Great Christmas Parties

Having just had a very busy weekend of functions, I would like to thank everyone for their very warm response to the shows.

Actually all this weekends shows were very enjoyable for me.  It is a bit of a shame though that some parents have to spoil a party by loudly chattering when an entertainer is trying to do his (or her) job.   

I admit I tend to get a bit irritated with people that prevent me from doing my job properly.  After all, because I am one of the most experienced entertainers in the area, I get paid quite a lot of money for what I do. 

Of course people like to have a chat with their friends at a function, no one expects them to sit without talking for a couple of hours, but it is nice when the adults keep the volume low. 

It is very difficult to talk quietly to children if there is a large amount of noise from chattering adults, that cannot or will not,  respect the hosts of the function and indeed, their own children, by keeping voices to a low volume. For a professional, it is incredibly frustrating to have years of experience wasted because of rude adults. 

OK, I own up to the fact that this is one of my pet gripes.   

I sometimes wonder what those same adults would do if they paid loads of money out for theatre tickets and then I came and sat behind them with a load of small noisy children.  I bet they would soon be at the box office complaining that they had wasted their money!  

When children’s entertainers meet up at a convention or Union meeting, noisy adults are frequently one of the main topics of conversation, as it is on our bulletin boards.It is a great shame that some people cannot be more considerate.

 

Bye 4 now

 

BB

 

www.BillyBanana.com

Hi everyone!

Sorry to be so long posting, I don’t know where time goes nowadays, always so much to do and so little time to do it!

If  you have any queries about running parties, don’t hesitate to contact me, I will try and help.

Now is a good time to get your slots booked for the Christmas Shows….

So get in quick and if you are within my performing area, reserve your time and date.

bye for now

BB

Time To Book Your Entertainer For That Christmas Function!

Hi everyone,

Once again a bit of a gap between posts, time just seems to run away!

Talking of which, Christmas is only a matter of weeks away now, so if you are planning a party for the holiday season, you really should start getting organised.

As a professional entertainer, I am regularly booked up in advance, and indeed some of the more popular dates are already fully booked.

I have created a special Christmas Show, which is totally themed for the Festive Season.  People seem to appreciate that extra bit of effort being put into the show at this special time of year.

A small bit of advise! Do try to hire the best entertainer you can afford, it is likely to be a very good investment, after all if you have 50 or 60 children at a function you need an entertainer who knows what he or she is doing.

I will try and post something later this week,

Bye for now

Bb

www.BillyBananasChristmasShow.co.uk

No Need To Bankrupt Yourself!

It’s not necessary to spend a huge fortune on a children’s party, there are several things you can do to keep costs down and in these dodgy financial times, it is perhaps wise to do so.

In my local supermarket, a rather small, iced birthday cake sells for around £25.00 ($37.00), which seems a lot when u consider it is going to be cut up into small bits anyway. So, why not make your own?  You might say, because I can’t cook!  But if you are not brilliant in the kitchen you can easily make up shapes from existing items you can buy off the shelf in your local store.  For example, it the birthday child is going to be eight years old, why not purchase two round sponges from the shop, cut a round hole in the centre, place them side by side and suddenly you have a number 8 birthday cake ready to ice.  And at a fraction of the cost of having one made. You can get the birthday boy or girl to help with the decorating and so they can feel involved if you wish.

If you want to make a castle, use square cakes for the main body, and put upended Swiss rolls on the corners for the turrets.  If you want pointy fairy castle types, put upended ice cream cones on top of the turrets. 

You can use a number of different cake shapes to achieve different effects.  Trains can be made from Swiss rolls, as can caterpillars and worms, snails can be made from a round sponge on it’s side with a swiss roll (shape the end a bit) for the body. 

Once these cakes are covered in icing they can look fantastic.  You are limited only by your imagination. The secret is to start the cake a day or two before the party. You don’t want a last minute rush the night before, or worse still on the morning of the big day!

The cake does not have to be perfect, the children won’t mind in the least, so don’t worry if it does not turn out exactly as you thought it would, after all, you are really the only who knows what it should have been!

Above all, have fun and be creative. 

BB

Lots of Lovely Jobs

Have been very busy this week, moving around the area and entertaining at Birthday Parties, Fetes and Weddings, along with a couple of adult parties, where I was balloon modelling and presenting CLOSE UP MAGIC.

This close up stuff is fun to present and I am expanding both my range of effects and also the number of fuctions I attend with it.

I have to go and help hunt for my neighbours tortoise which seems to have lost itself.  It is only young and probably cannot survive on it’s own.  Needs to be found quickly, there are a lot of pussy cats around here!

My partner is at work so cannot give a hand.

Since I have a last minute function to attend later, I will sign off now and hope to do another post later.

best wishes

BB

www.BillyBanana.com

Keep your little guests busy!

It is a  fact that organizing a special event is not an easy undertaking.  There are a lot of things to bear in mind – food, venues, guests, entertainer, and other effects.  If you hire a party organizer, it may be less of a problem but maybe not all worry-free.  Once in a while, you still have to check if your hired organizer is still working within the terms, objectives, and of course, the agreed budget.  You have to be on top overseeing that everything is done perfectly.  Without an organizer, though, it makes it doubly difficult to systematize the preparation process.  You have to meet with the suppliers one by one, inquiring about their rates, their style, what made them different from the competitors, seeing samples or portfolio, etc.  You would need your friends and/or relatives to take part because you would definitely need other people’s opinion for these kind of decision-making, especially knowing that it will directly affect a lot of individuals, a.k.a your guests.  

Assuming that you have prepared as planned, you, being both host and organizer will have to get ready for the big day.  Be prepared for any last minute hitches that might ruin all your preparations.  After all, we are talking about a children’s party!  Anything can happen especially if you fail to control either the boredom or unruliness of toddlers.  It is best to come in prepared for the big day, for your sake and for everyone’s enjoyment as well.  So instead of making them wait for the start of the program, let’s prepare activities for the little ones and keep them busy!  

Face painting

Face painting is very popular at a children’s party,  All you need is an artist – not necessarily a professional but someone who has artistic abilities in drawing and painting, and face paint with paint brush.  You may want to make a folder of simple yet cool, if possible, colorful designs that will serve as guide of the artist, and at the same time allows children to choose their favourite.

Fake tattoo

Should you find face painting complicated to execute, having fake tattoos is a more convenient and less messy way to keep the children occupied.  I’m sure you are familiar with those stickers that you have to wet first before sticking to your body and having it dried for about a few minutes?  This process, while very simple, will contribute so much to the crowd behavior control.  These children, no matter how impatient they are will be forced to wait in line until their turn comes and will be more than willing to wait to have their tattoos dried up, just so they can have theirs perfectly made.  All you need is someone who could manage the body-sticking process, and tons of tattoo stickers.  Allow a maximum of three tattoos per person , to be placed in either arm, cheek, or at the back of the palm.  

Photo op

In occasions like these, pictures are the best memorabilia.  So before your programme starts, have the children line up for a superstar photo shoot.  Have them give names and contact details, and their parents’ or guardians’ email addresses.  Tell them that within the week, their photos will be sent thru email.  You don’t need a professional photographer to do this, just a simple digital camera   Just prepare a good backdrop or two, and a few props that the little stars may wear or hold – hat, scarf, shades, headbands with animal horns, angel wings, fairy wands, crown, guns, swords, stuffed toys etc.  Be sure, though, to match your backdrop with the props to create a make-believe scene.  

Setup a play area

If your venue has no playground, this might be a little expensive but worth it.  Renting slides, swings, monkey bars and a candy house where the children can run around, certainly will keep their energy levels rising but contained within the play area.  You don’t have to have all these playground paraphernalia, maybe just one or two will do, ensuring though that all of your  guests will be accommodated.  Keeping the children away from where the food, sound system, and other important equipment are set up, will minimize possible trouble.  Plus, the children will totally love playing around together!

More later

Best wishes

BB

www.BillyBanana.com

 

Yet More Games and Stunts!

COLLECTING BALLOONS

Sometimes people like to scatter balloons on the floor at the start of the party.  They do look very attractive, but the trouble is, some children like to stamp on them and make other children cry!
However, here is something that utilises scattered balloons as a game.

This could be the simplest competition that I have used.  It can also be very funny.

The object of the competition is for one person, in a set time, to collect as many balloons off the floor as possible.  At the end of the set time, they have to walk with all the collected balloons to a set spot.  The winner of the game is the person who collects the most.  They are allowed to carry balloons anyway they can, in their arms, under the arms, between the legs etc.
Another way to make this really funny is to get the adults doing it.  Try to have different shaped balloons on the floor.
Try this one it can be hilarious!

If you have time to prepare for the party, another competition I used successfully at holiday camps and parties is this.

POTTY SCULPTURES

You need to collect together a load of different items for this game, such as bottle tops, corks, matchboxes, tin lids, pins and drawing pins, yogurt tubs, pieces of string, old envelopes, magazine pages, toilet roll tubes, aluminium foil etc etc.
Plus anything else you can think of. In a shoe box or carrier bag you place an assortment of items, and you will need an identical set for each team.
The object of the game is to design the most impressive sculpture from the collection of articles.
The children can get very involved in this game, which can be kept going for quite a long time!

DRAW ME A PICTURE

For this competition you need a large sheet of paper and a felt tip pen.
On the paper you draw a squiggly or straight line, and, in turn, each competitor adds a line or squiggle.  The winning person is the one who adds his or her line or squiggle and someone recognises the picture as something.  This can be very good for smaller children, as their imaginations usually come up with something within about 4 or 5 lines or squiggles.

Best wishes

BB

www.BillyBanana.com

Games and More Games

Hello again

Lets carry on from my previous post with some games and competitions you can use to fill in time at your party if you are let down by an entertainer.

 If you are able to access the garden, a TREASURE HUNT is always popular.

At Easter time, you can hard boil some eggs, colour them with food colouring and hide them around the garden.

Make sure that they are not all easy to find, and also make it clear to the children that they are not allowed to go into certain areas of the garden.  You don’t want them trampling all your plants.  

Another variation is the MATCHBOX TREASURE HUNT.

Each child is given an empty match box.  They are given a set length of time, say 15 minutes, to find and put as many things into the matchbox as they can.  They must be able to close the box when they have finished.  Make it plain that they are not to put anything alive in there, or you could end up with live worms being split in half, or something equally revolting.  Set the rules at the beginning.

The winner is the person who manages to pack the most DIFFERENT items into the matchbox.  That is, there should only be one of each thing.

I PACKED MY BAG

 ‘I Packed My Bag’ is a very old game, and is ideal for the smaller party. Participants take it in turn to say “I packed my bag and in it I put…………”

They mention an article say, for example, a lollipop.

The next person says “I packed my bag and in it I put a lollipop, and ……..” .

They then add another article, for instance, a television.

The third person repeats, “I packed my bag and in it I put a lollipop, a television, and a …… ” They then add an article. 

As each person recites he adds another article.  This is continued until someone cannot remember an article and drops out.  The final winner is the last person to be left in the game.

This is a game that needs no setting up and no equipment and so is nice to keep as a standby.

 FAMILIES

 This game can either be played in teams or groups but to simplify matters it is described as a team game.

Six pictures are needed for each group or team. These can either be printed from a computer or cut from magazines.

Each set of cards should represent a family, comprising of a father, mother, boy, girl, dog, cat.

Each card also has a number, Father 1,  Mother 2,  Boy 3,  Girl 4,  Dog 5,  Cat  6

 The teams are lined up at one end of the room or lawn, and the cards laid out at the other. The first person in each team is given a dice.  When the signal is given, they roll the dice, and whatever number they roll, they run to the other end of the room pick up the card bearing that number, return to the team and go behind the last member of the team.

The next person rolls the dice, and this continues until one team has the complete family.  If a player rolls the dice and the card bearing their number has been collected, then that person goes to the back of the team and the next player rolls the dice.

 If groups are used, they are placed around the room with the cards in the centre, and after a player has shaken the die he hands it to the next person.

Bye 4 now

BB

www.BillyBanana.com

Party Games Part One

When I started to write this post, I thought I might just include one or two favourite games and then move onto another topic.

Silly me, I suddenly realised that there are loads of games which I have used in the past, and for some reason or other have not done so lately. For no particular reason, I sometimes change a programme, perhaps because of a repeat booking.  So this set of posts might be rather longer than first planned.  I hope you don’t mind, but you will have loads to be going on with by the time I get through them all. 

Be aware some games are not suitable for certain venues.

Let’s start off with a great game for most age groups.

 Cat and Mouse

 Requirements: A reasonable amount of space and something like a football rattle, bell or whistle to start and stop the game. (Loud voice might do in an emergency!)

 All the children stand in a circle, holding hands.  This is the mouse hole.

One person becomes a cat and starts the game on the outside of the circle.  Another child becomes the Mouse and starts inside the circle.

The idea is, the cat has to catch the mouse and the mouse has to escape by running in and out of the circle (mouse hole) and around it.  The cat tries to catch the mouse.  If the mouse wants to enter or leave the circle, the children around the outside raise their hands to let the mouse through.  If the cat wants to go into or out of the circle, the children try to prevent this by raising their hands or bobbing up and down.

The children get quite excited during this game and are frequently egged on by the adults!

Make sure you have plenty of room for this game, outdoors is ideal.  Do impress on the children that as soon as you blow the whistle (or whatever) they must stop still.

 Make sure the children know they must only run around the circle and in and out of it; otherwise you might lose them in next doors garden or somewhere.

 Pass the Parcel

 This is a game you will rarely see me ask the children to play.  To be honest I think it an awful game.  You can never predict how long it will take, you end up with a pile of newspapers on the floor, everyone ends up with black fingers from the newsprint and the parcel takes forever to make up.  In addition to all that, some children keep the parcel too long, thus slowing the game down, and some pass it too quickly, which can be a problem if you are trying to make sure each child wins a sweetie between each wrapper.

I have included this game for the sake of completeness, but to be honest I hate the thing.  I’m sure many of you will disagree with me on this one.

I do have my own variation on this game, which is a lot less messy, but I seldom use it.

In case anyone does not know the game, all the children sit around in a circle. A wrapped parcel is handed to the first child (usually the birthday child) and some music plays.  The children pass the parcel from one person to the next until the music stops.  At that point the child holding the parcel removes one layer of the wrapping and finds a sweetie there.  They keep the sweetie, the parcel is passed to the child on the left, the music starts again and so it carries on until all the layers of paper on the parcel have been removed.  Inside the final wrapper is the main prize.

If there are a lot of children two circles can be formed at the same time.

Biscuit Decorating

 In your local supermarket you can buy ready made cake icing in various colours.

These are in squeezable tubes, easily handled by children.

You can either do this around a table or sitting round an old sheet on the floor..

 Give each child a large round biscuit, such as Rich Tea, and they use the icing to decorate it.  You could use two teams for this, for example boys versus girls, or of course individual ones. This can take several minutes and the children take home their artwork, or eat them with the birthday tea.

Have some wet wipes handy and make sure the children are not doing this on your best carpet.

 Ok that’s three to be going on with; I will post more later in the week.

Bye for now

BB

www.BillyBanana.com

What if Your Entertainer Can’t Make it (part 2)

Professional entertainers go to enormous lengths to attend a function as booked, however things can go wrong.

 Only recently, I came to a railway level crossing that I have used hundreds of times before with no problems, but this time was different.

 There was a long line of cars on both sides of the crossing and some drivers were already turning around and going back the way they had come.   I sat there for almost 15 minutes and nothing happened.  Fortunately I was early and so had a few spare minutes.  I rang the booker to let her know that there was a possibility that I could be late.  Eventually I turned around and retraced my steps and took a different route.  To this day I don’t know what the problem was, but the point is, I could so easily have been late for a booking through no fault of my own.

 So what to do if you get a call from your entertainer to say they cannot attend?

 First of all, don’t panic.

I know that’s easy to say, but what if  you have thirty or more children about to descend on you or worse still, they may already be there!

 If the performer is only going to be a few minutes late, it is not much of a problem.

Most people could cover for a small amount of time.  As a last resort, you could let the children eat first for example.

 If the entertainer calls to say he cannot come at all, ask him if he knows of anyone else who may be free. If it is a busy time of year, it might be a slim hope, but worth a try.

Assuming you have at least an hour or two, look in your local Yellow Pages and your local Thompson Directory. Get someone to help call round, you could tackle half and your husband could do half on his mobile, for example.

 If you still have no joy, you need to work out how you are going to fill in the time at the party. If you have a number of parents who will be staying, get them to help you out.

Let’s assume that your party is to last two hours. Incidentally two hours is more than long enough for any party, this is one time where less is more, especially for younger children. 

Think of any party games you know and make a list.  If you don’t know many games, ask your child what they like to play.  I will post some of the more popular games in part three of this post.  Have a written list of what you are going to do, don’t try and keep it in your head.  In the stress of running the game you will forget what you are doing.

When running games, it is important to be impartial, don’t give in to any pleas or cajoling from any child, remember they are experts at getting their own way!  It is your party and (nicely) make sure you let everyone know YOU are in charge. What YOU say goes.  If possible don’t use games where children are out.  It is not a good idea to have little boys sitting on the edges of a game with nothing to do.  They will make their own amusements, usually involving wrestling or running around your hall or sitting room!   

So, back to our two hour timetable.  Let’s assume your party is 12 noon to 2.00pm.   

We can break it down into the following segments:  

12 – 12.10       Children arrive, coats are taken and parents kissed and said hello to. Have some soft music playing while people are arriving.  Try not to have music that is very upbeat and loud because, believe it or not, it can affect the children’s behaviour.  

12.10   Take group photos, especially if the children are in fancy dress.  

12.15   First Game.  This should be a simple game that anyone can join in if they are late arrivals, e.g. Musical Bumps.  (Don’t use musical statues at this stage, it is a very popular game and is best saved for later, unless you intend to play it twice). Keep this game short.  If anyone does not want to join in, don’t make a big deal of it, but don’t let them do anything other than sit still on the sidelines.  They will see the other children enjoying themselves and slowly start to edge forward, they might even end up as the noisiest child at the party!  

12.20 Second Musical game.   

12.25   . Quiet sitting down game, to let the children calm down.  You could choose a guessing game for example, or a variation of Kims Game.  I will give details of this and other games in part 3.  This is a fun game which children enjoy. It can also last for quite a long time. Combine this with something like ‘I Spy’ or Chinese Whispers to extend the time even more.   

12.40 Serve the Food, it might seem obvious but try not to put the sweet items out on the table first. As a general rule of thumb, start with the savoury things and when the children have almost finished polishing them off, put the cakes out. So many times, parents (or more often parents of the guests) put the cakes out too early and as a result the sandwiches and mini-sausages get wasted. Jelly and ice cream should always be served last. Usually after Happy Birthday has been sung, the cake is cut and wrapped for children to take home. However it is up to you and if you want to extend the food time a bit you could serve it at table.

1.10 Toilet Party!

1.20  If you are having the party at home, you could put on a favourite video for the children to watch, or you or a parent could read a story. This will give chance for the food to settle before doing another more boisterous game.  

1.35  Musical Statues (try not to do the version where children are ‘out’ )  

1.40 Dancing Competition or you could ask the children what they would like to play next.  

1.50 Lazy Lions

1.55  Parents arrive to collect children, party bags given out, coats and hats collected, everyone leaves.

You breathe big sigh of relief and treat yourself to a cup of tea or something stronger!

 Bye 4 now

 Billy Banana

www.BillyBanana.com

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