I’ve sung the Happy Birthday song over a thousand times.  Let’s say the average person sings it about 10 times a year…that would make me about 100 years old.  Which I basically am.  In Faerie years.  Hello, I’m Fae Diddle Diddle, a professional children’s entertainer in California.  Yes, I really did get to be a Faerie and a Mermaid when I grew up! So, how did I sing the birthday song so many times? I’ve personally performed at over 1,400 celebrations across California in the last 9 years.  Phew! What happens to a person once they’ve sung that song over and over again? You would except that they would just explode into birthday cake and sparkles, but actually, I just got very familiar with what really makes a successful birthday party.
     When planning the big day, there are two major components to think about. The grown-ups, and the children (of course!).  The really successful celebrations that I have seen have combined the excitement for both parties, instead of keeping them separate. For example, it may be wonderful to have a bouncy house so the children can completely pass out at bedtime from exhaustion (hooray!), but what does the bouncy house do for the adults? In the best case scenario, the adults feel like children again and climb in and bounce with the children (this has only happened *once* at any of the celebrations I have attended). The worst case (and more typical) scenario is that the adults are left standing around, trying to make small talk without the helpfulness of their smaller counterparts to bring life into the moment. Even though I am a professional entertainer, I still clam right up when I have to speak to strangers in a grown-up setting.  I prefer to be in the company of children. They have better jokes.
     There are a few elements of a birthday party that I have seen that really pull in both the children and the adults. First, plan an activity that they can work on together. I don’t mean making some craft at a table with too many glue sticks and not enough paper towels.  I mean something that you don’t get to do everyday. Something special.  The best example that I have ever seen of this was at a celebration that I attended in Berkeley, Ca. The invitation asked the guests to please bring a unique, empty cardboard box to the party.  The hosts provided multicolored tape, flags, pillows, and scissors. I witnessed the building of the most amazing cardboard fort/castle/house that I have ever seen. The babies were crawling around and squealing, the children were putting their heads together with the grown-ups to solve building issues, and everyone was smiling. Uncontrollably.
     If you prefer to have a more self contained activity (you know, something without any clean-up…), a very popular, and often successful element to add to your celebration is…an Entertainer.  I know, I know. I am an entertainer. Of COURSE I would say that.  But, really.  The magic that I have seen happen over a crowd when myself (or one of our other performers…yes…there are 34 Professional Faeries, Princesses, and Clowns in my company!) is overwhelming.  From seeing the adults participate during a Magic Show, to reading about how a family talked about my visit for weeks (“Mommy…when I went into the backyard today, I saw where the Faerie lived! I really did!” or “Honey, will you please clean up your toys? You can use your hands, and some Magic if you want to, like the Mermaid did.”), the effect of an entertainer can be incredibly long lasting.
     I want to tell a quick story. I mentioned adults participating during my Magic Show performance.  This story takes place in a park. A hot park. An over 100 degree park.  All of the children were being troopers and were sitting nicely in the cool grass (well, sometimes the heat can be your friend when you are an entertainer, it helps keep the more rowdy children at bay…ha!) getting ready to watch the show.  I also encourage grown-ups to watch as well, because I like to mix up some tricks and stories that grown-ups will think are funny.  The show started and all the children were very sweet and were participating at the correct times.  I also noticed the adults really getting into it, despite the heat. They were also answering my questions and being enthusiastic about the story that was unfolding in front of them.  At one point, I asked the audience a question that required the children to respond, and a grown-up was so excited, that he jumped up to his feet and yelled the answer! Everyone, adults and children, exploded into giggles, and the rest of the celebration was one of the most easy going parties that I had ever attended. The shyness of the adults and the children just seemed to melt away.
     Sometimes thinking about hiring a children’s entertainer brings about some worry. Will they be cheesy? Will they make my celebration extra special? Or the worst question…will they show up? In addition to performing and running a children’s entertainment company, I have worked with hundreds of other entertainers over the years. I am not afraid to give adults referrals to another company if our schedule is full, but I am also just as picky when it comes to who I would refer as an entertainer for children.
Here are some key things to think about:
-Reputation 
These days, it is very easy to learn how other families felt about their experience with a particular entertainment company. Make sure to do a simple search online to research any reviews that may have been written.  Places like Yelp.com, Google Reviews, Gigmasters.com, and many other review sites are great places to start. If the entertainer doesn’t appear on any of those sites, it may be difficult to find honest opinions about the entertainer.
-The company’s general ‘feel’
Entertainment is likely to reflect what you see and feel from your first impression of the entertainment company. How much care did they put into their online presence? Are their ads creative and fun? Do they sound exciting on the phone? Is it easy and pleasant to correspond with them via email? These things can be an easy insight into how your experience will be with them in person.
-Your child’s connection to the idea of an entertainer 
Can the children see exactly which character (and what they will look like) is coming to the celebration so they can be prepared and excited instead of shy on the big day? Some entertainment companies make it easy for the children to get excited about meeting them by providing videos, multiple photos, and sometimes even a chance to let the child speak to the character over the phone in advance.
-Legal Issues
Entertainers should carry Liability Insurance. This makes sure that if a balloon pops and hurts a guest, the Entertainer will be liable for paying for the aftermath. Many city parks require this, and the entertainer should be able to provide proof of insurance before the big day.  (Psst…it is wonderful to get all of these things out of the way ~before~ you meet them in person, that way the celebration will be all fun and games instead of paused by boring paperwork).
-Choosing between a single entertainer and an entertainment company
If the entertainer works for an entertainment company, the entertainer will be one of two things. An independent contractor (they are required to provide their own skills and costuming), or an employee (trained by the company, & costuming is provided by the company).  There are a couple questions that should be asked because these two classifications are different.  The first is, if the entertainer is required to provide their own costuming, will it reflect exactly what you see in the photos online?
The second is, how do you know if their skills up to par for performing at your celebration? A few of our employees have worked with other entertainment companies before working for Happily Ever Laughter (that’s where I come from), and have told me that they were just asked ‘do you know how to twist balloons?’ during their interview, and then were sent to twist balloons at a celebration. The company never wanted to see how well they twisted balloons. When an entertainment company actually provides training to their employees, it insures that their skills are adequate, and in line with what the company is promising to deliver.
If you hire an entertainer that is independent of an entertainment company, make sure to do some heavy research into other family’s experiences with them. They are generally incredibly talented individuals (to perform and be booked enough to work just for themselves means they must have out-of-this-world skills!) The catch is that they are only accountable to themselves, so there may be a more likely chance of them not performing their best, or not having back-up if they fall ill.

-Communication
The days leading up to the celebration is a time when you don’t want to be worrying about whether your entertainment will show up or not.  Make sure to ask the entertainer when and how they will be confirming their arrival with you. I recommend asking for a phone number that will reach the performer on the day of, as well as a phone number of someone that may know what is going on if you can’t get a hold of the performer themselves (a booking agent or the company).
     Well, thanks for reading , and I hope this helps you feel a little better about 30 children arriving at your house next month. Ha! But really, don’t worry. The last secret to having a successful birthday party is to remember why you are hosting one.  It’s because you want to celebrate your child on this day that is so important to your friends and family.  This is the day when you can look at your child with adoring eyes everyone else will be, too.  It is an incredibly special time, and if you’re happy, they will be happy.  Party on!
Ribbons and Roses,
Fae Diddle Diddle
Head Faerie at Happily Ever Laughter
http://www.happilyeverlaughterparties.com/
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All About Bebe Giveaway!

Posted on: July 15th, 2012

This week’s Giveaway Sponsor is All About Bebe, a chic and modern clothing boutique for kids! The best part is that they offer high quality children’s apparel and accessories at affordable prices. The winner will be able to select either a girl’s or boy’s outfit as shown below. The adorable girl’s outfit retails at $79 and is available in sizes  XS=14months ~ 2T, S=2T~3T , M=3T~4T and L=4T~5. The stylish boy’s outfit (retails at $53) includes the chrome baggy pants (White) and Mango Na Si shirt (available in Gray, Black or white). Sizes S (2T), M (3T) and L (4T-5) will be available.

(1) To enter the contest, please leave a comment below on our blog, telling us which outfit and size you would like. Please make sure you select the size that is shown above for the corresponding outfit.

            (2) For double entry, please go to All About Bebe Facebook Page and “like” them and then share the contest link. The easiest way is to click on the Facebook icon below for easiest sharing.

Winner will be announced this Friday, July 20th, 2012 on this blog.

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Sweet Pink Ombre Light Birthday Party

Posted on: July 6th, 2012

Party Event Planner, Cana’s Miracle created a beautiful party utilizing the birthday girl’s name Elle.  Party designer June decided to go with a sweet pink ombre light theme since Elle means “shining light.” She did an excellent job in making Elle shine with the amazing decorative details. What a beautiful party for a beautiful little girl! Photo by Story by Mia. Desserts by Le Macaron Patisserie.

Cloud B Twilight Product Giveaway!

Posted on: July 1st, 2012

Here’s a chance to win  an innovative night light from Cloub b!  Three winners will be chosen and each winner will receive either a Twilight Turtle, Twilight Ladybug or Twilight Sea Turtle.

“Since their inception in 2002, Cloud b has mastered the art of creating plush toys with a purpose, developing engaging products “where good sleep begins.” Innovative in design, unique in function and above all, memorable when experienced, Cloud b has become a trusted name among parents, grandparents, and caretakers.”

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Sushi Cupcake Recipe

Posted on: June 7th, 2012

 

Sushi cupcakes? Okay, I didn’t mean real sushi but a cupcake that looks like a sushi. How cute is this? If you want to make it more Korean, try making it look like a kimbap! How fun would this be to serve! This amazing sushi cupcake was created by Pamela Ahn from PamCakes. Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Cupcakes Recipe

  • 2 cups of cake flour (Swan’s Cake Flour)
  • 1 1/4  cups  sugar
  • 1/2 cup of whole buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
  • 4  eggs
  • 2  teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract
  • 1  lemon
Separate 4 eggs and set egg whites in a separate bowl.  Using a large mixing bowl combine butter with sugar and beat on low until mixture is fluffy then add in one egg yoke at a time, beating well after each addition.  Shift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate medium mixing bowl.  Add in about 1 cup of dry mixture into the large mixing bowl with the butter mixture, then alternate with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.  Alternate flour and buttermilk about 3 times until the mixture is well combined.  Finally mix in extracts and 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest and set aside.  Whisk egg whites to medium peak in a separate bowl.  Then immediately fold whisked egg whites into batter until batter appears fluffy and light.
Preheat oven on 350 degrees and spoon in batter into cupcake sleeves about 1/2 to 2/3 full and bake for approximately 12 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
  • 2 packages of 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
Combine cream cheese and butter at room temperature and beat on medium until smooth and well combined.  Then add in powdered sugar a cup at a time whisking well after each addition and add in lemon juice.  Ensuring that the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
To make coconut cupcake, cooling cupcakes after baked and spread frosting generously on cupcakes then dip into coconut shavings.  Serves approximately 24 cupcakes.  Preparation and decorating approximately 30 mins to 1 hour.

Materials used: Black felt sheets for the seaweed wrap, coconut flakes for the rice look and candy assortments for the sushi pieces.

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The Traditional Dol Set Up

Posted on: June 5th, 2012

What is meaning of the items on a Korean traditional dol table? I have asked two party styling experts, Leafy Party and H Day Events to help explain to us what everything means.

Aimee, Leaf Party event planner and florist, explains her dol table:

There are two tables on the upper level. One table consists of jujube, parsley, rice, and 5 colored pouches.
Jujube means abundance in giving birth.
Parsley means healthy long lasting life as well as abundance in giving birth.
Rice means blessing of food.
5 colored pouches means vibrant life.
Another table consists of doljabi. In the picture we placed:
5 colored thread: wish to be talented in art
Brass coin: wealthy
Book/Brush/Ink stone: to become scholar
Thread: long life
Judge gravel: to become judge
Stethoscope: to become doctor
In between the 2 small round tables, you will see the Korean Rice Cake, 백설기 떡케이크 in the middle.
And it represents purity and long life. We decorate it with 축 첫돌 on the top.
Seasonal fruits should be displayed and there are 3 types of rice cakes we use.
We have song pyun (송편), 3 color gyung dan (삼색경단), and rainbow dduk (무지개떡)
Normally rice cake should be colorful since it represents bright and vivid future.

 

Sean from H Day Events also provides us with his thorough explanation for the dol table set up.

Circular round tables that doesn’t have a keen corner termed a “dol sang” are used for the hope that the person will become a generous person.

A red table cover is utilized since it is believed that the red color keeps away misfortune.

White rice signifies wish for fortune of money and food

Jujube signifies wish for prosperity.

Thread means wish for health and longevity.

Brush and ink stone signifies wish for being good at academics

Money signifies wish for wealth.

5 Color Papers represent East/West/South/North Land- nature’s harmony

Drop wort tightened with blue and red thread represents wish for good health and vitality.

Rainbow Rice Cake signifies wish for a dream come true.

Rice cake coated with meshed red beans means desire to keep away misfortune and prayer for mercy.

Flower Made of Rice- Meaning of not cutting a live plant that eventually dies.

 

The items overall represent a similar theme which is the hope for the child to prosper and have good fortune in life. If you are looking for a Party Planner who provides traditional Korean birthday styling, here are a few

event planners below.

Leafy Party serving Southern CA

H Day Events serving NJ/NY

Lolli Party serving Northern CA

Christina Events serving VA/DC/MD

Party Eve serving Northern VA, DC, MD and NY

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Win a Party in the City!

 

     Here’s an amazing opportunity for your child to win a free birthday party at Pretend City Children’s Museum! When it comes to throwing the perfect Doljanchi, this is the place to be! Pretend City Children’s Museum is a one of a kind experience that children and adults of all ages can enjoy. This miniature city is comprised of 17 interactive exhibits that mimic popular landmarks throughout Orange County. As a fully interactive, hands-on museum, nothing is off limits! A parent’s dream for the ultimate Dol experience!

     The lucky winner of this month’s contest will get an all-inclusive  Pretend City Experience party package ($650 Value)!Once you pick your date, just sit back and relax as their helpful staff executes every detail right down to ordering the cake. Planning this party is so easy, your one-year-old could do it! When you’ve got your hands tied with a little one, it’s so nice to be able to throw an amazing party with zero stress and effort.

If only everything were this easy!

The Pretend City Experience Party Package includes:

• Private party room for 1 hour beginning at 10am, 12pm or 2pm.
• Unlimited time in the museum until closing following time in private party room.
• Museum admission for up to 30 guests (including both children and adults). Any guests above the 30 included in the package are an additional $10 per guest.
• Birthday Party Child is complimentary.
• Tables, chairs, sink with running water and refrigerator/freezer provided.
• Two Pretend City party hosts to facilitate the party room set-up, service and clean-up.
• One return pass for all party children.

PLUS:

• Pretend City themed cake
• Hat activity for 20 children
• Tableware (includes tablecloths, silverware, plates and cups for 30 guests)

 

 

And if you’re looking to go ALL OUT for your little one’s Doljanchi, you can apply the value of your party to upgrade to a facility rental. You and your guests will have the entire museum to yourselves for an exclusive after-hours party . While your one-year-old may not remember it, your guests surely will!

Here’s How to Enter:

(1) Tell us why you want to “Party in the City” by leaving a comment below on this blog.

(2) For an additional entry into this contest, just click here and sign your child up for the Pretend City Birthday Club.

By doing so, you’ll automatically be mailed one complimentary visit to the museum to be used anytime during the month of your child’s birthday.

 

Winner will be randomly chosen and announced on  Monday, July 2, 2012 on this blog.  . Please note winner can claim the prize towards a non-one year old party as well. In other words, the party does not need to be a doljanchi.

 

P.S. If you don’t win, you can still throw the ultimate Doljanchi! Pretend City is offering a special 20% discount on all parties booked in June, July and August!

 

Photo credit to Sipper Photography.

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How to Cut Costs When Planning a Doljanchi

Posted on: June 2nd, 2012

Cut Costs Inbox Ideas for Boys: Fake Rolex Watches

  1. Keep your guest list small and limit it to family and close friends.
  2. Save money by sending out an Evite or make  your own invitations.
  3. Consider no cost or affordable options, like your home, backyard, your community recreation center, local park, or possibly a friend or family member’s home. If you want to have it at a restaurant or banquet room, consider taking advantage of weekday rates.
  4. Ask your family and friends to help you decorate! DIY ideas can be found for almost anything. If you know a friend who recently had a dol party, ask them if you could borrow their stuff (such as dol go ims, platters, vases, etc.)
  5. Consider having your party during non-meal times. Dessert bar or snack bar would be an option. Or if you plan on serving food, ask your close friends and family to help you cook. If you plan to cater Korean food, cater through your local Korean market as it is usually cheaper.
  6. Order a smaller cake for display purposes and serve a sheet cake.  Or consider making cupcakes yourself or other home-made goodies.
  7. Provide low cost entertainment/activities for young ones. For example, you can download free coloring pages off the internet and provide a box of crayons. If you own board games, have it out for the children. Visit the dollar store or local craft store for their $1 deals. Ask a friend to help out by doing face painting or making simple balloon art.
  8. Ask someone to take pictures for you. Or purchase disposable cameras and have them on each table for the guests to take photos throughout the event.
  9. Borrow a hanbok from a friend or consider renting one.
  10. Download free printables or make your own doljabi board using a poster board.  Ask around to see if you can borrow a party banner or rent one! Or if you are creative, you can make your own out of butcher paper or cloth.

Adding bling to your Cupcake Display

Posted on: May 25th, 2012

I am so in love with pretty dessert tables! Aren’t these “blinged” out cupcake and cake stands just so beautiful and elegant? You can purchase these stands on Amazon. Below are some images of dessert tables provided  by Itty Bitty Sweets. Photo by Tara Sieling and Love Leaf Studio.

 

 

 

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