Bounce houses are a ton of fun for children of all ages, but picking the right bounce house for your event is important to get the most enjoyment out of it. A bounce house that’s too big for young children can be dangerous, while one that’s too small for older people is no fun at all. After all, you can’t bounce much if you exceed the weight limit or are simply too tall, right?
You’ll want to consider a bunch of different factors when you’re looking at the available bounce houses, to pick one that’s right for your event. From gathering the information for planning your event to simply knowing your budget and the age of the attendees, we’ll give you a checklist of information you should consider.
Number of Attendees
First and foremost, you’re going to want to figure out how many people are going to be attending your event. When you’re considering renting one or more bounce houses or other inflatables, you need to know the number of people who will be interested in using them.
A small birthday party for a handful of young children can usually get away with a single small bounce house. A larger gathering for children may want more than one small bounce house or a larger bounce house. A fair-style community gathering, such as a church event or a corporate outing with families in attendance, may want to splurge on several larger inflatables.
In general, more attendees means either more bounce houses or a larger bounce house. Always remember that every bounce house has a cap on the number of people who can be inside using it at any given time, and you don’t want to end up with long lines of children waiting to play.
Age of Attendees
The age of the attendees will matter to a certain extent with bounce houses, though it’s not a hard limit. What do we mean?
A bounce house will typically have manufacturer instructions specifying the minimum and maximum height and weight for people using the inflatable. Children can vary quite a bit in both height and weight for any given age. Thus, saying a bounce house is suitable for “ages 5-10” or what have you isn’t going to be very accurate.
Instead, you want to consider the height and weight of the children who intend to use the bounce house. If you aren’t sure of the ages, heights, and weights, you might consider renting more than one bounce house to cover an array of different sized young people.
There are very small bounce houses designed to be safe and fun for toddlers and very young children. Most bounce houses, however, tend to be geared towards a slightly older audience. Then, of course, there are bounce houses, slides, and other inflatables that are perfectly suitable for adults as well. You could end up renting three or more inflatables to cover the full range of ages and sizes of people attending your event.
Weight limits are typically either 150 or 200 lbs for most inflatables, though large adult-scale inflatables can have higher limits, and very small bounce houses designed for toddlers might have smaller weight limits. Height, meanwhile, tends to range from a low minimum of 34 inches tall (just under three feet) to 60 inches tall at a maximum (five feet). Some larger inflatables, like large slides, allow even taller people, though the weight limit might still be a little low.
Available Space for the Bounce House
Another important consideration is the amount of space you have available to set up your bounce houses. You’ll need enough space to fully inflate the bounce house while keeping away from obstacles such as walls that could lead to a dangerous situation, such as nearby trees or other obstacles that could puncture or damage the bounce house. You may also need to leave some room to tie down the bounce house, as well as space for any generators if they are necessary to keep the bounce houses inflated.
Some small bounce houses are small enough to be used indoors safely, in a large room or gymnasium. Keep in mind that your bounce house will need a source of power to feed the blower, and that power might not be available from a typical outlet (though it usually is; check with your rental company). You can’t run a generator indoors – the carbon monoxide is a health hazard – so if you don’t have access to power, you can’t run a bounce house. Additionally, remember that the blower will make noise, and noise in an enclosed space can be unpleasant or potentially damaging.
In general, the smallest bounce houses tend to be about six feet on a side, with low ceilings and a small amount of bounce so as to be suitable for young children and toddlers. Larger bounce houses, seven to eight feet on a side, are more suited to young children above the age of 5-7. Children from ages 8 to 12 or so, depending on their height and weight, maybe enjoy the 11 and 12-foot bounce houses instead. And, of course, there are larger inflatables, 20-30 feet to a side, available for older children and young adults, or larger groups of younger children.
No matter what age or size the children or adults using a bounce house, make sure you have someone on hand to supervise the situation. Maintaining a reasonable number of people inside the bounce house at any given time helps avoid injuries and misuse.
Also bear in mind that many inflatables are not simple square bounce houses. Modern bounce houses can have tunnels, slides, and more exotic shapes built-in, for a wider variety of fun. That’s great, but it also means they take up more space.
Clearance for Inflatables
Another space-related consideration you should keep in mind is the height of the bounce house. Most bounce houses are designed to have plenty of clearance for the children inside to bounce without risking hitting their heads and falling awkwardly. That means they have high (for their size) ceilings, meaning you need to make sure there’s space for them. This means watching out for low ceilings in indoor usage, or obstacles like low power lines, tree branches, or awnings that could get in the way of an outdoor setup.
Most bounce houses will require at least 15 feet of clearance vertically, and most larger bounce houses can need as much as 20 feet. One of our largest requires at least 22 feet, while small-scale bounce houses might only need ten feet. Be sure to check the dimensions of any bounce house you’re interested in renting, don’t just look at some pictures and assume you have space.
Available Ground Type
While we’re on the topic of obstacles and space considerations, you will also want to check into the type of ground in the space you have available. Typically you’ll probably want to set up your bounce house on the grass (on your lawn or in the back yard), on a parking lot or driveway, or on a hard or mostly-hard floor outdoors for the smallest options.
As far as the ground is concerned, you want to make sure of a few things.
- Make sure the surface material is safe. Concrete isn’t a good idea for some slides or small bounce houses where the ground is closer and easier to impact. Grass tends to be softer and safer for most situations.
- Make sure that, if your bounce house needs to be tied down, you have a way to do it. Usually, this requires stakes and ropes to secure the inflatable to the ground, which you can’t really use in a parking lot in most situations.
- Most inflatables are safe to set up on a concrete surface, so long as you make sure the surface is flat and free of holes, debris, and other obstacles.
- Make sure that, if you’re renting a water-based inflatable like a water slide, that you have a place to drain the water safely when you’re done. You don’t want to flood a building’s basement or a parking lot and create a hazard if you can help it.
We generally do not recommend using a bounce house indoors unless it’s a small inflatable for young children and there’s plenty of space.
Number of Bounce Houses to Rent
When you know the number and the general height and weight ranges of the attendees for your event, you can determine how many inflatables you want to rent.
If you’re limited in available space, you will have to choose between one larger inflatable or two smaller bounce houses. If you have a broad range of attendees, you may want one smaller and one larger bounce house, with an additional inflatable like a slide or obstacle course to entertain others.
Always try to balance out the number of inflatables you rent with the amount of space, the number of attendees, and the range of sizes of those attendees. It does you no good to rent a bounce house that won’t be used by more than a couple of people or to only rent one and end up with a lengthy line.
Bounce Houses, Slides, or Other Inflatables
Remember that there are more options than just bounce houses available to rent for your party.
If it’s a hot day, maybe you’ll want a bounce house that has a water slide as well.
- Bounce houses alone are great for simple jumping and bouncing activities.
- Hybrid bounce houses have additional features, such as small slides or tunnels built into them, to give more available activities to those playing in them.
- Full-size inflatable slides can be much larger than bounce houses, though they typically only have one activity available, that being sliding down them. These may be single or double lane and can be 10-15 feet high at their deck, so allow 20+ feet of clearance.
- Water slides are inflatable slides with additional water added to make it a smoother sliding experience, coupled with a pool at the end for a fun landing.
- Other water inflatables include horizontal slides, water battles, and dunk tanks, to add variety to wet summer fun.
- Inflatable obstacle courses may include some features from other types of inflatables, including slides and bounce rooms, but are generally larger and more complex. Very large inflatable obstacle courses can be 60 feet long or more.
Remember that a robust event has entertainment options for everyone attending. While inflatables are great for children and young adults, you’ll want to couple them with more adult entertainment for the parents and other adults in attendance as well.
Budget to Spend
One final consideration for renting bounce houses is simply the amount of money you have available to spend on rentals. Remember that, in addition to renting inflatable entertainment for your guests, you’ll have other expenses with any event you choose to run. Things like a catering budget, food trucks, venue rental, surcharges for power and water usage, prizes for games, fees for bands and other entertainers, and a whole lot more can add up. Make sure you have enough money to go around.
Keeping all of these considerations in mind might seem like a daunting task, but it’s easier once you have an idea of your guest list. Just make sure to get people to RSVP so you know how many children of what ages and sizes are attending, so you can plan accordingly. Bounce houses are flexible enough that, so long as they’re sized appropriately, you’ll be able to entertain just about anyone.