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  • Writer's pictureTerri Pace

How does face painting work for children's birthday parties?

Updated: Apr 12

Occasionally, when planning your child's birthday party, you extend invitations to schoolmates, nursery friends, and family, with the anticipation of everyone coming. However, uncertainties often arise. You may find yourself wondering if additional siblings or unexpected guests might join the celebration. Likewise, unforeseen circumstances might prevent some guests from attending at the last minute. These are the typical things that can happen at children's parties.

Firstly, I’m writing this as a London based face painter and things can be different in other parts of the country.   Unlike family fun fairs or festivals where a price per face model might apply, for private events like birthday parties, christenings, weddings etc, face painters usually work on an hourly rate basis. This ensures that the focus remains on painting as many faces as possible within the allocated time frame.

At the beginning of every party I ask the host who has booked me ‘Approximately, how many children are you expecting? & Would you like Glitter Tattoos as well?’  Then I can gauge how detailed each face paint design can be. 

If there’s a lot more than expected, I’ll reduce the designs slightly so everyone gets something. 

If there’s a reduced amount of children, I can add a lot more detail in the designs,  plus I can invite the adults to have a small elegant design round the cheek.  Believe me, children love to see their Mum or Dad join in with the fun too.

Either way, I use my time effectively, and If someone doesn’t want anything or is unsure or shy, I give them time and ask them again before I leave, believe me 95% will find their confidence and join in. 


Glitter Tattoos 

Temporary Glitter Tattoos is an additional option to consider.  I always bring them to every party just in case the host wants to add this service alongside face painting.  They last a lot longer than face painting and who doesn’t love to gaze at glitter on their arm for days to come. For a small cost these are a beautiful addition if you want extra impact.  

There are 2 adhesives that I bring and both are perfectly safe for children's skin.  

  1. Waterproof adhesive which lasts for 3-5 days. With this adhesive it can be removed immediately if needed, by using a baby oil to loosen the glue first, then warm soapy water and a soft flannel to lift the residue.  Repeat until it’s removed. Or they will fade over 3-5 days anyway. 

  2. A water soluble glue which is easily removed immediately with warm soapy water and a flannel. 


If you have booked extra entertainment. 

Face painting works well alongside other entertainment activities you may be considering.  In my many years of face painting for childrens birthday parties I've worked out the best way to get everyone painted, and nothing beats the queuing system.  My ideal system is this: 

To have a few chairs next to me for children to sit on or I invite them to sit on the floor.   I tell the children there's 5 at a time, and when you see the seats are empty to come over.  Sometimes parents will help by calling them or they come running up anyway. 


Numbering system - does it work?

Numbering the backs of hands for large parties is very difficult to monitor, especially when you have a limited time frame to get everyone painted as it takes up a lot of extra time trying to shout out the next number, and believe me those minutes add up – I have certainly tried putting this into action but every time it slows things down. Here are my reasons why it's not ideal.

  1. At the beginning of parties not everyone turns up at the same time to give out a number. So for instance, while I’m engaging & painting a child, 3 other children may have arrived who rush over to see their friends playing on the bouncy castle or another area, which is great, but I don’t always see them, so they get missed.

  2. Trying to shout out numbers or physically finding the next number to be painted is really difficult to be heard without a microphone.  This can also upset other entertainers in mid flow of their games/stories as it can interrupt their routine with them.  I’ve had many parents try to help me find the next number, but it’s not their job to do that, they want to relax and enjoy their conversation with friends & family too. My job is to get everyone painted in the time I’m booked for, and if I use that time searching for the next number instead of painting, I won’t get everyone painted.

While I've explored various possible solutions including name lists, colour codes, raffle tickets over the years, I've found that sticking to a straightforward 5 people cueing system brings the best results in terms of efficiency and overall enjoyment. This method minimises disruptions and ensures that each child gets painted/tattooed quickly enabling them to go off and enjoy the party too. It’s simple and it works. 


Finally I'd love to hear from you!

I hope this has been helpful, but if you have any more questions or you're still unsure if face painting party is right for you, I have some more information on my FAQ page so have a look there first, but please email now to ask anything that might help you with your party.

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