I’m a bit of an Apprentice fan so my interest was certainly piqued when I heard this weeks episode would be all about children’s party planning. It is a job that on the outside can look very simple, just muck around with the kids, stick a few balloons up, sort some food and voila – children’s party heaven. But as the candidates discovered there is a bit more to it than that.
Two of the candidates had event experience (Selena and Gary) so were made team leaders. There is obviously some crossover from corporate events to children’s events but there are also a number of differences too. One of the similarities is that you have to be organised and have a time plan in place, which both teams failed to do. I don’t want to criticise the candidates too much, as they only have a short time to arrange their business, often in niches they are not familiar with and of course their mistakes are highlighted to make good telly, but there are a few points that anyone planning a children’s party or event should consider.
1) Do you like children? – Selena’s opening statement after being chosen as PM was “I don’t like children”. I’m sure over the years there may have been party organisers who have felt that way, but honestly it makes life a whole lot easier if you do! As with any job if you can get along with your clients you’re going to have a much easier ride and also be able to get into their minds easier to understand what they want and how to deliver this. It’s at least worth trying!
2) Be fun – It’s a party and yes you do have to have certain rules in place to ensure safety but even these can be delivered in a fun way. We saw Gary’s team deliver one of the most boring health and safety announcements ever to his party guests whilst the other party had already got stuck in running around having fun. I would always suggest doing a couple of warm up games first so the kids can burn some energy off and are then on your side and ready to listen before delivering any rules or safety briefings. With that age group you could have even involved them more by asking them what they thought the safety rules were.
3) You have to consider all the guests – Claude was right on the money last night with many of his observations, but this one particularly resonated. Yes it is the birthday child’s big day but if you only consider what they like then you could have a whole group of other children reluctant to join in which is not going to do much to create a party atmosphere. Always plan to start with a few activities that will entice all the guests in, give the party balance with a variety of activities and you will soon find that the children are all joining in and doing stuff that they perhaps wouldn’t have attempted at the start.
4) Make sure you have all the details – Selena made the huge error of not getting a phone no from the clients. You always need contact details at the very least. I send out a form that clients have to complete that includes all that but also some details about the birthday child, rough age ranges and girl/boy split at the party – all details which the party planner needs if they are to do a good job.
5) Be prepared – Stuff goes wrong, especially if you are under pressure. The t-shirt printing incident was a classic example. Anything like that needs to be tried out before and you need to have spares just in case, even though that does eat into your budget. However it is better to spend a couple of extra quid having a couple of spares, than to not deliver what was promised to the client.
6) Be good value – This doesn’t mean be cheap. It means giving the customer the value of not worrying about any aspect of the event. This is where the candidates fell down (think the Nutella incident!). One of the best ways you can do this is by taking charge, rectifying any dramas (and there will be at any event) before the customer notices so that they have a stress free time.
7) Know your limitations – I can entertain a group of lively kids no problem. I can produce a mean party bag and decorate a party room great. Ask me to bake a birthday cake – no way! This is where I would certainly delegate so that the client has something of the same standard as the services I am good at. There were two areas where both teams could have done with delegating – the cakes and on Gary’s team the entertaining. Yes it would have cost them more initially, but they would have had happy clients in the end and been rewarded with the full fee, good word of mouth and bookings off the back of that.
So the main take out from this is, if you are planning on spending money on a children’s party then hire the professionals!