Balloons are popping up everywhere in event décor, so here are a few current trends and décor tips to help your balloon business bloom.
By Nita Robertson, AIFD, CFD
Celebrations and balloons have always gone hand in hand, but they have become extremely trendy again in last few years. Just look at Instagram and Pinterest, and you will see an abundance of balloon décor for parties, events and occasions of all kinds. There are many creative ways to decorate with balloons, including balloon arches, columns, garlands, walls, backdrops, centerpieces and more.
Balloons are suitable for just about every occasion and event from holidays, weddings and showers to birthdays and anniversaries—and even celebrations of life. Balloon décor can affordably transform spaces and create moods from dramatic and even elegant to playful and fantastical—and they are great for camouflaging unsightly elements and fixtures and hiding dead spaces. They can be used to create modern and sophisticated décor for parties and events with an updated and broad palette of colors, new finishes and range of shapes and sizes, which can be combined to create grand statements.
More than ever, there is a demand for balloon décor, with plenty of room for continued growth and expansion. According to Facts & Factors Research, a global consulting and market research based in Pune, India, the global party balloon market was valued at $1.48 billion in 2021 and is predicted to increase at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.8 percent, making its value $1.96 billion by 2028.
“Balloons remain hot items for all celebrations, from backyard birthday parties to gender-reveal celebrations to corporate gatherings to weddings,” explains Julie Conner, CBA, Betallatex brand manager at St. Louis, Mo.-based Betallic. “People are partying with balloons like never before. Organic balloon installations are still all the rage, combining different colors, finishes and sizes of balloons. Betallic’s “Reflex” latex balloons are hotter than hot, and we’ve just introduced two new colors, Reflex Champagne and Reflex Truffle. Our “Pastel Matte” latex line has also become a classic palette for many types of occasions, and Betallatex “Deluxe Eucalyptus” and “Deluxe White Sand are also in high demand. Our “Special Delivery” line of foil balloons make a big impact. All our foil shapes have hang-tabs so they can be air filled and displayed, and our new foil “Number StandUps” are completely air filled for table décor. “Megaloons” and “Script Letters” are also perfect for helium-conscious decorations.”
Kacie Carswell, marketing manager at burton + BURTON in Bogart, Ga., adds, “Organic balloon décor remains strong and is at the height of requested designs from consumers. Muted earthy tones have gained in popularity, with sage green, blush and tan being used together frequently. On the flip side, chrome and reflective colors are used together when statement balloon décor is called for.”
According to a spokesperson with Anagram, a leading balloon manufacturer in Eden Prairie, Minn., balloons are always in style and can be used interchangeably with the various holidays and milestones celebrated throughout the year. A continuing trend, the spokesperson notes, is that consumers are creating over-the-top backdrops for their celebrations and Instagram posts with colorful balloon arches, walls and garlands, as well as various shapes and sizes of air-filled balloons.
“We have an endless amount of color products to perfectly complement any themed party or celebration from birthdays to bridal showers and bachelorette parties, to school celebrations and more,” the Anagram spokesperson confirms. “The hottest trending color line is currently white/gold, and it is incorporated to several every day and seasonal offerings, in addition to Anagram’s full decorator line.”
Floral designers around the world are also incorporating both live and permanent botanicals into their designs, to create unique, showstopping décor. An arrangement botanicals and inflatables will instantly attract attention at any event.
Mauricio Vargas, owner of Today’s Balloons, a balloon event décor services company in Fort Wort, Texas, shares, “We specialize in balloon décor for all occasions, and, of course, adding flowers boosts the design even more. A popular choice today is boho-themed décor.”
Air Versus Helium
Florists and other event décor designers can fill balloons with helium or air; typically, balloons filled with helium will not last as long as those filled with air (10 to 12 hours versus several weeks), and helium-filled balloons are, obviously, more expensive than those filled with air. According to ACS, a nonprofit scientific organization based in Washington, D.C., the cost of helium has increased 250 percent over the last five years, and many experts in the field suggest that additional significant price increases are on the horizon, due to a pending supply crunch caused by the U.S. Federal Helium Reserve ceasing to sell helium to the public in September and a recent fire and explosion at a helium factory in Russia—and, of course, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Helium gas is subject to shortages depending on political and economic factors throughout the world (the U.S., Qatar, Algeria and Russia are the world’s top suppliers of helium gas, with the U.S. generating 40 percent of the world’s helium supply).
Helium also has greater uses than making balloons float: Because of its cooling properties, the gas is used to cool MRI machines, NMR spectrometers, nuclear reactors and rocket fuel during lift-off. It also plays a significant role in the production of fiber optics, hard disk drives and semiconductor chips, and it is used in arc welding, observation balloons and deep-sea diving, as well.
Air-filled balloon décor and sculptures became more popular during helium shortages of the past few years, out of necessity, but many say the trend is here to stay. They are hardier and can be placed outdoors and in the elements for longer periods of time than helium-filled balloons. In addition to preserving helium for scientific and medical uses, new biodegradable latex balloons now offer more sustainable décor options.
Our Anagram spokesperson says, “Anagram’s ever-expanding line of balloons are created specifically to be filled with air. Air-filled balloons last longer and take out the hassle of helium. Our “AirLoonz™ Phrase Kits” are perfect for indoor and outdoor events and are available in five celebratory phrases to enhance any celebration, with included yard stakes. Created for air, no helium required, the kits come in a variety of detailed shapes and sizes for multiple occasions. In addition, our “Orbz®” balloons make great additions to balloon bouquets and arches, and AirLoonz™ are great for upselling and gifting.”
If you are looking for balloon design certification, the “Certified Balloon Artist” (CBA) program is the only certification program in the industry, creating a worldwide community of balloon artists. The Certified Balloon Artist practical exam establishes a worldwide standard for balloon professionals. Earning the CBA designation begins with becoming a QBN (Qualatex Balloon Network) member and culminates in a four-hour practical, during which applicants demonstrate their knowledge and ability. For more information, visit us.qualatex.com, and click on the “Education” tab.
Also, always be on the lookout for balloon conventions and other education events that will spark your creativity and keep you up to date on trends and new products. Our monthly calendar of “Coming Events” is a great place to start (Pages 62-63 in this issue). Currently, we list the following events, but there will be more throughout 2023, so stay tuned.
• Nov. 6-9, 2022
Balloon Boss Summit
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
• Jan. 11-16, 2023
The Florida Super Jam
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
• Feb. 22-26, 2023
Twist & Shout Balloon Convention
Find out about balloon design and decorating classes and seminars by checking out these schools and their programs:
• Balloon Training Institute
• The Event Decorating Academy
Finally, check out these websites for more listings of balloon events and educational opportunities:
Tips for Working with Balloons
We spoke to Jessica Crawley, co-owner of Bespoke Events and Décor Boutique in Brackley, Northamptonshire, England. Bespoke uses lots of balloons to decorate its clients’ event spaces, and Crawley shares tips for working with balloons. “Purchase only the highest-quality natural latex balloons; they are 100 percent biodegradable and, therefore, kinder to the environment,” she advises. “Also, remember that for clients needing longer-lasting displays, indoor balloon installations can last up to two months or more as opposed to only a couple of days outdoors. If you do design balloon décor for outdoor events, try to keep the balloons out of direct sunlight because they can expand and burst. Remember also that darker-colored balloons will absorb more heat and burst more quickly.”
Balloon pros also recommend investing in a manual or electric balloon pump(s), to inflate of a large quantity of latex balloons with air quickly and easily. Inflation is the most critical part of working with latex balloons, and inflating them to the same sizes is the key to a professional appearance, so also invest in a balloon sizer box.
burton + BURTON’s Ballooniversity® 2022
In celebration of burton + BURTON’s 40th anniversary, the company, headquartered in Bogart, Ga., once again invited customers and vendors to Ballooniversity®, an educational and networking extravaganza held every five years. The theme for Ballooniversity 2022 was “The Future Is Ours,” a celebration of space and exploration. Award-winning balloon and floral designers from 35 states and 15 countries, including the Netherlands, South Korea and Brazil, gathered to create out-of-this-world balloon and floral art. Attendees enjoyed four days of hands-on workshops, seminars and classroom sessions, to expand their professional knowledge and abilities. The balloon décor created during these sessions, including planets, rocket ships and everyday décor, was displayed at the Saturday Night Gala, which is the highlight of every Ballooniversity. For the first time ever, the breathtaking balloon designs created at Ballooniversity were put on display for the public to enjoy. On the Sunday following the gala, burton + BURTON welcomed more than 4,000 people from the Athens, Ga., community to view more than 400,000 balloons throughout The Classic Center, where Ballooniversity was held.
• The Natural Rubber Latex (NRL) used to manufacture latex balloons come from para rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis). Latex is collected by cutting the trees’ bark, then catching the latex in a cup. Latex harvesting doesn’t hurt the tree.
• Natural Rubber Latex balloons are Earth friendly. Para rubber trees grow in rain forests and the flood plains of the Amazon River in Colombia, Peru and Brazil, and the Orinoco River in Colombia and Venezuela, as well as in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines and other islands of Southeast Asia. Latex harvesting discourages deforestation because latex-producing trees are left intact, and a single para rubber tree can produce latex for up to 40 years.
• If the sound of a balloon popping startles you, you’re not alone. A bursting balloon creates a small sonic boom. Once a hole is made in an inflated balloon, the quick release of the balloon’s energy, or air, causes the hole to grow at almost the speed of sound in rubber. Because this speed is much higher than the speed of sound in air, the hole in the balloon breaks the sound barrier, creating a sonic boom.
• The first rubber balloons were made by Michael Faraday, in 1824—the same year as the electromagnet.