Daisy’s Days Youtube channel visited and reviewed our Dino Disco Adventure Challenge interactive children’s event that we held in Manchester in April 2018. See her review of the event here….
You child’s party is an important and potentially costly affair; so you want to get it right!
If you have decided you want to stay away from the play centre / trampoline centre type party and want to do something more memorable and imaginative getting the right entertainment can be a challenge. These questions should help you determine the quality of potential entertainment providers and get the best quality and value for money, and not end up with a 16 year old in a bad wig who can only lead musical bumps!
1/ “What is the party theme but more importantly what is the content that will be delivered to keep the children engaged?”
It’s all very well to have a ‘Snow White’, ‘Elsa’ or ‘Spiderman’ character come in their costume but if the entertainment then consists of a couple of mediocre Disney songs being warbled and a game of musical statues then you could have a lot of crazy disengaged children running around the place.
The best companies will have a clear theme (or theme offerings) that are more than a dressed up character and should be able to talk you through / send you the itinerary of games, activities, show in detail. Steer clear of anyone who can’t do this! A good party needs to be planned and structured to the minute in order to keep engagement and control of the kids. To quote Monica in Friends “Rules control the fun people”! This is not to say that the rules create a regimented and inflexible party- quite the contrary – as anyone who works with kids will know, kids respond to structure and a well-structured party with an entertainer who is in control will keep the kids engaged throughout.
2/ “Who will be the party entertainer, how much experience do they have and the best question……..”
Party entertainment companies vary enormously in that you might be speaking to a one man band in which case the person you speak to will be doing the entertainment. Alternatively you might be speaking to an agency or company who have entertainers deliver for them. In which case I would ask what the experience is of their entertainers. Our entertainers are all experienced in performance which is important for being able to carry off a character and entertain in front of people and crucially they are also experienced in working with (and entertaining) children. This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised how often a student gets drafted in, they may have done drama at college and have a younger sibling but has little experience of being in control of a group of children and most importantly engaging them, conducting them and creating a magical time for them. Its an art AND a skill and take practice, training and passion. And so experience of both performing professionally and working with children are an absolute minimum requirement for our entertainment staff. And this leads me onto…
The absolute best question you can ask here…..
“What are they good at?” This isn’t a question we get asked much , because it’s probably perceived as quite direct and also you assume that their entertainers will be good at entertaining. Not always….. a good entertainment company will know their teams strengths and be able to talk passionately about each one; whether they are particularly good at making children laugh, creating a magical character, wowing them with song and dance or conducting amazing games and play with them! If a company cannot talk with passion and confidence about what is good about their team and individual members then I would steer clear.
3/ “What space do you need to deliver a party?”
Depending on how many kids you will have at your party and the specifics of the party you are booking will depend on the exact space requirements. However this is a useful question to ask to judge how genuine and experienced the company is. If you say you will likely have 30 children and they say they can deliver it in a normal house loving room I would be wary! A good party needs space for the children to move and be active and for the entertainer to be able to run games, activities or their show. Unless there are very few children or it’s a sit down show only then generally a space of a village hall, community centre or a large back garden is usually needed. If they say they can do it anywhere then the chances are the quality of the party isn’t the most important thing!
4/ “What do you need to know?”
The company / entertainer you are speaking to should at the very least want to know the name and age of the birthday child (the most important thing as its their birthday!!) as well as practical logistics such as your location, the space of the party, how many children and any special requirements. If you haven’t volunteered this information and they haven’t asked then again they are not putting you, the customer at the centre of the conversation.
You should feel like they are treating your child’s birthday party with the greatest importance – because it is important to your child, to you and it and it’s our business as entertainment companies for it to be the important thing to us too!
5/ What themes / party offerings do you have?
If you get told that they can do whatever you want then be careful…! It actually takes a lot of work, planning, rehearsal and training to come up with a good party structure and content. Even more so if it is themed and includes activities and displays. And so a good company will have some tried and tested formulas that work. As much as this ay sound prescriptive it actually means you are getting a tried and tested party that has been professionally developed and will be sure to be successful. It’s the entertainment’s company business to know what works, come up with the ideas and execute it well. So if a company asks you to tell them what you want I would be doubtful of their experience or proven capabilities. You also may get something that is thrown together rather than professionally created. This is why we have party themes that we have spent time and investment developing, we have written songs, scripts and activities and have trained the entertainment staff in best quality execution and delivery. This is not to say we cannot be flexible and insert ideas or meet specific requirements or interests. But we always start from a base which works.
6/ “When discussing price, is it a final package price or are there likely to be extras?”
It’s worth checking what the price quoted includes; does it include travel for example or are there additional activities, add on’s that might be charged for? Is there an option for food or party bags?
7/ “How long do your entertainers do and do they manage the compete party or only part of it?”
It can vary from entertainers making a character appearance, to doing a 30 or 60 minute show to running a complete 2 hour party. So it’s worth asking this from the outset so you know how much you have to run as the parent! Our packages are for the 2 hour party and are structured as 45 minutes entertainment, followed by 15 minutes calm down craft type activity. At which point we suggest you serve food and do the cake. After which we run another 30 minutes of entertainment right up until the party close. This means the only part the parents have to be involved in is the food! It also means that by leading another session of structured entertainment after food you keep the children controlled up until the end and don’t have the post food, sugar high, running around madness that often can occur at parties! This is worked off in the second half of the entertainment and the party ends on a real high, rather than a sugar come down!
8/ “How flexible are you with numbers of children?”
When booking this type of party you are often inviting a whole class or significant numbers, usually between 20 and 30. Often siblings will be brought along and so there may be additional children on the day that had not been accounted for. It’s worth knowing how much flexibility there is in this. Generally most entertainers will be flexible with this, we certainly are and we always carry enough resources to allow for additional children, but it helps for your peace of mind to know this in advance.
9/ “What back up do you have in case the entertainer due to be delivering the party is sick?”
Obviously this would be a rare occurence and we have never encountered this thankfully, but we do have a back-up plan in case of this where we can at short notice call on another member of the team to be able to deliver the party, even if they are travelling from another area, this will be done at our cost to ensure your party goes ahead as planned! Reliability is a key part of our company ethos and we will do whatever it takes to ensure your child has the birthday party they have been promised!
10/ “What makes you a great party company?”
A good party company will be able to tell you succinctly and easily what makes them successful and stand out. In our case it’s because we have professional performers who are experienced and love children. We have exciting and imaginative themes which incorporate storytelling, music, challenges and activities. These have been developed, tried and tested to result in the best parties which engage active and imaginative children, providing a party that truly involves them, captivates them and that they will remember!
Everyone loves a chocolate Egg at Easter – but how about a jelly egg?! This is an easy and fun activity you can do over the easter weekend with your children, whatever the age and the bonus is that they end up with something fun and easy to eat after! And they can look really pretty!!
So have a fun and yummy Easter everyone and hope you do lots of fun activities with your children and families!!
For more Daisy’s Days videos subscribe to our Channel for lots of ideas for imaginative family fun!
The school holidays are upon us again and unless you are travelling or holidaying away then there is the usual predicament of entertaining the kids, managing to still get work /house / errands done, making sure siblings don’t kill each other and trying to spend some quality time together too, without taking out a second mortgage!!
So here are our top tips for achieving all this and coming out the other side feeling like an Easter flower in bloom rather than a cracked Easter egg!
1/ It’s all in the planning.
As much as it might sound militant it actually helps everyone to know roughly what it happening and when. Not just for you as parents but it’s good for children to have an expectation of ‘we will have one day out at this point in the holiday’ so that they don’t start badgering half way through to spend every day at a different theme park!
2/ Balance; ratio of planned activities and free play.
It’s not realistic to have a day out every day of the holidays; but it is nice to have a couple of special trips or adventures planned! It’s a good idea to involve the kids in the planning of the days out. I ask each of my kids to come up with 3 ideas for a holiday activity that they would like to do and then I choose one from each of their lists.
3/ Don’t fear free play.
Free play is a critical part of childhood. Nowadays kids have less free-play than previous generations had as they have so many entertainment options. But encouraging them to just play with toys, be around the house and in the garden and make their own entertainment actually teaches them much more than any structured activity! They learn to be creative, imaginative, independent, problem solve. If they have siblings it also helps to reconnect them, as often siblings can lost that sense of play together as they are focused on their own activities, screens and friends. Unstructured time together helps them to reconnect and help with skills such as co-operation, leading and following. And if they argue that’s fine too – they are learning to co-operate (or not!) but it’s a critical part of child development!
4/ Set screen time rules on day one and stick to it!
Especially if you want them to get better at free play than you need to give the expectation and rule for screen time per day and be strict on it! We all know it’s far too easy to be busy and getting on and the kids are quiet because they are on their devices so not giving you any bother. But actually it’s not doing them any good and is of very little benefit to them in both the long and short term. However they don’t have the ability to understand this and are just engrossed in their device / game / video. So if you suddenly tell them to get off them because it’s been too long; that’s when the tantrums come! However, if you have set the perimeters at the start of the holidays of ‘one hour per day’ or whatever it is and make sure that is agreed at the time, then when they ask to go on their device you can remind them they have an hour max, make sure they understand and agree to this and set an alarm. It is far easier to get them off it then because they were expecting it. It’s when children are not expecting sudden rules to be enforced that they kick off! Generally if they know something is coming they are better at dealing with it!
5/ Use holiday clubs
There are all manner of school holiday clubs and activities and its worth utilising them if only for 1 or 2 days or when you are working. The children enjoy it, it gets them out, active and socialising. It’s also a good way to get them to meet new children and also try a new skill or activity that they may not have previously have tried as there are lots of specialist holiday camps, such as tennis, arts and crafts and drama.
6/ Make sure chocolate eggs are counteracted with activity!
We all love an Easter egg or two! But it’s a good opportunity to help children to understand the correlation between food choices, exercise and how your body and brain performs. Therefore if they are going to have some of their Easter egg ask them to counteract it with a run around the garden, bouncing on the trampoline or 100 skips with their skipping rope!!
7/ Involve the kids in jobs
Holidays are often a time when parents are off work and also want to get jobs done around the house; some spring cleaning, sorting out clothes and chucking old winter clothes that are too small or tidying the toy boxes! So get the children involved; you can make it fun by giving them an age appropriate objective (for the young ones find all the socks that pair together, find all the trains in the toy boxes, for the older ones, go through the clothes and put to the side the ones that don’t fit or organise the books into alphabetical order) Usually there is something fun that can made out of jobs and especially if you put a timer on, some music, sing while you sort and have fun! And then have a treat together at the end whilst surveying the job well done!
8/Explore the fun in your own square mile
It’s amazing how many things are happening in our own community that we don’t know about. We don’t always have to get in the car to find something fun to do for an hour with the kids. From exploring new areas of where we live, going to a different park or taking a bus to the next town; to finding small scale events happening on our doorsteps at schools, charities and libraries. Often these are free and can be a good way to while away an hour or so and be a change of scenery. And if you bump into friends and end up with an impromptu playdate for the kids even better!
9/ Set them a challenge
Give the kids a challenge that you want them to complete over the holidays. This could be a project that can be done across a number of days; such as an art or craft project (make a series of greeting cards or decorations for their room) or it could be getting them to practice their football skills (be able to do 10 ‘keepie-uppies’ by the end of the holidays) or it could be getting them to write a story or poem. Something that they can do a little bit on every few days and have as a focus for their down time whenever they moan “I’m bored!” Obviously it needs to be something of their choosing so they are motivated. But if you ca give them a platform for their achievement at the end (sending their greeting cards to family, performing their show to family, printing and binding their story)
10/ Appreciate the time
If you look at the big picture there are not that many periods of time that you will have with your kids to just enjoy being together in the holidays. Before long they will be teenagers and wanting to spend their school holidays with their friends or off doing their hobbies on their own! So make the most of the time, enjoy some Pyjama mornings and don’t worry about what you ‘should be doing’ do what you want to do!
On Mother’s day; I would rather have a creative child with glitter and glue to clear up than a tidy house and a child glued to a screen!
Happy Mother’s Day – and it’s a day where traditionally we mums get to put our feet up and not do any house work!
I was blessed to be woken up with not only a delicious pancake cooked by my 8 year old but a plethora of artwork which has been painstakingly created over the last week, largely involving glitter, cutting and glue!
As you can imagine this has resulted in a large amount of tidying up and clearing of glitter which is likely to adorn various surfaces in her bedroom for weeks to come! This could result in me as a mum being cross that I have to do these jobs on a day that apparently (according to the greetings cards!) I should not be partaking in domestic chores! But conversely I get great pleasure from this tidying – not because I am a clean-up freak – far from it I am nowhere near being domestic goddess and tidying and cleaning is about as far from my idea of fun as sitting in an ice cold bath! HOWEVER I am ecstatic to do this particular tidying job because it means my daughter has spent hours upon hours in the last week using her imagination, being artistic, creative, problem solving (when she didn’t have any skewers for the sticks to hold up the bunting on her Mother’s day pop up card she improvised with toothpicks stuck together!). She has been busy with her hands, her mind, her imagination, her vision. And she has loved doing it. And most of all she was passionate to do it. Over the last week every time I have walked into her bedroom she has been huddled under her bed busying away on one of these amazing creations and I have been urged “not to look”!!!
So the upshot is that I do have mess to clear up and jobs to do on Mother’s day, but I also have this amazing looking mantelpiece, full of my daughters creative juices . I would rather this result than a minimalist mantelpiece, a clean and tidy house and a child who is glued to the computer screen. Maybe I am old fashioned in that view but I truly believe she will be at a greater advantage in her life as a result. She will have learnt many more valuable skills with these physical projects than she would playing on endless computer games and apps in a virtual world! And yes I might have more work to do as a result but I’d rather she live in a real world that is full of colour, creations, imagination and art!
So I am celebrating the glitter and the mess today and celebrating my children for which I am truly grateful for! And here’s to all the amazing Mummy’s clearing up their children’s mess today……….let’s rejoice in it!!!
And it’s also worth reframing world book day in our minds, so we can enjoy the experience; see it as an opportunity to encourage creativity and a love of storytelling and books in our children. The amount of books our children are reading nowadays has significantly reduced due to preference being given to screens over books. So any opportunity to engage our kids in the magic of books and the characters we discover through reading should be embraced!
So if you are looking for some inspiration for characters for next week here is our pick of the best ones; some easy costumes, some more challenging; most can be done yourself with minimal of sewing skills needed! So no need for big expense either. So even for frantic, working mums, with some fore-thought, World Book Day costumes can be a fun thing to prepare together!
And remember World Book day isn’t about being competitive with other parents; much better use the opportunity to connect with your children, discuss what books and characters are their favourites and have some fun putting together the costumes. Because there aren’t that many World Book Days until they are at high school, when they won’t be dressing up anymore and the fun will be behind you…….
David Walliams characters:
Grandpa’s from Grandpa’s Great Escape
Boy in a dress
Roald Dahl characters:
A golden ticket!
Matilda and Miss Trunchball
Harry Potter books:
Hedwig the Owl
Crookshanks the cat
Other good book characters:
Alice, The Cheshire Cat and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
The Gruffalo and the Mouse
The Tiger and Sophie from The Tiger who came to Tea
Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh
Silky or Saucepan man from The Magic Faraway Tree
Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Cat in the Hat
Have fun and share your proud pictures with us!