When I first started in the birthday business, there were about 4 things you could book for a party: a clown, a petting zoo, a moonwalk or a magician. Times have changed and now there’s hundreds of choices. So how do you decide what to do for your party? The simple answer is ask your child. Unfortunately kids have a hard time choosing, so the answer today might be different than next week. What does your child watch on TV? What’s your son’s favorite toy? Who does he pretend to be? Who is your daughter’s favorite princess? Here’s a few suggestions broken down by age.
1 Year Olds: If this is your first child, there’s a tendency to want to go overboard and turn the party into a Kardashian scale event. It’s unlikely your child will remember a lot about their first big shindig, but it’s really about getting those photos for grandma, showing off your new baby to friends and you also have a great excuse to meet some of the other children in the neighborhood. Since your child is unlikely to have made friends the ages of your guests will usually vary. You’re entertaining a variety of ages so you want something that everyone will enjoy. A circus themed party is the most popular theme we do for one year olds. You can book a clown that does a little magic show, balloon sculpture, and maybe face painting. A clown is one of the most affordable options for a party with prices usually below $200 for an hour of entertainment. That’s less than the plumber and a lot more fun. If you want to make the party bigger, here are some great options.
2-3 Year Olds– Your child has discovered TV by this time and no doubt has a fondness for some of the characters and possibly even a favorite show or two. Elmo, Dora, Sponge Bob, and Mickey have been popular for years, but now new YouTube performers like Blippy have arrived on the IPad your kid borrows from you. Costumed Character shows are very popular with this age and are perfect since there’s less talking and more music and colors. Characters like PJ Mask blur the lines between super heroes (which is usually a character for 4 and up) and mascot characters.Often the script is simple and the characters relate to things that younger kids know. Paw Patrol mixes pets with mascots and every child who watches it identifies with a particular patrol member. Petting zoos are great for this age as well, since your child can have a one on one experience with friendly animals that they’re unlikely to meet outside of that environment.
4-7 Year Olds– This is the age where kids’ genders start playing a bigger role. It’s not that unusual for a little girl to invite Spiderman to her party, but it’s much more likely to be Elsa or Captain Marvel who make the actual cut. Princesses have been popular forever, but there’s a definite trend towards more empowering characters like Wonder Woman, Black Widow and other female superheroes. You can’t go wrong with a comic book character party for a 4 year old boy. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, and Captain America are the most popular superheroes at the moment. Harry Potter and Newt Scamander are great choices for a wizardry themed party.
5-8 Year Olds– You can still go with most of the 4-7 year old ideas, but around 5 and 6, a lot of kids start listening to music and for some kids, listening and singing their favorite songs is what makes them happier than anything else. A kids’ DJ party can be an awesome addition to your party. A kid’s DJ is nothing like the entertainer you had at your wedding. He’s more of a game show host, comedian, and motivator with songs and a microphone. Kids love to win prizes and do contests like limbo, hula hoops, and really anything that keeps them busy that lets them burn off some energy. Simple line dances, sound effects, jokes, and throwing out random prizes and candy are just a part of the show that can play for a small group or an entire elementary school. Magicians, jugglers and animal acts are also great options for parties where you’d like to do something other than a costumed character.
9 and UP– DJ parties work well with these ages and so do competitive entertainment rentals like rockwalls, game trucks, rides, laser tag, obstacle courses. Some parents opt to do these parties at a venue that already has inflatables, bowling or video games.