How will you plan your next party or festive event? You could set up a music player, streamers, and colorful tablecloths, and of course, balloons too. These inflatable decorations have been used for over a century to decorate any indoor or outdoor space, and they come in many varieties. Some are foil balloons filled with helium, and others are regular latex air filled balloons. Heart shaped latex balloons may also prove popular for Valentine’s Day, along with other gifts for a recipient. So, what is there to know about these festive decorations, and how to inflate them and use them in a room?
The very concept of these things is older than some people might realize. Back in 1824, a certain professor Michael Faraday invented them by fusing together the edges of two rubber sheets and then filling them with air. The idea proved a success, and these decorations have been popular ever since. But it is not common to use rubber for them nowadays; latex is the norm instead. Why? Harvesting that much rubber would put serious strain on the world’s forests, but a latex tree can provide material for 40 years without getting killed in the process. This is much more sustainable for the natural environment, and provides enough latex to create balloons as we know them.
These are the “typical” balloons, usually being one solid color and shaped like a teardrop. Often, a customer can buy a whole packet of them and inflate them later, such as a packet of 50 or so. In other cases, one might be bought already filled with helium and tied to a string and weight. How to fill them? Latex balloons can be filled with either air or helium, and there are reasons to take each route.
If you fill them with helium, then they will float, and this is the classic image. Floating balloons look nice and can be carried around on strings, or tied down to something for a festive atmosphere. But not everyone has a helium pump to use, and a helium filled balloon will deflate after a day or so, and there is a minor risk of them getting free and floating off. Meanwhile, an air filled balloon will not float, but pumping ordinary air into them is easy, and you can even do it with your own breath. Such balloons will last longer, around a week or so.
There are also foil balloons out there, and they are made when two sheets of foil are fused at the edges, and the body is filled with helium. They are not typically filled with ordinary air, though. These decorations come in a wider variety of shapes than latex ones, since the foil sheets can be cut into different shapes during manufacture, such as circles, squares, and even numbers. They can also have colorful messages and images printed on them, from “happy birthday” to pop culture imagery. Foil balloons are often found for sale already inflated and on strings, for convenience and so the customers can see what their image is like. But they can also be bought in packets and inflated later.
Decorating Just Right
When is the right time for balloons? A good example is a child’s birthday, where a lot of latex balloons can add color to the party. They can be inflated with helium and held down with string, or filled with air and scattered on the floor as a ball pit, or taped to the backs of chairs. Foil ones can have a “happy birthday” message, and one or two number-shaped ones can form the birthday boy or girl’s age. Meanwhile, balloons are also fine gifts, and it is common to give one to a recovering hospital patient, often foil ones with a “get well soon” message printed on them. A bridal shower or baby shower is another fine time for balloons, such as clusters of pink and white ones. Finally, it is common to use latex balloons to decorate a senior high prom, and a cage on the ceiling may hold countless air filled latex balloons. At some point, all those balloons are released onto the dance floor, to the delight of the prom dancers.