Your child’s party is an important and potentially costly affair, so you want to get it right! After all the hard work that goes into planning and organizing it, the last thing you want is to be disappointed or frustrated that the entertainment didn’t turn out to be as, well… entertaining as you had hoped. Asking the right questions before booking an entertainer can not only weed out the bad ones but also help ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible.
But when it comes to interviewing potential entertainers – from magicians to clowns, to character actors – sometimes those interviews can feel more like a bad date. You both hope there’s chemistry, but it can be awkward and confusing to know exactly what to say. Fear not, we’ve put together a cheat sheet to help get the conversation – and the party – started!
1. WHAT DO I WANT MY KIDS TO EXPERIENCE?
The first question is one you need to ask yourself: what role do you want your kids to play in the experience? Do you want them to be actors or spectators? Do you want them to focus their attention on the entertainment or do you want to provide them with an opportunity to play together in a less formal way? This is also a good time to define your budget.
2. ASK THE ENTERTAINER HOW THEY GOT INTO THEIR LINE OF WORK?
Good entertainers are passionate about what they do. It’s important to feel the passion when they tell you their stories. The energy they bring to this will likely reflect the energy they bring to your party.
3. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ENTERTAINING KIDS?
Experience is not always what matters the most. Sometimes someone with lots of experience might not be as good as an inexperienced, but very talented young entertainer. That being said, finding a happy balance is key. You don’t want to hire someone who’s going to test their abilities at your party. Entertaining your nephew is a very different experience from entertaining a bunch of unknown children.
4. WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF WHAT YOU DO?
Only someone who knows what they are talking about can talk about real challenges when it comes to organizing and entertaining at a kid’s birthday party. There are lots of things that could go wrong, and an experienced entertainer will be able to tell what they are. They’ve seen it all and have a solution. This is one of those questions that really brings out the best.
5. WHAT ACTIVITIES WILL YOU DO WITH THE KIDS?
Make sure that you are on the same page with the entertainer. Often, what you have in mind and what the entertainer has in mind may be different and you don’t want surprises on the day of when you’re already stressed and tensions are running high. Game plan ahead of time, and always have a plan B.
6. CAN YOU ENTERTAIN CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?
Keeping kids busy is an all-consuming task and finding fun options for kids with disabilities can be even more challenging. And the best parties are ones that are fun, inclusive, and comfortable for every single guest. That’s why it’s important to communicate with your entertainer if you require any special accommodations and plan ahead.
7. HOW FAR ARE YOU WILLING TO TRAVEL ?
So simple and obvious that sometimes it’s easy to forget to ask. You don’t want to plan everything and noticed at the end that you are located too far for the entertainer or that there is a hefty surcharge for travel fees. Make sure to discuss ahead of time to avoid any last-minute surprises that unexpectedly blow your budget.
8. HOW MANY KIDS CAN YOU ENTERTAIN?
This is probably a question that the entertainer will ask you, but just in case they don’t, ask them! It’s important questions as the group often dictates the approach the entertainer has to take. And in some cases, you have to also account for additional supplies. Don’t panic if you don’t know the exact number – take the high range and then adjust as you collect RSVPs. Never a bad idea to pad the number slightly in case a little brother or sister sneaks into the party at the last minute.
9. HOW MUCH SPACE DO YOU NEED?
If you’re organizing your birthday party in your home, space can get crowded quickly once you add a bunch of energetic kids and their parents to the mix. Ask the entertainer what they need and how much space they require to comfortably perform and organize activities, as well as asking what they plan on bringing to augment the show so you can account for it.
10. ARE YOU SUPERVISING THE CHILD’S PRESENT OPENING?
The present opening moment is often the highlight of the party but can quickly turn into chaos if not supervised! Some entertainers can help organize and run this portion of the party for you, others will aim to duck out before. Ask your entertainer what they prefer/offer and plan accordingly!