You’ve come up with a party plan and you’re excited because you know your child is going to love it. Now you just need a venue. There are so many halls and rooms to choose from – but which will work best for YOU? Here’s how to avoid making an expensive mistake.
Ask the professional!
This is the number one rule! You are paying somebody to come along to your party and do their job. They will know what they need to do that job to the very best of their ability. And the better they do their job, the more successful the party will be. And that’s a win-win! So before you book the venue, ask the professional what they need. I don’t mean you should ask them to recommend a specific venue, but talk to them about what kind of setting will work well for them. Halls are generally a lot easier to find than are good entertainers. So book the entertainer first, and then worry about the venue.
And in the meantime, here are some general guidelines for the kind of venues you should be thinking about for your kind of party.
Bouncy castle hire
Kids love a bouncy castle. But they take a lot of space! Very few homes can cope with having a small bouncy castle inside. If it’s a dry day and you have a garden, the kids will be thrilled to bounce outside. You’ll need to ensure that you can hook up to the indoors electricity supply to keep the bouncy castle bouncy, and the company rep will help you with that. But let’s face facts here: in the United Kingdom it rains on average 133 days of the year. So if you’re going to have a bouncy castle at home, you need to also have a Plan B.
If you decide to hire a venue, then it isn’t rocket science to say that you will need one of the bigger halls. There are loads of these around, and hall hire is generally the least expensive part of the party cost. So you just need to find a venue with a biggish hall that is available for your slot. In this case, you can book the hall first – there are a lot of bouncy castle companies and you’ll have less difficulty getting the castle you want, than the hall.
Face painters are easy to please. We just need a bit of space, some water, and light. Especially light! So if you are having a disco, then you need to let the painter know that lighting will be an issue. Most painters can bring extra lighting with them (in which case they need to be stationed by an electric socket) but they don’t tend to carry it as a matter of course. We are generally happy to paint outside, as long as you let us know in advance. If necessary, we can usually provide our own gazebo, though there may be an extra charge for that.
This covers all children’s entertainers from magicians to DJs, and bubble artists to party hosts. Well, maybe not bubble artists, but pretty much all the others …
Size matters! Believe it or not, most entertainers would rather work in a smaller space than a larger one. Imagine trying to control 30 pre-schoolers in a room where you can’t see into the corners? Yeah, now you get it! If you have hired one of the larger halls, you can expect your entertainer to want to work across the width of the hall, rather than the length. We like our audiences to be up close and personal. And contained! Similarly, most entertainers love to see a carpeted floor. It absorbs the sounds of a noisy party, and makes their job easier.
Some party hosts may have a floor plan for how they want the room to be set up. Work with them on this! They’re not being picky or awkward – they just want you to get as much bang for your buck as possible. They know what they need to give your child a great party, and setting up the room properly may be key to that. The easiest thing to do is to check with your entertainer beforehand, because it’s super-irritating for you to have put all the tables and chairs out only to be asked to change it around again.
The only UK entertainers who will be enthusiastic about working at an outside party are bubble artists. Any other entertainer who uses electrical equipment (even if it’s just a sound system) will be very reluctant to set up outside. Magic shows are particularly hard to stage outdoors, even if your magician has factored in the weather with a wind-proof show. I once had to chase a sponge ball across a fairly busy main road because I was numpty enough to do a bit of practising when walking back to my car. And my balloon magic show doesn’t cope at all well with the elements!
Another point to bear in mind is that sound doesn’t carry nearly as well outside, and some entertainers will have a sound system that is geared to a large room, rather than an outside space. So always check with your entertainer if working outside will work for them.
Balloon twisters are the happy-go-lucky members of the children’s entertainment pack. We can twist anywhere! Houses, restaurants, halls, the great outdoors. Heck, even the face painters are pickier than us! BUT!!!!!!! You may have a wonderful image in your head of the balloon twister walking around your party, joshing with a group of kids producing some wonderful creations, and then onto the next little group. Trust me – this never happens.
The only way that you will be able to have your twister stroll is if the audience is stationary. Like, chained to their seats stationary. Because if your guests are able to walk around, they will be drawn to that twister like a moth to a flame, and the twister will have to beat them off with a balloon sword in order to move on. If your balloon twister does not have a crowd around them, they are a truly terrible twister! Actually, scrap that. Even terrible twisters draw a crowd.
But if twisters are easy to please, their balloons are more awkward. Balloons don’t like being dropped on grass, or gravel, or pretty much any pointy surface. They really hate being too hot and will pop in high temperatures. They don’t mind being rained on, but twisting in the rain is impossible! The good thing though is that most twisters have a pretty mobile set-up, so they can start work outside, and nip indoors if it comes on to rain.
The ideal venue depends on the workshop itself. Most workshops will involve an element of mess – whether it’s paint or clay or whatever. Your party host will know what they need, so just ask them! For example, I make it real clear on my website that my balloon twisting workshop needs a lot of indoor space. I know that this party is not going to work in the typical UK home and I am going to dissuade any parent from booking this package for a house party. I need my parties to work – that’s how I get bookings. So if I know that a setup isn’t going to work, then I will turn down the job.
Many workshops operate from their own base, in which case you don’t have to worry about finding a venue or clearing up afterwards! These usually cost a little bit more but clearing up afterwards is easily the least enjoyable aspect of throwing a party, so you’ll probably find that it’s money well spent.
Next time, I’ll be covering tips on how to party the eco-way!