It's time to party
Children are high maintenance under any circumstances but when it comes to birthdays their expectations reach beyond the everyday games.
A number of small-time entrepreneurs have tapped into the young party scene, offering services as simple as supplying the cake to providing hours of entertainment.
Abbott Leisure (2540 3982)
The company has been organising professional parties since 1989 for children aged two years to teenagers. Costume characters include bunnies, lions, dinosaurs, bears and dogs. Abbott Leisure will organise a number of party games using costumes and props, and include a Velcro target game (where children throw Velcro objects at the entertainer), and a super chicken relay race. Magic, puppetry, balloon twisting and face painting activities can also be arranged. No set prices, call the above number for a free quotation.
Arabella's Party (2638 3174)
Choose personal appearances from the Teletubbies and Spice Girls to Winnie the Pooh and many more. Characters appear half an hour into the party, and will stay as long as requested. Entertainment includes magic, face painting and puppet shows for younger children and treasure hunts for older children. Prices are based on half hourly rates ($900), minimum booking one hour. For larger parties another entertainer is available at a 50 per cent discount.
Born to Party (2379 1424)
Party supplies from birthday cards to bouncy castles. A birthday card costs from $5, a standard cake $450, and the hire of a bouncy castle from $1,620. Entertainment can be 'packaged'. An hour of games, face painting and body art, including props and prizes, starts from $1,800. A face painting package costs from $888.
Fun House Hong Kong
Tailored themed parties based on three activities for one hour, or four activities for 90 minutes. Activities include magic and puppet shows, face painting, games, discos, story-telling and singing. The chosen theme (options include Batgirl, Pokemon, Charlie's Angels and party clowns), is incorporated into acts. One hour of entertainment costs from $1,500, inclusive of travel.
Jumpin 4 Joy (2559 8205)
Supplier of bouncy castles for small and large groups of children - castles can be combined to make a large obstacle course, or be small enough for six. Hiring costs start from $1,700 for the smallest castle up to $8,000 for the extended obstacle course. Costs include delivery, site inspection, set up, three hours use and removal. A 10 per cent discount is offered for rentals on Mondays to Thursdays. Safety guidelines are followed according to British standards. The company makes birthday cakes to customer specifications, prices start at $475 for a three-pound cake (which will feed about 25). Helium, latex, foil and clear-coloured balloons can also be supplied. Designs are numerous and include cartoon characters and star shapes. An 11-inch helium balloon costs $12.
Kidz Jam (2982 1846)
Available for parties, this company has more than 100 instruments at its disposal including drums, percussion instruments and boomwhackers (sound tubes).
Sessions are very much a learning environment with children being taught simple rhythms and songs. Shows last between 45 and 60 minutes, and can be arranged for all age groups, for small and large groups. A jam including teacher and assistant, instruments, van hire and set-up time costs $4,000, but events can be arranged according to individual requests.
Magic Circus (2982 1007)
Performing artist Robert Rogers has been entertaining audiences in Hong Kong since 1990. Magic, puppetry, games and educational workshops are all part of the act. Audience participation is encouraged, in the form of stilt-walking or juggling. For young children, activities include musical games. A one-hour programme costs $2,000.
Uncle Dave's Big Day Out (2114 7139)
If the idea of clearing up after 20 children sends shivers down your spine, Uncle Dave's might be the answer. It is a monthly theatre show for children between the ages of two and nine, held at Grappa's Country restaurant in Central.
Shows are based on traditional fairy tales and there are plenty of opportunities for children to get involved. Each performance lasts for about 75 minutes.
Reservations can be made for birthdays and the seating area will be decorated at no extra charge. Birthday cakes can be taken and eaten at the venue.
Tickets cost $150 per person, which includes pizza, sandwiches and soft drinks.
Z performances (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fire-eaters and jugglers, stilt walkers, tight-rope walkers and unicyclists, Z performances are certain to have children oohing and aahing. Since graduating in theatre studies, main character Zani has been performing in circuses, with street theatres, and at parties and corporate events in Hong Kong since 1995. Parties are tailor-made to suit children's ages. Prices vary according to specifications.
One Stop Party Shop (2523 6542)
Its name pretty much speaks for itself. Most party needs, from cups and plates to decorations and costumes can be found at the store. A metallic balloon costs about $55, a pack of eight paper plates from $37 and an animal costume from $350.
Party Caramba (2851 8320)
This shop concentrates on supplying party accessories, all of which are imported from licensed dealers in the United States. They include balloons, pinatas (papier mache-shaped animals filled with sweets), paper plates and party costumes.
Regular, two- and three-dimensional cakes, and birthday cakes made to order are available. A regular cake weighing three pounds costs $450. Costume rental (24 hours), costs $500, plus deposit.
Toys 'R' Us (2991 6222)
Paper plates and cups, hats, party invitations and table covers are some of the items available from Toys 'R' Us. Themes include Superman, Spiderman and 'smiley face'. Paper plates cost from $19.90 (set of eight) and table covers $24.90 (one piece).