planning

Plan B: The Emergency Backup Party Plan

PlanB

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. icon_yelpJust 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.

imagesCI8PHKMRAs 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 anMain-Party-Crafts 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

By |August 27th, 2014|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips|1 Comment

Food for Thought on Planning Your Child’s Birthday

 

birthday

I am a planner by nature; it’s just part of my DNA. And in the 10 years that I have been working in this industry, I have interacted with different types of clients:

* The laid back client who gives you full reign to do whatever you think best.

* The involved client who is also a planner and plans on participating in their child’s party.

* The nervous client who is overwhelmed at the idea of having to entertain their child and his or her friends and needs much guidance is the planning process.

As an event planner, the greatest advice I can give for planning your child’s party is to have a game plan and to be well organized. Please plan ahead and don’t procrastinate. One of the first thing you will need to decide is on a theme.   This can be easy or not if your child is indecisive. Next will be to choose a location and date. If your children have winter birthdays like mine, it’s safe to say that you will most likely be indoors depending upon geographic location of course. As for dates, remember to check school activity schedules as well as holidays. I can’t tell you how many times I have to remind parents of certain holidays or a party needs to be rescheduled because of a soccer game.

castle1When planning a birthday party, there are different types of parties.

1. The Venue Party: This is one of the most easiest birthdays you can go throw your child. This takes place at a specific theme location and is designed to make things easy for you. Ex. Jump house locations, bowling alleys, ice rinks, etc. All you really need to do is show up and write a check.

2. Event planner party: This type of party can require a little bit of effort on your part. Depending on the company’s package and pricing, you can hire someone to do as much or as little as needed. A full service event planner can do everything from printing out invitations, making favors, bringing costumes, tables, chairs, crafts, provide catering ,you name it.

mary poppins_snow white3. Hiring a costume performer: This is what The Cinderella Co and similar companies do. Hiring a performer is a very simple, economical and creative way of having a party for your child without a large expense. It’s designed to alleviate a parent’s stress of not having to come up with planned activities to host their child’s friends.

4. Throw your own party: This is for the client who loves to plan and involves the most effort; it can be the least affordable as well as the most affordable depending on the level the parent takes it to.

No matter what route you take, early planning is the best. After selecting a theme and location, figure out how large or small you want the party to be. As both a parent and event planner, my ideal guest count is 12 or less. The reason being is that you and your children will get so much more out of a smaller party. A lot of times parents feel obligated in having to invite their child’s entire class. I am here to say that you do not have to and no one should make you feel like you need to. With class sizes today, that’s at least 20 kids and often times does not include neighbors or relatives. I don’t know about you, but that is a lot of children to have to entertain. One of the politically correct ways around this, is by having a gender party.

Photos: I had to learn the hard way with this one. When my oldest was four, I had invited her class of 25 and although I had lots of friends to help me the day of, I was still running around making sure that everyone was happy that I really had no time to enjoy watching her. Don’t miss out on your child’s party because you’re worrying about guests and their parents.   Depending on what your budget is, you can either hire a photographer or have a friend take photos for you. Just don’t miss out on the moment.

Time limit: This is dependent on what type of party you are having. For family parties, time limits usually run longer. When inviting friends, my advice is to stick with a 2-3 hour max.

Back up Plan: Unless you are hosting a party at theme location, it’s wise to have an emergency back up plan. The reason being is because life happens and we are thrown unexpected curve balls all the time. For ex. outdoor parties and weather. Here in California, parents need to be aware of the heat index and sun exposure during the summer. During winter, parents are faced with cold temperature and rain. There is nothing worse than planning an outdoor party for 20 plus children, to learn that it’s going to rain the day of or be really hot out. This is why I always recommend keeping numbers to a manageable amount. If hiring a character company, be aware that performers do get sick or unexpected events can occur. If this happens, a back up plan will save you (next week’s blog).

Lunch: It is important to figure out if you want to serve lunch or not. If you are, keep in mind that young children don’t eat a whole lot, and it’s best to keep things simple by offering kid friendly foods. You also need to figure out if you plan on serving the parents as well. Most parents will stay for younger aged kids.

Siblings: Can you accommodate the siblings of your party guests.

Invitations, Products & Decor: I buy almost everything online. One of my favorite invitation companies is Itty Bitty. With favors, you can purchase some fabulous hand-made items off of Etsy and for decor ideas there is Pinterest.

I hope that this will help your party planning a bit more stress free. Just remember to keep a checklist and stay organized.

Written by Terri / Published by Jennifer

By |August 25th, 2014|Birthday Party Ideas and Tips|0 Comments