Get Answers About the Helium Shortage from Party City

Party City understands your concerns about the global helium shortage – that's why we're here to help you learn more about helium, the current supply and what we're doing to help your festive decoration ideas stay afloat. Check out our answers to common questions below, as well as a quick list of balloon decoration ideas for your next big bash.

Where Does Helium Come From?

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but you won't find it in the air. That's because this gas is so light that it quickly rises into space. Strangely enough, the helium we find on Earth is actually trapped underground along with natural gas! Helium production is a byproduct of the natural gas industry, but there are relatively few places where helium is concentrated enough to successfully extract it. About 75 percent of the world's supply comes from just three areas – one in Texas, one in Wyoming and one in the country of Qatar.

Why Is There a Helium Shortage in 2019?

The current trouble with the world's helium supply is the result of multiple factors. Production plant closures, an embargo in Qatar in 2017 and a gradual sell-off of America's strategic helium reserves have all put pressure on the industry. This, combined with increasing global demand and other factors, has led to some of the issues with the helium market today.

Is Helium Running Out Permanently?

While helium is abundant throughout the universe, it is a finite resource on Earth. The helium shortage of 2019 doesn't mean that we've run out, though. New sources of helium have been discovered in Africa, and companies continue to search for additional places to mine the gas. It takes time to set up a new mining operation, however, so supplies may continue to be a bit tight.

Who Else Uses Helium?

Most people know helium thanks to its use in balloons and blimps, but this gas has a wide range of applications. One of its most important uses is in the medical field – it's used to cool magnets in MRI machines and can be mixed with air to help people with breathing problems. Its use in scientific research includes cryogenics, particle accelerators and even space exploration. Helium is also used in military applications and in the manufacture of semiconductors and fiber optic cables.

Can I Get Balloons Filled With Helium at Party City?

Yes! We have several options for filling balloons:

  • You can purchase select Party City balloons in store and have them inflated before you leave.
  • You can purchase Party City balloons online, then bring them to our store to have them inflated for free. (Just make sure your item says price includes helium and bring your receipt!)
  • You can also order balloons online for pick-up in store. They'll be inflated and ready to go when you arrive!
  • You can purchase balloons from other stores and have them filled at Party City for a fee.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Balloons Filled With Helium at Party City?

You can get your foil balloons filled for free if you buy them from us, but we're still happy to help if you bought your balloons elsewhere. If you purchased your balloons from another store, you can bring them to your local Party City to have them filled. Helium prices can vary depending on your location, so it's a good idea to call ahead. In general, you can expect the following price ranges to fill balloons with helium:

  • Latex balloons: $0.99 to $1.29
  • Foil balloons: $1.99 to $15.99, depending on size.

Can I Buy Helium Tanks at Party City?

Yes, you can! We offer both small and large helium tanks that are perfect for parties or events. Our helium tanks are available for purchase online or via in-store pickup.

Are There Alternatives to Helium Filled Balloons?

While there are several types of lighter-than-air gasses, only helium is safe and cost-effective enough to be used for balloons. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to bring festive fun to your party without using helium. In addition to ideas like flags, banners, streamers, pompoms and bunting, you can also use air-filled balloons to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind displays.

8 Creative Balloon Ideas that Don't Need Helium

  1. Accent Your Table With Air-Filled Balloons

    Air-filled balloons held up with balloon sticks.

    Create your own unique look for birthdays, holidays, milestone celebrations and more! Party City has balloon sticks, holders and everything you need to create beautiful centerpieces, displays and more.

  2. Make Beautiful Banners with Air-Filled Balloons

    A Happy Birthday banner made with air-filled letter balloons.

    Make a statement with air-filled balloons! Our collection of kits includes letters, numbers and complete phrases that are easy to hang, arrange and store.

  3. Delight Your Guests with Balloon Animals

    A balloon animal kit with an inflator.

    Everyone loves these colorful creations! Use our balloon animal kits to create dogs, birds, hats and other fun balloon favorites.

  4. Light Up Your Party with Illuminated Balloons

    A bag of Illooms illuminated balloons.

    Combine the cheerful fun of balloons with a dazzling light display! Our illuminated balloons make for beautiful garlands, centerpieces, displays, backdrops and more. Combine the cheerful fun of balloons with a dazzling light display! Our illuminated balloons make for beautiful garlands, centerpieces, displays, backdrops and more.

  5. Create Striking Backdrops with Balloon Garlands

    A balloon garland cascades down a wall.

    Perfect for every occasion, balloon garlands can help transform any space into party central. Balloon garlands make for stunning photo backdrops or accent pieces – our How To Make a Balloon Garland video can help you get started.

  6. Create Bubbly Balloon Centerpieces for Any Occasion

    A baby-shaped balloon surrounded by clear latex balloons.

    Celebrate birthdays, special occasions or new arrivals with beautiful balloon centerpieces! Combine air-filled Mylar and latex balloons for a soft, sweet look that everyone will love. We can show you how to make stacked balloon centerpieces or light up balloon centerpieces that will stun your guests!

  7. Greet Your Guests with a Balloon Arch

    A girl runs under a pink balloon arch.

    These balloon decorations never go out of style! Whether it's an entryway, photo backdrop or just a way of making the snack bar stand out, a balloon arch is sure to wow your guests. Learn how to create a balloon arch with a look all its own!

  8. The Sky's the Limit with Balloon Columns

    A multi-colored balloon column with a Paw Patrol balloon on top.

    Create a tower of colorful fun! Use our How To Make a Balloon Column tutorial and learn how to make a delightful balloon column that kids and adults are sure to love.

Looking for even more balloon fun? We can help – check out our balloon tutorials page and discover more ways to create beautiful décor for your next celebration.