This DIY wasn’t just any old project for us. This was a labor of love, made for some dear friends. Last year, Maggie’s godparents were expecting a baby boy, Ryan. They had lovingly prepared for him until he was full term, when he was shockingly born with no heartbeat. They lost baby Ryan and spent the following months trying to figure out how to deal with their grief. Somehow, they gathered their strength and decided to honor their son by raising money to reopen a local pool that had been closed, and install a splash pad next to the pool. They raised over $200,000 and made their goal a reality, and now the pool and splash pad are named in their son’s honor. Kids play there every day, and it’s like baby Ryan is always a part of our community. For the ribbon cutting ceremony, they asked us if we might help decorate with some balloons, and we were so glad to help. So then we had to figure out how to make a balloon arch!
We did some looking online and there are a few tutorials, but after prototyping a bunch of different garlands, I couldn’t quite find a tutorial that worked for our purposes. So here’s how to make a balloon arch, according to us! This tutorial is perfect if you’re trying to create a larger, installation-type balloon arrangement, with lots of different sizes of balloons.
How to Make a Balloon Arch
- Balloons. We used Qualatex, which was recommended to us by a few different people. Our arch was a single layer of balloons that stretched about 40 feet and we used the following: 10 3′ balloons, 8 2′ balloons, and about 100 of each of the following sizes: 16″, 11″, and 9″.
- Low temperature glue gun and glue sticks
- Cotton twine
- Permanent Glue Dots
- Air compressor or hand balloon pump
Make Time: 5 Hours
First off, a few tips! If your balloon arch is outside like ours was, be prepared for popping. Especially if the balloons will be in the sun. Almost all of our 3′ dark blue balloons popped — it was just too hot for them and the dark color absorbed all of the heat. The lighter colors fared a little better. But bring along some extra balloons to replace popped ones as needed.
Also, if you’re setting up outside, you’ll need to take wind into consideration. Find a place to attach the balloons that provides a lot of security and shelter. Ours needed to be attached to a fence, which was a little tricky with the wind blowing through and over it. So we tied each balloon bunch to a few different anchor points on the fence. Read on for the complete steps!
Step 1: Start by inflating all of your balloons. We used an air compressor and a hand pump.
Step 2: Next, start making small bunches of balloons. This works best if you tie the necks of the balloons together. We would get 3-4 varying sizes of balloons, and blow all of them up except for one. Then we would blow up the final balloon, and tie the neck around the necks of the other balloons. Make all of your bunches of balloons in the same way.
Step 3: Start creating your garland. We were creating ours offsite and moving it to the event location, so we made ours in sections that were each about 8′ long. (We transported the sections in a 17′ U-Haul truck.) To create the sections of your garland, use the low temp glue gun. We recommend finding two bunches of balloons that fit well next to each other. Then identify the points where the balloons naturally touch. Place a large DOT (not a line) of glue at the contact point and press the two balloons together. The glue adheres best if you hold the balloons together for about 20 seconds as it dries. For each balloon bunch that you glue onto your garland, you should find at least 4-5 points of contact between the new bunch and the previous bunch, and glue them together to really make the garland secure.
Step 4: Once you have a longer section of your garland glued together, cut a section of twine about two yards long. Fold it in half and tie it around one of the groups of balloons, knotting it around the necks of the balloons. Repeat this for each bunch of balloons, tying a string on each.
Step 5: Once all of your balloon garland sections are created and have strings tied on, you can start installing. Use the strings to tie the garland to your anchor points, wherever you may be installing them. It’s important that the anchor points are very sturdy, especially if it’s breezy. If you’re indoors, you may be able to use Command hooks, but if you’re outside I’d recommend finding something a little stronger.
Step 6: After the balloon garlands are all installed, take a few steps back and identify any bare spots. At this point, if you have access to the low temp glue gun, use it to attach single balloons at any points that might need filling in. If you’re outdoors and can’t use the glue gun, you can use the glue dots instead.
Phewph! I still can’t believe we figured out how to make a balloon arch. I was so excited to be able to put it together for this event (and so worried that it was going to go okay!). Thanks for reading through this one, I know it’s detailed. And if our friend’s story touches you, you can check out more of it right here. There’s a place where you can donate to the Ryan Barber Fund as well. Thanks friends, and have a good one! xoxo