Oversize Balloon 101

May 3, 2011

Note from Design Mom: Hello from Amsterdam, Friends! Today, Celeste is here to keep you company while I’m away from my desk. Enjoy.

Hi. I’m Celeste from on-hand modern, a blog about creative family life.

Right now life is: planning a birthday party for the boy who is turning five. We love balloons (see here, here, and, oh how about here), so it seems only natural that at some point we should have a party based on the classic French film “The Red Balloon”. Some of the details are still up in the air (a weekend in Paris would be tres authentic, oui? alas, not exactly in the budget) but there is one thing that’s for sure: what’s a Red Balloon-themed party without — yes — big round red balloons!

Over-sized round balloons (like the one in the film) are everywhere these days — on blogs, in magazines, at parties. Here’s what you need to know about buying them for your next birthday party, family photo, or other event.

What Size:

For truly round balloons with a lot of visual impact, look for 24″ or 36″ balloons.

Where To Buy (locally):

I haven’t had much luck in my area, but for those of you with Zurchers stores in your neighborhood I have heard rumors that you might find them there.

Where To Buy (online):

If a single balloon (or two) is all you need, try the adorable shops darlybird or Sweet Lulu where they are available for purchase individually in a variety of fun colors. Expect to pay around $4-5 per 36″ balloon, plus shipping.

For larger quantities it makes sense to buy from a wholesale supplier. Car dealers (yes, car dealers!) have been buying from these guys for years. I found this website and this one to have competitive prices and be the easiest to navigate, but you can also try searching the Web yourself for “dealership + balloons”. I was able to get a package of 25 (24″) balloons for about $25 shipped (about $1 per balloon) from one of these sources.

Hope that helps a bit! How about you? Have you ever used oversize balloons before? Any other tips new users should remember?

P.S. — Sunshine and big balloon bouquets to all of you, and thanks to Design Mom for having me!

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amanda May 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I used these (36″) for my daughter’s first birthday. I had 8 total inflated at our local Party City (they sell them on their website but I purchased from a different online retailer).

Get the HiFloat helium and beware – you are going to need a large car or two to get them home depending on how many you inflate. We have a small house and when they came through the door I was like, “OH NO!” they were massive but I put them flanking our patio door (4 on one side, 4 on the other) and they were adorable. I will definitely use them again!

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2 Jessica May 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Our 2010 Christmas card was based on the Red Balloon. I love the way the shots came out! I was able to get the 36″ round balloons at my local Party City. They are called Decorator balloons. They said that they stock them for realtors. They use them for Open Houses. Who knew?? They only come in multi-color packs. I also got them filled at Party City. As Amy said– they almost didn’t fit in the car for the ride home!

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3 kelli May 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm

The party idea and your son’s name are both so great!

Just a tip- I’m doing an event in 2 weeks and just ordered 20 36-inch balloons. Party America (Santa Rosa, CA) sells a packet of 6 for $9.99 in store or $12.99 on their website. I love this trend.

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4 justaub May 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm

So my interest is peaked!~
Is it free to fill up balloons at Party City if you purchase them there or if you do not purchase them there?

Would it be cost effective to purchase or rent a helium tank to fill them yourself at home therefore saving the crazy ride home with a gigancerous balloon or 4 in your rear view mirror? …This reminds me of the time I tried to fit packing supplies including packing peanuts in my Sentra…yes, there was an explosion…

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5 denese @ plum May 4, 2011 at 9:47 am

I think renting a helium tank is the way to go!

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6 Amanda May 4, 2011 at 10:59 am

I don’t think they were more than $2 a balloon to fill up – it was back in December so I can’t remember but it wasn’t expensive at all.

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7 celeste May 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm

i’ve had balloons filled at both the party supply store and the supermarket. the cost is usually about $1.50 to $2.00 or so…sometimes less if you buy the balloons at the same place.

renting a helium tank would be convenient, but i’m not 100% sure it’s cost-effective. i haven’t done the math, but these are BIG balloons.

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8 denese @ plum May 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

…way to go if lots to fill and a small car. though the smile on fellow drivers’ faces as I inched home was fun!

and, I love the idea of having my own at home party shop to fill balloons at will. My daughter adores balloons and the thought of waking one morning on a whim and filling 10 super huge balloons to float in her room strikes my fancy!

though for sure the at-store visit is very inexpensive for filling the large lovelies.

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9 Elisa September 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Hi there,
I am so bummed, why I have loved these balloons ever since seeing them, but today…only to find out that my local stores no longer can get HELIUM! It has become a scarce commodity. I thought I would share, as it seems no longer prudent to use it for our fun aesthetics! (: Apparently, helium is a byproduct of drilling and had been stockpiled by the US in the 1920s. It is used in MRI’s and other medical research devices and now those devices may potentially be threatened for future use! Crazy. Who knew.

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10 Whitney May 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm

You’d be amazed at some of the fun stuff they have in the car dealer catalogs. I bet there are a lot more crafting options than you’d guess!

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11 Kim May 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm

(and so, two of my favourite bloggers merge today!)

Love the idea – 36″ balloons?! I had no idea anyone but meteorologists could get their hands on these! Off to check some out for a birthday we have coming up… :)

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12 Cari May 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm

We LOVE that film. And my daughter that is five loves that film. Great idea!

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13 Katy R May 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I got giant balloons for my twins’ second birthday, we bought them online from Party City as well, we had them inflated at a grocery store that was walking distance from home so we didn’t have to worry about getting them in a car to get back. So much fun and the kids LOVED them!

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14 madhavi May 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

My local dollar store filled helium balloons so I took mine there. The lady looked at my balloon and said, “No, we cannot fill that. That is for boxing.” I laughed so hard…… but, the balloon remained uninflated. Thanks for the tips about Party City! At least, they will have a clue.

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15 Stephanie May 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Love this post…I too have been mulling a “red balloon” themed party. So happy to see you doing it! Cute invitation…

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16 Octavia DB May 3, 2011 at 10:17 pm

You’re kids are gorgeous!

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17 Octavia DB May 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Oops…used the wrong “you’re”…your kids are still gorgeous tho!

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18 Denise Laborde May 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm

This is a very helpful post. Thanks! I always used regular gallons but this is a fun idea.
I had never heard about this story until my kids were older. My in-laws has a copy of this book that belonged to my mother-in-law when she was a young girl and they love reading it to my kids :) Aw.
Had to share that. Ok, off to read your balloon-love links!
Bises
D

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19 robin May 4, 2011 at 8:28 am

I did a red balloon party for my son’s 2nd birthday. Easiest, most impactful theme ever! I photoshopped my son’s face into the cover of the DVD and used that for the invitation. We had such fun, and each child (& adult) who came left with a red balloon!

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20 llilli May 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

those invitations are amazing! what a cute idea… the boy’s cute too. awesome guest post.

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21 denese @ plum May 4, 2011 at 9:43 am

I just used giant 36″ balloons for my son’s first birthday party. See here:
http://plumlife.typepad.com/plum/2011/04/big-boy-gets-a-party.html

I purchased them on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/partyroom

As other’s mentioned, grocery stores, florists and Party City all agreed to fill my balloons. I ended up at a local grocer and filled 12!!! Two trips in the Passat with balloons streaming through the sunroof at 5 miles an hour wasn’t fun, but sooo worth it.

One bummer the latex balloons do leak helium, so I shrinkage is a factor. My balloons were noticably smaller (by me) as early as later that day. Also, the grocer had trouble finding a tool big enough to tie-off the balloons and I had to use bricks to keep them on the ground outside.

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22 Amanda May 4, 2011 at 11:04 am

Yes – definitely fill them the day you’re going to use. With the hi-float helium at PC, our balloons held for the entire party day and then through half of the next day and started to droop seriously by Monday.

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23 Hillary May 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm

If anyone is local in Chicago, they sell different sizes at Doolin’s. I wanted giant ones for a baby shower and the lady there was like “Do you have a van?” Me: “I have a VW Bug.” Her: “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.” As it was, I got the medium size (which was 15″ or 18″ or something) and I could barely see on the very short drive to my friends’ place. I figured if I want to do something like that for my upcoming wedding, I’ll have to rent a tank.

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24 celeste May 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

thanks to everyone for the feedback on this post. there is some great advice in these comments.

also, bonus points to those of you who said nice things about my kids. :)

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25 K May 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Love! Got my cheap for 3.50 at http://www.sawyerandsprout.bigcartel.com

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