Updated: Oct 31, 2021
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Two years ago, for my daughter's 1st birthday party, I had the crazy idea of attempting my own balloon arch, it seemed so easy...I ordered a balloon arch kit and naively thought that was all I needed to be able to complete the arch. I didn't really do any research as I thought the included instructions would be self-explanatory...How wrong can one be? So, my first humongous mistake was a lack of research. The next ginormous mistake was leaving it until the night before to make the arch! Followed by two huge mistakes: blowing up the balloons manually and tying them up by hand! What a crazy fool! It took several hours to blow them up and to tie them. My fingers were numb and almost bleeding by the time I had finished. Due to the lack of research I then blindly stuck the balloons through the balloon arch strip. I really had no clue how many to use, what sizes to use and where to put them. Trying to get the balloons in was like a game of Twister. Once I had finished the strip, I had no clue what to do with it next. So, I spent another hour trying to work out how to attach it to the wall, but as there were so many balloons, they pushed the arch away from the wall and with the tools that I had available it was impossible to hang the arch. It was like wrestling with an eel. After trying a variety of ways to attach the arch, a meltdown, which had been brewing since I started the arch, erupted when I realised, I could not hang it and that I had wasted so much time on it. My other half said I was to never attempt another one, ever, unless I wanted a divorce. I decided the only thing that I could do with it was to chuck it in the garden to give the children something else to play with during the party, then it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time and money.
This epic failure was playing on my mind. I wanted to know what I had done wrong, so, after the party I started researching balloon arches, watching YouTube clips to see where I had gone so spectacularly wrong. Command hooks were the answer, or so I thought. A glue gun was also suggested to help gap fill with the smaller balloons. So, I felt that I would now be able to successfully make an arch.
As time passed, I became more and more determined that a balloon arch was something that I could achieve, I just needed to research more, not leave it until the night before and make sure I was organised. I really wanted to succeed at this. There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding my daughter's 2nd birthday due to Covid, and Lockdown, so a balloon arch was the least of my worries.
However, during the summer of 2021 we were no longer in lockdown for my daughter's third birthday party, so thoughts of creating a successful arch, consumed me. I did a lot of research and decided I would buy a cheap one to practice with a week in advance. It was through my extensive research, I discovered that an electric balloon blower, a balloon tie, Command Hooks and glue dots were the answer to a successful and stress-free balloon arch...
I broached the divorce initiating subject with my partner and pointed out, that surely if I practiced, that if I didn’t leave it until the night before the party to start the arch and if I had all the equipment I needed, that it would be less stressful? I would be less stressed? It was kind of agreed, or so I thought, until it all arrived, and my partner said, “I thought you were just thinking about it? I didn’t realise you were actually going to do one!” Awkward! I reiterated how it would be less stressful the second time around, I was sure it would be.
In hindsight me thinking it was a good idea to start blowing the balloons up with my electric pig balloon pump whilst my daughter was in the same room was not the best start to a stress-free balloon arch. I naively thought that blowing some balloons up for her would keep her occupied whilst I constructed the arch. This was clearly delusional! Firstly, the pig air pump was so cute that my daughter couldn’t leave it alone, she thought it was funny to put her hand over the air hole, which then suctioned her hand, she also kept making oinking noises. Secondly, although she did play with the balloons, I blew up for her, they only kept her occupied momentarily, she was soon bored of these and instead took great delight in running off with the balloon arch I was constructing, this then caused some to fall out, which was a little stressful. At this point I asked my other half if she was nearly finished with the jobs that she was doing, hoping that she could help. This was not a good start to my assurances it would be a stress-free event.
The pig air pump was a great investment, it saved so much time, it was one of the most reasonably priced pumps with very good reviews. Click on the photo link below to purchase one, you won't be disappointed, I wasn't.
The balloon tie gadget that came with the arch kit (The blue gadget in the photo above) was also a life saver, no more injured fingers and it saved even more time.
Whilst I was inserting the balloons into the strip, the more I inserted, the harder it became to keep them in the strip and to insert new ones. This was again like a game of Twister, and it was a little stressful. A further bit of research suggested that you alternated the sides of the strip to insert the balloons into and that you miss out a hole or two when it became harder to put them in. I also then discovered that you needed to use different sizes, not blow them up to their full size, and to keep the smallest ones until the end to fill the gaps. In addition to this, I also learned that the double hole arch strip is better for keeping the balloons in, so I wanted to buy this for the final one. After this research I took the balloons out and started again. It was then easier to construct the arch.
Then came the hanging which I enlisted the help of my partner for. She stuck the Command Hooks up, then I realised I didn’t know how to attach the arch to the hooks, I thought I could just hook the strip holes onto the Command Hooks, but the balloons were too far away from the wall. YouTube rescued me once again, it suggested using ribbon which was in the balloon arch pack or fishing wire. I had both, but the ribbon was to hand, so I used this. Again, in hindsight the fishing wire which is see-through would have been best as the ribbon showed and I had to cover this with more balloons, which meant more work. The Command Strips were so much easier to hang the arch. I just hoped they wouldn’t damage the newly painted wall. Overall, the process at this point had been a lot less stressful. This was until I had to gap fill. I saved this last part for a project over the next couple of days. Disappointingly, I found it almost impossible to cover all the gaps and the ribbon up. Some ended up popping or slipping down a little, so I had to redo them. This was stressful. Although, I got better with more practice. I did some further research but found no one had done any in depth tutorials on how to gap fill. I thought practice was the key. I was happyish with the finished arch and felt that the final one would be even better.
For the final arch I ordered another arch kit, it was a great kit, the colour of the balloons was stunning, good value for money, although, one of the foil dinosaur balloons in each kit, disappointingly, had a hole in them, this kit can be purchased via this link https://amzn.to/3EsOpkE. I ordered some extra small balloons for gap filling and the double holed arch strip. It took a lot of research to find a good quality double holed strip, one that would arrive in time, one which didn’t arrive with the single holed one with it too and one that wasn’t too expensive. I also had to order more glue dots and spent further time researching these, the quality and the expense. I started to put this together two days before the party.
Once I had practised using the double balloon strip, it was much easier and quicker than the single holed one. I would never use a single holed one again! This one can be found by clicking the photo link below.
The final arch was much easier than the practice one until I got to the gap filling stage on the night before the party. It was a nightmare! No matter how hard I tried, I just could not gap fill successfully, continuously. I would find another hole to fill, a piece of ribbon, a piece of strip or some visible glue that needed to be hidden, it seemed never ending. When I didn’t quite get the balloon in the right place I either needed to add another or try and move it. Trying to move it just resulted in the balloon popping, having to blow up more and stick more. I just couldn’t leave it alone, one minute it would look perfect, the next I would find a visible bit of strip, glue or ribbon that needed covering, sometimes this worked, others it made it look worse, which resulted in more balloons being blown up and added. I was obsessed with having the perfect arch, obsessed with being able to do something that I couldn’t do before. It was exhausting, all I wanted to do was to go to bed. Eventually, I managed to force myself to stop, but by this point it looked garish.
This was then exacerbated by using the new inferior glue dots, because in the morning some balloons had fallen off which meant I had to continue blowing more balloons up and gluing them when I should have been getting other things ready for the party. This was extremely stressful and had a knock-on effect for the rest of the day.
To me this arch was an epic failure, of course all my friends and family disagreed. But for a perfectionist it was an eyesore! I could see bits of glue hanging off and more balloons continued to fall off throughout the day. I had at least managed to get a photo the night before when it had looked a little better.
I did feel some sense of achievement and was proud of myself to a degree as I had done much better than my first attempt, however, I was also embarrassed and disappointed that it wasn’t a work of art. I just really needed a tutorial on gap filling. When I find one in the future I will reattempt it, in the shed, where I will be living. So far, the divorce is on hold, until the next time. After the party, my daughter of course had fun trying to hang off it!
If you have any good balloon arch tips, other than hire someone else to do it, and especially if you have any gap filling tips, please comment on the end of the post, or on the facebook or Insta pages.