Planning a Successful Birthday Party Part I: The Sibling Factor

imageJim Manning of Jungle Jim’s Boston, is a seasoned children’s party entertainer specializing in unique, interactive birthday party entertainment.  This spring we are excited to have Jim partnering with South Shore Mamas, sharing tips on how to plan a successful birthday party!  Today Jim talks about how the number of party guests can impact the celebration… 

So, I performed at a birthday party last month where they were expecting 20–25 children, a large number, but definitely manageable.

55 children showed up. I felt so bad for the host mom. She wasn’t prepared for that many guests. She was upset. I calmed her down and let her know we were still going to have a great party. I shifted from the show I had planned to a more stage-style presentation, and we made simple balloons for all of the children at the end.  The kids had a good time, but I couldn’t pay as much attention to the birthday boy as I would’ve liked.

So you’re wondering: Where did all of those kids come from?

Siblings. Siblings are the hidden pitfall of many a birthday party.  Its the one thing host parents really don’t see coming.  At this particular party, everyone brought an extra child or two, and I found out later one couple had been watching their nieces and nephews that weekend, so they brought ten children by themselves!  The party was held in a school gymnasium, so the host mom hadn’t even thought to worry about limiting numbers.

Its so tough; parents think to themselves, “What’s the big deal? I’m only bringing one more child. It’ll be fine.” And I understand. You drop your children off, and that caramel latte served up with 40 minutes of child-free silence is beckoning. But you start to multiply that one sibling times ten or more, and its a hard situation for the host parents to handle.

The problem is, how do you say no, especially when there are 2 siblings close in age? I admit, its a tricky situation if you’re hosting the party. Let me share some tips:

HANDLING THE SIBLING FACTOR

Invitation Specific – When creating invitations, be very specific about “Siblings Welcome” or “No Siblings, Please.” I know this is hard, but I’ve been performing at birthday parties for over a decade, and the less successful ones I’ve been to all have one thing in common: too many kids. Its OK to have a special day for your little man or little lady without 10 or more additional children. You don’t have to be a babysitting service.

Entertainment – Is your entertainment flexible? Many entertainers, including myself, charge more for more children. We do this because its extra time, extra supplies, and though we really won’t tell you this, a lot more energy. It is hard to give your best performance when you are also a referee/disciplinarian. If you are bringing in an entertainer, you’ll want to make sure he or she can handle the extra children that may attend. Most shows can be adjusted on the fly, but the earlier notice the better. You need to be aware that you may have to pay for more time, or end up with a lesser quality show. If you’re doing the entertaining yourself, are your activities easily able to accommodate a larger group? Do you have some backup activities to handle unexpected guests?

Head them off at the pass – As the children arrive for the party, have you or your significant other greet them at the front door. Let parents know what time they should pick up the individual child by name. So for example “You can pick up Jack at 2:00 p.m.” This subtly lets the parent know that the party is intended just for Jack.

Polite, but firm – And if it does seem like Jack’s 5 brothers are going to be joining him, just let the parents know that the birthday activities are designed for the birthday boy/girl’s invited guests, but that you have quiet activities for other children and their parents in another part of the house. This should get the message across without ruffling too many feathers.

So be strong!  And I hope this helps.  Just remember when it comes to birthday parties, you’re trying to establish great memories for your child.  Make sure the day is about them.  And make sure you’re not pulling your hair out at the end of the day!

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Jungle Jim’s offers three fabulous party options; the Star Wars Jedi Knight Training birthday party, the Wild About Balloons Magic Show, and The Hogwarts Wizard Academy.  To find out more (and see video clips from past parties), visit the Jungle Jim Boston website!

2 Comments on Planning a Successful Birthday Party Part I: The Sibling Factor

  1. I’ve hired Jim around the Christmas season for his Santa services. I have two daughters (4&6 at the time). When Santa rang the doorbell they were in awe! He did a great job creating a personal and long lasting Christmas memory for my daughters. He was professional and enthusiastic. Take his advise – he knows what he’s talking about!

  2. I needed this! Mine are 19 months apart and share friends. The oldest is in school now and learning to say no to huge parties is going to be a challenge! Great perspective!

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