The Juggling Hoffmans

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Archive for the tag “party planning”

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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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!

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.

 

Resources:

 

www.Partypop.com

www.Merchantcircle.com

www.Yellowpages.com

www.Superpages.com

www.Gigsalad.com

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

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