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danryb
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O.K. here goes... not long ago before the recession people (parents) would pay good money for good entertainment so long as the "little darlings" are happy, even if only for 45 minutes. Today, it seems, the same people are prepared to pay the same but expect 2 solid hours of entertainment because that is what most entertainers offer.

I find myself having to offer more than magic to sell a birthday party gig. I have made some lovely coloring pictures and purchased dozens of coloring pens which does indeed keep the 4 - 5 year olds busy sprawled out on the floor for a good 15 mins. I can't bear doing party games with music and competitions and prizes. I'm looking for 2 more brilliant ideas at 15 minutes each to help me keep the kids happy, involved and occupied before the show. Any suggestions?
Andy Wonder
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I do some party games in my show but they are not the standard games that everyone plays. I have my own version of pass the parcel that I play. I use a rubber chicken that we pass around. I use some chicken music and the kids think that is hilarious (Private message me if you want to know where you can get chicken music). If the children are a little more mature we pass around my hat with the rabbit sitting inside. Kids love this. The children sit in a circle & I stand in the middle. I use a remote control for my music so I can control the game from within the circle. It is much easier to get children sitting in a circle if you stand in the middle. I give out balloon animals and business cards as prizes. The children can also have their photo taken with Fluffy as a prize. If you are giving out balloon animals anyway this is a great way to involve everyone in the process without having them queue up waiting for a balloon. Also there is no preparation or mess unlike a traditional pass the parcel and you can stop any anytime even if not everyone has a prize. Anyone that missed out just gets his or her prize in the next game.

The other game or rather bit of fun that I do is dancing. I have a specially edited track of music that I made on my PC. It has all the popular choruses of the current dance type music children listen to (Barbie Girl by Aqua is always popular). In between the choruses I have silent gaps where the children have to stand dead still to win a prize. It looks impressive when you have children jumping everywhere then suddenly everything goes quite and still once the music reached the silent spot. Parents will think you have a lot of control over the children. You can have a lot of fun with trying to make them laugh when they are desperately trying top keep a straight face to win a prize. Again I just give out business cards and balloon animals as prizes. I also offer prizes for the highest dancing, wiggling you bum the most, funniest dancing etc.… My premixed CD has section where the music winds up to play double speed to wear the children out with double speed dancing.

With older children (ages 8+)sometimes I offer a magic lessons where I teach them a simple magic trick that they can perform afterwards (Afghan Bands or something easy to perform like that).If you have cut no-cut scissors you can add a lot of humour to the child’s performance. I hope this has been of some help.

Smile
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
danryb
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Thanks, Andrew for those tips. Might I point out that I don't go over the top when selling myself. I make a good point to the parents that I am not a "magician from another planet with extra powers" and I also always tell the kids and make them feel that I am as normal as they are but I use magic as a form of entertainment. Together with all that I do make it known that I am an entertaining "magician" who does magic and not games, balloons, animal frolics, clowning etc. I have a very funny 45-minute show together with a birthday cake and a few songs to round off the show but, again, people seem to be wanting more for their money. I would like to be unique and I think I will use your idea of teaching them a couple of simple tricks as a 15-minute piece but as far as balloons and animals and party games I'm yet to find an alternative.
Cheers...
p.b.jones
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Danryb,
What country are you in?
phillip

HI,

I think for anyone thinking or indeed performing full parties Mark Leverige's book "The Magic Party" is a good buy. There are tricks in it too and they might suit you (not me though). But it is worth it for the games section in my opinion. The games with the number packs really go down well (it would not be fair for me to explain them here)there is also a magic party 2 book which I have but is not as good (my opinion) as the first.

Phillip
Cheshire Cat
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Here In Cheshire/South Manchester full parties have always been the tradition. Originally when we started entertainers did 3 hours - which is quite excruciating, then cut down to 2 and a half, and for donkey's years now two hours. But look at it this way, for 2 two-hour parties on a Saturday and Sunday (lunchtimes and later afternoon) you are only working 8 hours. If in the UK your earnings for these mere 8 hours take you into a good income bracket. There are two of us so we can double this, and usually do Fridays too. Look at the people around you and see how hard they work over 40 hours a week for such little reward! In fact I would say that any 45 min./1 hour entertainer who DOESN'T have 2 hour entertainers in his or her location is mighty lucky these days, and should 'make hay while the sun shines'!! Incidentally, just read your letter again and the two hours should NOT be SOLID. Do 45 mins. first, then break for tea, then organize the cake lighting for them, and then do the second session.
Andy Wonder
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I think 2 hours of straight magic at a kid’s party, or even 1 hour is too long especially for younger children. Some juggling, a ventrquilism or puppet act, are the other things you could consider. The reason I like to end my party show with a few games is that kids love to participate in the entertainment. I can’t actually think of any highly participative magic effects other than having the children learn & perform simple tricks themselves. You might be interested in the angle David Kaye (Silly Billy) takes with his Dr. Blood birthday act:
http://www.nypress.com/15/2/nyc/nyc3.cfm Smile
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
danryb
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Thanks Philip! I will try to get a hold of that book. I have read numerous books on children’s entertaining and psychology and I do have a great way with kids. They love my personality and my performance and so do the adults. I would like to stick to this subject and keep it rolling - I read in another section yesterday the wonders of the rabbit in hat puppet. Never used one before but I would now imagine it could help me go 10-15 minutes longer as an extra piece. You see I would like to keep my entertainment "magical" and not "gameacle" or "balloonacle" but at the same time keep at a fast pace with kids not getting board of say just magic tricks.

Posted: Nov 8, 2002 5:32am

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Andrew,
Thanks for your interest in this topic. I have, as I mentioned, a funny entertaining 45-minute show. I think it is partly or mainly due to the fact that within the 45 mins I do magic, get the kids to participate, juggle and then use the center ball for a zombie. I also teach a trick, I tell a story using props (run rabbit run or man in the moon or Forgetful Freddie or the 3 little pigs) so there is variety and the audience doesn’t get a chance to loose concentration.
I do so much in one show that it seems like a shame to have to give them more. I feel, like you, that too much is no good but the parents don't understand that - they are paying and want as much as possible.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
p.b.jones
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This might be a bit too much choice for some performers to offer but here are the kids shows that I offer (2 sets of 3)

Shows only (cheapest to dearest)

30 mins magic show with balloon modelling and real live rabbit

45mins magic show with ballon modelling and real live rabbit

30 mins magic show,with balloon modelling and real live rabbit + 15 mins punch and judy show

Full parties

45 mins games and prizes break 30 min(toilet food happy birthday)45mins magic(2hrs tot)

45 mins games, break 30 mins, 30 mins magic+15mins punch and judy show (2hrs tot)

30 mins games+15mins punch and judy show, break 30 mins, 45 mins magic

I feel that this allows the booker a good choice and lifts fees for me. I am not continualy doing full parties I get a good mix that said a lot of performers in my area are doing full parties for the same or less than my magic show price. I will go out on a limb here and say that I get the extra because I entertain the parents too. the efects that I use in my kids shows with the exception of one or two. I could use in my adult cabaret act (changing patter) for a party of 18 - 100 year olds and hold my head up high. a lot of childrens performers could not. my show is deemed as different as I am not doing "run Rabbit run" ext. I use things like "kaps 11 note trick" with million dollar bills, boy dressed as a security gaurd, girl as a bank clerk.
Phillip
DarryltheWizard
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Doing a 2-hour session is unheard of in Canada as far as I know. My show is about 45 minutes with a 5 to 10 minute teaching session after the show. I receive $125.00 plus transportation for over an hour drive.
What ever happened to the expression, "Let's leave them wanting more." Only a lazy or a filthy rich host would wash his or her hands of organizing games after your show. All the kid show performers do not do shows over 45 minutes unless they're strolling at an adult party.
Darryl, the -leave -them -wanting -more -wizard
DarryltheWizard
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with a snuffed out flame." Albert Einstein
Donald Dunphy
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Darryl -

I am in western Canada. One of my birthday show packages is one hour in length (I also have a shorter, 30 minute package). Both packages are extremely popular, and I charge about twice your fee for my one-hour package (plus I receive tips). My one-hour package includes a party game.

I have also offered a two-hour package before, and run the entire birthday party for the parents.

It can be done, if you decide you can do it!

- The Gr8 DonaldD.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
magic4u02
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I live in the states and I offer a standard 45 min type of a show for my kid's shows that I do. Around here, that really has worked quite well.

Kyle
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magicgeorge
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Pre-show?

I get the feeling if I were to do a 2-hour package (which I have considered but am still unsure about)
I would want to do the games after the show. I think it would be easier to change from magician to games-master rather than visa-versa. But it's just a feeling with no experience to back it up.
For the guys that do the 2-hour thing which way round does work better?

As Andy mentioned the games would have to be something special. Giving out coloring pages or doing pass the parcel is just replicating what the parents could do anyhow (and therefore only a bonus for the lazy and filthy rich mentioned by Darryl). The games could include your skills or different props. Why not use balloon models in your games or redesign games with relevant props. Maybe ,mix small bits of magic into the games. Anything just to make them that little bit special.
p.b.jones
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HI,
Games first, show second


"therefore only a bonus for the lazy and filthy rich mentioned by Darryl"

Also worth it for those parents who want to actually enjoy the party rather than have to worry about doing games (easy when you have experience not so easy if you are an introvert with no experience) for many parents the childs party is a major worry, many would prefer to pay sumone to handle it proffesionaly and most likely far more entertainingly and fun than they would have. Ok for some this is also a money thing but personaly I see nothing wrong in being rich and certainly do not see it as filthy.
Phillip
magicgeorge
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Filthy rich is just an expression, not a statement that being rich is an unclean way to be.
My main point of quoting Darryl was to say just don't do the things that would be easy enough for the parents to do anyhow. Like handing out coloring sheets and letting them color in for 15 minutes which even the introverted inexperienced folks could have done.

I agree that organizing an extra hour of entertainment can be a worry for some parents. If we can come along and make that extra hour exciting and fun for the kids and easy on the parents, I see no problems with tapping into the 2-hour market.
Donald Dunphy
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Phillip,

When I did a two-hour package, I actually preferred to do the show first, games second. The same for my one-hour package.

I find, that because I give out prizes during the games, it is best not to have them as distractions in the children's hands during the show.

This is just one consideration in my choice to do it the way I do.

Also, I find the children are more focused at the beginning, when I first arrive, so this is the best time for the show. The games allow for that time when they are a little more "wound-up" and less focused. That's why they follow the show.

For this reason, I often recommend to the birthday mom to have the cake / food shortly after the show portion of the party, because it is the best thing to bring the children back down to earth! Smile

Why do you prefer to do games first? I'm curious about your experiences.

Kyle -

For my other venues, I offer a variety of shows that vary from 30-45 minutes. I do have a large-scale evening show that is longer, 60 minutes in length, I use for school fund-raisers, etc.

Regarding birthday parties only, I found some parents look for something that is shorter for a birthday, and some parents want something a little more thorough. They often have a certain show length in mind (although I don't tailor the show length to their opinion). Also, by having more than one package, you meet the needs of different customers with different budgets. My one-hour package is for people who are willing to pay a little more, for the special extras it includes.

Do you offer more than one package for birthdays? Or only one 45-minute package?

The Gr8 DonaldD.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Emazdad
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My 2-Hour Party package which is what 95% of my birthday work is:

35 Minutes Games, No Elimination Games, No Sweets as Prizes and I give out about 30 prizes a party. They're only small things worth about 5p each but the kids don't care as long as they win something and it's better for them all to go home with a little something rather than 1 or 2 go home with a bigger prize and the rest with nothing. I give the same amount of prizes whether there is 10 kids or30 kids.

25-Minute food Break, I set up the magic show and then make the rest of the balloons ready to give out at the end of the party, the kids get to watch me make them if they're in the same room.

1-Hour Magic Show with Marmite the lion and finishing with the Birthday child magicing their own little present and the kids getting given the balloons to take home.

Anyone offering just a 1-Hour show around here is not going to work very much as most people want the 2-hour one as it's a lot less work for them. All the parents have to do at one of my parties is, Say hello to the kids when they arrive, feed them in the middle and say cheerio at the end and give them their party Bags.

I get a lot of people phoning for the 1-Hour because they didn't realize that they can get someone to do the whole party, They always end up booking the 2-Hour.

Posted: Feb 26, 2004 12:52pm

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Danryb, I would be very unimpressed if I'd booked someone for a 2-Hour Party and they just gave out pictures for the kids to colour as party of the entertainment. Sitting them down to draw is something I could have easily done myself. it's you entertaining them, it's them entrertaining themselves with the pens and paper.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
magic4u02
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I only offer the one 45-min show package for now for my birthday parties and have done it this way for a while. It just never really dawned on me to try to do a package deal situation as I always felt that the more options I give the prospect, the more chances I will: 1) confuse them and 2) make them have a hard decision to make that they will not want to book or they will hesitate to do so.

I am certainly not saying that packages do not work. I know for many people, they do indeed work. I have just found that I can get a lot more bookings by combing the best of all the "packages" into the best ideal package for most prospects.

I find that this one package really works quite well for me and sets me apart from other magicians in my own market just from what I offer my customers in regards to my features and the benefits I give to them.

Of course, I always make it a practice to listen to the prospect on the phone and based upon what they tell me, I can tailor the show and experience to best meet their own needs. However, I must say that most prospects end up booking the show during the initial phone call with them without any changes needing to be made.

I do offer different programs for my fairs and festival work and I do give them different packages when I do those markets.

If anyone wants more specifics in regards to what I offer in my b-day show or what the packages are for the festivals, let me know. I would be happy to share that information with you.

Kyle
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keeblem
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I always do the games first, magic second. I can appreciate the point mentioned above, but my theory is that if you do the games first hopefully it will use up a lot of their energy so they will sit more quitely when the magic is on! Unfortunately I can't prove that this works!

I offer a 1 hour show (magic and balloons), 2 hour show (games, magic and balloons) and a 2½ hour show (games, magic, balloons and face painting if wanted). To this I have recently added a smaller show of just 40 minutes magic show - but at the moment have had no takers. The two hour show is the most popular.

Mark
p.b.jones
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Hi,

I do games first, magic last because I like to finish on my strongest material (the magic show).

I still do lots of 30, 45 and 50-minute shows. I think that if you are only getting bookings for 2 hour parties it is probably because of value for money in most cases IE many people charge say £75.00 ($140.00) for 45mins show £100.00 ($185.00) for a two hour party (2 * 45 minute spots). I do not do this whilst the full party is not double my 45mins show rate it is 90% of the double rate so if I was charging £75.00 ($140.00) for a 45 minutes show(I actually charge more this is just a simple example)I would then charge £135.00($252.00) for a full party.

Phillip
Donald Dunphy
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Thanks for sharing your perspectives, guys! I appreciate all the thought and professionalism you put into your business, and into serving your customers.

- The Gr8 DonaldD.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
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