Birthday Balloons – Choosing the right balloon for the birthday party


My livelihood has been balloon twisting at private and corporate parties, and I have been working around balloons since 1985 and have seen many arrangements.  Let us start with the basic balloon types that people use at birthday parties.

Latex Balloon

These balloons are not rubber balloons but are latex balloons.  Therefore, you need to be careful of people with latex allergies.  Many hospitals and schools will have rules that prohibit latex balloons from coming into their facility.  So check first to see if they allow latex balloons into the building.

You can fill a latex balloon with water (water balloons), sand (balloon weights), air, or helium.  Now, you would think all latex balloons are the same, but they are not.  To understand why you have to know the manufacturing process.    To manufacture a balloon, a model is dipped into a latex mix.  The longer and the model stay submerged, the stronger the balloon. However, the more latex used, the stronger and more expensive the balloon becomes.  Cheap balloons have a shorter dunk time, and the quality of the balloon is weaker and less efficient.  This is noticeable not only in the color, transparency but in the float time.   Float time is when a balloon will stay afloat when filled with helium, which is critical when doing balloon decor for weddings and corporate events.

How Latex Balloons Made?

Mylar Balloons

Mylar balloons are silver balloons that can be air or helium-filled. Typically, the smaller the Mylar balloon, the better the chance it will be air-filled.  This is because the balloon is too small, and the helium to space ratio is insufficient for the balloon to sustain any real float time. This is why small Mylar balloons are air-filled and are usually used in get-well floral decorations.

Mylar balloons are great for helium.  The foil shell prevents the helium from seeping through, so it will last for weeks, unlike latex balloons that last for hours to days.  Mylar balloons come in multiple shapes, sizes, and print designs.  This makes them very popular for balloon decorations at birthday parties.  Because they are so durable and can be made into any shape, the cost usually is 100 times more than a typical latex balloon.  This is why balloon decorators use them as accent balloons instead of doing the whole birthday party in Mylar.

Choosing the Right Balloon

Latex balloons are easy to buy, inflate, arrange and transport. You can buy them in small to large quantities.  You can fill them by mouth, pump, or standard helium inflator nozzle.  Overfilling is easy to judge when inflating a latex balloon.  If the balloon morphs from an oval into a light bulb, then the balloon is overinflated.  Adding Hi-Float to a balloon will seal the insides and allow for additional hours aloft.

Typically, you purchase Mylar balloons individually, and they require a special nozzle to inflate.   Mylar balloons are difficult to tell when they are fully inflated, and you can quickly pop them.  Therefore, I recommend you purchase an extra Mylar balloon or two if you inflate the balloons yourself.

I would recommend going with latex balloons for the average Mom and Dad looking to spice up your kid’s birthday party. We have all grown up around these balloons and are comfortable working with them.  You can buy them at any drug store, and with simple balloon weight and a little practice, you can make a quick balloon bouquet.

Quick Balloon Bouquet

Inflate five latex balloons to a ribbon and attach them to a balloon weight.   Arrange the balloons at different heights. Balloon decorators like to overlap balloons by 1/8 to ¼ in a cluster.  Toss in two Mylar balloons, and you have just made a quick balloon bouquet.

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