With over 22 years experience as a birthday party magician, I’ve amassed tons of kid party ideas and party tips to make your birthday party stress free for you and the best party for your child! Your child’s birthday only happens once a year (unless you live on a boarder of a time zone and you cross over before 11:59 pm. I always wanted to do that! ) Here are 7 tips to help you plan the perfect party:
Everyone is never on time.
1) If you want most of your guests to arrive by 3:30 pm, for example, call the party for 3:15. In over 24 years, I’ve never been to a show where everyone arrived on time (that would be true magic!) Don’t have any main activities (Piñata, magic show, pin-the-tail on the donkey, etc) begin until at least 15 minutes after you call the party. However, have crayons and paper out for the kids to draw on until all of the guests arrive. Your child’s party may start on time, but guests usually tend to stroll in. (I’ve been to plenty of parties where guests arrive as my show is ended; 1 hour late)
2) Keep it a party for kids, not dogs and cats. Keep dogs, cats, hamsters, tigers, etc., separated from the party area. Little kids who have their own dogs/cats may try to treat your animal(s) the same way they treat theirs. Will, my 3-year-old, likes to “pet” our 50 lb Standard Poodle, however his version of “petting the dog” wouldn’t be seen as friendly to a 5-lb Chihuahua.
3) Feed the children, but not the floors. Cover your rug with a plastic table cloth and try to avoid foods that break into a million little pieces (chips, Doritos, etc). There is never a good time to find an old piece of Cheetos in the couch 7 months after the party. The easiest foods to serve at a party are pizza, apple juice, and water.
4) Please put peanuts away. Peanut allergies are scary and serious. Make sure peanuts are not served at the party and are away. Even if they are available for the adults, one could easily fall and be picked up by an allergic child. My daughter, Maya, has a peanut allergy and this is always a concern of ours whenever she goes to an unknown place.
5) Manners Matter. I always bring a birthday present to the birthday child. Although I don’t expect it, it is always great to get a, “thank you” when I give him/her their gift. A child’s birthday is a great time to practice manners and basic edict. If they are too shy or too excited, it is a lot of fun to watch them greet each guest at the door and thank their friends for coming to their party and for their gift.
If your child tends to be shy or get overwhelmed in certain situations, you might want to prepare your child for the party. You might play act or rehearse how you would like your child to answer the door, greet the guests and receive the presents. Discuss good manners and acceptable behavior for the party. After the party, you may also want to have your child send “thank you” notes to all of his guests. If they aren’t old enough to write the card, they can decorate it with crayons and/or stickers.
6) Even Al Roker gets the weather wrong at times. If you want to have the party outdoors, make sure you have a contingency plan in case of rain and extremely hot weather. Fluffy the snake doesn’t mind the heat, but Marshmallow the bunny does. If you’re hiring a performer with live animals, let them know beforehand that the show will be in the park, on the balcony, rooftop, etc. I don’t mind as long as there is a shady spot, but the kids may get too hot.
7) The Order Matters. In terms of the structure of the party, it works well when the food and cake are served last. I always recommend the magic show to start 15-20 minutes after the party begins (to allow for late comers). This way, the children arrive and can draw and play. Next, the show and then the pizza and cake. 90-minutes is a perfect amount of time for the party. (However, if a 12 hour sleepover party is what you can handle, go for it…just don’t expect to get any sleep).
I never recommend making balloon animals until after the show and if possible, it works best if the kids don’t eat during the show. Balloons will pop (no amount of magic can prevent that) and food and drinks will spill on the floor (guaranteed). Parents ask me all the time, in what order should activities be planned. In the thousands of magic shows that I’ve done for birthday parties, about 90% have the entertainer first. (The kids are always so excited about watching a show with a live bunny and snake.) After the show, serve pizza then cake.