My sons have been to a couple of birthday parties in the past with "bouncy houses," and to this day, those parties remain in their mental Birthday Party Hall of Fame. I decided to rent one for my son's 5th birthday last weekend, and the bottom line is: if you can stomach the price (about $225 for the day), having a bouncy house at your kid’s birthday party is never a bad idea, as long as you enforce basic safety rules.
My son is the kindergarten version of Napoleon Dynamite, so naturally he wanted to have a "mythic creatures" birthday party. I started brainstorming ideas for the party about a month in advance, scouring the Internet for inspiration and ideas.
I came across a dragon bouncy house, offered by a family-owned Oak Creek company called Fun Services, Inc. I knew immediately that I had to rent this thing. (On a side note, Fun Services was a superb company to deal with. They have outstanding customer service reps and their drivers were friendly and timely.)
Aside from the dragon bouncer, I came up with a variety of games to play at the party: pin-the-horn-on-the-unicorn, a dragon egg hunt in our large garden, a gargoyle piñata and jousting with swords twisted from long, skinny balloons.
But none of it really mattered because, for the most part, my son and his seven little guests just wanted to bounce. And bounce and bounce and bounce and bounce.
Bouncing, mind you, is hard work. I spent about 10 minutes in the bouncy house and found it a massive cardiovascular challenge. My kids spent hours in there without issue. This leads me to the hidden bonus of the bouncy house: you’ll end up with kids who, by nightfall, are exhausted and sleep like a sedated Pegasus.
I was slightly concerned about bounce-related injuries, but luckily, other then one bit lip, we didn’t have any. The key is to let the kids bounce in small groups and to make sure the groups consist of kids that are generally the same size. Obviously, you wouldn’t put a 2-year-old in the bouncy house with three 8-year-olds.
Both of my kids asked me if we could keep the bouncy house forever, and they were certainly blue while watching the Fun Services employees deflate the bouncer. But despite their disappointment during the bouncer's departure, it has been a few days since the party, and my son continues to tell me, at least three times a day, that his mythic creatures party was his "best birthday party in the universe."
Bounce on, little man.
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