The first time I had to add a specialty balloon (inflate a balloon with a valve) and add it to one of my custom balloon garlands at BomBoms, I was stumped.
I called my business partner (and bestie since Middle School) and asked a lot of questions.
WHY is it so dang hard to do something that’s supposed to be simple?!
It turns out, balloons with a valve have always been a bit tricky. Some people are taught how to do things like this naturally in childhood.
For those who like to learn things in a more hands-on environment, here’s my how-to guide!
My Easy Step-By-Step Process:
Step One: Pierce the valve! I like to use a pen or pencil for this step because the tip is a bit more gradual and not as harsh as a straw. You can test how much space you’re working with in order to avoid breaking the balloon.
Step Two: Insert a straw into the valve. Sometimes this step is harder than you’d think, and requires you to find a certain size straw or cut it to fit accordingly.
Step Three: Connect the bottom portion of the straw (that’s not inserted in the balloon) to your electric balloon pump.
Step Four: Pull the balloon tight in the opposite direction from where the air is coming.
This step is a bit awkward but it’s the best way to inflate a balloon with a valve most efficiently. It makes the airflow a bit more organized and can make a 2-minute inflation process take closer to fifteen or thirty seconds to complete!
Why do I need to know how to inflate a balloon with a valve?!
According to my BFF since we were, like, ten years old who is the craftiest person I know- it’s common knowledge.
Personally, I never experienced a NEED for efficiency with this life skill until I became a balloon artist.
Here are a few scenarios where knowing how to inflate a balloon with a valve might come in handy:
- Building custom balloon garlands
- Setting up for a birthday party
- Building balloon columns
- ANY balloon design that calls for custom balloons, like this cookie monster garland!
What can go wrong if you don’t inflate a balloon with a valve properly:
Here are all of the ways I’ve messed up big time when it comes to balloons with valves.
- You BUST the balloon at the seams! If you aren’t careful while inflating a balloon with a valve, you will bust the balloon at the seams. It’s a really hard issue to repair, especially when that’s your signature balloon that makes your balloon design pop. Pro tip: try using super glue first and a hair straightener as a second line of defense to repair the balloon.
- You break the balloon valve. I can’t tell you how many times I rushed through a 6ft pickup balloon garland, only to bust the valve of my finishing touch balloon at the very end. Since specialty balloons are usually part of the finishing touches, this tends to happen when you’re tired and ready to just be DONE.
- You can’t pierce the balloon to inflate it! I’m all about efficiency, so I spent the first hundred or so balloon garlands I made as a balloon artist trying to simply stick the valved balloon directly on my pump. It rarely went well, and oftentimes that forced air fused the valve shut- in the worst kind of way. Talk about a bummer.
My favorite anecdote: the Grinchy balloon valve gone wrong.
It was near Christmas and I was a single mom, so naturally I took EVERY last-minute balloon order that came my way. It was a Grinch balloon garland. A mini setup. I knocked it out so fast for the same-day order.
THEN came the Grinch balloon. The finishing touch on my 6 goot mini garland. I didn’t pull the balloon tight while inflating and he popped at the seams. Super glue didn’t work, so I went for my hair straightener.
While I DID save the last-minute pickup garland for my client en route, I also ruined my straightener. For the next two years (until I finally replaced the flat iron) my hair smelled like burnt plastic every time I did it.
Did this how-to article help you? Leave a comment below!
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I’m a girl mom, former balloon artist, and wife who found myself as a serial entrepreneur in the party business niche. You can learn more about how I started my balloon business in my small town of 12,000 people and scaled it to a 6 figure company here. You can check out my Yard Card business here.
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