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Step-by-step: children's disco

Discos can be held for adults, families, or children, but requirements differ. A children's disco means thinking about safeguarding as well as entertainment!   

  1. Agree a date and book a venue. If hiring a professional DJ, book early, especially at busy times such as the run up to Christmas or the wedding season. If not, check that any equipment you need is available and in full, working order. Giving your event a theme can help create a buzz of excitement. Popular ideas include crazy hair, shorts and shades, or monsters bash (for Halloween). For older children, how about a roller disco? Find suppliers in our online directory.
  2. Check which licences you need or verify requirements with your local authority. As a rule of thumb, if you're having live or recorded music (where copyright applies), you should obtain a PRS for Music licence - your venue may already have this. You may also need a PPL licence. You will need a TEN - see tips and advice below. Submit your TEN at least ten working days before your event.
  3. Start publicising your event with posters around the area about four-six weeks before the date (for professional poster solutions go to Charity Print Shop). Good practice is to sell tickets in advance and adopt a ticket-only policy on the door. This helps control numbers and is a good security safeguard. Sign children in against a pre-prepared list, taking contact numbers for parents/carers as an extra precaution.
  4. Recruit enough volunteers. Start signing up volunteers to help set up, supervise children, cover entrance and exits, staff refreshments, monitor toilet areas and to clean up after the event.
  5. On the day... Set up your venue with decorations, refreshments and entertainment - face painting is always popular, and party games are a great way to keep younger dancers entertained. You might also be able to offer a karaoke element, with a list of available songs - check with your DJ.

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Children's disco tips and advice

Regulated entertainment: It's a common misconception that a Temporary Event Notice is only required for serving or selling alcohol at your event. This is not the case! A TEN is needed for a disco because recorded music is classified as 'regulated entertainment' under the Licensing Act 2003. This is currently under review - sign up to receive our newsletters for the latest news.
Music licence: If featuring any form of live or recorded music, a PRS for Music and a PPL licence are required to ensure that royalties are distributed to the musical artists and composers you are listening to. Many venues hold these licences, which will cover any events held there, so it's worth checking.
Boosting profits: Increase income on the day by selling glow products and by running a tuck shop. If your audience is too young to be trusted with cash, include a glow bracelet or finger torch in with the ticket price and charge slightly more for entry.
Safeguarding: If children are not being accompanied by their parents, check your adult:child ratios and start securing volunteers. Supervising adults may need DBS certificates, although this is not mandatory. For guidance, visit the Safe Network website.

Children's disco success story

Clive Cini, outgoing PTA chair, Courthouse Junior School, Berkshire (390 pupils) said: 'Our discos are very popular, and make around £1,000 each time. The discos used to be held on a Saturday morning, without a proper DJ kit, and we were only charging £1 per child. However, we have found that the more professional the disco, the more children want to come and the more parents are willing to pay. Our discos are for pupils in Years 3-6 and we usually run them in the last week of every term. We charge £2.50 per ticket in advance, or £3 on the night. During the evening, we sell drinks, glowsticks and hot food (pizza and hotdogs), but no sweets. We buy a big shipment of glow products from The Glow Company once a year, usually sold at £1 per item. We also run a raffle (10p a ticket) with about 15 donated prizes, or leftover prizes from fairs. The disco never runs for more than 90 minutes as the children get overtired. Music plays from 5-6pm, we draw the raffle at 6pm and then finish off the last 20 minutes with some 'big' music numbers! The DJ visits the school in the week of the disco and does a brief 'Don't Forget the Disco this Friday!' in assembly. We don't issue paper tickets - names are checked off against the class lists.'

Download a PDF of this step-by-step guide to running a children's disco

The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by an organisation, based on the guidance provided. 

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