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Papa Joe  ~  Stuff & Things

Here's a another Post to Storytell from 1996


Like all venues, B-day parties can be wonderful or horrible gigs.

Here's what I do.

First: I ask how they got my name. I tell them that B-day parties are not what I really do. But that I do them if they meet certain conditions. Then I listen to the response. If (1) the child wanted me, the Storyteller Papa Joe, to come tell at their party or (2) the parent (grandparent, etc.) can assure me that the child would really want me (otherwise it is the end of the conversation. B-day parties are too much work if the child is not invested), then I go to:

Second: I tell them I have a set of rules that MUST be followed.

(1) The invitations include a statement that the children are not to arrive early. And that the entertainment starts promptly at <blank> o'clock.

(2) The Birthday child receives no presents before the party. Why force the child to choose between a new present and a show. One time a father gave his son a floor hockey set the night before. The child had a very hard time taking a break from that and enjoying a program he would have easily gotten into otherwise.

(3) I get there before the guests. About 10 minutes before to talk to the birthday child. Together we plan the show. That ensures that they are invested in it.

(4) The space for the program is free of TV, toys, or anything that resembles toys.

(5) The guest are met at the door by someone other than the birthday child or me. Their presents are stacked off where we can not see them, their coats, boots, etc. are removed, nothing is given to the guests. They are escorted directly into the program.

(6) The program begins with short very interactive stories or games. These last up to fifteen minutes or until the guests have all arrived, which ever comes first.

(7) The next (roughly) 40 minutes are for more involved stories and games. If I think the children need to stop early we do. (this has only happened once when these rules where followed)

(8) For the last five minutes, I gather the group together and lead them to the next place (usually the table), where the host takes over the party. I recommend food, presents, then party favors and free time, in that order. Pick-up two hours after drop-off. A good time had by all.

(9) I get my check after the cake is served. I leave before the presents arrive.

I do not do shows for my family. I'll tell them a story if they want one. If they want a show, it will be at their school. I don't charge them.

What about the price for the others? I always wait until the end before I discuss this. The rules make it clear that this is no simple act. My answer is, "We ask $300.00 for programs. However, we do not expect that from private birthday parties. We usually accept $150.00. What can you afford?"

Then I can decide if it is worth the effort to turn a child's home (or MacDonald's) into a program site.

Papa Joe  ~  Stuff & Things

Papa  Joe  ~  Telling  Tales

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