Below is a list of preferred vendors with whom you might like to deal when planning your next event.
Exquisite catering for your function
Comprehensive Social and Corporate Event Planning
Say Soiree Event Planning
DJ Ken Stone
The Spinners Entertainment Company
Personalized wedding and event perfection
Olde Mill Inn and Grain House Restaurant
As highlighted on the cover of the May 2002 Union County Family magazine!
(print this and save a copy, click here for a pdf of the Union County Family magazine article, or e-mail Mark at [email protected] for a print version)
Stressed About Party Entertainment?
Hire Some HELP!
by Mark Zacharia (a.k.a. Mark the Magician and You Will Believe In Magic!)
It’s not hard to feel stressed out by the prospect of your child’s birthday party. What will you do to keep your little guests busy—and also ensure a memorable day? Hiring a professional entertainer might help to take the pressure off so your child’s special day is fun—not stressful. Here’s a simple 16-step countdown for putting it all together.
Six months ahead
1. Plan where to have the party as early as possible. Even for home-hosted birthday parties it’s a good idea to make a final decision on this as much as six months ahead of schedule.
2. Decide on the theme of the party and what type of entertainment your child and her guests would enjoy. Compare services of comparable entertainers; ask your friends for references. Ask your prospective entertainers to provide references too. Shop around and consider more than just price. Does the entertainer appeal to your child’s age group and interests? Will there be enough room in your house for a performer? Do you need special equipment? Is the entertainer available for your party date? This is one reason why you’ll want to investigate options early: many entertainers are booked months in advance of a party.
Two months before the party
3. Plan to keep the celebration short. Two to three hours is plenty for a home-hosted birthday party. Don’t feel obligated to entertain all day.
4. Keep the guest list short as well. This can help to keep your expenses down, and because it’s more manageable, you’re more likely to actually enjoy the party. It’s also best if all the party-goers are about the same age, that way the entertainment and activities will appeal to all of them.
5. On the invitation, indicate the type of entertainment you’ve planned for the party, including the start time. Schedule the professional entertainer to begin her show about 30 minutes after the party starts.
6. Call, email, fax, or mail the party professional to reconfirm details. Be sure to provide specific directions for getting to the party location—including landmarks. You can’t overemphasize these details enough. Be sure to describe the most current roadway conditions and reiterate the agreed-upon start time. Be sure that your name, your child’s name, and the phone number of the party place are clearly understood.
Two hours before the party
7. If your party is at home, put away any toys other than those for use at the party. Minimizing distractions will help keep the kids focused on the planned activities.
8. Plan ahead for those who arrive on time or even early. Save just one or two simple party-oriented chores available to keep them occupied, such as setting out placecards or bringing coats and umbrellas to a designated area to keep space clear for the entertainer.
9. Be sure to plan for late arrivals too (there will always be a few of them). Begin the party with parent-led games or activities that can be started when the first few kids arrive; the others can join in as they get there.
10. Even if your party is outdoors, consider having the entertainment portion of the party inside. This is for the convenience and comfort of your guests, as well as to minimize the variables that could have a negative impact on the show. Think about it: there’s no way to have total control over wind, drizzle, hay fever, heat, cold, insects, sun glare, or noisy neighbors.
11. Put fresh batteries and fresh film in your camera. If you’re using a camcorder, make sure you have a freshly charged battery. Ask a teenager or a friend to take pictures so you can focus on the kids and the fun. Get pictures that zoom in on kids’ faces while they enjoy the show.
During the party
12. Pay attention to your timetable so you’ll be able to fit in all the activities you have planned. If there are still a few stragglers when it’s time to start the entertainment, keep an eye on the door so latecomers can be admitted before they ring the doorbell and disrupt the show.
13. There should be adult supervision at all times during your party, and at least one adult should remain in the room while entertainment is in progress. Professional entertainers design their programs to include plenty of audience participation and interaction, so it’s best if an adult is available to handle situations where a child might be vying for extra attention.
14. Serve refreshments or snacks before or after—but not during—the entertainment. The birthday cake and ice cream are best served after the entertainment as the “grand finale” of the party.
15. When should kids open presents? Usually it’s best if this is the last thing on the schedule. That keeps new toys from breaking before the party is over and minimizes distractions during the planned activities.
16. Enjoy! This year in your child’s life will never come again. So make his party a memory to last forever.
Mark Zacharia, from Scotch Plains, is a professional magician (Mark the Magician) specializing in party entertainment for children, adults, and corporations. He won the Jesse H. Neal Award in 2001 for business-to-business journalism. Please visit his web site at https://www.youwillbelieveinmagic.com or contact him at 908-456-3869.