This is a schedule that works well. I’ll explain why below. Most parties last 2 hours. For the sake of this article, we’ll say the party begins at 1:00 PM.

12:45 – Tie a bouquet of balloons on your mailbox, front porch, or apartment door so it's easy for your guests (not to mention the magician!) to find the party.

12:50 – All preparation is completed and ready for early arrivals. Allow the guests to play in the back yard or play room, or have an age appropriate activity going that the kids can join in as they arrive – coloring sheets, crafts, or a game. Magician arrives.

1:00 – Magician is set up and begins to visit with the children during their activity/game. Believe it or not, this helps with crowd control later, since the kids have met and become pals with the performer!

1:15The Magic Show begins!

2:00 – Show’s over and the kids are led to the cake and ice cream! Sing Happy Birthday, blow out the candles and serve the kids. If you are having real food, this is the time for that also.

2:15 – Gather the kids in a room where the Birthday child is the center of attention for the opening of gifts. Quietly remind the Birthday Child that you talked ahead of time about thanking the giver and not saying, “I already have that!” or “I don’t like Scooby-Doo!”

2:30 – This would be the time for a piñata or just let the kids play until the parents arrive to pick them up. Some parents will arrive early, so you want the main activities to be over by this time.

3:00 – Rest! You made it!

Let’s talk about why this works.

12:50 - You want to have everything ready by 10 ‘til, because if you don’t, and a parent drops a child off early, you will be torn between finishing the party stuff (which you HAVE to do) and entertaining the early arrival and her mom (which you SHOULD do). You may never feel like you get caught up enough to relax and enjoy the party.

1:15 - I have never been to a birthday party where every child was on time. (Don’t blame the kid; he can’t drive!) For this reason, the magic show or other special event should not start until about quarter past. This delay also gives the kids a chance to work out the “wigglies” before they come to sit down for the show.

2:00 – We save the food until later for a number of reasons. The show goes better if the kids aren’t balancing plates and drinks. The kids’ hands are cleaner (they handle a lot of the magic stuff during the show!). And it’s always better to sugar up the kids on cake, ice cream and Kool-Aid right before you send them back home!

2:15 – Kids don’t take as long to eat as adults. They don’t eat as much and they are excited about the party. 15 minutes is usually plenty of time. If not, just go with the flow! We save the presents until last, because the birthday child is usually not crazy about leaving his gifts to go to the show. I have performed at the end of a party where the birthday girl would not get out of the Barbie Power Wheels to come to the show. The parents finally let her watch the show from the car, but it was a real distraction, especially when she got out to help me onstage and every kid at the party tried to get in the car!

2:30 - This is a good time for a piñata, one more game or just free play.

3:00 – Most of the time, parents are on time to pick up their kids. If not, allow the child to play with the birthday child or get him to help clean up. Most kids LOVE to help. Your obligation to entertain ends at 3:00, but of course you are still responsible for his care until the parent arrives.

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