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Adam V
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I performed at a birthday party the other day and was asked to go on as soon as the children had arrived. I've read the rule that you should always go on before the cake and presents otherwise they'll be too excited and hopped up on sugar. However in this case it was very hard to control them. I think this is because they wanted a chance to run about a bit first and not have to sit on the floor as soon as they arrived.

When do you like to perform during birthday parties?
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Andy Wonder
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Anytime after the first 30 minutes is usually okay. I often perform half an hour after the children arrive. This allows for any late comers to get in before the show starts. If you have any shy children that first 30 minutes also gives them a chance to become familiar with the venue and other children before you arrive.
If you can send any promotional material out to the household beforehand that builds up the expectations of the birthday child it will help. The birthday child will tell all the guests that there is going to be a magician arriving. When they are anticipating something wonderful from you they will be much more co-operative.
That 1st 30 minutes also gives over excited children a chance to run around it bit before the show. It sounds like the kids at your party needed that. If I arrive at a party where the children just will not sit still I do a little dancing game first. I have some music that slowly speeds up. I get the children dancing faster & faster, while the music starts to sound like chipmunks singing. I offer a prize for the fastest dancer. Just 2 minutes of this gets them feeling tired enough to sit down to watch the show.
Having the show either after the children eat or before are both okay. I sometimes do 5 kids parties on one day so parents often have to book me at an unusual time if that is all I have avaliable.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
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Profile of ChrisZampese
I have found that preforming just before the food and cake works well for me. This helps with packing up as they have somewhere else to go and something else to do. IT helps if you can ask the parent in charge not to mention that there will be cake and food after the show as this will really unsettle the kids.
If they have already eaten then they can be a little hyped up from the sugar, and also a little grubby and sticky (worth considering if you have a lot of physical interaction with them and your props). Esentially anytime will work, but you amy have to adjust your act a little to suit thier moods
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Profile of Payne
I too usually perform a half hour or so after the party starts or right before prezzies and cake. However a couple of weeks ago I arrived at a party and the father told me that they were still opening presents and it would be a few minutes before I was to go on but I could have some cake while I was waiting. I thought the show was going to be awful as the kids were all going to be wound up after cake and more interested in playing with their recently aquirred loot than seeing a magic show. But it turned out not to have any effect on the performance at all which really suprised me after all I have heard about never ever doing this.
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Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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Profile of p.b.jones
I perform before or after the food, it makes no real odds to me. I have found no noticable difference in the children. in fact if it is an after school party I would prefer to perform after the food.Kids over here tend to go to parties vertualy straight from school and are usually starving hungry on arival at the party.
Peter Marucci
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When do you perform at birthday parties?
The answer is simple:
When you are asked/told/requested.
After all, the parents are paying you and therefore should have the right to decide where in the party the entertainment will be placed.
That said, I do try to steer them in what I consider the right direction; that is, before the food and presents, but only because the eating and unwrapping tends to go on forever!
There shouldn't be anything wrong with performing right after the kids arrive; I've done it many times while we had to wait for late arrivals.
So the answer is:
The REALLY important thing is that you get the job in the first place!
Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
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We do 2 hour stays at parties. All set up for when the kids arrive - do games and disco before tea - then teabreak - then magic, puppets etc. after. So we see them arrive - and leave. Try it - it's not as daunting as it seems, although it's obviously better in hired venues like church halls, community centres, scout halls etc. compared to houseparties, and the extra work and revenue you will generate will be considerable! If say now you charge $90(US) for an hour's spot - it is quite acceptable to do full parties for $145(US). We currently charge £95 (UK). Visit us on to see what we do. Obvious requirements being a varied programme, sound system, some form of lighting etc., but it will all fit in an estate car or small van (we have two SUVs). I think it only fair to concede that we do operate in an extremely wealthy area, so maybe this would not work everywhere.
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Profile of nums
I tell the parents to have me at least 1/2 hour but hopefully 1 hour after the party starts as this gives people a chace to be late and get to talk before the show, as I am (withen my control ) 15 mins early this gives me a few minuets to talk to the kids and do some small things so I am not just some stranger walking in. I also inform the parents that cake should come after me as not to have any mess ups in their house, worked for 8 years so far..

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Durban - South Africa
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Profile of Shaun
I had a show where the parents had arranged too many things for the children. They had a disco, train rides, too much food and myself. I had to request the DJ to stop his music so that the magic show could begin - he seemed to think he could carry on with loud music while I was performing!

To make matters worse, just as the magic show was to begin and the children were taking their seats, the parents brought out plates of sticky food for the children. Now all the children had sticky food in their hands. Needless to say I refrained from getting volunteers up to help me - I was NOT going to have my expensive props handled by sticky hands.

I guess that is what they call experience! But to answer the question, I like to start the magic half an hour after the party start time, this gives the late comers time to arrive, I also suggest to the booker that the cake cutting ceremony should follow the magic show, I then direct the children to the cake cutting area - which then gives me time to pack up in relative peace.

Adam V
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Excellent, seems general consensus is for half an hour after the party begins. I'll try remember this for next time Smile
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Profile of antonuccio
I agree with Peter Marucci! Sometimes, you are asked when and where to perform: try to be a before-the-cake attraction, if you can. I've never had problems with parents when I explain the where's and when's: at the end of the show they always say: you were right!
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