The Juggling Hoffmans

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Archive for the tag “children’s parties”

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.

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


Happy Summer!

We are so happy summer is finally here! So much, in fact that we made a short video in celebration. We hope you like it!

How to Tie a Balloon

Many of you ask me how to tie a knot in a balloon. Since you asked, I created a video just for you.

If you still have questions, post it in the comments section below. Do you want to see more? I’ll post more balloon twisting videos in the coming weeks.

Bounce House Safety

Moon Bounce Safety RiskBack in the news this week are some startling figures about the number of injuries to children while in bounce houses and slides.  While most of them are minor, like broken bones and sprains, there have been a few reported fatalities and the injury numbers are on the rise.

Like a lot of injuries, many are preventable.  Injuries resulting from jumping in a bounce house are no exception.  Here are a few things to keep in mind if you rent a bounce house for a party or event.

The Company

Compare bounce house rental companies. Ask about insurance and length of time in business.  Get referrals from friends.  Ask about the condition of the bounce house and whether it comes with trained staff to monitor the children and the bounce house. The cheapest rate is not always the best deal.

The Children

The number of children that can safely bounce at one time will depend on the size of the unit.  Ask the operator the maximum number of children recommended for your unit.

Equally important are the ages of the participants.  It is not safe or wise to pair 10 year old children with 3 year old children.  Their size and weight differential plus their balance and ability can make for unsafe conditions for the younger children.

The Weather

Make sure the weather conditions are suitable for safe operation. Wind can pick up or blow over a bounce house if it is not properly anchored tossing the structure and the children inside.  Wet weather can make the smooth surface slippery.

Adult Supervision

With all that goes on at a party, it is easy to let the children go and play.  If there is no trained operator that comes with the unit, it is important that there is adult supervision.  Many of the injuries reported can be prevented by monitoring the number and age of the children in the bounce house at one time, encourage safe behavior within the unit, the safe entry and exit of the children and the overall condition of the weather and the condition of the unit itself.  If the power accidentally gets turned off, the adult can help children safely exit the unit before it collapses.

Don’t let accidents spoil the fun.  Take the needed precautions and have fun!

Related Articles:

How to Choose a Children’s Entertainer

There are several factors in choosing the right entertainment for your party or program and questions to ask both yourself and of the person or group you are requesting information.

Is the program designed to educate or entertain?

Are you trying to reinforce or introduce children to a subject or activity?  If so, ask how this presentation achieves your objectives. Or, are you looking to just delight children with a funny, lively, or theatrical performance?  For either purpose, ask what takes place during the show.  Ask if the children are required to sit quietly or if it is interactive.

What age group is most appropriate for your presentation?

Entertainment designed for the preschool set is likely to make a 4th grader gag. Conversely, interactive activities designed with the motor skills and capabilities of a 4th grader in mind will frustrate both the children and the presenter (and likely the other supervising adults).  If you are dealing with a mixed age group, ask how the entertainer will accommodate all of them.  Don’t be afraid to ask the presenter for examples of other similar groups they have entertained.

How long is the show/presentation?

Most performances will be between 30 minutes and 1 hour with the majority falling closer to 45 minutes.  Several factors will help you determine the right amount of time for the performance. At a fair or birthday party there may be games, food, or other activities to engage children during a set amount of time. This contrasts with a summer camp or library program with a designated time set aside for a show.  The other critical factor is the age of the participants.  While some 2 year olds will sit for an hour and some 10 year olds will only sit for 20 minutes, the younger the age, the shorter the presentation unless the activity is very interactive.

How many children can you accommodate?

If you are charged with entertaining 200 children and the program works best with 20, you didn’t find the right fit.  Some programs will require more assistance from adults.  Find out what is required of you during the performance.

What are your equipment and space requirements?

You want to determine if the entertainer will require from you a sound system, tables and chairs, access to electric, or special equipment of any kind.  Find out if the performance can be in a living room, outside, or with a low ceiling if your space is limited.

How long do you need to set up for the show?

If the “stage” space is shared, either by other activities or another performance, you will need to determine how much time is required to both set up and break down the space and schedule the entertainment/activities accordingly.  Ask if the audience can be present during set up if that is required.

What is the cost for the performance?

Ask if the cost is per performance or per person and if it includes travel time. If you would like to have multiple shows, ask about a multi-show discount. If you are booking through an agent, you will likely be paying the agent and the performer.  Book the show directly with a performer whenever possible.  Find out the terms of the agreement.  Many will require a deposit.  Ask what the procedure is for booking a performance and the lead time required.


You are entrusting this person or group with both your entertainment and the children.  Ask for references, especially from venues and people that have hired them back. Check out their website and Facebook pages, if they have them.  Make sure you are comfortable with the tone and message they are portraying.



Or, Google children’s entertainment and your city or state.

Party Location Ideas

Hey everyone! I’m sure many of you with kids (or even multiples) know that throwing a birthday party can be stressful, especially if you are having it at your house. You have to make sure the house is clean and decorated, make sure there is enough space for everyone and make sure there is enough entertainment to keep the party guests having fun. This week’s post is going to explore alternative party locations for those times you just don’t want too many kids running around your home.

1. Local Zoo


This is obviously subsequent to your location and how close you are to a zoo. If you are within a reasonable driving distance to a zoo this is an excellent location for party hosting. Often there are special rooms that can be reserved for parties or picnic areas where things like cake and presents can take place. Often with parties at the zoo you can arrange for a zoologist to come talk to your guests and maybe even meet a few of the animals face-to-face. This is a great location for birthday parties because with so many animals to see it is sure to keep kids entertained for hours!

2. Ice Rink or Roller Rink


Ice and roller rinks are another great option for party hosting location because they offer hours of physical activity and fun. Most commonly these locations also have special party rooms that can be reserved and often overlook the ice. This is great because parents who wish to stay with their children but do not wish to skate can keep watch from the room. Skating is a fun form of exercise and just might make parents a bit less weary about their kids eating so much birthday cake! Many skating rinks also offer party packages that includes room reservation, use of the rink, skate rentals and even pizza and drinks!

3. Pottery Painting Shop


Pottery painting shops are great for a party with a more relaxed atmosphere. These shops are popping up all over the place so there is sure to be one in your area. Many of these shops also offer birthday packages and for a flat rate you get a special party room reserved, and guests get to choose from a selection of unpainted pottery that they then get to create! How these shops work is that the guests pick out a piece of pottery and get set up with a variety of paint brushes and colorful paints and they create their very own masterpiece! Their painted work then dries and gets put in the kiln to harden and set the paint and the guests can usually pick up their pieces 1-2 days later. These parties are great because the guests get to unleash their creativity and come home with a keepsake to remember the party by.

4. Aquarium


Parties at aquariums can be a bit more tricky because they are often not as many in driving distance. However if there is an aquarium in reasonable distance to you, they make great locations for parties because there is so much to explore. Aquariums are often quite large and full of exotic underwater creatures to see. A party here will surely mesmerize guests with the beautiful animals they will get to see. Some aquariums (such as the Baltimore National Aquarium) offer special shows like dolphin or whale shows and if you call in advance sometimes your birthday child can get the opportunity to touch one of these wondrous creatures. Talk about best birthday gift ever, right?

5. Children’s Museum


Lastly, children’s museums are great contenders for birthday party locations because they are geared specifically towards children’s enjoyment. Places like The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, PA and the Delaware Children’s Museum in Wilmington, DE are two examples. These museums are full of fun activities for guests to explore with lots of different rooms and themes and things to play with. There is almost no way for a party guest to get bored here! These places also typically have special party rooms that can be reserved and sometimes a museum worker will bring in a special craft especially just for the party! Children’s museums are fun places for guests to explore and learn together, making them excellent and memorable party locations.

Boy’s Birthday Party Themes

Hello again! Last week I wrote on birthday party themes for girls and as promised, this week is on birthday party themes for boys! Again, depending on your budget most of the decor and party accessories needed for themed parties can be either bought at your local party store or if you are extra crafty you can can make decorations yourself!

1. Prehistoric Dinosaur

What could be more perfect for an adventurer than a dinosaur themed party? Crafts could include making paper-mache volcanoes. Games could include pin the tail on the dinosaur and a sandbox dino-dig, you can get really creative so use your imagination! Colors to focus on are outdoorsy colors such as browns and greens and blues. Also consider hiring a professional reptile handler to come as the main attraction so your guests can get up close and personal with a whole array of critters.

2. Astronaut Space Explorer

This would be especially great for a sleepover party you can bring the kids outside to look at the stars. Weather permitting, back yard camping would be extra fun. If the sky is clear enough, print out constellation guides and see how many the party guests can find. Check with your local rules before doing this, but another entertainment idea would be to set off small (and LEGAL) firecrackers with the kids and pretend that they are rocket ships going into outer space! Crafts could include the kids decorating their very own spaceships (made from recycled 2 liter soda bottles)! Colors to focus on are black, silver, yellows and blues. Consider ordering some freeze-dried “astronaut” food for the guests to try.

3. Wild West Cowboys

Cowboy hats required! Handout sheriff badges, bandanas and water guns and get ready for a wild west ride! Depending on the age of the children consider hiring a horse for pony rides to make your party guests feel like true cowboys. Another fun idea is to rent a photo-both for the day and have all of the party guests take “Wanted” pictures to make a souvenir scrap book for the birthday boy. Colors to focus on are browns, whites, and reds. Games could include stick-horse races and a rousing game of horseshoes (with kid-safe equipment).

4.  Superhero

This is the perfect theme for your little crime-fighter (or trouble maker)! With this theme you can choose to either focus on your child’s favorite superhero, a group of superheros (such as the Justice League or Marvel’s Superhero Squad) or you can create your very own superhero out of your child! Fun crafts to do with the party guests include personalized mask making. Another fun activity would be to create fake crime scenarios and have your little hero’s role play how their characters would handle the problem!

5. All-Star Sports

Perfect for an outdoor party. You can set up different play stations around your yard or local park with various different sporting equipment. This theme is great for the energetic boys in your house and is sure to tire out any little athlete. A fun idea is to get inexpensive trophies as party favors and have each guest receive an award such as “tee-ball MVP” or “Longest Football Throw”.  You can really personalize this party to what your child’s favorite sports are so be creative!

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