The trick is in the planning, and your planning will succeeds by answering a few simple questions in a way that you, as a loving parent and a fragile adult, can be comfortable with:
1. Decide ahead of time how many children you are going to allow your child to invite, and assist your child in choosing who those children will be. One commonly used rule of thumb is to invite 1 more child than the age of your birthday child (i.e. a child of 8 would be able to invite 9 friends to his/her party). If you feel you can handle more than this, and your child has you absolutely convinced that someone will be hurt if they are not invited, of course the decision is yours. My experience as a clown is that the average party has between 12 to 15 invited guests. (not counting adults). The more children you invite, the more supervising adults (or teenagers) you will want there as well.
2. Plan an age appropriate activity. It may be a simple cake and ice cream affair for the younger child, or perhaps a party with a theme. For example, one of my son's birthday parties was built around pirates. We had pirate plates, a scavenger hunt with a pirate map, and of course pirate party favors.
Maybe your child is into skating or pizza palaces, or a simple slumber party My daughter wanted one at a hotel one year, so that's what my wife did for her.
And of course, a professional clown is always a very good choice, if you are careful to get the real thing rather than someone who throws on a costume, dabs on a little makeup, and pretends to be a pro, but is actually a great big flop. (We call them lipstick clowns)
3. If you do decide to hire a clown (or a magician or any other entertainer for that matter) be sure to find out ahead of time what they will do, and what they will bring to the party. Wheeler always brings a magic show, party favors and balloons (and a special gift for the birthday child), so basically all the parent needs to supply is cake, ice cream, and of course the guests. Also, if you plan on inviting a clown, be sure to read my article Handling the Frightened Child.
4.Don't over plan. I recently performed at a party that wanted me to do magic, balloons, and face painting; besides which they had planned games, a full meal, and a pinata. Needless to say, there just wasn't enough hours in the party to do it all. If you have invited a good clown, you can forgo other time filling activities. Remember, every thing you want to do takes time. Keep it simple.
5. Above all, have fun with your child. I promise you will survive and so will your house. So have a good time, and let the party be a learning experience to that you can plan an even better one next year.
And when you plan your party, don't forget . . . You Get what you pay for!
Good luck parents.
You can contact Wheeler the Clown at (801) 596-7898,
or email him at Clownfacts1@aol.com