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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party!


March 2012  

Let's party in later life article series...

This series looks at some of the more unusual ideas to help you celebrate with style and panache – at affordable price levels, of course!

To see the full list of articles see the main Celebrating in Later Life page

Let's Party!  Special celebrations, this month:   Balloons!

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith



It’s time to celebrate! Whether it is a special anniversary, birthday, or another special occasion, there is nothing like a few balloons to create that real party atmosphere. In our monthly feature on entertaining and celebration, we look at balloons in all their celebratory forms and style.


Balloons are no longer the prerogative of children! Today balloons for adult celebrations are big business as people realise that bright floating balloons can add substantially to creating a colourful fun atmosphere.

Traditional air filled balloons, which you sit around huffing and puffing into in the hope they will eventually expand, can still work but most celebrations these day turn to helium filled balloons. Helium is a great gas because it is non-toxic and non-flammable, unlike the original hydrogen that used to be used in balloons but was highly combustible. Helium is an inert gas that is found underground and naturally occurs in the air around us. It is lighter than air, which means that it will give lift to a balloon ensuring the balloon stays up high, floating up above a celebration for maximum effect.

Helium is not expensive, and can be used pretty well for balloons of any size - giving enormous scope to party celebrations.

Today there are many companies specialising in party balloons and the balloons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The standard sized balloons made of latex are about the most popular at the moment as they hold helium well but are also fully biodegradable. For a more metallic sheen effect, different pigments are incorporated which can look wonderful, but are not biodegradable.

Illoom LED, or light up balloons are a fairly recent introduction to the market, and they really are quite dramatic because they glow in the dark! The light comes from a tiny LED light secured inside the balloon which will last for anything up to 15 hours or more and in a shaded or darkened room, having a group of brightly lit lights floating above the celebrations can add enormous effect. The balloons can even be personalised for dramatic lit messages.

Like anything, size is important and you can buy a huge range of different sized balloons which are suitable for helium. Balloons of 8 feet diameter or larger are available that can be used indoors or even outdoors to give a real welcome to guests.

Then of course you can come onto specialist balloons - balloons that have been modelled into special shapes that are relevant to your event. These are usually made from specially durable material that can handle the twisting and bending. You can also get balloon powered games - such as balloon powered boats which can provide serious entertainment later on in the evening.

Usually the company which provides your special party helium balloons will also offer to supply the required helium. This can come in disposable canisters in small amounts, or larger returnable bottles for larger quantities. Helium is quite safe and in the past has been used as a party trick because if you inhale it, you will find your voice changes into a high pitched squeak. This is a temporary reaction and is meant to be quite harmless, but even so it is not really recommended.

New look helium balloons are a great way to help a party go with a swing and there are lots of suppliers listed on the website. A few we found were as follows but with a bit of research, you should easily find exactly what you are looking for.

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