Planning is the key to the best bash
BY T.W. Burger
Want the inside scoop on how to throw a whizz-bang of a party for your kid? Ask the people who throw parties for a living.
People like Mike Clark, for example.
Clark, proprietor and chief prestidigitator of The Magic Workshop in Harrisburg, (www.themagicworkshop.net), says the real secret to a successful kids’ party is bunnies. Lots and lots of bunnies.
“I always have between five and eight,” says Clark, who has been doing magic since he was a kid and running professional magic shows for 20 years. “For kids you’ve got to be able to dazzle. For me, if you don’t produce the bunnies, you let people down. People are expecting that. You have to do at least one. I produce a pile of them.”
Clark says the main thing to remember is that whoever is bringing the party is not just doing it for the kids, though that’s the main target.
“Every party has people of every age there: parents, older brothers and sisters, cousins and neighbors. And let me tell you, if the adults don’t like it, you’re not getting hired again. I include the kids in the show, but the show has to be good for all ages if you’re going to succeed. There is no such thing as ‘just a kid show.’”
Clark says a magician is not the only thing that will make a party good, but a party is always better with a magician than without. But then, he’s probably a little biased.
Whatever the entertainment is, Clark says they need to get in and out within a couple of hours, so there is time for cake and ice-cream and presents. So, after a couple of hours, he says, he and his bunnies clear out. “It might be a little longer if there’s going to be food,” he explains. “Feed the kids before the act, because I don’t want to compete with food.”
Shirley Roth, half of the clown team of Buttons & Bows in Harrisburg (www.buttonsandbowspc.com), says she has found success as a clown doing kids parties by limiting their “practice” to parties for kids younger than 10.
“They get to be 10 and older and they think they’re above it all,” she explains. “The younger kids—from 1-year-old and up—they really join in and have lots of fun.”
She says some kids are afraid of clowns, so a good way to start the party off on the right oversized foot is to ease into it.
“We prefer not to do parties where there are a lot of other things going on. It’s too confusing. I mean like pony rides, inflatable bouncing features, and things like that,” she says. “Sometimes parents try to force the kids in your face. But it’s better to let them warm up to you.”
And the younger set doesn’t do as well with parties that are too long or too big. “For little kids, no more than an hour at the most,” Roth says. “Some people have block parties, but for younger kids, don’t try to do too much. Keep it simple. People want to do a lot for their kids, but simple is better.”
That is exactly the key, agrees Suzy Rosado of Funco Entertainment in Landisville (funcoentertainment.com). Her company provides the whole banana, from inflatable rides to event coordination and party planning.
The key is to remember that the party is for the kids. “Sometimes people are more concerned with impressing the neighbors and their friends and go over the top when the kids don’t really expect that. What the kids are concerned about is that their friends are there and that’s what they really care about,” Rosado says.
She says she has seen parents put a yard sprinkler out on the lawn and bring in some pizza and the kids had a blast. “Remember why you are throwing the party, and let the kids be kids,” she says.
Oh, and always have a back-up plan, in case the weather goes south or something goes wrong otherwise.