It’s supposed to be the highlight of the birthday party.

Family and friends gather round the birthday child and sing (usually out of tune) “Happy Birthday” just before the candles are blown out to applause and cheers. In my life as a children’s entertainer in Kent, I must have seen several thousand birthday cakes and perhaps 30,000 candles blown upon.

However, it doesn’t always go exactly to plan.

I’ve seen the presentation of the cake totally flop, I’ve seen a few cakes flop on the floor and what’s worse is I’ve seen children come very close to sustaining a nasty injury.

I’ll be covering several aspects of presenting the cake in my next blog posts… Today I want to take a look at the burning issue of CANDLES

 Here are my top 10 tips to make the most of presenting the cake, making great memories and keeping your children safe!

1) Bring some candles
Yup – I know it sounds silly to say.  Make sure candles are on your shopping list to buy and bring to the party. Assuming you have some in the kitchen draw can end up leaving you in the dark. I’ve been to hundreds of birthday parties where Dad has been sent off in a panic to Tesco (other supermarkets are available) to get candles.

2) Bring a lighter/matches
Again it’s basic stuff… you can’t always rely on one of the other parents being a smoker!

3) It’s quicker to light from a candle
It’s also less hard work on your fingertips. I’ve often seen parents having to twist their wrists into all kinds of contortions to light seven candles from a single lighter. It takes a lot of time, and the lighter gets very hot – plus you might catch your sleeve alight! Light one candle and pick that up to light the others – it is a LOT easier.

3)A On the topic of making lighting candles easier… Pre-light the candles and then blow out immediately, before the time when you’re going to sing Happy Birthday. This is because they typically have a skin of wax over the wick, by burning it off beforehand you can make the whole lighting candle experience swifter and neater!

4) Light the candles  away from the children
Kids are fascinated by fire… (more on this later)If you attempt to light the candles on your cake in the middle of a table full of kids, they will lean all over you and into the cake to get a better view at that magical flickering flame.It will frustrate you and them – someone might also get hurt.

5) Avoid cheaper “happy birthday candles”
There are a lot of candles that spell out words like a person’s name or even to say “Happy Birthday”. These are great and make presenting the cake at your child’s birthday party very personal. Beware of the budget versions of these candles… Some of them burn so very quickly that you get a big blob of multicoloured wax that spoils the look of your cake by the time you’ve got around to singing “Happy Birthday dear…..” And when the candles are due to be blown out – there’s nothing left other than a ruined cake. That leads me on to…

6) Watch the wax…
Many cheap candles burn quickly. This is because they have a low melting point. This also means that the wax stays fluid for longer… which can means wax sprayed all over party clothes and faces when the candles are blown out.

7) Take care with sparklers
These are very popular and potentially very dangerous… I’ve seen children lunge at a cake in an attempt to beat the birthday child to blowing out the candles… If there is a sparkler on the cake, they can easily get burned. Use sparklers wisely – make sure the cake is “out of reach” on a table or make sure an adult holds it well away from the young faces.

8 ) Take Care with roman candles and indoor fireworks
Follow the same guidance as above, but I would add to make sure the cake is safe on a table away from hands and faces. I saw a cake with a roman candle in full flame slip off the plate – the children lunged towards it… very risky!

9) Relighting Candles
Are meant to be amusing… but they can deceive kids. I’ve seen a child assuming the candle was extinguished grab and get burned… Be careful!

10) Position your cake so it faces outwards…
So you’ve chosen nice expensive candles, on a great looking cake and when you look at the pictures on your computer the writing or decoration is obscured… So arrange your candles sensibly, so they don’t obscure the design and angle the cake, so the writing is pointing forwards, so your pictures will look great!

I hope you find these party tips useful… and I trust you won’t think of me as a health and safety freak… I’ve seen all these things happen at birthday parties in Kent in my 15 years working as a children’s entertainer.

Enjoy your party, enjoy your cake and enjoy some great party memories!

To find out more about Marli The Magician – children’s entertainer in Kent – call 07904 262138 or simply email amazing_magic@me.com