Young, hip and imaginative, there’s a new generation of children’s party planners brightening up the birthdays of kids in the capital, says Danielle Wilkins
When his former brides began asking if he would plan the birthdays of their little ones, children’s parties became a natural progression for wedding planner Mark Niemierko. “It was my 11-year-old niece, Ruby Grace, who came up with the idea for Niemierko Kids,” reveals Mark. And now she, along with her siblings, are creative consultants on the company’s ideas.
For Mark, it’s all about getting to know the little ones, and that includes a consultation over milkshakes to find out their likes and dislikes. “Yes, we want to meet the adults’ expectations, but I also like to ask the children what they enjoy, so we can come up with the right theme.”
And when it comes to themes, Niemierko doesn’t hold back. Previous dos include butlers dressed as iconic London guards serving drinks from silver trays, and back gardens transformed into enchanted woodlands or Old MacDonald’s farm. “And we always have hosts,” adds Mark. “Someone to welcome the children and encourage those that are a little shy to join in.”
Mark’s tip: “We love bespoke stamps. Monogram everything from the gift bags to takeaway cake boxes for a personal touch.”
After training and working professionally as an actress, singer and choreographer for many years, Victoria Pearce discovered her passion for working with children in the theatre and consequently set up Notorious Kids in 2007. The company’s in-house team of actors can recreate anything from safari parties for three year olds to dance and make-up themed dos for tweens. “Whatever the party – big or small, we like to think the ‘full works’ is
our speciality,” says Victoria.
“We work with some of the best suppliers in London to bring our ideas to life, and our bespoke party bags are created by our in-house design team, who also make the outfits for our costumed entertainers.”
Victoria’s tip: “Sourcing the perfect venue is key. Not only does it need to cater to your number of guests, but it should also have plenty of natural light and minimal décor so you can dress it to suit your theme. Favourites of mine include No.11 Pimlico Road, Sunbeam Studios in West London and the Gallery Mess at the Saatchi Gallery.”
NUTTY’S CHILDREN’S PARTIES
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Nutty’s Children’s Parties, set up by actor,
DJ and father-of-two Danny Nutt.
The West Norwood-based planner offers four types of parties for little ones aged three to 11, including adventure parties (think themed characters, storytelling and treasure hunts), drama workshops, football parties for budding Beckhams, and classic discos with plenty of games and air guitar.
Less about the props and décor, Danny prefers to encourage little ones to use their imaginations when it comes to immersing them into another world. “We like to keep the space free of clutter so kids can really believe the world they are entering,” he says. “For us, it’s all about giving them an energised, imaginative and interactive experience.”
Danny’s tip: “If you’re having other parents at the party, try to keep adult voices to a minimum. We find that extraneous noise can act as a distraction to the children’s experience.”
DAZZLE & FIZZ
Dazzle & Fizz launched in 2010, when founder Charlotte Brisco fell pregnant with her son. “My husband and I had been working as children’s entertainers for years,” she reveals. Last year, creative director Sophie Taylor joined the team, after enjoying the expertise of Dazzle & Fizz first hand, when the company hosted a party for her son.
With specialist options for all age groups – including baby signing parties for under-twos – for Charlotte and Sophie each event is about immersing the children in a theatrical world. “We recently hosted a Neverland-themed event at the Bulgari Hotel where, as soon as the guests stepped out of the lift, they were plunged into the Darling children’s bedroom,” says Charlotte. “They were then encouraged to step through a ‘window’, where they found themselves in the Lost Boys’ camp, Captain Hook’s pirate ship and Mermaid Cove.”
Charlotte and Sophie’s tip: “Pick a theme your child will love. No matter how obscure it might seem, the right entertainer
will make it relevant to the whole party.”
SHARKY & GEORGE
Sharky & George, aka Charlie Astor and George Whitefield, have become legendary around the capital for their high-octane parties. The pair have been friends since the age of 12, and after being told to run the games for their housemaster’s daughter’s sixth birthday as punishment for playing a prank on him, the mischievous duo realised they actually quite enjoyed it, and went on to make some ‘pocket money’ at university running children’s parties.
“Our speciality is planning parties from the perspective of over-enthusiastic children, as that’s basically what we are,” laughs George. From their tree house office in London (which also boasts a ball pool and huge escape slide), Sharky & George can plan everything from woodland survival parties to a mini Olympic games, a chocolate-making extravaganza to elaborate treasure hunts. Then again, if it’s just a couple of hours of good, old-fashioned fun you want, they can do that too. Who knows where these guys find the energy…
George’s top tip: “Rather than filling party bags with bits and pieces, aim to include one worthwhile gift and something that can be eaten. We like cress-planting kits or original crafts.”
There really is something for everyone at JoJo Fun, with a team of entertainers, mascots, magicians, balloon modellers, stilt walkers, clowns and face painters corresponding with a multitude of themes. If you’re looking for a bespoke party, director Jolène Emery will plan your do from scratch, organising custom-made invitations and party bags, even flying around the world for clients overseas.
One of our favourites is the beautiful ballet party, where a professional ballerina will meet the children, dance a piece from The Nutcracker, play ballet-themed games and choreograph a short ballet for the children to perform for their parents. Another hit is the science party, mixing entertainment with magical experiments.
JolÈne’s top tip: “Move with the energy of the children and remember to allow for spontaneity. Little ones just want to have fun, and if you are relaxed, you’ll have fun, too!”
When mother-of-four Michelle Aminoff began offering children’s craft sessions 20 years ago, she spotted a gap in the market for children’s parties, and MA Events was born. For her, the focus is choosing a theme for your little ones and organising the perfect activities around it, from drumming parties for four year olds
to scrapbooking and spa parties.
Michelle’s top tip: “Be sure to pick something that is right for the age of your child – too babyish and they might feel embarrassed, too adult
and they will get bored.”