FAQs (that only come to mind during the actual party)
So you've booked a character to come to your house, whether it be for a birthday party, a surprise celebration, or just because. Here are some common questions that a lot of parents face "in the moment" - when it's too late to ask!
Q: My child is afraid/shy! What am I supposed to do?
If you know your child and have a trick to get them to open up, go ahead! Otherwise, leave it to the professionals - performers are used to seeing this all the time and have a few tricks up their sleeves. Unfortunately, some kids can have a bad day or just be too frightened to warm up. That doesn't mean it was a failure! I can't count how many times I've had a party where the birthday boy/girl was shy the whole time, only to hear the next day that the same child hadn't stopped talking about so-and-so attending THEIR birthday. Everybody enjoys things in a different way!
Q: Do I need to feed the performer?
Definitely not! In fact, most of the time the performer will probably refuse the offer (but thank you for offering!). The truth is (at least for my team) I always have a cooler in the car loaded with snacks and we were probably stuffing our faces 10 minutes before we walked in while parked a few houses down the street. Playing these characters can take a lot of energy, so we're always well prepared - besides, we don't want to take time away that could be spent one-on-one with your child!
Q: What is the proper way to pay at the party?
I always try to address this beforehand but I've seen a few parents panic when the time comes for money to exchange hands. The most important thing to remember is to keep the magic going for the kids - don't hand any money over or discuss it with children present or listening. If there is a party assistant, they are the person to quietly pull aside and handle the money issue with. If the character is there alone, the best thing to do is either leave the money in an envelope in the mail box (let the company know ahead of time), slip it into their basket as they go, or follow them outside when they leave.
Q: What will the performer do if the space I've provided is too small?
Any good performer will be ready to adapt on the fly - either by tweaking their games or skipping some in favor of more space-friendly options. It's always a big help to let the company know ahead of time if you think space will be a big issue (especially with a big guest list!) but this is a common problem and (although I can only speak for myself) most companies are always prepared for something like this when they arrive.
Q: Can I leave the room while the party is ongoing? The kids seem fine!
It's okay to slip out for a second to put the pizza in the oven, but don't ever leave the party unattended for longer than a minute or two. These performers HAVE to stay in character and it can quickly become a 1 vs. 10 situation. On top of that, a lot of children will think twice about acting up if they know a parent or "authoritative figure" is watching. I remember being terrified of my friend's mothers at that age!
Q: Is it okay to take pictures?
100%! Honestly, you don't even need to ask permission. You're paying for a service - document it however you'd like! Video can be a lot of fun too.
Q: How should I interact with the performer?
ALWAYS refer to them by their character name! The best part about these kinds of visits is the magic and wonder of meeting "the real _____" in person. Be sure to play along and act as if you 100% believe that the real ______ has walked into your living room. Watch for questions that could "give it away", such as: "so is this your only job?" or "what other characters do you play?" or even the very innocent "I love your costume!". Do your best, but don't worry - if you slip up, the performer should be able to "correct" you on the fly and keep things going.
There are just a few questions that parents often "wish they knew" beforehand. Have any of your own? Feel free to comment them below or contact me privately! I'll include them in the next FAQ post.