I look up and all I can see are eyes looking back. Moms are standing, smiling, yet I can see in their eyes they have other places to be, things to do, and standing in line for a balloon is not high on their priority list of things to do today. I realize that I need to take control of the situation. A trick that I use is to split the line in two parts. This weekend I was entertaining at a baptism and during the evening kids started to return for second balloons. I quickly developed two lines, those who had a balloon, and those who had not received a balloon.
By creating two lines, I could see the parents stress level drop as they moved to the second line of “We did not get a balloon yet”. Now with lines established, I can address the needs of the people who did not receive a balloon and those who are on their second balloon.
I am always amazed at how patient a child will wait once you establish a rule on who gets what and when. Parents like that detail to attention, and it reduces their wait time, which for them is a win-win.
I have used this technique for decades and have split lines based on gender or design. Gender split is typically for private parties. Girls seeking princess and butterflies, while the boy’s motorcycle and aliens. I learned that “popular” requests are redundant. Making six consecutive Little Mermaids is mind numbing for me, if I can toss in an alien, motorcycle or T-Rex, and it breaks up the monotonous run of duplicating a design, I stay fresh and creative.
There have been times when I needed to be an armory and dispatch swords, and have created special lines for quick weapons, hats, or flowers. Whatever I feel is popular and in high demand, I will create a line. If the demand stops, or I finish the line, I may reevaluate the line and ask, “Does anybody in line want a hat? The hat line starts here!”
The splitting of one line helps with cutting a line off also. Instead of having a line that is 12 people long, you can break the line down, moving the ends of the lines closer. This allows me to tell all late comers the line is closed.
I have used splitting the line at large birthday parties, festivals – when I am trying to leave, and private parties where time is plentiful. Using this technique usually assures that returning customers are plentiful as well.