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Book the Entertainer before you book the venue.
Every week I get lots of calls from parents asking for a specific time on a specific date only to find I am booked. Try and be as flexible as possible, if you have a specific venue in mind try and get a few possible time slots for the party, or enquire first on the availability of the entertainers you would like to book and then find a venue that is available. I'd recommend Church Halls, Social Clubs, Leisure Centres etc or if you have a suitable area you may have your party at home. The typical room just needs to be a good space, make sure the room is free of toys and other distractions. An entertainer will need an area 2.5m wide (2m at a squeeze) and 1.5m deep total, and the children need a place to sit, bear in mind it's best if they all sit on the floor or all on seats but not a mix of both.
Make sure your party doesn't clash with other childrens parties or another big event.
Ask the teacher or other mums and don't time it to clash with a big sporting event or especially with evening parties, the final of a reality show! Holiday times are tricky, do the ring round first and find out if many of the children are going to be away. After school parties are getting more popular as many families have so much on at the weekend.
Make Name stickers for the children.
You just need some sticky labels and a marker pen. It makes it much easier for me and for you. I'm pretty good at remembering names but it's much easier, and especially the younger children respond to their name. Another nice touch I saw the other week was personalised food boxes.
Keep the Food simple.
I'm not going to get into the healthy food thing, just from experience I see that it's always the carrots and cucumbers that are left over at a party! It is a birthday party and I would say the birthday food is a treat. You may have the facilities and time to prepare your own food, but I also would recommend buying pre packed supermarket cakes etc. You can buy individual party boxes from supermarkets and online, or simply fill the paper plates with a good selection. If you are going to use the Church Hall's cooker, make sure it works and doesn't take 2 days to heat up!
Again supermarkets come up trumps here, you can buy full packs which include the table cloth, the banners, and paper plates etc all following a theme. I think it's fine just to make the room bright and colourful. Put balloons up on the walls BUT DON'T FILL THE ROOM WITH BALLOONS. Can I say that again! NO BALLOONS!! Just from experience of arriving at a party to spend the first ten minutes stopping a balloon war! There's always a few children who are scared of them and the more confident children will love bursting them. Also party blowers, hooters etc. are great if you want to hear a constant noise during the food break!
Don't forget the Camera.
Make sure your camera/ video camera has plenty of battery life to capture the special memories. Also don't forget the cake, candles and LIGHTER AND MATCHES. Make sure you take your mobile with you and give the number when booking the party, just in case the entertainer or guests need help finding the venue.
Again Supermarkets to the rescue. They have a very reasonable range of fancy dress outfits and the children do love dressing up. Maybe 4 years old is a little young, but 5, 6 and 7 are great. Popular fancy dresses are Princesses for the girls and Pirates for the boys and you can theme your room (make sure you don't make the boys eat off fairy plates!) How about a superhero party. Children do like dressing up in their own trendy clothes too, so just having a party is fine but make sure you let the parents know if it is or isn't fancy dress, there's nothing worse than one person turning up in his fancy dress and no one else has!
Get some help!
The more the merrier. With the younger parties most parents will stay, but make sure you have a good few volunteers to help tidy up, shift tables etc. Other parents and family will be only to pleased to help.
Why not have a joint party
We only charge a little bit more for a joint party so why not share the costs? Split the room hire, the food cost and my fee! You'll also have more help at the party and a good entertainer will make sure both the birthday children have a special time.
These may sound like silly things but worth a mention! If most people are coming by car make sure there's enough parking at the venue. Try and keep a space free for the entertainer. The children will sit on the floor for the show but make sure there's enough seats for the adults. Don't have a Pinata filled with sweets, the biggest accident waiting to happen! As well as the main birthday cake, buy a cheap 'spare' cake to make sure there's enough to go round.
I'll add to this list from time to time so check it before each party! If you have any helpful tips email firstname.lastname@example.org