Party Bags - WHY THO?

I mean seriously, when and how the jolly rodger did it become a thing that every child who attends a party has to go home with a bag full of tat and sugar? It's the one thing about childrens' parties that I just can't understand! Sure, you take a gift for the birthday child and hopefully win one or two prizes yourself - but expecting a gift to take home too - WHO INVENTED THAT AND WHEN WILL SOMEONE LEND ME A TIME MACHINE SO I CAN GO BACK AND UNINVENT THEM!

So, you know my thoughts on the matter, but I know, it's the socially acceptable thing (WHYYYY?) and you want to attempt it in some way without breaking the bank - so here's a few ideas that work independently or can be combined to create the party bag of dreams.

  • Give them a slice of cake to take home - and put it in a bag. Bingo.
  • Set up some simple Arts and Crafts for them to do on arrival (decorate a cardboard tiara/pirate hat etc), put it in a bag with their name on and they take it home at the end! You could pad out the bag with the aforementioned cake and Bob's your Uncle - party bag. 
  • Collect jars over the months before the party, decorate with a ribbon (or let them decorate with stickers) and fill them with big sweets like Marshmallows and flying saucers - they'll look impressive but if you buy the sweets in bulk at the local pound shop you're onto a moneysaving winner!
  • Give them a book.  This isn't a money saver - but it's something they can keep and make good use of - put it in a bag with a packet of sweets/piece of cake and you're done.
  • If you decide to give in and go for a bag of bits and pieces I suggest: Bubbles, a packet of sweets (that are not chocolate) and a small toy from the pound shop.  

Have fun!!

Pass the Parcel - To play or not to play?

Q) Why do children often request a pretty dull game (that takes longer to prepare than to play!) and if we really have to play it how do we make it fun?!

A) Ahaha, the pass the parcel conundrum - to play or not to play? On one hand your child's been harping on about it since they went to little Tommy's party and watched him unwrap the keys to a kiddie sized f-type jag, on the other hand you've still got 200 sandwiches to cut into the shape of unicorns' and you don't want to stay up until 3am just to wrap a parcel that will get dismantled in seconds. So what do you do?

Children request this game so often at their parties and it's my opinion that it's because they've seen it played at other parties and they've noticed that the birthday child often wins the big prize.  Call me cynical...and you'd be right.  But aside from winning the prize most of the fun of pass the parcel is in the anticipation - which only lasts for each child until they've personally succeeded in unwrapping a layer and winning a sweet, at which point it's common for them to wonder off to kick the living daylights out of some poor balloon or terrorise a few unsuspecting grand parents while the other children finish the game. Thus the circle of joy gets smaller with each child hopping off to take their kick of the balloon/jump on the grand parent after their turn and the game is ruined.

I'm pleased to say you can make pass the parcel fun and keep the children in the circle. One way I suggest is a '5 second countdown'.  Each time the music stops and a child gets to unwrap a layer you get all the other children to hold up a hand and count down out loud from five to zero while the chosen child has to try to get their layer off in that time (you can always do an extended zerrrrrrrooooooooo if they're struggling to make it in time!), this gives the game a focus at it's most boring moments and I find it keeps the as yet non-winning children in the circle much longer!

Also, you don't want the game to drag on - and luckily you control how long the game takes because you wrap the parcel and therefore choose how many layers there are!  I suggest a maximum of 12 layers, "oh but what we've invited 30 children and we can't possibly leave some prizeless and scar them for LIFE!" I hear you cry.  That's where a little diplomacy comes in, at the very start of the game you make it clear everyone will get a prize and you give out spares at the end - ask them to put their hand up if they didn't get a prize, and don't worry about the odd lying child who wants another one - the other children are sure to make you aware with cries of "CHARLIE ALREADY HAD ONE!" or similar!

In a nutshell:

  1. No more than 12 layers.
  2. Make sure you have extra prizes to give out at the end of the game.
  3. Hold their attention when they're not winning by doing a 5 second count down.
  4. Have a more active game ready to go immediately after.
  5. If it all goes horribly wrong chuck on Gangnam Style and some bubbles and pour yourself some bubbles whilst repeating "I am a good parent because I tried and I deserve to down this immediately". 

Have fun and let me know how you get on!


Christmas Wish

This is a Facebook post I wrote back in December 2016, it had the most shares and likes (and loves) of any post I’d ever written so I thought I’d share it here as it still moves me.


A rare heartfelt post coming up!

Over more than a decade as a children's entertainer I've met thousands of wonderful children and had so many special encounters, but yesterday I had an interaction with an 8 year old boy that will stay with me for a very long time. 

I was working as the Christmas fairy at a VIP event (at the poshest and biggest shop in London - you know the one!) for families who come for breakfast and a trip to meet Santa before the store opens. After going through the grotto they hang out in the toy shop area, which is where I have my final chat with them. 

After a short conversation about meeting Santa this particular 8 year old boy turned to me and said 'I want to tell you something, I can't tell anyone else.....all I want for Christmas is Disney Princesses'.  It wasn't so much what he said but the sincerity and sadness in his eyes nearly brought me to tears on the spot, I could really see that he honestly felt he couldn't tell anyone else, that he thought no one would accept this about him and therefore accept him as he truly is - on reflection I feel privileged that he felt he could say it to me.  Thankfully my instincts kicked in and without missing a beat I told him that it's completely ok for him to like princesses - and I heard myself explain that it can be difficult being a boy who likes traditionally 'girly' things but I told him it gets easier as you get older - and then I told him that I have lots of grown up men friends who LOVE 'girly' things and no one minds at all - and that some of them are the most fun and brilliant people I know. Then we went and looked at the princess toys together and he showed me his favourite - Rapunzel. 

This Christmas let's all buy people what they really want and let every child know that we accept them as they are - I mean his parents were lovely people but he still felt he couldn't be himself with them. 

I don't know where this adorable little boys life will take him but my Christmas wish is that he will be true to himself and encounter more and more people who accept him just as he is.