One of the most ridiculously fun jobs out there is performing for kids. Your work environment is usually at schools or private residences for kid’s birthday parties. You dress up in silly costumes, play games, paint faces, hand out balloons, sing happy birthday and then eat cake! Yes, there will be cake and no, the clients won’t be happy until you’ve eaten an abnormally large slice of it. Shows are typically an hour or two but on some occasions, like for school carnivals or corporate picnics, a gig can last about four hours.
While “Clown Colleges” do exist, they aren’t necessary to perform at kid’s parties. Perhaps if you wanted to work for a circus you’d benefit, otherwise you basically just need to know how to be a really fun babysitter.
Here are the job requirements:
- You must pass a criminal background check
- Be able to do basic face painting
- Be able to make basic balloon animals
- the willingness to continue learning (games, balloons, painting techniques)
- Be good with children
- Be willing to play games
- Supply your own props
- Have your own costumes
- Be energetic
- Be reliable
Once you’re ready to work hop online or grab a phone book and look up the party and event planning companies in your area. These are the companies that will be sending you out on jobs as a freelancer. Most companies have their own specific shows already designed and they’ll teach you what you need to do. For example, if they offer a reptile show, they’ll have all the reptiles and you’ll be the person dressed up in safari clothes teaching the kids all about the various creatures you brought to show them.
As far as earning potential, you can make anywhere from $70 to $150 per hour depending on the company and what the show entails. Most companies will also pay your gas expenses if there is a lot of driving involved. If you booked the gig independently, a show usually goes for around $120-$175 for an hour. It's wise to check out what the competition in your area is charging before quoting a client.
Getting costumes together
Some costumes you’ll want to own others should just be rented. Any large, foam cartoon character is going to be a rental. Add a costume shop to your speed dial. The more commonly requested characters - like princesses or clowns - are the costumes you’ll always want in your closet. You can probably put something together yourself with odds and ends you already own. If not, take a trip to a thrift shop or Halloween store and pick something up.
Possible costume ideas to consider putting together:
- Prince or Princess
- Peter Pan or Tinkerbelle (or any fairy)
- Rag Dolls
- Safari Sam or Sandy
- Mad Scientist
Learning Face Painting and Balloon Animals
No one is going to jump on You Tube and learn how to be a Magician overnight (that takes a lot of training and dedication) but you can learn basic face painting techniques and easy balloon animals to give out at your shows. Practice both techniques and if you’re having trouble with your speed, pre-make the balloon animals and pack them in a large trash bag. That way you can focus on painting their faces and playing games, then all you’ll have to do is hand out the balloons before you leave.
Games & Activities
Unless specified otherwise, for a 1 hour show you’ll spend about 20 minutes painting faces and handing out balloons, about 10 minutes is set aside for the “Happy Birthday” song and posing in photos, which leaves about 30 minutes to play games. Some party companies will supply games or activities and some expect you to run your own show. If you’re on your own the dollar store is a great place to get props and prizes for games.
Great Party Game Ideas include:
- Potato Sack Races
- Red Light, Green Light
- Musical Chairs
- Piñata (if there is one)
- Ring Toss or Bean Bag Toss
- Duck, Duck, Goose
- Hula Hoop Contests
- Obstacle Courses
For the right people entertaining kids can be fun, it won't even feel like you're working. If you love children and are energetic enough to play with them for an hour or two, you have the potential to earn an impressive amount of extra money in a very short time frame.