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What makes a good children’s entertainer?

If you wanted an exceptional birthday cake, but your baking and decorating skills were far-less-than-perfect, what would you do?

In all likelihood, you would call on the services of a local bakery or someone you know can create the sugary masterpiece you want.

If you want fabulous entertainment at your child’s birthday party, apart from donning a clown suit and acting like you, do you really have the expertise and ability?

We need to know our own limitations and so, you need to know, as you search for one, what makes a good children’s entertainer.

The qualities

Having someone in – or a company – to entertain the birthday girl or boy and their guests is a shrewd move; after all, you have planned and prepared everything from the guest list to the venue, the party food and have created amazing party bags. You are ready for the guests to arrive but, faced with a gaggle of excited children, you now need to keep them ‘entertained’ for a few hours… and getting an ‘expert’ in to do some or all of that, is the perfect solution.

But what are you looking for…

  • They have to love children and working with them – and this needs to show in how they field your phone call or email enquiry. Their website should also convey the ‘right’ impression, hitting the right notes between keeping children safe with behaviour expectations, and just having a long list of do’s and don’ts
  • Patience – children and their behaviour can be challenging and anyone working as a children’s entertainer will need to have patience in bucket loads. Noisy, excited and boisterous, children can swirl around the feet of an entertainer, like bees round a honey pot and they need to be able to handle this. Ask them why they do the job they do… and assess the answer.
  • Energy! – booking an entertainer is somewhat of a blind, on-the-job audition. Rarely do you see them in action prior to the party (unless you are booking one from a friend’s party) and sometimes, they can be a disappointment. Entertainers need to have energy to stay one step ahead of the children and be adaptable…
  • Adaptability – this is important too as you may need the children calming down pre-food and  then entertaining and organising too, ready for departure. The ability to change and swap is essential, especially if entertainers are taking children in and out of imaginary situations, such as storytelling. Finding what they do and can do in situations is an important question to ask.
  • Reliability – unfortunately, some entertainers are not aware of how important their presence at a children’s party actually is. One question you need to ask is what happens if they cannot attend. A company, for example, may have other staff on stand by and could send a substitute if that is acceptable to you. For lone entertainers, this can be more difficult but, things happen and so you need to be ready with a Plan B should this happen! Ask for as much notice as possible if they are unable to attend.
  • Enthusiasm – and finally, in the long list of attributes, you want to choose an entertainer who sounds genuinely enthusiastic about the potential of another children’s party to entertain at! For some people, it is a job but for others, being a magician, fairy, queen, superhero or some such thing is a great way to spend their time and, if they can make children happy in the interim, then all the better!

What time do they arrive and how…?

Some of the magic is slightly lost if the Princess you have booked for your child’s party comes waltzing down the garden path in a tracksuit and her hair in rollers. It is really important if you are going for the whole ‘magical gasp of surprise and delight’, that you avoid the harsh realities and practicalities of life.

Ask the entertainer how they arrive, when they do and what they do; also tap in to their experience and ask when they think it is appropriate timing to make their appearance. Some will say that being there to greet the guests with the birthday boy or girl is a great way to start off the party, but other entertainers, depending on their expertise will like a more controlled entry; some might also like the idea of a ‘stage’, offering a traditional version of their show. Some magicians, etc. like the idea of mingling with guests and for the older age group, this works really well.

Hosting a children’s party can be so much fun but don’t try and do everything yourself… buy in a top quality entertainer and watch the time fly!