By Lorena O’Connor
Don’t panic if the thought of amusing a group of children at your child’s birthday party has you touching up your magic skills. Hire an entertainer and use these tips to help make it easier.
Consider your child’s age and interests
Ages 1-3 like characters familiar from books and television such as Winnie the Pooh, Scooby Doo, and Sponge Bob. Attention spans are short and a performer who provides music (cymbals, bells and shakers) or other noisy fun for the partygoers to play with can be a success. Thirty-minute time limit for this age is best.
Ages 4-6 enjoy clowns and familiar characters such as Batman, Spiderman, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
Ages 7-8 like clowns, magicians, jugglers, etc. The older the group, the more sophisticated the entertainment can be. They might also adapt to art activities such as sculpturing, painting, clay or other activities.
Ages 9-11 enjoy impressing friends. Therefore, the entertainer should be also impressive also. Glamour and mobile video games are the top picks for this age group.
Be upfront with your child about a limited budget
Regardless of the type of entertainment you have, it’s best to limit it to 30-40 minutes. Also, have it the first half of the party, but not until about 30 minutes after the party starts. This will allow for stragglers to arrive.
Your child will remember the entertainer long after the rest of the party is forgotten, so it’s worth spending time selecting the right performer. Word of mouth is the best way to find someone suitable. Ask a few parents or grandparents.
Be clear on what you expect from the performer so you are both prepared
Insist upon a contract. The performer is more likely to show up if under contract.
What is the total cost for the performance? Emphasize you will not pay for any hidden costs.
How much is the deposit? Agree on a method of payment.
What is the cancellation policy? Who owes who when measles or mumps enter the mix?
What is the agreed-upon confirmation date?
Will the show be held inside or out? How long will it last?
Does the entertainer have a helper or does he work alone?
Is a minimum-size audience required?
Does each child get a favor such as a balloon or party bag?
Are there contests in which prizes are given? If so, of what do they consist?
Is there anything you will be asked to supply: tape deck, construction paper, scissors, etc.? Make sure you know what is needed before party time so you won’t be caught unaware.
What happens if the character scares or upsets your child or other guests upon arriving?