How to organise the best children’s party.

Organising a party for your children may seem daunting.  The idea of sitting back and seeing our children enjoying the special day that mum and dad have created and not feeling stressed with the organisation may seem impossible. You want to enjoy the day as much as your children.   With the following hints and tips I’ve collected over the years you can relax and focus on sharing your child’s special day with them!

1.       Book entertainment and venue as early as possible! My weekends are generally booked up several months ahead.   Getting an entertainer and venue coordinated the same time can be a bit of a juggling act.  Whether you decide to go with myself or someone else book the entertainer first, there are far more party venues around than there are good quality entertainers.

2.      Send out invitations nice and early so people can RSVP the date before they make plans to go away on holiday or make other arrangements. 3 or 4 weeks is usually enough time to keep the date clear.  I offer free invitations to download and print through my website.  Put a shopping list together now for tablecloths, paper plates and decorations you can add to it as the weeks get closer.   If you have a theme, do let me know as I can very often theme the games and balloons to suit.

3.      Arrange the balloon and birthday cake order with your local party supplier and cake maker. Balloons and birthday cake should be picked up the night before or the morning on the day of the party. It’s always a wise idea to double check the arrangement with the hall.  If you book myself I’ll be in touch a week before the party to go over the details again so you know I’m ready to go!

4.      A few days before the party its time to go shopping for party food. Remember children have tiny tummies, its really easy to over cater.  Keep the party food simple and easy. The party tea generally takes less time than you would think also 20 minutes and the party guests are itching to carry on with other activities.  I would also suggest bringing out the birthday cake whilst everyone is still sat at the table.  That way we sing Happy Birthday, then I can lead everyone away to take a seat for the magic show leaving mum and dad in peace to cut the cake and tidy the tables.

5.     Get together some essentials for on the day….

  • Blue Tack
  • Birthday Candles
  • Matches/ Lighter
  • Fully charged camera
  • Sticky tape
  • Paper and Pen for jotting down those telephone numbers. 
    (Make sure you have all parents contact numbers for children attending!)
  • Kitchen Roll
  • Bin Bags
  • Baby Wipes
  • Plastic plates and cutlery
  • Tea/Coffee and nibbles for Mummies and Daddies that decide to stay
  • Cake knife
  • Hall Key and Entertainers booking confirmation

6.     Setting up on the day.

Make sure there are no balloons on the floor if you have an entertainer, this can be extremely distracting for children watching the performance plus they generally will be burst within the first 10 minutes of the party.  Party blowers and whistles are not ideal either -if you have ever heard 35 children blowing whistles simultaneously you’ll know why!!

The international symbol for ‘party’ – Balloons placed outside the venue let guests and entertainer know where the party is!

Set up a large table to one side of the room for your child’s friends to put the presents on!

Getting the children to write their name on stickers is fun for them and it helps you to remember their name too. I can provide name stickers if you wish.

Put a few chairs for the parents at the back of the hall, it encourages them to stay and is great if you fancy an extra helping hand.

I hope that helps!  Plus,  don’t forget if you book myself I’m always available to give advice and help where I can.

Let’s get this party started!

Magic Mr Steve x

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Hi de Hi!

Dymchurch is a little village in Kent on the south east coast.   A strange place to grow up. Holiday makers would converge on the place in the summer and then in the winter it would be grey and bleak.  Thankfully though, the tourists needed somewhere to go and that somewhere was The Golden Sands Holiday Camp in St Marys Bay.  Living just up the road with Mum and Dad I was lucky that I saw the last days of the “Hi De Hi’” style of holiday camp, and even luckier that they still had a resident entertainer…

No, he wasn’t Mr Partridge, the grumpy Punch and Judy man from Hi-de-hi.  His name was Ricky Dinkle (no sniggering at the back please) and he did a different show every evening. From the Hello Show on the Monday all the way through to the Cheerio Show on Sunday, where the campers would vacate their caravans and chalets and clear off home.  As I lived just around the corner, I went to see Ricky most nights.  The same shows week in week out – I was obsessed with watching him work and how he interacted with the different audiences. I was also fascinated with all the tricks – so many props I had never seen before – where an earth did he get them from??  My poor Mum and Dad drove me there and sat through it most evenings so I could get my fix of magic and showmanship until eventually they would just drop me off there and pick me up an hour later (they were different times then I guess)

Ricky (or Derek as he really was) eventually noticed this permanent fixture in his audience. Every Thursday he ran a talent competition so I had a weekly opportunity to demonstrate something from my many magic sets.  He was so encouraging, and realising that I was local and his biggest fan he would see me after the show and chat with about magic.  As I grew in confidence my entry in the talent show became more and more elaborate, through watching Derek work so much I had picked up his mannerisms and patter.  I even blatantly stole his gags!

After about a year of this I think Derek had realised that I wasn’t going anywhere and he decided to take me under his wing.  He spoke to Mum and Dad and they agreed that he could tutor me – it was kind of like a permanent work experience post.   I’ll never forget the first time he took me backstage to his dressing room.  Wall to wall shelving heaving with so many tricks and props. It was mecca to a seven year old me and I wish that I had a photo of that room to share with you. He lent me magic catalogues that I never knew existed that were full of professional magic to buy.  Things that I had seen Paul Daniels perform on TV that I could actually buy and perform myself.  Mum and Dad’s bank account was never the same again.  Unless you’re into card tricks (which I wasn’t) it’s an expensive hobby

 

The biggest magic dealer at the time was The Supreme Magic Company.  Based in Devon, they created an extraordinary amount of products, literally thousands of items.  Handbuilt by local craftsmen, the quality of the props were fantastic.  If you saw a children’s entertainer at any point in the 60′s, 70′s or 80′s chances are that his or her tricks would have come from Supreme.   In fact, the magic bag I use in most of my shows is a Supreme one that Mum and Dad bought me nearly 30 years ago and it still works great!

Anyway, back to Ricky Dinkle (stop laughing!) He decided that I was to become part of his Wednesday show.  Mum made me a miniature version of his checked suit, we worked out a 10 minute routine of my best tricks and I was set. The idea was that Ricky would start his show as usual and then in between each of his tricks I’d amble on with first my table, then my case of tricks, then a microphone stand. Of course throughout all of this he never saw me, but the audience did and went mad trying to tell him that a mini version of him was invading the stage.  Eventually of course he’d ‘catch me out’ and then go on to introduce me…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls it’s Kent’s youngest magician Stevie King!”

I had an absolute ball.  Loved every minute and couldn’t wait to get home from school each Wednesday so I could get my tricks ready and perform in the show.  Looking back, I was exceptionally lucky to have the opportunity at such a young age to get weekly performing experience under my belt.  A fantastic amount of stage time to hone routines, learn from mistakes and also learn how to work all kinds of different audiences.

So that was my foot in the door.  All thanks to Derek, and of course my parents were, and continue to be so supportive.  It’s much easier these days to research into any kind of interest.  Just type magic shop into a search engine and its all there, although without an old school professional like Ricky Dinkle I feel I would have been a very different performer.   Derek passed away in 2010, but hardly a show goes by where I don’t think of him and the opportunity he created for me.

 

How it all started…

Where do I start?  Well, welcome to my first blog.

The end.

NO!  I must persevere.  Getting started with writing these things is always difficult.  I’ll start with my most often asked question.

A children’s entertainer? – How did you start that then?!

Like a fair few magicians a magic set like this had a lot to answer for…

Paul Daniels magic steve

I used to be allowed to stay up late on a Saturday night and my treat for enduring Juliet Bravo was being able to watch Paul and his hairpiece work wonders, ably assisted by the lovely Debbie.  Not being a very sporty child I think Mum and Dad were trying to get me an interest or hobby and the present of a magic set was given.  I was hooked.  For a very shy and quiet child, being able to perform the tricks really set a spark in me. I would prestidigitate for family, friends, neighbours…anyone that showed the slightest interest…and also those that didn’t.  I would entertain at every given opportunity because it made me feel confident and it was the time when I really came alive – like Frankenstein’s Monster.

I don’t remember this, but Mum remembers me coming home from my primary school one day and announcing that I was doing a show for the whole school the following week.  Mum took this with a pinch of salt, but on speaking to the wonderful Headteacher, Miss Latham, she confirmed that a five year old me had gone marching up to her and asked to put on a show.  She must have seen something within me that day, because she encouragingly said yes and the following week I was boring the pants off of the entire school with a lengthy rendition of the cups and balls trick.

SO one magic set led to another and another.  Birthdays came and went and other toys and games remained unplayed with.  Magic was the thing.  I had soon collected most of the magic sets available at the time, as well as some fantastic books which I would read over and over.  My favourite was this one…

bongoalibookofmagic1

Soon it became apparent to Mum and Dad that this wasn’t something that I was going to grow out of.  What had started as an afterthought (their word) of a present was turning into a major (and potentially expensive) hobby.  It was clear that sooner or later I was going to want to take this forward, learn more complex tricks, and have the kind of fancy props that Paul Daniels had on the telly.  Strangely enough Woolworths were all out of Chinese Linking Rings and Cut and Restored Ropes so the fact finding mission was on to find a way to get to the next level.  And that is when I met this man and my life changed forever…(dramatic ending)

steve and derek