Date set. Invitations must come out in the next few days. Themes have been decided and decorations are waiting for you at the party supply store … Oh yeah, why don’t we have entertainers for kids this year.
Signal the braking sound … now.
If you are at this point in the process, pickin will be slim in the entertainer department. You must support a planning truck for about four weeks to ensure that you have time to find and order quality entertainment. Yes, it is possible to find quality entertainers at the last minute – but don’t expect them to be there just waiting for a phone call. A good entertainer will begin to seriously book an event for a birthday about six weeks in advance. Four weeks is still a pretty safe bet, but beyond that the date becomes tight.
Most people want to have a party on Saturdays around noon. Well, an entertainer only has about eight places to be dreamed of in a particular month. Once taken, you go to the afternoon / early evening or maybe Sunday (which is getting more popular now). So Rule # 1: Plan ahead for at least one month.
As I mentioned before, you can still get a good entertainer at the last minute, but you must be more flexible with the time or date of the party. For example, if possible, think about a midweek party. This time is usually more available, and some entertainers will even give a small discount to fill in unproductive dates.
After you find a list of potential entertainers. So what? How do you decide which one to invite to your home?
Rule # 2: Do your research. First, visit the company website if one is registered. A good website must give you a fair idea about what this player is doing. Keep in mind that the coolest websites don’t always belong to the best players. However, a good site at least tells you that this person is serious about his business. Be sure to read all the testimonials, and look for names that you might recognize. If there is a video, check it too. Look for kids to laugh in the video. Don’t worry too much about the show. Most types of living rooms look rather slow or even crowded when viewed on video. If children laugh, it’s a clear indication that this is a good children’s entertainer.
You might also ask friends about an entertainer? Have they ever heard of him? If so, what did they hear? Everything should be positive. Of course, you will want to call the entertainer and find out what you can expect if he entertains your child. Think of this as an interview for work, and you are an employer. Here are some questions that you might ask.
Are you a full time entertainer? (A part-time entertainer may be fine, but someone who earns a living from entertainment will have more experience and may be more reliable because this is a business.)
What are you doing? (This is a general question. Don’t expect blow-by-blow explanations, but listen to what is said and how the word. Descriptions should attract your attention. Remember, this person will most likely talk to or with your child and other guests for a long time. )
How long have you been doing this? (That’s what matters. The longer someone does a job, the better the person does it. There’s nothing clearer than as an entertainer.)
Are you insured? (An accident happened. You don’t want to be on the hook for a glass of purple water entertained by your entertainer on your new white carpet.)
Do you have a reference? (They may already have testimonials listed on their website. But if you can get the latest references to really talk to, that’s a plus. This might not be available – do you want to be the person who gets future calls from people ?)
In addition to these questions, note how many questions your prospective entertainer presents. Expect to be asked about the location of the party, date, time, age of the children and what you expect. A good entertainer will want to know what environment he is facing. He has planned the event with every question. Conversely, if you turn off the phone and realize that you are doing most of the talking – well, go back to your list and try another number.
Rule # 3: Determine what type of entertainer matches the theme. There are a number of themes depending on the age of the children. Your choice at this point depends on the interest of the birthday child. Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, spys, magic, princess … the list continues. After this is decided, you might go to the internet and just search for a few keywords for your area regarding the theme you choose. For example, if you choose Harry Potter as a theme, and you live in Milwaukee, you might go to the internet and look for Milwaukee birthday wizards. That will bring up a page with several choices. This might not be as clear as a specific theme like Blues Clues, but you might find a list of costumed characters who can visit your home.
Some may still want to let their fingers run and find someone who advertises on the Yellow page. Keep in mind that smarter entertainers run away from large yellow pages. The advertisements are expensive and most of their performance finds the internet as a better choice. So your choice will be limited to the actual printed book.
If you follow all these tips, there is still no guarantee that you will get the best entertainer. You will do your due diligence. There isn’t much to do. Be sure to talk directly with the entertainer who will come to your house. Sometimes, agencies will appear first on internet searches. This agency might look like you are in your city, but in reality it might be on the other side of the country or in another country altogether. In many cases, this ‘agency’ knows no entertainer and only wants to put a warm body in the show. Watch Out. If you cannot speak directly to the entertainer – that is a sign to continue, because you do not know who might appear at your door on the appointed day. You are the judge.