How To Blow Up Balloons As Party Decorations — For All Ages

On the verge of 40, Gave Daniels could have gotten a Porsche, gambled or had too much to drink. Instead, in June 2021, he planned a discreet celebration at his home in Los Angeles and allowed himself a mild regression. He wrapped his lawn in several hundred balloons.

Dozens and dozens of balloons stand in a palette of matte neutrals, and several accent balloons to mimic Carrara marble. At first, Daniellean was skeptical when her event planner Edgar Hay proposed to her.

But he came here and there. “Balloons are balloons,” Daniellean said. “You can find balloons anywhere, but what color combination did they use?” He marveled at the effect, and so did his guests, he said. The people stood up from the dinner, and several dozen older men and women, one after another, went to the establishment, mesmerized, he recalled.

Scroll through Pinterest now, and check out their ubiquity. The firm Orbis Research reported that the worldwide balloon market was worth $636 million in 2019, and that before the pandemic led to a surge in interest not only in the balloons themselves, but also in ever more complex designs.

The simple foil-letter balloons that made Robin Thicke’s “Blur Lines” so ubiquitous were cute. Spherical balloons with more sophisticated geodetic patterns are now an expectation than some residential homes.

Celebrity and lockdown-inspired trends

Balloons were invented in 1824, when an enterprising scientist stacked two sheets of rubber, sprinkled flour between them and sealed the sides to make perhaps the most valuable ravioli ever made. Since then they have become a staple of children’s parties, odd school-auditorium dances and sporting events. But the ballooning trend which has not been there so far is aspirational.

There is no single explanation for their cultural rise, but the pandemic was a factor, moving more parties out, and into people’s homes from elaborate hotels and event venues. The reliance on livestreamed events also helped. And because it’s a social-media-fueled trend, there’s a Kardashian at its center.

In March 2020, a few weeks before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Khloé Kardashian hosted a shower for her pregnant friend Malika Haqq. There were pastel-colored roses, a five-tier cake, customized swizzle sticks that held a smoke machine, and two giant moss bears.

But when photos of the shower hit the Internet, the public froze over the balloons: at least five balloon arches, two balloon poles, a wall attached to a balloon and several cloud-like balloon structures suspended from the ceiling.

“We had the Malika event, and then the pandemic happened, so we don’t know what caused that effect,” said Jamie Andrade, who founded the event design firm Balloon & Paper with her husband in 2011. The goods took almost a decade before the demand for balloons forced them to focus on full time inflatables.

On the morning of the shower, the business had 5,000 followers on Instagram. A day later, Andrade recalled, that number had grown to more than 50,000. In the months that followed, requests were made to install balloons, the owners said, for parties and weddings and a circus-themed bat mitzvah. Since playing Huck’s standout, Andrade has said he has created balloon set pieces for Drake, Katherine Schwarzenegger, and Lizzo. The Kardashians hired her for two more shows. The cost of the most involved installations of Andrade can exceed $25,000.

In Nashville, Tennessee, balloon design business Voomer Voomer Balloons decorated Amazon’s local offices with disco-themed inflatables to celebrate Prime Week. When Canoe Health, a chain of senior care centers, opened in Miami Shores, Florida, in December 2021, it celebrated the occasion with three site-specific balloon installations. Jazmine Rivera, who started Balloon River in New Jersey in 2019, is requesting more than she can accommodate, he said.

“We have grown at weddings, corporate events as well as Suite 16 and bridal showers,” Rivera said. “A lot more of kid versus adult incidents. A lot of people are just asking the ‘wow’ thing.”

take the balloons, we will travel

The founder of Airigami, a design firm in Rochester, New York, has been creating massive balloon sculptures for clients in the United Arab Emirates and Japan since 2005.

In 2017, artist Lauren Messelian invited her to create a “flower” wall for New York Fashion Week in Spring Studio. Hundreds of balloons were rotated and “planted” in various shapes and sizes to create a vertical garden. For a mall in Qatar, Airigami created a pair of heels made of fist-sized balloons. The finished shoes were over 6 feet long.

It is not uncommon for arigami partners, Larry Moss and Kelly Cheetal, to recruit a mathematician to calculate the exact dimensions of the proposed sculpture. Once Cheetley has the specifications, she will use Adobe Illustrator to map out the pattern and create a model for the scale. Then an order is placed for the special balloons that require a sketch. Qualatex and Tuftex are two of his favorite popular brands. Cheetal is partial to the anagram for foil.

Moss and Cheetal do their best to travel with their balloons. When work takes them overseas, Cheetal will pack in minimal clothing and fill the rest of her checked suitcase allotment with latex. Moss has sometimes found it cheaper to hire an additional crew member to travel with the extra balloons than to send the material via international mail.

When it’s time for installation, dust is a constant adversary. The balloons are so stable that the chitale sometimes has to roll them one by one.

When one of their shows is over, the fun begins. After nearly two decades in business, Moss and Cheetle have perfected the art of pop. The couple has tried a variety of sharp objects—scissors, box-cutters, even a small spike-covered ball, which makes quick work of large-scale sculptures.

If an event hasn’t ended when it is time for the arigami to load, workers can create a “quiet pop” by cutting off the top of the balloons with a blade to reduce noise. Moss often invites the catering crew to join his team. He said it could be a good outlet for his frustration at the end of the night.

cause for concern, also joy

But the new balloon excitement doesn’t come without a price. Climate activists point out that biodegradable balloons are also slow to decompose, and the popular “balloon release” is a form of photogenic litter.

Balloon Blow, an organization that aims to educate people about the effects of balloons on animals, people and the environment, opposes all ballooning and instead advocates the use of streamers, flags and kites for event decorations . (“Blow up the bubbles!” said one of its founders, Mary Vosberg. “You’ll get the same lift without damage!”)

And while most balloon installers use air and mechanical fixtures instead of helium to sustain their jobs, those who need helium will find it harder than ever to find it. “Helium Shortage 4.0,” declared Gasworld “the market-leading news portal for the global industrial gas sector.” Prices are rising, rising because only a few countries, including the United States and Qatar, produce most of the world’s reserves.

Even Spencer Pratt, the former villain of the MTV show “The Hills” who made a habit of participating in pre-planned paparazzi shoots with dozens of balloons, is punished. His wife, Heidi Montag, has eliminated single-use plastic in their home, making balloons functional. “If I did that now I would be cancelled,” Pratt said. “I need them to find a reusable replacement.” Upon hearing that, Montag admitted a minimal decorative allure: “Balloons are festive.”

The feeling of happiness seems to have a heavy environmental antagonism for the moment. The demand for balloon installations in Houston is so high that even the increased competition hasn’t affected the sales of Kelsey Onstott, the owner of Balloon Girl. Onstott faced backlash on TikTok in October 2020 when he revealed that each of his installations cost several hundred dollars, but said his bottom line was not affected by the uproar. Her clients see her garland and balloon-laden “mosaics” at friends’ parties and then want to rent it.

“In Houston, it’s like keeping Jones side-by-side,” Onstott said. The stampede over her prices – a steal compared to what celebrities could afford – hasn’t dampened interest in her work. She has never been busy.

Her success is evidence of an impossible transition. Balloons – from the ever-cheap metal core to the 24-karat gold-plated glitter of the flowers – have become their own status marker at parties across the country.

From a business standpoint, event planners at some point found balloons to be a great source of floral complements,” said Hay, the event planner who sold Danielle on balloons for her bash and for Sharon Stone and Kim Kardashian. Organized parties.

The customer, he said, would call and tell them, “‘I don’t have that budget; I don’t want to spend that much.’ Can fill, but can’t afford $50,000 as well as flowers?”

Balloons were one answer. For small budget events, he used them to compensate. But that was back when balloons came in standard colors and were more associated with pizza parties in movie theaters than poker nights at Charlize Theron’s home.

“It has turned into something else,” he said. “It’s not the regular balloons we knew – 20 in a bag. No. These are the balloons that have been customized for that date, the colors that have been customized. When he looked at the old invoices, he found them at the establishments. Received receipts for them, which cost their customers between $25,000 and $35,000.

In “The Book of Circles,” lecturer and author Manuel Lima, who specializes in visual culture, traces the centuries-old human obsession with waves, curves, rounds and spheres: tree trunks, fat water droplets, infant cheeks. of cross section. The size of golf balls. In her research, Lima cites studies that showed children displayed clearer preferences for straight lines than for straight lines. He also writes about research that found that when asked to draw negative emotions, people draw sharp, hard lines. Others, like happiness, get the curve.

Winnie-the-Pooh once provided a simple explanation: No one can be freed from a balloon.

Events of the rich and famous recognize them: rooms tense under the weight of pillar candles and a 12-piece band, floral budget that tops out at $100,000. Hey said those designs are awe-inspiring and sometimes awe-inspiring. But happiness? A Raised Spirit? He’s not so sure.

“You can impress that person,” he said. “But at the same time, I noticed that the person does not smileWhen someone sees a balloon installation, “Even if it’s small—even if it’s not $30,000 but it’s only $2,000—it still makes them smile, because what does it do?” “It reminds them of their childhood.”

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