Birthday Party Entertainment: Tips to Finding the Right Entertainer

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Don’t panic at the prospect of amusing a group of kids at your child’s birthday party. Instead, hire an entertainer. Following are a few hints to help make it easier. Two important aspects to first consider are the child’s age and interests.

Ages 1-3 like characters familiar from books and TV, such as Winnie the Pooh, Scooby Doo and Sponge Bob. Attention spans are short and a performer that provides music, including cymbals, bells and shakers, for kids to play will be a success. Keep it at a 30-minute time limit for this age.

Ages 4-6 like clowns and also go for familiar characters like Batman, Spiderman, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Ages 7 and older like clowns, magicians and jugglers. The older the group, the more sophisticated the entertainment can be. Elementary-age kids also adapt to art activities such as sculpturing, painting and playing with clay.

In the 9-11 group, impressing friends is pretty important. So the entertainer can be impressive also. Be up front with your child about a limited budget. No matter what type of entertainment you have, it’s best to limit it to 30 to 40 minutes.

Schedule entertainment during the first half of the party, but not until about 30 minutes after the party starts. This allows time 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 co-workers, other family members and friends with kids.

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Be clear on what you expect from the performer. Here are some points to consider when selecting a new entertainer:

1. Insist upon a contract. The performer is more likely to show up if under contract.

2. What is the total cost for the performance? Emphasize you will not pay for any hidden costs.

3. How much is the deposit? Agree on a method of payment.

4. What is the cancellation policy? What happens when measles or mumps might enter the mix?

5. What is the agreed-upon confirmation date?

6. Will the show be held inside or out? How long will it last? Does the entertainer have a helper or does he work alone?

7. Is a minimum-sized audience required?

8. Does each child get a favor: balloon, animal or loot bag? Are there contests in which prizes are given? If so, of what do they consist?

9. Is there anything you will be asked to supply: tape deck, construction paper or scissors? Make sure you know what is needed before party time so you won’t be caught unaware.

10. Finally, if things don’t go just as planned, make the most of it and have a wonderful birthday celebration.

Lorena O’Connor is a freelance writer from Silver Spring, Md.