Kids love balloons. They are colourful, and bunched together, are able to transform the bleakest interior into a haven of fun. They also remind both adults and children to let their hair down and to simply be ‘fun’. What’s more, they are cost-effective and easy to blow up and display.
If you have a whole lot of balloons handy then you’re in luck. Here are 10 things you and your child can do with balloons (other than the obvious).
10 Make a balloon car
Budding racers especially will love this one. It’s also a good way to recycle an old plastic bottle. Take the bottle and pierce two holes at one end, and two at the opposite end, through which you can put a skewer for axels. Attach four bottle tops, one to each end of a skewer, front and back. You are now ready for some balloon action.
Make a hole through the top of the bottle. Position a straw through the hole so that one end comes out through the open bottle nozzle, and the other comes through the hole. Attach a blown-up balloon to the straw (the end which enters through the bottle's top hole), and secure it, pinching it shut so that air can't escape. When you release your pinch, the car should hurtle forwards (see diagram).
9 Catch a balloon game
This is a great game for little ones especially and will keep them occupied for a while, while they run around trying to catch a balloon. For this game, you can use one of the funnels you use in your kitchen, as a catching device.
Your child merely has to throw the balloon up in the air and catch it. This can also double as a party game, for which each child should be given a funnel and contenders then see who can keep the balloon in the air for the longest.
8 A balloon rainbow
This one is self-explanatory but will require a little work from your side. Take colored balloons and arrange them in groups of four or five per color. Then take the colored bundles and string them side by side until they are sequenced according to the order of the colors in a rainbow.
This one is hard work but the results are impressive. You can do it mom!
7 Balloon rockets
Children love to make things which move on their own steam and this is exactly what this rocket does. Put a straw on a piece of string and secure the string from one end of a room to another, tying it to something like a chair.
Draw a rocket on a balloon and then after blowing the balloon up, tape it to the straw. When you let the balloon’s end go, the rocket should hurtle forwards across the string. For a party game, try this with a few balloons, straws and strings and see whose rocket can go the furthest.
6 Balloon tennis
Maybe your child isn’t great with smaller balls and battles to catch them – or hit them. This is why balloon tennis is such fun.
It goes by simple tennis rules only a balloon is used instead of a tennis ball. Kids will be able to hit the balloon with greater ease than a tennis ball and the balloon will also not hurtle towards the child, or away from the child at great speed, enabling an easy, non-competitive game. Just try not to pop the balloon!
5 A balloon artwork
On those days when your little one feels in an extra exploratory, messy mood, why not blow up a balloon or two and put some large sheets of paper outside on the lawn. Then dip the balloon in paint and let the child use the balloon as a paintbrush.
They can either make special shapes with the balloon’s unique surface on the canvas or bounce it over the paper and see what imprints are left on the sheet.
4 A swim to remember
Children in pools love to play with balloons. They can be lobbied around as volleyballs, or they can be thrown at each other. Or why not blow up a whole lot of balloons and throw them into the pool for a party to add a splash of color and fun to the proceedings.
You can even put special messages in some of the balloons and have kids dive in and choose a balloon, before popping it to see what their message says.
3 Balloon fruit
Hold a fruity party and use balloons as fruity decorations. Cut green cardboard and make the top leaf for an apricot (an orange balloon), or position purple or green balloons into a bunch, for grapes. Or how about using a long yellow balloon as a banana?
Kids will love helping to make these very fruity party decorations. Lots of fun for them and lots of fun for you.
2 A balloon surprise
Children especially love to be surprised and to give others surprises. Buy a bunch of helium balloons and a big box, securing the string holding the balloons in a bunch to the bottom of the box. Ensure the box is big enough to hold the full bunch and carefully push the bunch into it before closing it and sealing it.
You might like to write ‘special delivery’ on it and have it delivered to your front door. Or position it at the door and have someone ring the doorbell, asking the ‘birthday boy’ or ‘birthday girl’ to answer. The children will love seeing the surprise on the recipient’s face when they open the box.
1 Create a balloon drop
This one is impressive and adds that fantastical sparkle to a big celebration. It also need not be expensive. Tie a net by its four corners to the ceiling and position all of the blown-up balloons on top of the net. At the right moment, release two sides of the sheet so that it tilts down, letting the balloons roll onto the guests.
Yours might not look as professional as the ones they do on Oprah or American Idols but guests will remember the party for a long time to come.