How to have a fabulous Cinderella Them Party

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After a year of Frozen mania, I for one am ready to move on in a new direction.  With the upcoming March 13th release of the film version of Cinderella, this theme is the perfect party idea for your daughter’s next birthday!  For me, the Cinderella story has always been near and dear to my heart.  Not only did Jennifer and I title our company after this princess, but I chose this theme for my oldest daughter’s first princess party at the age of four, many years ago.  And it was that very first party long ago that inspired me to become a children’s event planner a couple of years afterward.

One of the things that I love about this theme is that you can use many different things for decorating: mice, glass slippers, carriage, pumpkins etc.  I LOVE using and decorating with pumpkins, so I use them every chance I can. Pinterest is a great site for party ideas!  Below are some party theme ideas.

 

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Table Decor

You can usually find pumpkins at Michaels, Jo Ann’s or Hobby Lobby.  I prefer using the white pumpkins and spraying them with a hint of blue paint and glitter.   Years ago, I had one of my close artist friends create several Cinderella centerpieces for me because at the time, Cinderella was one of my most popular theme.  The main piece that she created, was a replica of the the pumpkin coach that was on display in one of the shop windows on Main Street in Disneyland.  She had carved out a door, used hinges, place gold duponi silk inside the cab and painted a gilded “C” on the door.  The pumpkin was placed on an iron base that I had made with seat and and turning wheels!  I then had several other pumpkins designed that represented the different phases of the coach development.   A delicate briar patch type of greenery with pretty flowers will complete the  look!  For table linen, I like the idea of using a pretty shade of blue–something on the darker side to represent night time.  I also prefer the romantic look of a cloth that drops down to the floor and always use a  lightweight fabric that will drape more easily.

 

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Place Holders

Depending on what your centerpiece is, and the look you are going for, these are cute.

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Food Display

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Photo Op

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Snack

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Lunch

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Take Home Treat

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Cake Ideas

By |January 23rd, 2015|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips, General, Organization|0 Comments

Be Sure to Book Early!

images-1I hope that everyone is off to a fabulous start for 2015!  I know that I am.  I for one am so glad that December, 2014 has passed though.  I truly love the holidays, but they can be very hectic and very difficult.   And for whatever reason, this December was a bit grouchy like it had a grudge to hold.  Anyway, I am one of those people who like to get off to a positive and well rested start and for me that means organizing and being as efficient as I can be!  Once Christmas is over, the tree and decorations comes down immediately.  I always have to laugh at this because I truly believe that I was left behind in a former life or something, as I always have to be the first to leave or arrive somewhere.  With this said. I love the start of a new year!!!! Jennifer and I accomplished quite a lot in 2014 and we now can get together to regroup and discuss our new goals for 2015.  Business is already off to a booming start, so I want encourage everyone to start thinking about their yearly commitments.  This of course means things like work schedules, spring break, taxes, summer vacations, and your children’s birthday parties of course.  Please do not procrastinate on booking their party.  Once January rolls around, everyone will become extremely busy and schedules will get booked up fast.  If your child has a summer birthday, I would start doing your research now.  Check out Yelp reviews, ask friends, do Google searches.  We book out 2-3 months prior.  Please don’t allow a company though to convince you to book out before then.  The reason being is that people’s schedules change.  Performers come and go all the time.  Personal and work conflicts will also occur.  You want to book with a company that will give you the greatest chance of securing a performer that you want.

 

By |January 5th, 2015|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips, General, Organization|0 Comments

Disney, You Truly are the Best!

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My family and I visited Disneyland over the Christmas holiday for my older daughter’s birthday.  I was warned beforehand about the overwhelming number of people that would be there, but we still opted to go because it was the only time we could go do so.  Having been to Disneyland many times before, they never ever cease to amaze me about how well they are dialed in.  The Disney Corporation does not post daily attendance figures, but the maximum amount is 85,000 people and that is in addition to 10,000 cast members working there.  In reading an online article this week, both Disneyland and Disney World had to close their doors at 2pm on Christmas day due to reaching their maximum capacity.  I was there several days before Christmas and at the time I had heard the attendance was about 68,000.  That is not only a whole lot of people, but having to happily serve them, deliver an incredible product and experience, while managing your property at the same time is not only overwhelming but mind blowing.  Way to go Disney because you do it so well!

At one point while standing in line for the Indiana Jone’s ride, my husband began questioning the way the stanchions were being routed before I snapped back at him with a pointed finger, “Do not question the mouse!” It’s so true!  Disneyland is open 24/7 roughly from about 7am-midnight.  With the amount of hours they are open and the amount of people visiting, the place is always clean!!!!  You will never see an overflowing trash can because they are always emptied and polished clean.  The same thing goes for the bathrooms. The bathrooms are always spotless and fully stocked.  Emergency staff and security is always nearby. Guests that are visiting for the most part do behave.  With the exception of some loud frat boys, no one that we saw was out of line. Rides that do break down are usually fixed within a reasonable amount of time.  Service staff is always polite, very helpful and fabulously dressed of course.  People in wheel chairs and those needing assistance are are helped carefully and efficiently.  And I have to add that the wait times for rides are pretty accurate and reasonable considering the volume of people.

Not bad for a place that was predicted to fail!  When Disneyland opened its doors in 1955, opening day was such a disaster that pretty much every press organization that attended the celebration had predicted the park’s failure within one year. It opened on a day that was 101 degrees and the street asphalt still wasn’t dry, leading to it sticking to shoes. By the end of the first day, all but 2 of the 48 Autopia cars were crashed and about half the rides were broken. Fast forward 60 years, and The Happiest Place on Earth is completely dialed in and has been for many years.  As a consumer and a business owner, how great would it be if every business operated the Disney
way?

 

 

 

By |January 3rd, 2015|Disney News and Events, General, Holidays, life, Organization|0 Comments

Tips on Selecting the Right Princess Character Company for your Party

 

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If you are planning a birthday party for your child and you decide to book with a character or entertainment company, please do your research. I know that booking a company can be overwhelming for many people, especially if you’re in a region like Los Angeles which is fully saturated with businesses, but it is really important to choose wisely. Our time with our children is fleeting, meaning that this time in their lives of believing in fairytale is quite short, so the last thing you want to do is to plan a party for them and to have a company flake out or not deliver for you. A few weeks back I posted that just because a company comes up first in the search engine and has a cool looking website, doesn’t mean they are the company for you. When booking with a company, you want to find someone that will be the right fit for you and your needs.

Below are some tips I recommend:

1. Do your due diligence.

You want to be sure to get recommendations from friends and acquaintance first. Next, you can start searching the internet for Yelp and Google reviews. Word of advice though, when dealing with social media reviews please take them with a grain of salt. (Please read my entry on How Yelp Really Works). Just remember that Yelp has its faults. Due to the way Yelp filters out client reviews, many newer companies are becoming quite savvy in going after positive reviews and will go to great lengths to have close friends and business acquaintances leave comments for them on Yelp and Facebook just to get a review. When going through someone’s Yelp reviews, it’s really important that the reviews are local and have no affiliation with the company. I always have to laugh when I see numerous reviews posted from the company’s staff members or business associates or from friends of theirs elsewhere in the country. For ex. I think I will have my Yelping friend in NJ leave me a review because she’s a Yelper and I know it will stick. That may work for a different industry such as a hotel or restaurant, but really not for the character industry. Granted, that’s not to say that one or two non local reviews may not be legitimate, but when you start seeing more than that, I would be skeptical. As for Facebook, any Tom, Dick & Harry can leave a review.

2. Who owns the company?

I am always a bit leery of companies that have an ambiguous About Us paige. As a consumer, you have every right to know who you are booking with and what is the company’s track record. Find out how long they have been in business. What do you know about the owners? Jennifer and I love what we do, and put our heart and soul into everything we touch whether it’s through blogging, Facebooking, updating our website. We have built a relationship with our clientele so we have developed a loyal following over the past 7 years.

3. Who are the performers?

This is where Jennifer and I are sticklers. Prior to starting The Cinderella Company, we both owned and operated our own children’s event planning companies. It was during this time, that we personally dealt with a number of local character companies that used “smoke and mirror” tactics. I can vividly remember hiring a Sleeping Beauty performer from a company for a party that I was hosting, and the performer was anything but Aurora. She may have showed up wearing a platinum blonde wig and a pink gown, but that was the extent of it. I took one look at her and the idea of a magical princess was lost for me in a split second . It was that experience long ago, that led to the creation of The Cinderella Co. A lot of companies will not post their performers bios or photos on the site nor will they promise you a performer. As a client, you therefore have no idea of who will show up to your event the day of the party–not cool in my opinion. I just took a booking from a client the other day and she flat out asked if my performer had braces or any visible tattoos and body piercings. She was very nervous about booking because she too had experienced some interesting characters at parties her daughter had been invited to.

4. What are your expectations and that of the company?

As consumers, we all have our own expectations. What are they? Are they reasonable? Are they the same as the company’s? You need to find out and be very clear with the company about what you are looking for and the company needs to be clear in what they are providing.   Not every business is going to be able to accommodate specific requests. Jennifer and I put as much information about who we are and what we practice out there to prevent confusion and client dissatisfaction; this is one of the reasons that our website is as extensive as it is. We also believe in remaining true to the Disney philosophy and that of their characters.  As a company, we may or may not be what some people are looking for and that’s okay.  Jennifer and I and our entire cast do what we do out of love and are committed to providing the best possible experience.

5. How is their pricing?

Do a comparative market analysis. Is the company’s pricing competitive with the others? Is it more expensive or less? Start comparing. I get calls all the time asking about our pricing. When comparing pricing though, you have to make sure the companies are similar. We often get calls about a local non Disney character company that deals in fantasy characters. When someone mentions them, I always inform the clients they are comparing apples and oranges. You cannot compare the pricing on two very different companies because one is dealing with complex Disney style costumes and wigs vs fantasy characters that have no wigs or specific costumes to match. When comparing two similar companies, begin to analyze the quality of the costumes and the wigs. I will be as upfront and as honest as I can be, the costumes and wigs do not come cheap. Yes, there are companies out there that purchase their things ready made off the internet at a fraction of the prices, versus a costume that is more elaborately designed and has petti/hoopskirts and accessories. What is their attention to detail like?

6. Is the company easy to work with?

How long does it take the company to respond? Do they answer your questions fully? Are they informative? Do you feel they are being thorough with you or they simply want your money? Do you feel that they are listening to what you are saying?  Is this a serious, reputable company or someone just dressing up on the side hoping to make some money? How do they handle challenges? Ex. performer illnesses, reschedules, unexpected situations? Again, what is their attention to detail like?

7. Do not assume anything.

Please be sure to get everything in writing. It’s important that you don’t assume anything.   Just because you fill out a inquiry page and say you want to book, doesn’t mean that you’re booked or that the character is reserved for you.   No booking is taken with us until a deposit has been taken from the client.  Due to our high volume of business, we unfortunately cannot reserve a performer’s time until then.  Also, be sure to read information that they send to you.  As in any businesses, you need to make sure that you read and understand the the contract.

8.  Does the company have a contract?

It behooves everyone for a company to have a contract.  Contracts are established to protect both parties.  Be sure to read and understand everything that is in it.  Please make sure that all of the information is correct.  With technology, one wrong click and you can have the wrong character showing up at your house on the wrong date.  Submit changes in writing!!!  Please don’t call the information in.  You want to be able to hold someone accountable and you can’t necessarily do that when you say that you called the office.  Jennifer and I keep track of everything.

9. Be Hesitant with online booking and payment:

Sorry, I just don’t believe in this because there is too much left to chance. I cannot begin to tell you how many calls I get from people who say a company had to cancel unexpectedly because of over booking. Don’t do it. You are not buying a dress, but booking your child’s party. Be sure to speak with them directly before putting down a credit card payment.

10.  Does the company uphold the Disney standard?

Here at The Cinderella Company, we love all things Disney and are completely committed to staying true to their philosophy and characters, as such, we will alway do our best to bring the princess characters to life.

11.  Is the company award winning?

Has the company that you are booking won any awards within their industry?  If so, is there consistency with that?  Often times new companies will promote that they’ve won an award for something when they’ve hardly been in a business for a long enough amount of time.  Having your friends and family vote for you does not justify becoming the best of the best. Don’t be fooled by companies that are trying to work the system.

12.  When to book a party: 

Please don’t allow a company to convince you to book a performer 6 months out.  The earliest you should book is about 3 months.  The reason being is that life happens.   Cast members will come and go, and for some companies they may not even be in business in 6 months.  The character industry is not the restaurant industry, meaning we are not a famous 3 Michelin star restaurant that you are wanting to get into.  The only exception to early booking is finding a company that is hosted by one performer, but even then I still don’t feel comfortable putting money out.

13.  How does the company handle emergencies?

Each company is different.  You want to feel secure in booking a company in that they will not leave you high and dry.  I absolutely detest when I hear from people that a company has cancelled on them and has not offered any  help other than a alternative phone number to call.  Please keep in mind that performers do and will fall ill as they are around children often.  If a performer falls ill, the company that you have booked with needs to offer some assistance in finding a replacement and I don’t mean by giving you phone numbers to call.  There have been times that Jennifer and I have been up to the wee hours speaking with local companies on the behalf of our clients.  I also encourage every parent to have an “Emergency Back up Plan”.  If a company cancels and there is no one other company to help out, you will still have a party to get through.

14.  How does the company bill for travel?

Some companies out there are charging hefty travel fees.  How are they calculating costs?    Are they charging for time and mileage?  If so, that can be very expensive.  Also, I would question a company that insists on charging a travel but will not guarantee a performer.  How do you really know where that performer is traveling from.  The character company is a mobile business and we are not booking performers out of a central location, but have performers all throughout the regions.  If a company is going to bill a travel, it’s a fair question to ask what region the performer is traveling from.    Don’t allow a company to bill you for something extra. The Cinderella Company does not bill for time but for mileage and tolls.

 

By |October 13th, 2014|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips, General, Organization|0 Comments

A Camping We Will Go

With the Labor Day holiday nearing, I thought that I would share my very thorough camping list with everyone.  Growing up on the east coast, my family never camped.  It wasn’t until I was married and had kids here in California, that I went camping for the first time.  Having never done it before, I wasn’t really eager to go.  I actually had a lot of anxiety about it, but I persevered and made it through.  Many years later, I am now very dialed in so I hope that this list can help many.

KNOTS Cartoon Kitchen Sink Camping

Terri’s Everything but the Kitchen Sink Camping List

Kitchen:
1.  Table cloths
2.  Vinyl overlay
3.  Napkins
4.  Paper Towels
5.  Hand Towels/Pot holders
6.  Dustpan and broom; tall broom for tent
7.  Utensils/Plates/bowls(we don’t bring disposables)
8.  Tea cups
9.  S& P
10. Dish Soap
11.  3 Washing bins (soapy water, clean and dry dishes)
12.  A large heavy, hot water pot for sink area
13.  Water dispenser for sink
14.  Misc items:  spatula, can opener, lighters, which, skewers, knives, cutting boards, measuring cups
15.  2 tall pots (rice, pasta)
16. 2 skillets
17.  Tupperware
18.  Baggies
19.  Garbage bags
20.  Small platters
21.  Ice chest
22.  Coffee pot with filters
23.  Knives and cutting boards
24.  wine opener
25.  plastic cups/glasses
26.  paper plates for the last day.
27.  3 stoves/grill
28.  scissors
29.  mixing bowls
30.  Propane tanks
31.  Utensil holder
32.  Citronella candles
33.  Meyers cleaning spray
Bathroom:
1,  Hand soap
2.  Purell
3.  Toiletries
4.  Towels
5.  Bug Spray
6.  Lotion
7.  First Aid Kit
8.  Allergy
Tent:
1.  Cots or airmattress
2.  pump
3.  sleeping bags
4.  blanets
5.  comforters
6.  pillows
7.  lanterns
8.  flashlights
9. lighter
10.  Throws
11.  chairs
12. camera
13.  Hammer or mallet
14.  Welcome mat
Clothes:  (depending on time of year)
1. Sweaters
2.  Tee shirts
3.  Long Johns
4.  Boots
5.  Flip flops
6.  Jackets
7.  Socks (extra)
8.  Jeans
9.  PJ’s (extra)
10.  Hats
Written by Terri / Published by Jennifer
By |August 29th, 2014|Organization|0 Comments

Back to School

back-to-school-jarsWow, I can hardly believe that school will start this week for many of our kids.  We hope that everyone had a wonderful summer.  As a working parent, we all know the importance of being organized.  As my kids get older and we move onto a different stage, being organized and efficient is extremely important to us and definitely for my own sanity. My daughters and I did a massive purging and redesigning of their rooms about a week ago.  A Target run for school supplies soon followed, several trips to the local malls for needed things, and of course my reconnecting with school tutors was a must!  I then had to work on and purge my own office space which is the control center in our house.  It’s amazing how disastrous drawers and cupboards can become by the end of the school year.  With a clean eraser board, I have started writing in everyone’s activities and have begun thinking about our Fall dinner schedule.  This may seem extreme to many, but when you’re a full-time working parent it really helps keep your home life peaceful.   My need for structure came about 6.5 years ago when I started running The Cinderella Co.  Working 5 days a week from 8:30-5 left me little time to get things done.  I found that as a parent, I was dropping the ball by forgetting to get certain things done.  I also found that I had little patience by the end of the work day because I was exhausted and our family meals were less than par.  And then there were the stressful mornings when someone couldn’t locate a needed item and that set off a chain reaction of everyone starting the day off in a bad mood which so not fun and counter productive.
 
So here are some of the things that have helped me.
 
*  Try to utilize space as best as possible.  I have a small house so this is very important for us.  
*  Label things:  My kids have plastic drawers and containers in their closets which are all labeled.
*  Draw dividers:  Separate things out.  Ex. Socks and underwear, tanks, scarves, etc
*  Maintain!  You need to purge the junk out.  Only keep what is important and get rid of the rest.  I know we tend to want to hold onto our kid’s work when they are young, but by the end of the year if you don’t sort through it you will have piles of this stuff on your hands.  Keep the important stuff.
*  Plan ahead.  When my girls were younger, I had them set their school clothes out the night before.
*  Laundry Day:  During the school year, I designate one day if not two for laundry and ironing so everything was ready to go by Monday.  If your kids go to a private school, no one wants a wrinkled uniform.
*  Lunch:  My kids always want to know what they’re having for lunch so we have a lunch schedule as well.
*  School Supplies:  My kids keep their schools supplies in their rooms and I have a backup in my office.  You can never have too many erasers, pencils or highlighters.
* School Binder.  Every year we get inundated with school papers and it drives me crazy because they just pile up and get lost. I find keeping a school binder in my office really helps by dividing things out.
* Plan your meals!  This is one of the greatest things that has helped my family.  You don’t have to follow it to the letter, but having a general idea of what you are going to serve on certain days will save you so much time and alleviate so much stress.  Ex.  On the days that kids have major activities, planning something quick and easy is the way to go.  Everyone in my house appreciates this because they know what to expect.  I also love using the crockpot in the fall and winter.
Office Calendar:  Not only do I highlight and record certain events on my desk calendar, but for certain events, I record it a month or two earlier.  Ex.  Birthdays, xmas photos, etc.  Time just creeps up on us and then we’re scrambling to get things done.
 
These are just some of the things to think about as we enter into the fall season.  Hope this helps.
 
Terri
By |August 17th, 2014|Organization|Comments Off on Back to School