Potential Christmas Party Disaster

Christmas Hat

Over the Christmas period, magicians are highly sought after for birthday parties, christmas parties, corporate hospitality, clubs, schools, cubs, beavers, brownies and the list goes on. However, every now and then there is the potential for a disaster. A colleague of mine had just that experience last month. A great deal can be learnt from reading about it. His story goes as follows…

There was one party over christmas that was very difficult. It was a local golf club, a very posh club, very expensive, and they held a christmas party for their members children every year, and last year apparently it was a complete disaster. One of the members wife’s was an event organiser, and she got wind of the children’s christmas party, and was appointed as the event organiser. She asked me to go in and talk about the entertainment. I had worked for this lady many times and went in for a meeting, not far from where I live, so it was very handy. They explained what they wanted… Basically the children turn up and they are fed a late lunch and then Father Christmas arrives, and gives all the children a present, then the entertainer starts work and he does a magic show and some games, at the end of which the children go home. Some of the older children stay for a disco.

I could see some major problems with this. Firstly I like to feed children when they are hungry, at the normal food time, and secondly I could see a big problem with Father Christmas coming, giving all the children a present, and then trying to entertain them. If you are an average child, then you will want to open that present, and then play with it which will cause a major distraction for the entertainer who will then have to try and regain control, so they can enjoy the entertainment. So I said this to them at the meeting, and they said

“Oohh no, that’s not good. The captain likes it done our way, and we always do it this way”

“Well if you do it that way then what you are effectively doing is tying the entertainers right arm to their left foot, turning them upside down in a bucket of cold water and saying, Do your act now… Your not going to get anything like a good result. So what we have to do is change it. This is what I propose: We have the children turn up at the right time, there is a warm up, we play some games, the children can then eat, at the proper tea time, then the magic show, then Father Christmas comes and the children get their presents and go home.”

The event organiser thought it was a great idea, but a couple of jobsworths thought this was a very bad idea, because the captain wouldn’t like it, and he always likes it done the way it has always been done. I was then asked if I could supply a disco. Well I don’t do a disco myself, but I know one or two discos, and said I would look into it for them, and come back to them.

I went back to my office, and phoned one of my disco men, and asked if he could do this for me, and he said yes, he was free on the day, and would love to do it, where is it? I told him it was at this golf club and he said “Oh no, I’m not going back there again, not after last year. No way, not interested. They did it all wrong last year, so I am not interested” I now knew who the entertainer was, and I also knew that he was a very good entertainer, so I phoned the event organiser and told her that the entertainer they had last year was a very good entertainer, and it all went wrong because of the format of the party. I put my cards on the table and said, we either do it my way, or I will be unable to do this party for you. My reputation is worth more than the cost of this one party. She thought the new format was a good idea, especially as Father Christmas would be coming during darkness, instead of daylight hours, which adds to the magic and went away to talk to the captain.

24 hours later, they phoned and said the captain had agreed to do it our way, and the booking was secured.

There was one other small mistake that this particular client made in that she booked me for the Saturday, she received the confirmation through the post for the Saturday that detailed the date, time and format and she checked the fee to make sure that was as agreed, and then filed the letter away. She then proceeded to arrange her party for the SUNDAY…. which was not particularly clever. When we made contact a few days before the party, I told her I was looking forward to seeing her on the Saturday, and she said:

“No… Sunday…”

“No, it is definitely booked for the Saturday”

“No, I have your letter of confirmation here and it very clearly states that it’s on the……. Saturday. Oh dear, I’ve arranged everything for the Sunday !”

This obviously caused a few problems and we had to pull a few people off one job, and onto another, jiggle things around, but I am pleased to say that they got a very good entertainer to do the party for them, not the one they originally booked, but a very good one none the less . She had a small challenge as she then had to pay the entertainer she booked, and the one that actually did the party. So lots of lessons to be learnt here.”

Wow… what an ordeal. Happily it had a successful conclusion, but it could all have been so easily avoided.

Today’s Top Tip

If the entertainer you are booking makes suggestions as to how the party may work better for you, then consider the position from which they are speaking. It is probable that they are suggesting changes because they have many hundreds or thousands of parties under their belt, and experience tells them that there is a better way to do things.

Plus… Always make sure you ask for, and receive written confirmation, and when it arrives, ensure that you read through it VERY carefully, paying attention to all the details. A mistake at this point can be very costly and could be very stressful if you and the entertainer have different days or times in your head. It is always best to be singing from the same songsheet. As always, they are only going to have this particular party once, so make sure it is a party they will remember, for all the right reasons.


  1. david mcmanus says:

    hi gordon hope you are well,just to let you know my megan aged 10 is going to magic lessons after school….she s going to show me her first trick tomorrow….you may have some competion..or an assistant……kindest regards david

  2. Dear David, This is wonderful news. I hope that she goes from strength to strength with her new hobby, Magic. I hope that Megan learnt a few tricks from The Magic Hands of Mystery DVD that you won last year from this blog. Please tell her that next time we meet I will be looking forward to seeing some magic myself.
    All the best, Gordon