Cotton Candy Machine: Rental item of the week

Large fluffy pile of blue and pink cotton candy

Welcome to Rental item of the week, where every Thursday Bouncer Rental NW highlights pros and cons of a different rental item. We provide an in-depth review and suggestions on how to incorporate the rental into your next event. Our goal is to inspire event planners to be creatively bold and move outside the normal event scope. 

Cotton Candy machines are our most popular concessions rental. They can be picked up by customers, delivered, and even staffed. They are a wildly popular choice for school carnivals and birthday parties.  This sweet treat is known for its pink or blue colors (vanilla and blueberry), but can be ordered in several other flavors including lime, watermelon, strawberry, bubblegum, apple, banana, cherry, and more.

The act of making cotton candy can be viewed as more of an art than it is a science. Any individual is capable of creating cotton candy, but getting it to look like pink treat you see in the movies can be very challenging and requires quite a bit of practice. Most cotton candy is gathered out of the machine using a paper cone. The best practice for gathering is to rotate the cone while moving it around the outside of the collecting ring. By rolling the cone in your hand like you were having it travel around the ring, you are able to collect a fairly substantial amount of the sugar product. Moving methodically will allow the candy to gather evenly, making it look nice and fluffy. After there is enough treat on the stick, it is suggested that the cotton candy be placed in a bag face town, with the handle of the cone poking out of the top. By grabbing both corners of the bag and flipping it around a few times, you can seal off the top and trap air in the bag. This keeps the cotton candy fluffy and prevents it from being squished before consumption.

If you choose to switch flavor of cotton candy and are only using one machine, you can simply add the other flavor on top of the existing one. This will create a brief period where the floss coming out of the machine will be mixed (i.e. pink and blue will create purple cotton candy). Once all of the previous flavor has been used and is out of the machine, the next color will start.

While all of this work can be done by anyone, Is there a preference to hire staff to operate the rental? There are a few things to consider when deciding on staffing for cotton candy. First, is there a person that can be dedicated to making the dessert during your whole event? At a corporate event, the answer is probably ‘no’, while at a school carnival, there will typically be a large number of parent volunteers that can spend their time laboring over cooked sugar. The other thing to consider is how nice you want the end product to look. A staff member from our event planning company is much more likely to produce beautiful, fluffy, pink, cotton candy than a chunky deformed rock of sugar.

If your event is a fundraiser or non-profit that needs to make back some of the costs for hosting the event, cotton candy can be used to help offset costs. One carton of product makes around 60 servings that can be sold for three to five dollars each. Even at the low end that means one carton can produce $160 in profit after offsetting for the cost of the carton.  This rental can easily cover it’s own costs in addition to offsetting some of the cost the rest of the event incurs.

There are other elegant options for presenting and using cotton candy. It is not necessary to just hand out giant amounts. You can use cotton candy as a garnish on beverages or on top of various desserts.  It could even be used a decoration on an elaborate dessert display. If your event is outdoors, you need to be mindful of the rain. Cotton Candy melts on contact with water. If your event is out doors in the Seattle area, make sure to rent a canopy.

Cotton candy is loved by many and disliked by few. Providing such a delicious experience at your next occasion will certainly aid in the production of a memorable event.


Inflatable Obstacle Course: Rental item of the week

Front view of a massive colorful obstacle course

Welcome to Rental item of the week, where every Thursday Bouncer Rental NW highlights pros and cons of a different rental item. We provide an in-depth review and suggestions on how to incorporate the rental into your next event. Our goal is to inspire event planners to be creatively bold and move outside the normal event scope. 

Welcome Seattle Event Planners! This week’s RIOTW is the inflatable obstacle course. The great thing about about obstacle courses is that they appeal to all age groups. Unlike a traditional bounce house that is only designed for kids up to age 12, teenagers and adults can participate in races. Most courses have separate lanes for the participants, meaning that parents can race against their children without risking a potentially dangerous interaction. The biggest cause of injuries in inflatables comes from larger participants falling on the smaller ones and obstacle courses conveniently rid events of this issue.

In addition to great safety features, obstacle courses can be incredibly large, impressive rental items that can help you theme out your event. They have high throughput, allowing two individuals to enter the ride approximately every 30 seconds (at least 240 people per hour). Rides with high throughput are always preferable for large events because of their ability to constantly entertain more guests. As opposed to a bounce house that can only service 6 to 8 children every few minutes, the constant flow of guests gives the added psychological impression of constantly moving lines.

So what exactly does an inflatable obstacle course consists of? Most courses consist of  four different actions; weaving, squeezing, climbing, and sliding. More often than not, the challenges present themselves in that order, though on larger tracks there can be multiple iterations of each. Participants start by weaving through multiple upright vinyl pillars. The pillars aren’t particularly difficult to get past, but when you are running through racing your best friend, they can definitely trip you up. Following the weaving section comes two horizontal vinyl columns so close together you can’t always see through them. You have to force the air out of the baffles and push your way through. The limited space makes this harder for adults than it is for children. Players will then encounter a wall of varying heights (depending on the obstacle course). The wall will usually have foot and hand holds and isn’t particularly challenging to climb, but doing so fast will take some serious effort. The final and most fun leg of the course is the slide. Guest will race down the slide (feet first!) and out the exit in attempts to be the first one out and rejoice in their glory.

If you want to increase the challenge, you can rent several obstacle courses, or incorporate other non-bouncy challenge items. Great options include last weeks Monster Trikes, mud pits, tires, and whatever else you might be able to get your hands on that is lying around.

So now that you have established that obstacle courses are definitely something you want to be a part of your event, how you can integrate the attraction into the overall mood of the party? Fortunately, these inflatables come in a large number of varieties. Match them to your events theme, or get inspired to create a theme from the one you choose to rent. Here are some examples of themed courses:

Wild West – Get your cowboy on! Clearly a good rental for Western themed parties. Other great events it can compliment are Chili Cook-offs, Rodeos, Ho-downs, and any other Southwest special occasions.

Treasure of the Caribbean – This pirate themed obstacle course is both impressive in size and decor. While it is an obvious choice for pirate themed events, you could also have it at a pirates of the Caribbean outdoor movie party, seafood cook off, or day at the pier.

Crash Course – The mother of all race car themed inflatables. This massive figure-eight race track is both challenging and great looking. A great centerpiece for any Nascar or Formula 1 party.

When booking your obstacle course rental, remember that these inflatables are typically on the larger side of things. If your event is indoors make sure you have ample room in a high ceilinged gymnasium or conference space. If outdoors, just make sure your party area is large enough and you plan for the footprint of the ride accordingly. Thanks for joining us for this weeks Rental item of the week. We look forward to setting up an obstacle course at your next Seattle company picnic location.


Boost Attendance: Let us help you publicize your upcoming events!

Public Community Events

When it comes to event planning, low attendance can be one of the worst feelings.  Even if your event is free, poor publicity can lead to an absence of attendees and disheartened spirits. Fortunately there are plenty of outlets available for making your event known. Social media has made it possible to spread information instantly to large specific groups of people, and empower them to share your event. If you book through us, our event software allows for easy event sharing by consolidating the details of your event in an easy one click Facebook integrated post.

If you have an upcoming public event in the Northwest, we would be happy to host information about your event here on our blog. It doesn’t matter if we didn’t plan your event or if you haven’t rented items from us, we support community interaction in the support of community health and growth. If the opportunity to share your event here interests you, please email us at [email protected] to get in touch with our blogging team.  For other tips on boosting event attendance, check out this post entitled ‘Show Up!

Happy Planning!


High School Graduation Celebrations

Celebrate High School Graduation with a Rockin' Grad Party

As Seattle embraces it’s wettest season, High School Seniors everywhere are bunkering down to complete their courses. High School graduation is less than four months away, and many of the Grad Night planning committees are well underway. Groups of thoughtful parents all over the state are carefully budgeting and planning for their student’s last Hoorah before college. One of the primary benefits of graduation parties is creating a safe, controlled environment for students to celebrate while preventing the use of drugs and alcohol.   Unless the parents have children that have previously graduated, chances are this is their first experience planning a Grad Party. Fortunately we have some tips to get you started.

Multiple Locations

Most graduation parties typically take place at three separate locations. The newly graduated students are whisked away in a bus following their celebratory ceremony.  Picking the right locations can be difficult depending on your groups size and personality. Some typical locations include bowling alleys, Go-Kart facilities, or large rental halls.  The groups will spend approximately three hours at each location, providing the graduates with fun throughout the entire night. Depending on how intricate your parent planning wants to be, each location can have it’s own theme, or an overall theme for the night. It is typically a good idea for two of your locations to have some sort of ‘built-in’ entertainment (i.e., bowling at the bowling alley).  When selecting your facilities, keep in mind that the location won’t be the only source of fun.

Filling the Space with Food, Fun, and Games

Almost more important than selecting venues, is making sure that each location is filled with fun activities, food, and music.  Every location should have some sort of food and beverage option. Check with your venues, some will require that you utilize their catering options. Others won’t have built in options, but even Safeway Sandwiches or Costco Pizza is an adequate option. You don’t have to have a full meal at every location, snacking options will often fit the bill.  For music, you can book a DJ, or just rent a sound system and pick your own playlist. When it comes to other filler entertainment there are a ton of options including laser tag, mechanical bulls, photo booths, bouncy boxing, and much more.

Quality Entertainment for Quality Kids

Keep in mind that this is your child’s special night. This sort of opportunity deservers a special performance. Typically reserved for the last location, it is recommended that you provide at least one high quality entertainer for the evening. The two typical choices are Magicians and Hypnotists.  Hypnotists are typically the better choice, but you run the risk of no one actually being hypnotized.  This is a rare occurrence, and successful shows are usually worth the risk. Magicians can be great, but unless they are very high quality, the kids can get easily bored and move onto other things. Other great options to fill an hour of your night could be a comedian or a stunt man.

These simple guidelines are sure to help you create a memorable experience for every Senior Grad. Remember to always make the event you own with creative decorations, and special activities that fit your group’s personality. If you need some assistance with planning you can always leave it to the event planning experts. Keep your event safe, and congratulations to all of the Seniors!


How to Rent a Bounce House

Bouncy Castle


When planning a children’s birthday party, parents often don’t know where to begin. There are countless options and ideas out there. If you have decided to rent a bounce house for your kid’s party there are a few steps you need to take in order for your event to run smoothly and make sure your guests have a safe, fun time.

1. Pick a Date and Time

The first thing you need to accomplish is picking a date for your party.  Most vendors have a limited supply of bounce houses and a restricted delivery schedule. Knowing what day and time you want the bounce house for your party will help the bounce house company determine what availability they have.  The other advantage of picking a date and time early on is that you can send out invitations soon enough for your guests to reserve the date. After all, you want people to come to you party!

2. Choose a Location

Knowing where you are going to setup the bounce house is almost as important as knowing when you need it. Different companies have different restrictions on where they can put inflatables. Often, if your party is going to be in a public park, additional insurance or staff are required to use the inflatable. If you aren’t planning on hosting the party at your house, the inflatable company needs to know where the party is going to be so they can give you more accurate delivery charges. Finally, different surfaces require unique supplies to secure them properly; knowing the location of your bounce house can insure safety for all party participants.

3. Select a Vendor

Depending on where you live, there may be multiple bounce house rental companies available. Pricing shouldn’t be your only consideration when it comes to picking a vendor. Reputation, Safety, and Insurance are all critical aspects of any company you choose. Any legitimate inflatable rental company will have all of their equipment inspected by the state and insured.  However, this is only one piece to the puzzle; an inspected company doesn’t necessarily guarantee a safely operated company.  A great inflatable company will hire their own employees, run background trucks, and train the employees to setup and operate inflatables in the safest manner popular. Don’t be afraid to ask the company questions about their operations, especially when it comes to your family’s safety.

4. Let your Child Pick Out their Favorite Bounce House

Here comes the fun part! Let your child pick out their favorite bounce house from the company you choose. Bounce houses come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and themes.  Whatever bounce house your child chooses, it’s sure to be a hit.

5. Check the Space and Power requirements

Every bounce house can be a different shape and size. Make sure you check with your vendor on how much space you need. Typically you want the space to be at least a little bit bigger the actual inflatable. You need room for the entrance, and don’t want the sides rubbing against a fence, bush, or house.  Check how many circuits of power you need. Most basic bounce houses only require on circuit of power. If your bounce house is larger it might require two circuits. A circuit in a house is not just a single outlet, but a combination of outlets on the same breaker. Make sure you aren’t running any other equipment on the same circuit when the delivery drivers setup your event. Popping a circuit is never fun and can lead to delays in your party.

6. Book your Party

Once you have all the details confirmed, work with your inflatable company to submit payment and a signed contract. Make sure you have a copy of your invoice that shows you have paid. Make sure you understand their cancellation policies and operating rules for weather in case its raining. Hold onto your final invoice in case there are any issues with the company later.

7. Confirm your Reservation the Week of the Event

No matter who you book through, it is always a good idea to confirm your reservation a couple days prior to your event. The event industry is a busy one, especially during the summer, sometimes things get missed. Some companies will call you to do their own confirmations, if they don’t make sure you make a call on a weekday during normal business hours to confirm your reservation. This is also the best time ask any last minute questions you might have about your upcoming party.

8. Bounce all Day!

The party is here! It’s time for fun and games. Your delivery drivers should arrive at least 30 minutes before your booked time slot. The should be friendly, courteous, quick, and safe. Once they are setup and on their way to other deliveries, you can have all the bouncing fun you want! Remember that you are responsible for safety once the unit is setup, and that the delivery drivers can only do so much. Follow the rules that they give you to keep all of your guests safe. Most of all, have a great time!


Tips for Planning a School Carnival

Girl playing on an inflatable ride at her school carnival!

Your school carnival will be the talk of the town!

Schools all over Washington have been hosting carnivals for the past several decades. One of the unique features of a school carnival is that the event is organized by a different group of PTA parents every year.  This can give the Carnival a fresh look every year, but also means that the planners are starting from scratch. Often, the PTA doesn’t know where to start this daunting task, so here are a few tips when you are ready to get started.

1. Pick A Date

Pick a date for your upcoming school calendar

June 7th, 2013 is booking up fast!

Before you can do anything else, you need to decide when you will be entertaining hundreds of families. Most schools host their carnivals onsite, so make sure you communicate with your principal on what day you would like to celebrate.  Most school carnivals take place on a Friday evening starting around 5pm.  Consider picking a Monday through Thursday instead. Many equipment vendors will give you a 20% discount for not booking on a Friday through Sunday. Additionally, carnivals that have switched their date to a weekday see higher attendance as people haven’t left for weekend trips or other family activities. If you are charging to participate, more people means more money for your school.



2. Decide Whether To Charge Or Not

Budget, demographics, and previous history are all important variables to consider when making this decision. Knowing who is attending your carnival is the most important. Can the attending families afford to pay for tickets if you decide to charge?  What is your PTA budget and will you be able to eat the cost of hosting the carnival for free? Have you charged in previous years? If you have charged, how much did you charge per ticket?  We have seen successful carnivals that are free to attend and participate as well as pay-to-play events that actually generate money for the school. Make sure you take everything into consideration when making the determination.


3. Know Your District’s Risk Management Regulations

Every school district has different restrictions on what they allow at the schools. These rules and regulations are determined by ‘Risk Management Groups’ and are constantly changing. Recently, King County School District’s risk management group changed their rules on inflatables. Any inflatables that kid’s can enter and jump around in are no longer allowed. This includes obstacle courses, bouncers, and combo units. Interestingly enough, inflatable slides are still a viable option with their new rules. If you are planning a school carnival in Seattle and you have depended on traditional inflatables in the past, you will have to look at alternative entertainment options. Another common risk management rule is no standing water at the event. If your school has had a dunk tank in the past, you will have to look into dunk tank alternatives. Whatever equipment you decide on, make sure you communicate with your risk management director to avoid a potential conflict.


Pirate themed events are fun for everyone!4. Choose A Theme

Increase the excitement at you carnival by choosing a unique theme every year. While not absolutely necessary, it can make everything a lot more fun for all of the families involved. Choose from themes like Plundering Pirates, Wild West Rodeo, Hawaiian Luau, or Classic Carnival.  Pick your equipment and decorations to match. You can make most of your own decorations using construction paper and other simple craft items. Themes will help turn your event into an experience that families won’t soon forget.


5. Pick Your Entertainment Vendors

There are plenty of activities that you can host without the help of a professional vendor.  Some options are a cake walk, homemade carnival games, pizza by the slice, and field activities. If you want to bring in unique entertainment such as inflatables, performers, or mechanical rides, search for local rental companies and call them to determine pricing and availability. Before selecting your vendor make sure they are a fully insured, licensed, and inspected company and that safety is their top priority. If you have picked a theme, find out if they have inflatables or carnival games that coordinate with the event.

Once you have selected a rental company, you will need to work with them to get the equipment you want within your budget. You can often get discounts by providing volunteers to run the attractions. If you are having trouble enlisting parent volunteers, offer incentives such as free tickets or food for their children.


6. Execute Your Event

Once you have all your ducks in a row, you are ready to have a school carnival! The week of the event, touch base with your entertainment vendors and verify times, location, and equipment. Make sure you have your army of volunteers lined up to help decorate and coordinate.  Double check with the school facilities management that you have enough power to run all of your attractions. If everything is ready to go, your school carnival should go off without a hitch.

You should now have some direction if you are just starting the process of hosting a school carnival. It’s almost March, so make sure you start planning if you haven’t already. Rental companies book out early and have limited availability. If you still have questions, just ask your local rental company! They will be more than happy to assist you with planning every step of the way.