Susannah Warren is on the hunt for the perfect children’s party to celebrate her son turning four!
In my experience, children’s birthday parties are nearly always things to be endured, rather than enjoyed. If I never have to stand around in a cold hall to witness another entertainer do his patter, it will be too soon. And I have vowed never again to squidge a bouncy castle in my bijoux London garden in a desperate attempt to keep little ones entertained before tea and cake.
The problem is: what do you do with a whole bunch of over-excitable four-year-olds (or schoolchildren of any age, quite frankly) when you can’t rely on the English weather to be kind and don’t want the stress of throwing a party at home? It was my son, who was about to turn four, who came up with the solution: a trampolining party. Genius idea. Why didn’t I think of that?
Fortunately, Oxygen Freejumping, which opened its first trampoline park in Acton last summer, already has. Its party offering is simple perfection: an hour of freejumping in the park, followed by an hour in a private party room with pizza (margherita or pepperoni), squash and a TV for music or other entertainment. You can bring any other party extras you like, too.
There can’t be many better places to release 10 testosterone-filled boys than this monster 30,000 square foot bouncing warehouse with its 150 connected trampolines, an obstacle course, foam pit, runway and airbag. They can literally bounce off the walls – and no one cares. In fact, that’s the whole point. Phew!
On Wilfred’s big day, we were welcomed on arrival by our lovely party host, who handed out the park’s trademark yellow grippy socks (free) to all the jumpers. Children under the age of five have to jump with an adult (2:1 ratio), so quite a few parents had to don them, too. Then it was into a holding room for a quick video safety briefing and time to bounce! (The parents who weren’t jumping headed to the café upstairs for a front-row seat of the action, while our party host stowed all our shoes and bags safely away in our designated room, which avoided the hassle of lockers.)
I have to admit to being a little concerned when we saw lots of much bigger kids in the queue and found out that the park was at capacity due to it being the school holidays. But I needn’t have worried at all. The warehouse is so big that there’s space for everyone to let loose without anyone getting hurt or frustrated. And there are lots of safety monitors on hand to predict and prevent any mishaps.
Our gang charged around, ricocheting from one trampoline to the other, trying to do tricks and flips to impress each other, as well as launching themselves onto the big inflatable pillow and headfirst into the foam pit. Us parents couldn’t help ourselves either: we tried out our old-school moves and sent the little ones into orbit.
After an hour of almost uninterrupted jumping, we dragged 10 sweaty but jubilant boys off the trampolines and headed upstairs for some much-needed refreshments. We found ourselves in a space-themed room with supercool UV lights that lit up our clothing and the party food, much to the delight of the birthday boy and friends. Pizza was devoured, jug upon jug of water and squash drunk and a Spiderman cake (my own rather hard-fought creation) demolished.
It was a huge success all round. And apart from having a lot of fun with my son and his friends (and doling out the requisite party bags on departure), I did the square route of nothing. Now that’s my kind of party.