time the second part of the entertainment is going on to do so. You could stand the birthday child on a chair whilst the singing is taking place, so that they can be seen and made to feel a bit special. Not right for every child of course, but if it is, the chair is right there. However, if you are booking a professional act, talk to them as they may have a different idea. You are now aware of the benefits of doing it straight after the food break and you will be able to balance that against any advice your entertainer gives you and make a decision as to which is best for you and your party.

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Q51 I Want The Birthday Cake To Be Really Special, I Don’t Mind Investing In It A Little, But I Want To Blow My Child’s Mind With A Truly Spectacular Cake, Can You Help Find The Right People To Make It For Me?

Yes we can, in fact we have three truly wonderful bakers and cake decorators that are not only superbly talented but also incredibly dedicated to the task. One of the three has always been able to say, “Yes I can do that, no problem”

They make the cake AND deliver it to you and prices have been very reasonable. For sure you can pop into Asda or Tesco and pay a lot less, but if you are after a memory of a lifetime for your special occasion then we can put you in touch.

One other small benefit is because of the amount of business we put their way, two of the three bakers we use and recommend give us a small discount off their normal selling price, so in addition to the contact details we can even save you a few pounds along the way.

If you would like to talk more about cakes, call our party advisors on 01737-350586 they will be glad to help you. As you would expect this service is free of charge and without obligation.

I want to find out more about what Mr Mysto can do for my party.
I want to speak to someone about a question I have or about booking Mr Mysto
Tell me about your special birthday party offer for today
I know all I want to know about Mr Mysto, I just need a quotation please

Q52 I Am A Very Busy Mum And To Be Honest I don’t Have The Time To Prepare The Party Food, Is There Any Way To Arrange An Outside Person To Do This For Me At Moderate Cost?

Yes of course there is.

We have three children’s party caterers who specialise in birthday parties. First you call our party advisors on 01737-350586 and we will put you in touch. You discuss with them what menu you want, who’s going to do the shopping, time, date, place, price etc

All would come with our recommendation, they are all great, they will leave the kitchen better than they found it and take away all the rubbish.

Simple, straight forward and easy, but obviously a little bit more expensive than doing it yourself, but not silly prices.

I want to find out more about what Mr Mysto can do for my party.
I want to speak to someone about a question I have or about booking Mr Mysto
Tell me about your special birthday party offer for today
I know all I want to know about Mr Mysto, I just need a quotation please

Question Categories:
Pre-Party Planning   |   Party Venue   |   Entertainers and What to Expect
Party Games   |   On The Day Problems   |   The Party Banquet   |   Everything Else

Everything Else

What to do if your question has not been answered above.

Q53 I Have Not Had My Question Answered Here, What Can I Do?

Simply call 0800-01 88 118 and ask our party advisors, they will be more than happy to help you; it is entirely free of charge and without any obligation.

We hope you will call, as others visitors to this site, could well asking your question too, and we can add it to this list and make it even better for future visitors. So thank you in advance for calling.

I want to find out more about what Mr Mysto can do for my party.
I want to speak to someone about a question I have or about booking Mr Mysto
Tell me about your special birthday party offer for today
I know all I want to know about Mr Mysto, I just need a quotation please

Previous Clients have written in their 100's...

The mother of Hannah, who was one of your assistants, was amazed that her shy daughter accepted your invitation and helped you so eagerly, you obviously have a special charm that puts children at ease.

Mrs Allington - SW London


Thank you for coming to my party to do my party to do some magic for me and my friends.

Love from Alexander - aged 5


Bethan and her friends were thoroughly delighted when she made the white rabbit.

Mrs Allsopp - Redhill, Surrey


Thank you for making Hannah's party such a memorable one - she thoroughly enjoyed it. You took care of so much of the hard work for us that we enjoyed it too.

Mr & Mrs Barnes - Reigate, Surrey


Thank you for a lovely party, your magic was very good and the children loved it.

Love Sarah aged 4


Thank you for making my party very special for me and my friends.

Love from Katryna - aged 5


Thank you enormously! Thank you humongously! Thank you tremendously (Just can't thank you enough) for my wonderful party.

Laura Jayne (and her mum) - Wallington, Surrey


Thank you for your efforts on Sunday, you really made Isaac's party special. I am still trying to work out how you did the trick in the kitchen with the coins.

Mr Eastwood - Thames Ditton, Surrey


We couldn't believe that such young children actually sat and watched your show for over an hour as they are a pretty lively lot.

Mrs Stratford - Twickenham, Middlesex


Thank you for coming to my fifth birthday party, my friends and I had a wonderful time.

Love Luca aged 5


Jessica adored her party thank you.

Penny - Fetcham, Surrey


Thank you so very much for a wonderful party for Jack & Mia. For us it was a completely enjoyable and stress free day.

Caroline Rudoni


The efficient way you ran the party took all the worry away from us.

Mrs Hill - New Malden, Surrey


It was a real joy to see Alice giggling away and loving every minute.

Mrs Carver - Cheam, Surrey


Your program was brilliant, the children just loved it. I have never seen my son so carefree with so many people around.

Mrs Eadie - Sutton, Surrey


Nicole was very pleased and surprised that she made a rabbit appear.

Miss Hoare - Carshalton, Surrey


The next day the teachers said how good it had been for the children and how pleased they were at how they had reacted.

Mrs Mayo - Woking, Surrey


It was so nice seeing the kids laugh from their bellies. The parents who were there have raved about you.

Cindy Paul Tehya and Caitlin - Epsom, Surrey


Just wanted to thank you again for such a great party, it really was brilliant. The children were full of it and my cheeks have only just stopped aching from smiling!!

Debbie Lawton - Ewell, Surrey


Simon has been talking about being Mr Mysto ever since his party and you obviously made it a day to remember for him.

Mrs Wood - Reigate, Surrey


Many thanks you to all involved for making my daughter birthday a great success.

Pauline Carter - Weybridge, Surrey


Plus many more, please call us if you wish to read more