It’s time to add Ice Cream parties to the list. If you currently offer kids birthday parties in your shop – congratulations. You have figured out a great source of additional revenue for your business. If you do not, or are mulling over the prospect of have 18 “sugar hyped” maniacal juniors doing laps of your dining area, then read on.
Holding birthday parties in your business requires a little planning and effort, but once the word gets out around the “maniacal junior” circle that ice cream parties at Bob’s Ice Cream are the “Bomb”, then you are on your way to not only increased revenue, but welcoming new customers through your doors that may not know how great your ice cream is.
Let’s face it – parents will pay for convenience. We have five children. If my wife and I choose to save a little money and throw a birthday party at home, by the end of the day we slump into bed wondering why we ever decided to put ourselves through it, and on top of that – Did we even save any money at all?
Let’s go through the step of how to provide and pull off the perfect party.
When a young mum comes to you for the party of a lifetime for her precious little Frederick, you had better be prepared with some form of document or plan rather than pulling concepts out of your head on the spot. Your party planning document can be filled out by Mum, however it is always better if you can sit down with her and go through the process.
You may want to have options such as number of attendees, issuing invitations, whether or not you will provide the cake or snacks, games and activities, special ice cream flavors and parting gifts. All of these factors into the price of the party, which must cover your product cost and the time and effort it takes to put on the whole shebang.
Parents love options so don’t be afraid to put a few different selections on the agenda. You can just supply the decorated space only for a certain fee and then go upwards from there. Having option for providing the cake, food and the take home gift are all opportunities to relieve organizers of their stress and put a little more money in your coffers.
Some shops like to charge a flat fee per hour to use the space, and then a dollar amount per child. The break down is totally up to you, although a little research on some other businesses that offer parties may be in order here to ensure you don’t price yourself out of the market.
Once you have an idea of what Mum wants, let’s look at what you have the capacity to offer.
No one is going to enjoy a party out on the footpath, with anxious family members trying to keep their kids from running out on the street. If you don’t have a dining room or some dedicated area to contain the little rascals, you are definitely behind the 8 ball. Yes you can rent or acquire some space off site, or even perhaps team up with another local business (such as a pizza parlor or kids toy shop), but having your own space is always an advantage.
You will need to segregate this space from other paying customers. Screaming kids and balloon flatulent sounds aren’t appealing to your regular customers who may be at your shop to get some peace and quiet from screaming kids and flatulent sounds.
If you only have a small area for a dining room, you may wish to hold the party outside your normal trading hours to accomplish this.
There’s nothing more awkward than holding the party up for the stragglers coming in late, so it’s always a great idea to start off with an activity that engages the early birds until all the crew arrives. Having a simple image to color in not only keeps them quiet, but can be judged for a prize at the end of an event, and can add some pizzazz to an otherwise boring wall in your shop. We rotate these images on our walls regularly and I am constantly amazed at the number of kids who continually bring their family in to the shop and point out their own piece of art on the wall.
You can also buy inexpensive crafts to do such as decorating magnets or making bracelets. Face painting is also a great idea. Remember you may want to up charge an activity like this if you need to have your employees involved.
Once all are accounted for we usually walk them through the shop and give them a tour. Yes, I know, I know. What could possibly be interesting about the place you spend 80 percent of your living existence? Well, when you’re a youngster who loves ice cream, it is beyond fascinating. The most enjoyable stop on the tour is a visit to our walk in cooler and freezer. Why 18 kids want to pile into a room that is -30 degrees Celsius is always a mystery to me, but every group does it. I always add a little flair to the event by turning off the lights and seeing how long it takes for the entire compliment to start screaming. (You have to pick you crowd for this one – senior citizens don’t take to kindly to this practice)
One point – please make sure your sink area, batch room, storeroom and refrigerated storage areas are clean. Kids don’t really care, but the accompanying parents may be mortified to see your mould collection growing on the ceiling in the storeroom.
I generally incorporate into the tour a quick demonstration of how ice cream is made. Obviously, if you make your own ice cream this is much more entertaining, than just showing the kids how you unload the truck. I like to make the party favorite of “Birthday Cake” ice cream using cake batter base as a flavor and adding sponge cake and sprinkles whilst extracting from the batch freezer. You may want to substitute this flavor for a birthday boy’s favorite.
I also like to have the kids taste the mix before it goes into the batch freezer with a single dipped taster spoon.
Then on to the batch freezer. Kids are fascinated by these machines, so rather than just pouring the mix in, show them the beater shaft and blades and explain how the freezing process works before starting the batch. I have them taste the finished product and then whilst other activities are happening I pack the ice cream into pint containers, pop them in the blast freezer and have them take one home each for their party favor. This saves on party bags full of useless trinkets that Dad usually steps on within a week, screaming in agony whilst he surgically removes the item from his foot. (I am sure they are designed for this purpose – I can show you the scars)
Although I have always maintained that mankind could survive solely on ice cream and water, parents don’t always feel the same way, so some other form of nourishment is always in order. If you also serve food at your shop, this is a bonus. If not, then a simple pizza order or leaving this option for the parents to bring is fine.
Now for some games.
Some easy to run activities or games may include a limbo competition, or a piñata. We purchase a piñata in the shape of an ice cream cone or a cow to keep with the theme of the party and let them have at it. Quick note – you MUST have a line drawn in the sand that budding participants need to stand behind before the stick swinging starts. Having the birthday girl hit in the face with a lump of timber isn’t the memory you want her to take away from the experience.
You know I am a big supporter of Ice cream eating competitions. If the kids (and parents) don’t mind a little mess, then this is a great memory they will take home with them. I generally give the birthday boy or girl a head start so that he or she can be almost guaranteed a win here. But then again, when kids get to plow their faces into a plate of ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry – everyone’s a winner.
The Cake and the Close
You should provide some recognition here for the birthday boy or girl. Whether they sit on a special birthday throne, wear a blinking Happy Birthday badge or a blow up crown – they will appreciate the fact that for this moment in time, there is no equality in the human race and they stand superior among their peers.
As previously mentioned, Mum can bring the cake, however if you make cakes (and you should) there are some great up selling items here. You can decorate using your standard butter cream which is nice, but remember that cake decorating stores offer items like Edible Images which include characters from Minnie Mouse to Mortal Combat and everything in between. You would obviously up charge for this purchase. One request that we got often is to have the child’s image on the cake. Again many cake decorating business have edible paper that they can print on so for a small fee, little Suzie can stick a knife into her own forehead and it won’t hurt a bit (except in Dad’s wallet).
A rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday to You” (with the obligatory “You look like a Monkey and you Smell like one too”), some photos, cake and ice cream and it’s all over. You may want to put together a little sundae bar to go along with the cake, where kids can choose their own lollies and toppings for a special birthday sundae.
Also hand to each child their pint of Birthday Cake ice cream that they “helped” make and a coupon for a free cone to be redeemed at a later date, and wave them goodbye.
So there you have it – Party planning is a Piece of Cake – Literally.
The Ice Cream Bloke