Crafts and games can be fun additions to kids' birthday parties, but sometimes, you want to give your son or daughter something extra special to celebrate the day. Birthday party entertainers, including magicians, cartoon mascots and clowns, can create truly memorable events and ensure that guests have a fantastic time.
Of course, you can't simply hire the first person you find in the phonebook.
Selecting an appropriate birthday party entertainer takes some legwork on your end. Otherwise, you could end up with a party disaster on your hands -- and on your dime. Before you sign any contracts or cut any checks, bear in mind the following five tips for hiring birthday entertainers.
Know Your Budget
Before you begin calling around for the perfect birthday entertainers, figure out your party budget. Remember to tally up the cost of the event space, food, drinks, goodie bags and, of course, presents for the guest of honor. You'll probably notice that the cost can quickly add up.
From there, if you still want to add an entertainer to the list of expenses, you can compensate by cost-cutting in other areas. Know what kind of rates you can manage before you begin the search for your entertainer. If you're working on a shoestring budget, you may not be able to afford a Cirque du Soleil veteran clown. But if you have friends who know some neat science experiments, have a knack for face painting or break dance, you could be in business for a fraction of the cost.
Just like you wouldn't buy the first car you see in a dealer lot, it's a wise idea to shop around for a birthday party entertainer. Especially if you live in a larger city with plenty of options, you could save cash and find a better quality performer by talking to more than one. To save some time, run a quick Internet search for birthday party entertainers in your area. That will give you a quick snapshot of what's available, and you can peruse the Web sites for base rates, characters and activities offered. Also, check out pictures or videos from previous parties. Jot down your favorites and call the businesses directly; don't rely solely on online rate quote services.
To have time to shop around, remember to plan ahead. If you want to book an entertainer for the following weekend, you might have trouble tracking down what your child wants.
When you're calling up potential birthday entertainers, treat them like employee interviews. Don't hesitate to inquire about experience, references and what's involved in their usual act. Above all, ask about their comfort level around children and whether they specialize in kids' parties. For example, a magician who normally performs at corporate events may not be the best fit for an elementary-aged group.
Also consider the length of time the entertainer plans to perform. Younger children won't be able to sit through much more than half of an hour. Preteens may do better with hands-on activities and plenty of audience participation.
Before you're ready to dial up an entertainment service, do your homework. Have the date, time and location already decided on. Be able to describe what type of entertainment you're looking for and whether it should fit into a theme. The number of guests will also be helpful in case rates fluctuate depending on the head count.
Once you've put the time and effort into organizing your child's dream birthday party, the last thing that needs to occur is a no-show entertainer. Lines of communication get crossed, emergencies happen and people simply drop the ball sometimes. In the case of a birthday party entertainer, those aren't acceptable scenarios.
Confirm everything ahead of time. Double check the date, time and location, and if you sign a contract, be sure that all pertinent information is included in the document. As an extra measure, call a few days ahead to ensure that your event is on the calendar. Verifying the length of the performance, the goodies that come with the act and any extra charges is also wise.
Knowing exactly what to expect beforehand will alleviate stress on the day of the party and allow you to enjoy the festivities with the birthday boy or girl.
Plan Ahead for Entertainment
Congratulations! You've crossed all of your t's, dotted your i's and hired the ideal birthday party entertainer. This doesn't mean that you can completely kick back and relax, however.
Be sure to provide enough time and space for the entertainer to work his or her magic. Planning a physical activity before the main event can help kids get out the wiggles and prepare them to focus on the entertainer. Also, don't confuse a performer for a baby sitter. While he or she can keep kids engaged and having fun, adult supervision is still necessary. Younger children in particular may need assistance with the activities or feel uncomfortable participating at all. Older kids may goof off or become too rowdy if left to their own devices. A watchful eye will keep behavior in line and help guarantee that you get your money's worth of entertainment.