When David and Victoria Beckham want to throw a party for their sons they give her a call. If Take That's Mark Owen and the City of Life actor Jason Flemyng fancy boogying to children's pop music, she's the one they go to. And Abu Dhabi parents will soon be able to call on Amanda Frolich, the gym boss turned celebrity children's party organiser.
Amanda's Action Club has become an established party organiser among celebrity parents in London and the UK Home Counties. In response to requests from friends in the UAE, Frolich will put on a showcase Easter party at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on April 23 to promote the arrival in the capital of her fitness-focused children's parties.
"You could say this party has been planned for about a year," says Frolich. "Back in March 2010 one of my clients urged me to take my parties to the Emirates. They told me that parents were crying out for affordable parties with my kind of angle, especially for children under five."
That angle is a combination of Frolich's health and fitness background, coupled with her personal desire to help combat obesity in children. "My parties don't involve clowns," she says. "There's no sitting around either. All the children have props and musical instruments and the parents are enticed into taking part too - and they love it!"
What began as a weekend sideline for Frolich while she worked as a full-time gym manager in Chiswick, London, has developed into a highly regarded operation with testimonies from famous people who have hired her for their children's parties. "I entertained the children at David and Victoria Beckham's World Cup party in 2006 and have done parties for TV celebs including Amanda Holden, Sarah Beeney, and Catherine Tate," she said. She has also been called in by Katie Price (aka Jordan), Jason Donovan and Colin Firth.
"The parties are very inclusive with a view to getting the whole family involved," said Frolich. "Too often parents take a back seat - but give them a musical prop like a pair of maracas and even the most reluctant dads will join in. That's how I got Mark Owen and Jason Flemyng up and dancing at Mark's son's party."
The rise in popularity of professionally organised children's parties continues in the UK despite the economic downturn. "There are more and more of us doing this kind of thing now and I'm busier than ever," said Frolich.
In the UAE, the pressure to accommodate guests, provide food and treats and most of all to ensure the birthday boy or girl has a great time has also led to an increasing demand for party organisers.
"We wanted to take the stress out of it all so we called in a party organiser for our daughter Leah's fifth birthday party," said Nicki Shadwell, a mother who lives in Abu Dhabi. "We had 35 children, plus parents and family, coming to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club so we called in an events planner and let them take on the hassle of it. They were superb - so much so that we called them back for our son Simon's party, this time with only 20 kids to contend with."
Those parties were put together by Chelsea Munday-Van der Spek, a former Qantas flight attendant who set up TinyBeanEvents.com in Dubai in 2009, and through whom Amanda's Action Club parties can be booked. "I helped out with parties and functions at hotels when I was working for the airline," said Munday-Van der Spek. "When my husband changed jobs and we moved to the UAE I noticed that kids' parties weren't really being catered for so I set up Tiny Bean."
Munday-Van der Spek's healthy eating-focused children's parties tie in with Frolich's fitness-and-fun philosophy. "I'm hoping to do some work with Amanda's Action Club when they're here," said Munday-Van der Spek. "For our parties we steer clear of junk food and give the children activity toys in their gift bags as opposed to sweets that can cause them to be 'wired' at the party and the drive home too."
Aware that not every parent can call in specialist organisers, Munday-Van der Spek also has a few tips for mums and dads looking to give their child a birthday treat to remember. "If you can, choose a theme or a colour or character that reflects your child or that they really like then try to incorporate it - that way the party is truly 'theirs' and not just 'in fashion'.
"Plan the party when your child is at their best. There's no point having an afternoon party if they're happiest in the morning. Also keep the food simple." Munday-Van der Spek recommends fruit and vegetable dips and keeping the sweets to a minimum. "The birthday cake should be enough sugar for one day - and remember that kids love popcorn."
Finally, she says, never forget to take lots of photos. "Each birthday is such a special occasion for the whole family, these are what create great memories as the child grows up so designate someone to take photos for you so that you're in them too."
The popularity of Frolich's parties in particular may lie in the underlying philosophy. Even the parties aimed at the under-five age group have both an active and educational slant. "We use games that are designed to stimulate the children and even help in their motor-neurone development," Frolich said.
After organising a party for Katie Price's children, Frolich was invited to help with an event at the special-needs school Price's son Harvey attends.
"The activities follow those laid down in the Early Years Foundation classes at UK schools so they're very stimulating but there's no magic formula as such - we just use props like Koosh balls and play games that subconsciously help a child develop things like their pincer grip, which they're taught when first learning to write."
To book an Amanda's Action Club party in Dubai or Abu Dhabi contact Chelsea Munday-Van der Spek on 055 843 6574 or e-mail email@example.com