The Juggling Hoffmans

Caution: Show contains fun and excitement. Laughter may occur.

The Almost Perfect Birthday Party Giveaway

birthday party ideasSnag a copy of The Almost Perfect Birthday Party: A sanity-preserving guide to planning a party your child will love when you enter the Goodreads giveaway going on now through Monday, Feb 3rd.

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They think it’s funny anyway

The kids are laughing. Maybe that’s the only thing that really matters.

4 Reasons I Hate Pinatas

Pinata for Birthday PartiesFirst, let me apologize to pinata makers and everyone who has ever had a pinata at their party. Why, you ask, do you reserve such ire for the festive pinata? Let me explain.

It’s not like I have something against the traditional donkey or modern iterations of Sponge Bob, Angry Birds, or Princesses. It not that children get prizes or candy. Let it be known, I’m a big fan of candy. It’s about chaos. For the neurotic, hyper-vigilante worriers like me, this article is for you.

1. The Weapon

Can I start with the premise that you give an 8 year old a bat, then blindfold him, then tell him to swing as hard as possible? Sure. What could possibly go wrong? There’s a reason there is a whole pinata segment on America’s Funniest Videos.

2. The Impenetrable Object

Many of the new pinatas are made from cardboard instead of paper mache. Not just any old cardboard; the type of cardboard that could withstand re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Give that 5 year old a chainsaw and we might get some action.

3. The Waiting Candivores

Don’t forget to add in a line of anxious children waiting to pounce on the candy should the blindfolded person actually crack the pinata code. No danger there of a misguided toddler (or six) wandering into the path of an oncoming bat train.

4. The Crying

Finally, the big kid down the street steps in and breaks the pinata open. Candy for everyone, right? Next is like a scene from the Hunger Games. Only the strongest will survive. Kids get pushed, fingers get stepped on, and that big kid, with his Lebron James-sized hands fills his basket and claims victory, leaving the masses in tears.

So, maybe I worry a little. It’s not so bad, you say? If you must, here are a few things that will make the pinata experience more fun for all.

The pinata

If you have the time and ambition, make your own pinata. Check out these sites for tips on making a few different types. By making your own, you can control how easy or hard it is to crack the pinata and can control the type of object need to break it open. This will deal with problem 1 and 2.

http://www.stormthecastle.com/how-to-make-a/make-a-paper-mache-animal-pinata.htm

http://youtu.be/SXRvxB0lZws

http://pinataboy.com/hook.html

The rules

Kids don’t listen to rules when there is candy involved. The boundaries need to be clear with rope, cones, or police barrier tape. Try having one boundary for the swinger with a buffer zone then a boundary for the watchers.

The helpers

Try to have at least 3 helpers for the smack-down. One person can be positioned with the bat holder and highlighted in an AFV video, one for the on-deck batter, and one (or two) for the rest of the kids.

The prizes

Tom Hanks said in the movie A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Because I’ve spent my life making kids laugh at parties, I’m not a fan of having them cry there, either. There are a few ways around it.

  • You can station a few “even-uppers” with bags of candy to help out the slower or more timid to fill their bags. It works, but some kids might still feel pushed around.
  • You can fill the pinata with toy coins or other objects. Instruct the kids to collect the coins and fill a nearby collective jar. Once the jar is filled, they each get a bag of candy or other prizes.
  • You can label an object in the pinata with each child’s name on it. When they find their object, they can get their bag of goodies.
  • You can prefill bags of candy inside the pinata labeled with each child’s name.

That’s my two cents on pinatas. What’s yours? Share your pinata story with our readers here, good or bad. We would love to hear from you!

No wonder I’m tired!

2013 was a wonderfully busy year. We hit some new highs, learned some new things, and met lots of great people along the way. We challenged ourselves to perform at a new level and pushed ourselves try new things. Here are some of the highlights of our year.

What we learned in 2013:

The Juggling Hoffmans shaker cupsWhile we continued to tweak our show, Michael learned the shaker cups. He spent countless hours watching experts on YouTube then perfected what he learned. He turned that hard work into an original routine that incorporates the twinkle in his eye and Michael’s unique brand of humor.

He also studied comedy. It’s a rough job, but important for the survival of humanity. He crafted a standup comedy routine and performed it a number of times throughout the year during special performances. Comedy demands an ear for rhythm and exquisite timing. It was fun hearing the routine develop over time.

birthday party delawareI worked hard on contact juggling. Contact juggling is more like manipulation of a ball in which the ball stays in contact with the body. Unlike the loud clanging of the shaker cups, I chose a quieter prop and practiced it night after night as we watched the Phillies in a disappointing season.

I was also relentless in my pursuit for knowledge of social media and social media marketing. We were able to increase our presence, as far as Likes and Follows, by 50% this year! While it is clearly a work in progress, I strive to be Sponge Lois (minus the square pants) and give back the knowledge I have learned.

This year, we made a conscious effort to be part of networking and business learning communities. The result was not simply that we have more contacts or even more knowledge. We got to know some amazing people. Some are sales people, some are marketing directors, and many are fellow business owners. I found folks that are wonderfully inspiring and generous with their time and knowledge. Even after 20 years in business, the people I met this year made it our best. While they contributed to our business growth, it is the community that I found most rewarding.

The highlights of our year:

corporate entertainmentWe performed at halftime at the Delaware 87ers game. The Sevens are the Philadelphia 76ers developmental team located in our hometown of Newark, Delaware. We had just 2 weeks to design and perfect a 5 minute routine. I have to say that I don’t usually get nervous before we perform. I had some serious butterflies going into this one! After the final catch, and cheers from the crowd, it was totally worth it.

The biggest thrill of all was learning to self-publish a book. This year, I wrote and published The Almost Perfect Birthday Party: A self-preserving guide to planning a party your child will love. I received some great reviews and even royalty checks! The ride was long and the journey was bumpy. Thanks to a great writing partner, Margie, and lots of support from family, friends, and colleagues, I was able to bring my dream to fruition.

birthday party ideas

In 2013, we have performed at:

Birthday Parties
Childcare Centers
JDRF Walk
Preschools
Libraries
Home Shows
UD Ice Arena
Blue/Gold Banquets
Pancake Suppers
Assisted Living Facilities
Continuing Care Facility
Purim Event
Girl Scout Banquet
Delmarva Power
CAIR
Easter Seals
After School Circus Camp
Supporting Kidds Fundraiser
Sunday Breakfast Mission
Wilmington Country Club Easter Egg Hunt
Sea Colony Easter Egg Hunt
IHM Father/Daughter Dance
DSWA Earth Day Celebration
Autism Walk
White Clay Creek State Park Creek Fest
Malls
Moms Groups
Masons Event
Arthritis Walk
Linden Hill Field Day
Customer Appreciation Events
After Prom Parties
UD Alumni Event
Newark Day
Special Olympics
Separation Day
UD Pool
Special Needs Camps
Blue/Gold Game
Parks and Rec Summer Camp Series
Ice Cream Festival
Summer Camps
Riverfest
Church Carnivals
The Hershey Story
Baby Shower
Trade Show
Taste of Newark
Harvest Festivals
Halloween Parties
Taught Juggling, Balloons, Face Painting
Christmas Parties
Humanist Holiday Party
Delaware 87ers Basketball @ Halftime
New Year’s Eve Event
And lots of private events

Phew!!!!

Our goals for next year:

Learning. Connecting. Giving. Growing. Exploring. I hope you’ll join us on our journey.

What’s in store for you in 2014?

The Almost Perfect Birthday Party

birthday party guideI am very excited to say that I published my first ebook! The Almost Perfect Birthday Party: A sanity-preserving guide to planning a party your child will love is the gathered experience of many years in the children’s entertainment and event planning business. This book is for all of the moms and dads and other party planners who, like me, are a little less than perfect. You’ll get lots of tips to make the event go more smoothly, but more importantly a guide to help you and your child be happier in the end.

For the book launch this weekend, the book is FREE! On Saturday and Sunday only, you can hop on Amazon and download this book. It is available in the Kindle Store, but you don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. You can download the free Kindle app or read it on the Kindle Cloud Reader. You can see the choices on the right of the screen.

party planning

It took many months to write then more time to learn all about the world of publishing an ebook. The formatting, cover design, and finally publishing an ebook were all something I had to learn before I pushed that publish button. Now, that I’ve done it, I can’t wait to write my next one. Perhaps, I’ll write about the process in another post.

Needless to say, I would love for you to read it. If you are so inclined, comment on it here. The beauty of an ebook is that it can be changed at any time, as many times as you like. And since it’s free on September 21st and 22nd, what do you have to lose? If you can’t wait until tomorrow, you can buy it right now.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F625TLM

Feel free to ask questions about the process. It was a great experience.

I just booked a performer. Now what?

How to Prepare for an Entertainer or Guest Speaker

You’ve done your research and selected an entertainer to perform at your event or venue. Now what? Whether you’re planning an event in a theater, library, conference room, classroom, or living room, asking a few questions will set expectations and eliminate stress for both you and the performer(s).

Terms of payment

Discuss where to direct the invoice and/or contract and payment method. Indicate whether you or your organization has policies regarding the payment of vendors. If a deposit is required, ask about the terms.

Contact info

Exchange contact info for the weeks prior and day of event. If there is another contact person on the day of the event, relay the contact information for that person, as well.

Advertising

If you are advertising the event, ask the performer for a bio, photo, logo, and/or a description of the presentation. If you are trying to promote the event publicly, see if the entertainer can send out announcements through email, on their website, or through their social media sites. Provide detailed information for the release to avoid inaccurate information being advertised.

Order of events

If your guest is doing more than one thing (e.g. a show and book signing, face painting, etc.) discuss the order of events. Discuss whether you are needed to direct the audience from one activity to another.

Arrival time

Ask the performer when they intend to arrive and how much set up time is required. Determine if the will require any help/equipment for load in or set up. Where applicable, ask if they prefer the audience wait until show time to be seated or if early arrivals are ok. Direct the performer to any changing area or practice space as requested or practical.

Equipment requirement

Determine if the performer needs sound or lighting equipment and who is providing it. In addition, a performer may need tables, chairs, or extension cords.

Space requirement

If space is an issue, discuss who will delineate the space or determine preferred staging area. If there are other performers or activities before or after, make sure the performer is aware of any time constraints. If they are performing at the same time as other activities, consider the noise level of each and allow ample foot traffic space between areas.

Audience configuration

Consider how the audience will be seated (if there is a choice) and if the performer has a preference of theater style, in a U shape, or on the floor or ground.

Parking/loading in

When possible, save a parking space close to the venue for the performer. If they need a pass or if there are specific areas to park, get that information to the performer ahead of time. As a nice gesture, let them know of any construction or traffic detours in the area.

Who/where to report

Especially if it’s in a larger venue, let your performer know where and to whom they should report. A cell phone is a great option for busy events.

Introduction

Determine who will introduce the performer. If the performer would like you to do the introduction and it is more the just the name, have it written for you to read.

Loading Out

Ask how long it will take for packing up and getting out. If there is a set closing time or time you need/want to leave, inform the performer in advance.

Contingency plans

If there is a chance the event could get cancelled, inform the performer prior to booking the event and decide upon cancellation plans. Discuss the time at which the decision will be made and any plans to reschedule.

I hope that’s been helpful! Is there something else that you wish you had discussed prior to an event that would have made it better? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Juggling 4 balls – basic variations

It’s toooooooooooooo hot to go outside today on the East Coast. Stay inside and learn some new tricks. Check out this video on learning 4 ball juggling variations. Haven’t learned to juggle 4 balls yet? Check out our other 4 ball juggling tutorial.

Let us know how you do!

How to juggle 4 balls

We encounter lots of people that can juggle 3 balls, but can’t figure out how to add that extra ball into the pattern. Challenge yourself and learn to juggle 4 balls this summer. Check out this video then let us know how you do.

World Juggling Day Video

Here is a quick video of our World Juggling Day Celebration. I hope you like it.

World Juggling Day

The Juggling HoffmansOn June 15th, 2013, thousands of people around the world will join the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) in celebrating World Juggling Day.

World Juggling Day is an annual event that aims to spread the joy of juggling to all reaches of the globe.  Over 40 countries have confirmed participation in the 2013 World Juggling Day celebrations.  Events will range from small gatherings of 2-3 people to large festivals attended by hundreds of jugglers.

This year, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is partnering with the IJA to celebrate this ancient art by hosting World Juggling Day events at more than a dozen of its Odditoriums around the world. 

Thanks to the power of social media and the partnership with the Ripley’s corporation, the 2013 event is shaping up to be the largest and most widespread World Juggling Day celebration in history.

“From Hong Kong to Costa Rica, Russia to Australia, the USA to Afghanistan, jugglers are eager and excited to unite in celebration of World Juggling Day,” said Erin Stephens, IJA International Coordinator.  “The IJA is impressed to witness how the common passion for juggling allows people to cross all racial, political, and religious divides in order to unite with a common vision of JOY.”

Whether a novice juggler or a professional entertainer, ALL are invited to join in the celebration of World Juggling Day!
In New Castle County, join local jugglers on Saturday, June 15th at Glasgow Park, Rts 40 and 896, from 10am-12pm. Learn to juggle or just watch other jugglers. Juggling props will be available to use.

 To watch the IJA’s 2012 World Juggling Day documentary, visit: http://youtu.be/g4Wx99p_vak
For more World Juggling Day details, visit: http://www.juggle.org/wjd/

About the International Jugglers’ Association
Founded in 1947, the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) is one of the oldest and most highly respected juggling organizations in the world.  The IJA is a 501c3 non-profit organization with the mission of rendering assistance to fellow jugglers.  Through its global outreach efforts, the IJA impacts tens of thousands of jugglers annually, and has historically promoted the advancement of the art of juggling.  Programming includes the Annual IJA Festival, International Juggling Championship, Youth Education Program, Video Tutorial Contest, World Juggling Day, and the electronic magazine, eJuggle.  The IJA’s mission is made possible by the support of our members.  A special discount for new IJA memberships will be available on June 15 and 16 in honor of World Juggling Day. International Jugglers Association

Adapted from an IJA press release.

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