Balloon Basics: Your Guide to All Things Balloons

3 images of balloons

Balloons have the unique ability to wow people of all ages. No matter the occasion, they are the quintessential party decoration that can add an element of excitement to every event. With all the different types and ways to use them, choosing the right balloons can be overwhelming. Fear not – this guide will cover the basics you need to get started!

Selecting Balloons

The balloons you choose are typically influenced by a birthday celebration, theme party, or special event. Knowing what and who you're celebrating will help you determine the types and colors of balloons necessary for your creation. Not all balloons are created equal and there's a lot more to consider than you may think.

Balloon Colors 

Balloon Colors

Balloon Types

Latex or foil? Both types of balloons are great options that can be used in a variety of ways. Sometimes, using one type all together looks stunning. Other times a combination of sizes, colors, and textures is needed to make balloon decor really pop. Here's how they differ:  

Latex Balloons

  • 100% biodegradable 
  • Made from 100% pure natural latex
  • Range in size from 5 - 36 inches 
  • Available in a variety of colors, finishes, and shapes
  • Compatible with air and helium 
Balloon Bouquet Arrangements

Foil Balloons

  • Reusable
  • Made from a mix of nylon, aluminum, and laminated polyethylene materials
  • Range in size from 4 - 32 inches 
  • Available in a variety of colors, finishes, and shapes
  • Compatible with air and helium
Balloon Bouquet Arrangements

Balloon Arrangements

Before you dive in, gather some inspiration. This will help you determine what's needed to build your balloon creation. Below are four popular balloon decorations that will take your party to new heights. 

1. Balloon Bouquets

A classic balloon decoration that never disappoints are balloon bouquets. The simplicity of a perfectly curated arrangement is the easiest way to add a festive touch to any party. These versatile decorations can be used as centerpieces, party decor, or as part of a gift. Instantly bring your theme to life by mixing latex and specialty foil balloons in your arrangement. There are many different design options depending on the space you are decorating. The chart below shows 5 to 12-piece balloon arrangements you can create but the options are limitless. 

Balloon Bouquet Arrangements

Balloon Tip: Use two 15-count latex balloon packs to create six stacked or cascaded balloon arrangements.

2. Balloon Arches

Create an impressive balloon arch to welcome guests as they arrive to your party. These arches are very do-able and can be prepped the night before your event. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial on how to build this balloon arch. 

GIF of pink balloon arch being built.

3. Balloon Columns

Eye-catching balloon columns are a great way to fill your party space with larger than life adaptations of your theme. Display these columns at entryways or position alongside walls and hallways in large venues. Follow this DIY balloon column tutorial to learn how to build this decoration in just an hour. 

GIF of Paw Patrol balloon column being built.

4. Balloon Garlands

Balloon garlands are the darlings of the party universe. Garlands can be hung along the wall to create a decorative backdrop or displayed down the center of a table. Learn to build your own balloon garland with these instructions

GIF of balloon garland being created.

Click here to view all DIY balloon tutorials.

Balloon Tip: Save time building balloon arches, columns, and garlands by inflating balloons with air and assembling the day before.

Inflation Basics 

Helium

For latex and foil balloons to float, they need to be inflated with helium. Helium is colorless, non-toxic, odorless, tasteless and doesn’t burn. To fill balloons with helium, you can use a Balloon Time helium tank or go to your local Party City store to have balloons inflated. Save time by ordering balloons online and picking up inflated balloons in-store. For best results using helium, view specifications below.

Latex Balloons
    • A standard 12-inch balloon is considered under inflated when it is round and over inflated when it is pear-shaped (where the balloon begins to bulb out at the bottom).
    • Float time of a helium inflated latex balloon can be increased with the use of a product called Ultra Hi-Float™.

    Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

    • In warmer conditions, slightly under inflate balloons.
    • In cooler conditions, slightly over inflate balloons.
    • Latex balloons will float longer in cooler conditions and shorter in warmer.
    • Light and humidity, combined with warmth, will cause the balloons to oxidize more quickly than cool, dry conditions. This is visible as a cloudy / dusty coating on the balloons and is more visible on clear balloons.
Foil Balloons
    • Standard 17-inch balloons are self-sealing and last up to a week when properly inflated.
    • 17 inches is the minimum size required for a foil balloon to float.
    • Do not overinflate balloons. Leave creases in the outer edge around the seam to allow for the expansion.

    Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

    • Do not expose foil balloons to extreme heat such as being left in a car on a hot day. They are likely to burst.
    • Balloons may appear to shrivel if filled in a warm room then taken outside into the cold. This will correct itself when the balloons are returned to a warmer environment.

Ultra Hi-Float™

To increase float time for latex balloons you can use Ultra Hi-Float™. This water-based solution contains a special soluble plastic which helps hold in helium. It is nontoxic, non-irritating, non-corrosive, nonflammable, and biodegradable. With Ultra Hi-Float™, latex and foil balloons can last up to 24 additional hours. 

Helium Chart

Disclaimer: Although helium is not poisonous, it is an asphyxiant. If inhaled to completely fill your lungs, this can be fatal. Never inhale helium yourself or allow others to inhale it. Please note, the above figures are very general. The chart below gives details of approximate float times / inflation times based on the balloons being correctly sized and in constant conditions. Changes in temperature and altitude will affect the life of the balloon. 

Air-Filled

Latex and foil balloons can be inflated with air; however, they will not float. If you're inflating balloons yourself, good news is you can save your lungpower by using a handheld balloon pump or an electric balloon bump. In general, most air-filled balloons will last for 6-8 weeks. For best results, view specifications below.


Latex Balloons
    • Air inflation is advised for balloons inflated to less than 9 inches round.
    • A standard 12-inch balloon is considered under inflated when it is round and over inflated when it is pear-shaped (where the balloon begins to bulb out at the bottom).

    Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

    • In warmer conditions, slightly under inflate balloons.
    • In cooler conditions, slightly over inflate balloons.
    • Latex balloons will float longer in cooler conditions and shorter in warmer.
    • Light and humidity, combined with warmth, will cause the balloons to oxidize more quickly than cool, dry conditions. This is visible as a cloudy / dusty coating on the balloons and is more visible on clear balloons.
Foil Balloons
    • 4-inch and 9-inch foil balloons are only designed for air inflation.
    • The gas inside the balloon will expand and contract with temperature.

    Changes in temperature will cause the gas inside the balloons to expand or contract. Use the following tips for best results:

    • Do not expose foil balloons to extreme heat such as being left in a car on a hot day. They are likely to burst.
    • Balloons may appear to shrivel if filled in a warm room then taken outside into the cold. This will correct itself when the balloons are returned to a warmer environment.

Tying Latex Balloons

There are many ways to tie a balloon and the method you use may depend on how you’re using them. View the tutorial below to learn how to tie balloon quickly and efficiently. 

Balloon Accessories 

Elevate your balloon design with accessories. No matter how big or small your balloon decoration, you can always add some extra pizzazz with ribbon, balloon weights, tails, tassels, and lights. 

Curling Ribbon

Curling Ribbon

Use curling ribbon to complete helium-filled party balloons or use to hang balloon decorations from ceilings and walls. This classic accessory can also be used to create decorative elements like bows for balloons.

Balloon Weights

Balloon Weights

Spruce up party balloons and keep them secure with balloon weights. Choose from a variety of colors, shapes, themes, and characters that tie into your theme.

Tails & Tassels

Tails & Tassels

Upgrade plain balloons with balloon tails and tassels.These decorative enhancements feature colorful fringe and themed cardstock cutout attachments that can be added to the ends of balloons.

Balloon Lights

Balloon Lights

Illuminate your party space with balloon lights. Simply place LED lights inside latex balloons prior to inflating and watch them gleam at your next night event, outdoor gathering, or glow-in-the-dark party.

How to Order Balloons

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