|Boys & Girls Toys for Childrens Christmas Parties 2017|
If you're planning a childrens party - especially if it's the first time - here are some useful hints and tips to ensure a trouble free day. The following are links to sections on this page:
How much have you got to spend?
You can’t get away from it but your event budget pretty much makes or breaks any sizeable party. Bearing this in mind it is worth remembering that the government recently upped their TAX FREE hospitality spend from £75 to £150 per head. If you have been given the responsibility of organising an event it might be worth pushing for the maximum budget possible!
How much do you need?
As a rough guide, if you use professional party planners, £50 a head based on parties over 200 children, will buy you event theming and a good variety of entertainers, shows and rides. For approximately £40 a head you should be able to secure an interesting central London venue day-time slot and basic children’s catering.
Smaller parties can often be hosted in-house i.e. your canteen or a boardroom. Based on about 50 children your budget would need to rise to £60 a head for a fully themed party but you can quite easily get away with a simpler party and just hire a good entertainer @ £250 - £400 for 2 hours.
A company event can often generate a greater feel-good factor if the team get involved. Use professional entertainers and set designers as much as possible but there are activities that are ideal for volunteers to get stuck into, such as:
Volunteers are also great for signing guests in and generally supervising exits, staircases or looking after Santa and present giving. It is always fun to get your volunteers to dress the same so that guests know who to approach. In our experience people don’t need much persuading to don a pair of fairy wings!
At any party your guests will take it for granted that some form of catering is provided. However in our experience a lot of food can go to waste if the party falls outside meal times. On the other hand beware that adults often eat the children’s food if there is nothing provided for them.
Ideally look to providing lots of drinks for the children in an easily disposable way. If you have water-coolers in your building why not fill them with squash for a quick, easy solution. Children go for snacky finger food at parties and they like to graze. Meal times are not really a good idea. Have a buffet available throughout & offer old favourites presented in a fun, colourful way. Cold food is by far the easiest and cheapest option.
As a general guide try to avoid all nuts and offer vegetarian options.
Venues often offer catering included but this is not always the most cost effective option. Your company’s own caterers might be able to help out or you can ask your party planners to take care of it. It is worth asking if you can book the venue on a dry hire basis and bring in your own food.
Presenting the children’s food in colourful food boxes is cheapest & easy. Otherwise kiddie tableware, cloths, plates, bowls and cups can be bought in party shops such London’s Non-Stop Party Shop or mail-order from Party Pieces.
It is a good idea to provide tea & coffee and a snack for parents too. For a Christmas event mince pies are a good choice. Otherwise order double the number of kid’s food as adults often eat more than kids at parties!
Again if you are using a party planner they can usually recommend a suitable venue for you. If you are going it alone here are some basic tips to help you find a suitable venue.
If your party is only for say up to 100 children and you want a central venue then a Hotel is often a good option. Hotels have large comfortable conference rooms and you can get a good deal on a day-time slot provided you are all out by 5pm, which is when they might start setting up for an evening function. Many London Hotels have unusual and interesting spaces. Look in the Harden’s guide for something near you.
Other interesting options for smaller numbers include a Thames River boat, the Cutty Sark, the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, the Aquarium or one of London’s many Museums.
Middle size Parties
For 100 – 300 children marquees run by events companies are a good bet. These are available summer and winter and can be in pretty and interesting locations such as London Zoo or the Royal Hospital Gardens in Kensington.
Some events marquees will be able to cater for large parties of up to 1000 children, but remember to ask for venue size in terms of seated not standing room, as children’s parties require children to move about and room for rides may be required.
If you’re in London, City or Canary Wharf conferencing venues are also ideal for large parties as they are used to big numbers and over Christmas they often get into the festive spirit with some themed decorations. Our tops picks are The Brewery in the City and Cabot Hall in the heart of Canary Wharf.
This is where budget does determine all. If you are on a limited budget you are advised to pick out the most important aspects of children’s entertainment before worrying about the look of the event. In an ideal world you want a party planner to conjure up that WOW factor fairytale, but this is not always possible on a limited budget.
In our experience ‘core’ party elements at a large party are:
At a smaller party you can get away without physical activities and rides but it is important to consider the age group you are catering for. A really good entertainer can happily amuse a group of up to 30 children provided the ages are not too diverse.
Whether you have the money or not, a party theme really adds that special touch to any children’s event. For example you can ask children to come in fancy dress. A theme can add inspiration to decorations and stimulate fun party food ideas. A really fun idea is to generate excitement before the event by sending out themed invitations. For example why not send out personalised chocolate bars for a Chocolate Factory Party or treasure maps for a Pirate theme.
A good party planner will be able to use set design, sound and light, shows, games and walkabout characters to ‘make believe’ the party is taking place in a magical world. If using a party planner do check that all the entertainment complements the theming and the look. In an ideal world entertainers have worked together before, which allows for ‘special moments’ of impromptu interaction between characters, and gives a ‘theatre performance’ feel.
How can you find good entertainers for your event?
If you are going through an agency or are using party planners you can ask to see video of parties and ask for references. You should also check the profile of the type of entertainer they supply. For example can you expect energetic, versatile entertainers who visibly enjoy working with children and will adapt their entertainment programme to your requirements, or are you booking a set ‘act’ which might be inflexible.
If you are looking to book an independent entertainer, it’s best to go by referral. It might be worth sending a group e-mail to your colleagues to ask for recommendations.
Rides and equipment
If you are looking to hire bouncy castles or fairground rides you can certainly expect to see images of what you are booking before the event. Any physical play equipment you hire must come with an operator and for a children’s event it is worth checking that you are getting a child-friendly minder with your ride. You can request clean-shaven, non-smoker with experience of children’s parties. Crechendo recommend Funtime Hire for their reliability and friendly staff.
You may need to hire children’s tables and chairs for you party and Crechendo recommend the Non-stop party shop. Please note though that tables have rough wooden tops and you need to provide tablecloths.
General note on suppliers
One vital question to ask any supplier or party planner is what contingencies they have in place for when things go wrong – because they do!
Entertainers might get sick or be detained on a broken train. Will you get a replacement? Delivery vans might break down. How will the supplier deal with this? Have you been given an out of office hours contact number? Is there a duty manager looking after your booking or an event manager who will co-ordinate your event on the day?
It is important to know that when you are hosting a children’s party you are taking on legal responsibility for their safety.
If you are using an agency or party planner do ask to see their public liability insurance details and request a risk assessment for the event for your own insurance. At a larger event the advantage of using a party planner is that they will look after all these aspects in regard to entertainment, rides, catering and venue. If you are going it alone, set up a health and safety file with sections for each aspects of the party such as venue, entertainers, rides, food, first aid etc and make sure you have insurance details and risk assessments for each supplier.
It is required to provide first aid for any event involving children. This could be your company’s own first-aider or Crechendo recommend booking St John’s Ambulance staff for a donation of £50 - £100 per person.
An informal but vital ingredient. Do not book your party with anyone who is not 100% enthusiastic about your party regardless of budget. Children’s entertainment is an emotive product and any party planner, agent, caterer, hire company or entertainer worth considering will have a passion for what they do.
These tips have been provided by Boo Productions.
Event Planning Check-List
What is your budget & what does it have to include?
Where to have the party (in-house or at a venue)?
Fix a date & time (if a December party start planning no later than August).
Party numbers - who to invite.
Catering for adults and children.
Plan the party theme & entertainment.
Book Santa (use a pro or get a volunteer).
Decorations, balloons & gifts.
Event insurance & risk assessments.
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