There is no doubt that hiring a vendor for an event can be tricky, specifically characters for children’s parties. After receiving our vendors’ most commonly asked questions, we decided to put together the ultimate guide for safely hiring the perfect costumed character for your child’s next party! This, plus a recent trip to Disneyland got me thinking about children I've known and their diverse reactions to "characters."
If your child has been invited to a party that may feature a costume character, or you're planning on hosting one, here are some tips for making sure all goes smoothly. Characters in costume, especially those with covered heads, are a common fear for young children. For children under the age of four, it's best to avoid a character in costume, unless you can see the person's real face. For older children, make sure that your child has had some positive exposure to a costumed character before hiring one. If you are hiring a princess or another character for a young child’s party, make sure to let other parents know on the invitation by stating that "A Princess will be stopping by" or "We're expecting a special visit from a certain superhero." This will give the other parents time to prepare their children for the visit.
If your child is invited to a party with a costumed character, and you know that they’re likely to be afraid, ask the host if you can stay at the party. The host can give you a warning before the "special guest" arrives and you and your child can retreat to a quiet place where they can watch the action without coming too close to the character.
Any professional performer will recognize when your child does not want to be approached. You may be surprised though, many children may be afraid of characters in large open areas like stores or amusement parks, but could feel more comfortable in a friend's house. If you are unsure about how afraid your child may or may not be, try to prepare them before the party. Mention that there will be a visit from someone in a costume, and remind them of how much fun it is to dress up on Halloween. If your child has positive experiences with department store Santas or Easter Bunnies, consider using the same explanations and preparations such as those. For example, explain that this isn't the real character but that they are dressed like the real character.
Remember, hiring a professional character performer who knows how to handle nervous children will help alleviate many problems before they even start!