How To Dress Up Balloons for a Festive Party Look

I've never bought balloons before — or even thought of it — but after finding yards & yards of this over-the-top metallic ribbon at the thrift store, I became obsessed with the idea of using it to dress up ordinary latex balloons...

  • Find some swanky ribbon. I was lucky to find 12 yards of "Metallic Twist Twisted Craft Paper" at Goodwill for $2, which was the perfect amount for 12 balloons. If you're presenting a birthday girl with just one balloon, you could splurge on a yard or two or really fabulous ribbon (sure to be reused for holiday packaging). Two-inch wide double-satin ribbon would be so luxurious. If you're working on lots of balloons, baker's twine, pretty yarn, or natural raffia would be cost-effective options. I have a dream of tying long jute strings to tons of white balloons...
  • Visit your local balloon store! The Balloon Place on Mission between 23rd & 24th in San Francisco is great, but don't despair if your town doesn't have a balloon store. Though you might look right past displays of cartoon character mylar balloons, any shop or grocery store with a helium tank probably sells plain latex balloons in fun colors. At The Balloon Place most latex balloons are $0.98/each if you buy 12 or more, but special colors like teal & gold run $1.10/each (12 or more). As the nice balloon lady cautioned me, you'll want to pick up your balloons no more than an hour before the party.
  • Consider the size of the room. I bought a dozen balloons for a party in a room that was approximately 12'x12', and honestly, I would have liked to have twice as many. Next time!
  • Untwist! If you happen to be using metallic (or non-metallic) twisted craft paper, cut into desired lengths and then (patiently) untwist each piece. This takes a bit of time but it's pretty relaxing.
  • Place ribbon over knot. Pull ends of the balloon's original ribbon out to each side.
  • Tie firmly. Fluff out shorter end, and trim the original ribbon.
  • The knot is hidden! Perhaps this is just me, but I found it very satisfying that the knot in the balloon was concealed under the gold ribbon's end. Nice & neat!
  • Set free. If needed, tug the long end of the new ribbon so it hangs vertically. The twisted craft paper was great because it remained in a gentle twist, as if I'd carefully arranged each one that way.
  • Float gently down. The prettiest part of the evening was when the balloons began to sink gracefully and float around the guests.


Images: Tess Wilson

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