Jacquie: "Engaging for both children and adults."
Rob the Magician’s
Children’s Birthday Party Guide
and Magic Show Guide
Children's Birthday Party Guide
How many children should I invite?
How long should the party be?
What is a good schedule for a party?
Is it important to stay on schedule for the party?
When is the best time for a party?
Should the party be at home or at a – Chuck E Cheese’s, Jeepers, skating rinks, McDonalds, movie theaters, etc?
The party is for my child, so I do I involve my child in the planning and preparations?
Should the party be outside or inside?
Should we open presents during the party?
What makes for the best birthday cake?
What are some good simple ways to decorate?
What should I know about invitations?
What else should I do for the party?
What if there is a problem child?
Is there a way to have a child’s party and not go crazy?
What do you children of different ages typically want in a birthday party?
What are good things to do at children’s birthday parties?
What about goodie bags?
Piñatas can’t be beat?
What about thank you notes?
How can I make the party for my child really special?
Magic Show Guide
May I photograph or videotape the show?
How much time is needed to set up the show?
When during the party is the best time for the show?
Where is the best place for the show?
Should I theme the whole party around magic?
Did I hear you offer free magic themed invitation postcards?
What if there is a relative or best friend that we also want to receive special attention?
Do you perform outside?
Are you the low-cost performer? Can I hire someone else for less money?
How and when do I pay?
Is a tip/gratuity expected?
How can I be confidant I will be pleased with my decision to have Rob the Magician appear at my child’s party?
An old rule of thumb is that the number of guests matches the number of candles on the cake. However, I’ve performed at many parties with many more guests than suggested by that rule, and another rule of thumb is two guests for each candle on the cake. Invite as many as your child wishes and you are comfortable with from both a cost and a ‘management’ perspective. If you choose to have more than a dozen children, you will benefit from having other grown-up help during the party. In making up the guest list, plan on some guests not being available, and possible no-shows. It might be better to increase the length of the guest invitation list to help ensure against a poor turnout for your child’s special day.
Ninety minutes to two hours seems to be a good length for children’s parties, perhaps a little shorter for younger children and a little longer for older children. I recommend that your invitations specify clearly not just when the party starts but also when it ends. As a courtesy to the parents of your honored guests, keep the party on schedule so that events at the end of the party are not rushed or that you do not run late with the party and infringe on the schedules of the guests’ families.
Start with games. Choose games that start and end quickly to be able to include new arriving guests within moments of their arrival. Games are great at this time so that late arriving guests do not miss key events. The main entertainment should occur next – the magician, clown, or other feature entertainment. If presents are to be opened, this is a good time to do so. Refreshments should be served next. More games can be played as the parents are picking up their children. Again, games that end quickly are best so that it is less disruptive to the children leaving in the middle of a longer game. Try to make the activities flexible so that if one runs short or long, the time can be made up with the other activities. Do keep track of the time so the party ends on time without rushing or running short on activities.
Yes and no. It is important to have a schedule and that they key activities are achieved. It is also important that the party end at the scheduled time. It is ok to be flexible among the party activities. If one activity is proving to be great fun, extend that period. If an activity is not going well, you can end that activity sooner.
Traditionally, children’s parties have been on Saturdays. But be open-minded to other times. If you choose a weekday evening, the pizza-party places will be less crowded. If you choose to have an entertainer, book early to increase your chance of finding a time great for you and not yet booked by the entertainer. If you want to avoid the expense and trouble of serving a meal, schedule the party is between 1:00 PM and 4:30 PM. If you do have a meal, it’s not for nothing that the party places serve pizza – it is an easy inexpensive meal.
There are benefits to each approach. A party at a restaurant/entertainment center offers games, food and clean up provided by those businesses rather than by you, and that can be a big help. Movies get a little tricky as any child who has already seen the movie may be bored. On the other hand, your child’s ‘birthday experience’ may be greater if the memories include rushing to the front door to welcome each guest to ‘my home’.
The child can help in deciding who and how many guests to invite (but let the child know up front that sometimes guests cannot come or do not show up or come late). Ask the child what games or activities have been played at school or at other parties that were fun, and try to feature those activities. The child’s favorite music can be a part of the party. The child’s favorite flavor of cake can usually be honored (especially if the guests are served cupcakes instead of the birthday cake). The child might help decide on a theme for the party or the child’s favorite colors can be used for balloons and decorations. Joke with the child ahead of time of what could go wrong and what could be done to remedy problems. Coach the child to be gracious
- Greeting each guest at the door,
- When receiving gifts, and in thanking each child,
- At the end of the party, thanking each guest for coming.
The weather is always a gamble, and the success of your child’s birthday celebration should not depend on betting on the weather no matter what the season. Outdoor activities can be planned, so long as there is an in-door back-up plan. Your carefully planned outdoor scavenger hunt will not work in the rain.
This is no single right answer. It is traditional to watch the birthday child gleefully tear into each present to see what treasure lies just inside the bright wrapping paper. The guests enjoy seeing the birthday child fawn over the gift they brought. On the other hand, there is a level of chaos as hastily opened gifts are quickly tossed aside to make way for other gifts, and kids rush to play with newly opened presents. It can be disappointing to the guest whose gift is a duplicate of a toy the birthday child already has or just opened or does not appreciate. Also, if gifts are opened after the party, it is easier to record which gifts came from specific guests to facilitate writing thank you notes.
One that the guests will eat and the child will love. One idea is bring out a small to medium-size birthday cake with candles. The child blows out the candles on the cake, and almost immediately the children all receive cake – a cupcake! Cupcakes are fast and easy to serve. The birthday cake is saved for later in a smaller more intimate celebration with the birthday child’s family. Hints: if you pre-light the birthday candles, they will light easily. Propane candle/grill lighters work better than matches. Have someone opposite the birthday child take a photo as the candles are being blown out.
If you have a mailbox on the street, attach 3 to 6 balloons to your mailbox to help identify your home as the party home to guests visiting for the first time. Otherwise, place the balloons near the entrance to the home to help steer guests to the party. The birthday child could choose favorite colors and the balloons used could be all of those two or three colors. The Party Store has bags of balloons in a single color. Balloons make great decorations – balloons mean fun, yet they are inexpensive and easy to clean up. Crepe paper is also inexpensive, easy to clean up, and festive. Children are more interested in what they do rather than what is on the wall.
What matters is that all the information about the party is clearly communicated, and the invitations are sent timely. The invitations should clearly indicate:
- WHO is having a party – the name of the child,
- WHAT is being celebrated - a birthday,
- WHEN does the party START and END,
- WHERE is the party – include street address and zip code as more parents are using Mapquest or navigation systems to find locations.
- HOW and by when to RSVP. Have the RSVP time more than a week in advance of the party. Include home and/or cell phone. Also, if applicable, include your e-mail address. You may find to your frustration that busy parents do not always RSVP, but you can improve your odds by making it easy for them. Because you will be paying money for food, goodie bags etc., it is fair to call parents who do not RSVP to get a fair estimate of the number of guests who plan to attend. Of course to do so presumes you have or can get the phone numbers to call.
Invitations should be sent out approximately two weeks before the party. Much sooner, guest may forget, much later and people may have more likely made conflicting plans. If there is a best friend or two, you might let them know of the big event further in advance.
Be sure to have your camera or camcorder ready with extra film or videotape. If there is someone else who can take pictures, that is best as you will be busy during the party helping make sure everyone is having fun. Some parents buy disposable cameras and encourage guests to take photos. If the party is in the summer or if there will be a lot of guests, lower the home temperature by 5 degrees. The frequent opening of doors and the heat of the crowd will warm the house. Put pets in another room or outside. Include music in the party to add another important dimension.
A child not wishing to participate in an activity is not a problem. A child hindering other children from enjoying an activity is. The best solution is to remove the problem, the child performing badly in this case. Having other parental supervision is required to help with this. As soon as the problem – the bad behavior – is fixed, the child should resume activities.
Yes, under certain conditions. Do not expect perfection, or you will always fall short. Realize that what’s most important to your child on his or her special birthday is feeling special, having fun, and being with friends and family. The little problems are usually not important to the guest of honor. And if you have a big problem, well, years from now that might be the problem that makes this birthday memorable and someday maybe even funny.
It is tricky to generalize, but here are some typical characteristics of children at different ages.
1 – 2: The party is for the family and possibly a few close friends of the family.
3 – 4: Toddlers enjoy candy or toy hunting, sing-a-longs. Include simple costumes and crafts – such as putting sprinkles on cupcakes.
5 – 7 Super ages for birthday parties. Kids this age love learning and have a great sense of wonder. They love playing roles in whatever fantasy characters are in their pop culture. Kids this age can follow instructions and enjoy a challenge, but arrange the challenge so there are not losers.
8 – 10 Kids at this age are sophisticated and fear most being treated like ‘little kids’. Party favors might be viewed as being for little kids. They want to understand everything, or at least appear to know everything. Novelty is important. A pool party might be a good option.
This is a simple question, but the answer is not so simple. At the beginning and at the end of the party, choose games or activities that cycle quickly so children can quickly join or quickly finish up games. Elimination games (musical chairs, Simon Says) are not good party games because most kids are standing around waiting for the winner to be determined – not knowing who the winner is, but knowing they are losers. Scavenger hunts at least keep everyone in the game most of the time, as do relay games. Crafts are not games, but they are creative and generally non-competitive. Learning a new skill is great, especially for older kids.
It seems most parties are sending children home with something. Since children find many toys and new things to be cool – at least the first minutes they get them, goodie bags have become popular. Warning – you are entering a danger zone. You might want to go out of your way not to offend even unknown sensitivities of the families of your guests. Some people may prefer you not send their children home with anything resembling a weapon – even a toy or balloon sword or squirt gun. Others may not welcome a bag chock full of candy. We have had gender-specific goodie bags and guests’ families that did not seem to mind our sex-role stereotyping. Craft-like novelties or tiny toys that require hand-eye coordination might be welcome. Probably you are safe with a small amount of candy. For younger children, coloring pages, stickers, a tiny stuffed animal or a tiny book are good. Older kids may not even welcome goodie bags since they are for ‘children’.
Parents sometimes want to include a piñata as an activity because it is traditional and part of the Hispanic culture. And they can be fun. But there are hazards. Purchased piñatas can be difficult to destroy to get to the goodies. Since piñatas frequently feature animals or a favorite storybook character, the notion of taking turns destroying the character with a stick might be offensive. New-style piñatas offer multiple ribbons to pull, only one of which opens the trapdoor. This addresses the aggressive behavior in getting the candy to spill, but still leaves the candy on the floor where the older or more aggressive kids ‘win’ by corralling more candy than those children less aggressive.
Having children send thank you notes is an invaluable learning experience. Graciousness is a great virtue you can help teach a child. Younger children can and should make their own thank you notes with crayons and simple hand-drawn pictures. Older children can hand-write thank you notes or use inexpensive simple store-bought thank you notes. If you took photos, an extra set of prints can provide a great memory for the guest and may be much appreciated by the young guest’s parents.
Make sure the birthday is designed so that your child feels special. To make the show really special for your child, involve him or her in the planning so the child is excited knowing that this day is special BECAUSE it is the child’s birthday. Put your child’s name wherever you can so it is clear to everyone – especially your child – that this is special specifically to the child. I have seen children in white t-shirts that prominently feature both the name and birthday of the child. The child wears the shirt before or during the day of the birthday, and total strangers may stop to acknowledge the special upcoming or current event. The birthday cake should include the child’s name. Cover a chair with a colored sheet and put a sign with the young child’s name on it on the chair. The child sits on the ‘throne’. On a computer, make up signs proclaiming the child’s name and the special day for terrific inexpensive decoration. Let the child be first at every game or activity. Before the birthday, take the child to Sears Portrait studio to pose with one of the two-foot high numbers commemorating the child’s new age – it is fun to see those photos over the years.
(May I suggest that having Rob the Magician appear at your home to amaze and amuse everyone, and make your child the Star of the Show is an excellent way to achieve this important goal.)
Rob the Magician’s Magic Show Guide
Photographs are great and there are some great picture opportunities when the birthday child is ‘on stage’ in costume as the magician. Videotaping is allowed only during the times the birthday child is ‘on stage’.
About ten minutes; many magicians are proud of their ‘Birthday party show in a briefcase’. Rob the Magician instead plays very large, providing a live theater in your home experience complete with full costume, backdrop, sound system, tables and props.
The best time for the performance is 15 or 30 minutes after the start of the party. To accommodate as many parties as possible, Rob tries to schedule Saturday performances at 1, 3, and 5 pm. It is important that the performance begin punctually to allow time for Rob to present his full children’s show and be on time for his next performance.
A good performing venue is any room in front of a wall or in a corner where people will not be walking behind or through the performance and audience area. A 6-foot by 6-foot performing area is needed, with the children seated on the floor in front of this area.
Some parents choose to do so, and that is great. www.BirthdayExpress.com offers plates, plastic-ware, napkins, decorations, etc. These are fun, but quite a bit more expensive than party supplies purchased at your warehouse club or Wal-Mart/Target store.
Yes! As a service to customers hiring Rob the Magician, Rob furnishes free-of-charge, custom-printed birthday party invitations with a magic theme. By printing thousands of postcards, Rob the Magician is able and pleased to offer these free of charge to his clients. A photo of the actual postcard invitation appears below.
Rob the Magician welcomes such suggestions and will make sure the other special someone gets to have a starring role second only to the child having the birthday.
The magic show should be inside even if there are outdoor activities. Heat, bright sun, cold, rain, wind, noise, insects, and other distractions all can conspire to detract from the impact and value of the magic show.
No I am not the low-cost performer and you can certainly find someone who will come to your home for less money. I have been practicing magic for decades and invested thousands of hours and thousands of dollars into presenting a very professional, very fun children’s show. I have always aspired to be the best.
Payment is due before or immediately after completion of the show. Rob the Magician is a professional entertainer usually working on a tight schedule. Please have payment ready not later than immediately after the completion of the show. Cash, check or credit cards (MasterCard and Visa) are all welcome.
No. A gratuity is always appreciated but not expected. The quoted amount for the show paid promptly at the end of the show or sooner is all that is expected.
Rob offers the strongest guarantee in the business – The Triple Guarantee:
- You are positively guaranteed I will be ready to perform when and where specified.
- The children will absolutely have fun and enjoy the show
- You are completely satisfied with the professional performance of Rob the Magician