This past week the Napa Valley experienced a 6.1 earthquake. In the 11 years that I have lived in Napa, this was my family’s first real quake. After the ground stopped shaking and the lights went out, we all kicked into emergency mode. Thankfully for us it only meant pulling out our flashlights, camping lanterns and cell phones, but with all that we went through I could not help but thinking about emergency plans– everything from quakes to children’s birthday parties. Whether you are hiring a company to host your child’s event or planning your own party, it is extremely important to have an emergency backup plan for your event. When hiring an event planner or character company, please do your research on the company before booking with them. Just because a company comes up in the search engine first and has a good looking website, doesn’t mean they are the company for you. I am not a proponent of Yelp, but they are one of the more reliable public review systems around. Check out any potential companies to see what people are saying about them first. Get referrals from friends and coworkers as recommendations are always wise.
As consumers, we all know that life happens and people get sick and unexpected situations occur like inclement weather.If something unexpected happens, don’t panic. I always say that things happen for a reason and there are times when you just have to go with the flow. I can’t tell you how many calls I get each week hearing that companies have had to cancel for one reason or another on a booking. We are only human after all, and this is a reality with any business. What defines the caliber of a company though, is how they deal with those unexpected moments when they occur. If you find yourself in a situation where a company cancels on you at the last minute, the first thing to do is hold that company responsible by having them help you find a replacement. It always upsets me when I get the frantic calls from clients, because the company that backed down on them gave them a list of places to call– that is not cool in my book. As far as I am concerned, they should be contacting other companies on your behalf because it is the least they can do for canceling the event. If an alternate business is unavailable, you can choose to use a different type of entertainer or company. Bounce house companies usually have a lot of availability or you may try contacting a face painter, balloon twister or puppeteer. If none of those are an option for you, you may have to fly solo.
If you have no other entertainment scheduled, you can do simple things depending on the theme. Remember though, early planning is the key. I also advise to keep parties to a inimum with 2-3hours max.
- Crafts: Children love to make things. Depending on the age group, your craft idea can be something as simple as decorating a frame, magic mirror, treasure chest or making an ocean in a bottle. These items are all inexpensive things to do and materials can be easily found at places like Michaels, Walmart, Holly Lobby and Joann Fabrics. FYI, Melissa & Doug offers great princess mirrors to decorate and pirate chests. They can also serve as a take-home favor if they are too pricey.
- Activities: Decorating cupcakes or cookies can go with almost any theme and is also very inexpensive to do.
- Dress up: For princess parties gather up any costumes that you might have around the house. These can be dance costumes from past recitals, Halloween costumes, etc. Ask your friends to borrow some of their kid’s things for the party. If you’re having a princess party, purchase some cheap nail polish and simple makeup from Target. You can also buy small little plastic clips and elastics to do hair twists or french braids. Call in a babysitter or two to help out at the party or an older sibling or friend.
- Theme activities & games: Keep in mind your theme. For example, if having a Faerie party you can have the children pot pretty flowers for them to water and take home. Lead them on a faerie hunt around the garden. Print out theme related coloring pages that they can color in with crayons or colored pencils. For boys, pull out the sporting equipment–soccer and basket balls, badminton nets, ring toss etc. Play simple games: sack races, Simon says, tug of war, musical chairs, duck duck goose. Use whatever you have. Put together a scavenger hunt. Go to the party store and get some inexpensive prizes. Kids love prizes and goody bags!
- Tattoos: Temporary or glitter. Oriental Trading (purchase in advance) you can find them in bulk or find them at a local party store.
- Lunch: Serve snacks or lunch; get a piñata.
The idea is to keep these things in the back of your brain because they can really help save you if a company backs down on you at the last minute. With all these things up your sleeve, 2 hours will fly by for you and everyone will have a fun time!
Written by Terri / Published by Jennifer