Balloon Deliveries

Bagging customer’s orders will set you apart, as well as making delivery simpler, and lessen the stress of wind/ rain/ snow/ tangled/ curled ribbons.
– unknown

Some of the following comments include amounts of money in the imaginary unit called “C-shells.” These units are used to avoid any hint of illegal price fixing in the balloon industry.

Stuffing machines

  • Research your balloon machines. There are a number of manufacturers with various sizes and prices. Any type of stuffing machine will do fine if you just want to sell an occasional stuffed balloon to your customer. If you are handy with tools, they can be made from an acrylic aquarium and a vacuum motor.
  • All balloon stuffing machines use a vacuum to suck out the air to expand the balloons. They have various neck sizes to allow inserting items in the balloons. I suggest you call each company and ask for their information. They run specials and reduce the prices at times.
  • Balloon stuffing adds great sales and offers a unique idea to your customer. Be very careful in buying used equipment though cause even a small crack will cause you to lose your suction in the base. I had a compact pro and loved it! We increased our valentine’s sales tremendously with it.
  • I have been stuffing gifts inside of balloons for 10 years now. I actually started my first balloon business doing only that! For me it has been VERY profitable. I would suggest not spending over $500 on a machine though. I mostly wrap gifts to order but if you have a store front you need to ALWAYS have a couple made up so people will know you can do them!
  • Anything you place in a balloon should not be able to break down the balloon membrane (obviously) but Anything you place in it will be transformed to have an incredible mystique!

Product-specific information

Balloon Wrap

  • I really recommend a company named Balloon Wrap. It’s located in Yorba Linda, CA. #714-993-2295. I had my machine for 3 yrs. I think it’s much better than the others on the market. Give them a call. Talk to Len Wigger.
  • I have the Balloon Wrap machine myself. I love it. It realy is the best on the market. Les Wigger is the one you would need to talk to.
  • I’ve had my Balloon Wrap machine 10 years. It is the best! In my opinion.

Incredible Balloon Machine Company

  • The Incredible Balloon Machine Company used to make the Balloomers stuffing and the PuffPAC mylar gift wrapping machine.
  • I have invested in a Balloomers, Incredible Balloon Machine Co. Balloon Stuffer. I like it because it is up off of the floor and the bubble is detachable from the base for easy transportation. The machine also comes with tubes to make the roses in the balloon, both the small and the large sizes. It also comes with a balloon stretcher. Its opening is 5 inches. The company is in California and they have a home page on the internet. Comparably priced with the Classy Wrap.
  • I’ve tried a bunch of machines and the Bloomers stuffing machine is superior. The Incredible Balloon Machine Company has everything you could ever want that has to do with balloon stuffing.

Le Pouf

  • Treasure Masters is the wholesale company that owns Le pouf. They also sell wedding supplies that your brides purchasing balloon decorations for their wedding might also be interested in (gobleets, knives, etc.)

    The above address will take you to Perfavore You can order the Le Pouf Machine from them. They also carry all the supplies you need, Instructions (with photographs) for a variety of favors are also on line.

Magic Box

  • Magic Box manufactures the Compac Pro
  • Compac Pro is dome-shaped and has a side stand to make the roses in a balloon wrap. Costing $695, it is the cheapest of all the systems, except the toy. It will handle all the balloon sizes that the Maxim will, and is easier to store.
  • We have tried four machines, including the Balloon Wrap machine. The easiest to use by far was the Compac Pro. The machine is easy to use, well made, and light weight. The Compac Pro also makes stuffing heart shape balloons with roses, a cinch. Easiest machine to use in offering the ability to stuff various sizes of balloons. The Compac Pro has a 5.5 inch opening.The Compac Pro is sold from $650-$750 from various locations but can be bought from the manufacturer directly.


  • Maxim produces three different models: the Classy Wrap, Snappy Wrap, and Jiffy Wrap.
    331 W, 2700 South
    Salt Lake City, UT 84114
  • Maxim Classy Wrap system. Runs about $995.00, they also carry needed supplies and they have sales support and a marketing plan.
  • Maxim Classy Wrap is box-shaped and low to the floor. Unlike the Compac Pro, it cannot be set upon a desk or table as it is too tall. At $1,295 it is more expensive and more bulky. In order to do the roses in a balloon, you will also have to purchase the Jiffy wrap system separately for system $149. The Snappy Wrap is smaller, costs $495, and is more like the Compac Pro.
  • I’ve used a Classy Wrap machine in my store for about five or six years now. It is a wonderful machine. It can be easily dismantled with some basic tools. It is very durable and the people at Maxim are wonderful to do business with and they stand behind what they sell. Our machine had to be sent out for service twice. They gave us a loaner machine so we would not lose any business. I would not hesitate to buy another machine or to recommend this product to anyone.
  • The Classy Wrap is a *floor model* unit, stands about 3.5 feet tall by 20″ x 20″. It does not dismantle. It is illustrated in the US Balloon Catalog. I have no experience with it, but I do have the *easily portable* tabletop version… the Snappy Wrap, which I love!
  • For being able to stuff larger items into a balloon and for larger jobs, we use the Classy Wrap, which is a wonderful machine. It has a huge opening, is easy to move or transport, and again is well made. The Classy Wrap is available for aproximately $995 from several balloon vendors.
  • I have had my Snappy Wrap for 5 years and it does the job for me. It is perfect for making up gumball balloons as well as gift wrapping plush, etc. I think it is now available for $500. Included were 3 tubes for doing smaller stuffing, roses in a balloon, etc. Balloons from 5″- 16″ can be used.
  • Snappy Wrap
    Pros: portable (comes with a carrying case which you can toss over one shoulder), inexpensive, durable
    Cons: only takes 18″ balloons (many models will take 16″, 18″ and larger), opening is just 5 inches, balloons are attached manually.
  • If doing high volume gift wrapping, then you might want to consider a deluxe model, like the counterpart to the Snappy Wrap, the Classy Wrap. The Classy Wrap will take 16″ and 18″ balloons and attaching the balloons to the unit is simplified by a stretching device.
  • We have had at least one Classy Wrap balloon stuffer in our business from the first year we opened. At one point, we owned 10 of them! We now own stuffing machines, both of them are Classy Wraps and one is still our original dinosaur from 1990! As far as durability, reliability, efficiency, and user friendliness, we feel the Classy Wrap is about a 9 rating. The only problem we have experienced is that one must periodically replace the top seal, as it tends to wear out with use. Although Classy Wraps are initially an expensive investment, we feel they are worth the price. You can frequently find one used at 25% to 50% off.
  • When asking people about the stuffers they had, the responses from the owners of the Classy Wrap had a lot of good things to say. In fact, a few that sold their businesses have kept their Classy Wrap machine, because they did not want to give them up.
  • We have a Classy Wrap and love it. It’s five years old and still in great condition, and we’ve even “shlepped” it to jobs with us as we use it for centerpiece work (a plant inside a balloon etc.). Its drawback is that sometimes, because it is on the floor, it’s a little hard on the back when you work with what you are putting inside. Otherwise it’s very durable and can really take getting knocked around.

Ohio Art

  • A quick search on yahoo turns up 11 listings for this toy balloon stuffer that was listed as one of Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products for 1995 (recommended for children 8-12 years old).

    Faballoon Balloon Maker
    Creative craft(8-12) $26.93
    Fabulous balloons turn into gifts, centerpieces or hanging decorations.
    Everything needed for 8 balloons plus pumping unit, wand, decorating pen, shredded paper and a color creativity guide.
    Refill sets are available. These are delightful projects that are more fun to do together and a terrific way to celebrate the next birthday.

    The manufacturer is:

    P.O. Box 111, One Toy Street
    Bryan, OH 43506
    Tel: (419) 636-3141 Fax: (419) 636-7614
    Web Site:
    Products: Making Creativity Fun Line of Activity Toys and Kits, Including Etch A Sketch Brand, Faballoon, and Sand Kingdom.

  • At our Costco/Price Club, I got an Ohio Art FABalloon unit for close to $20. The neck opening of the balloon is extra wide, about the same as on a 36″ balloon. The opening stretches over an approximately 4″ circular frame, which fits on top of a hollow two-part plastic globe. The rest of the balloon hangs down into the globe. A hand-operated vacuum pump sucks the balloon in to fill up the globe. To seal it, you rotate the circular frame a few twists and use a plastic clip.
  • I used to have a small stuffing machine that I bought at Toys R Us. It came with a few crummy balloons and it was only good for about a 9-10 inch round (of their making because it had an extra wide lip entrance on the balloon) so I bought a bag of Qualatex 16″ rounds and I would fill them with animals and curly-Q’s and just plain straight 100% inflated 260’s, 160’s and 130’s. Then I would let the 16″ round deflate, take the filled balloon out of the machine and re-inflate with helium. It looked SOOOO KEWL! So those inexpensive little machines can be used to get some good effects.
  • Some time ago, I acquired a toy vacuum stuffing machine. It has a hand pump and you need to repump all the time in order to keep the vacuum holding. It only holds 9 or 12 inch rounds. It`s like the machines gift shops use. Toy or not, it allows me to stuff inflated balloons and balloon figures inside a round. There is only about a 9 or 10 cm opening, but it is more than enough for my use.
  • I purchased a FABALLOON machine. It inflates about 9″ balloons for you to stuff. I need to know where to buy the special balloons that are used with this machine. They are about 9″ but have a large mouth (similar to an 16″ or 18″ balloons).
  • Bought one ourselves just for the heck of it ’cause it was so cheap. The only problem is the special balloon.
  • I just saw some “refills” while browsing at Toys R Us this past weekend.
  • Believe it or not, Qualatex manufactured the balloons for Ohio Art stuffer, so perhaps that might provide an avenue to research.
  • It works with 18″ rounds.
  • FABaloon is a balloon stuffing kit. When I bought it our Toys R Us had it for $9.99 from $29.99. What great fun and a cheap way to bring a birthday child a gift! I made a small blue poodle and put it in the balloon with mylar shredds and a spiral twisted red 160, then closed the top of the balloon and with a few decorations. Thist makes a great gift. Even my 17 year old walked in an said, “That’s neat”!
  • I have one of the “toy” stuffers along with a ComPaq Pro. The little is great for making centerpieces. Take home type favors from a party stuffed in a balloon would be something to talk about. The collars that come with the stuffer can be duplicated from any poster board and a good rotary cutter.
  • I used to stick in things that were a little too big, and scrunch em up then deflate the whole thing, remove the animal stuff/ balloon stuffed, etc balloon and reinflate it to a more appropriate size.
  • I own a FABalloon stuffer. For occasional stuff it works like a charm, and it’s not expensive at all. I paid about 1000 BEF, close to 25 USD, and have used it to make gifts for friends. It’s quite useful to have. I haven’t been able to find the wide-lipped balloons in suitable colors (the colors that come with it are, to my opinion, AWFUL), but I use large clears without significant problems.
  • Faballoon is made by the Ohio Arts Company but it is no longer being produced. Their number is 419-636-3141. They also have a web site, I got mine off of the ebay auction site.
  • I purchased one and honestly, I don’t think it does a very good job. Don’t be in such a hurry to buy it. I also bought a “tube” version of a similar product when I was at the International Balloon Arts Convention in Chicago 2 years back. Roughly the same price, and does a better job in my opinion. Also, more of a compact unit.
  • At the Twist and Shout 2000 Convention I (Paul Belanger) was selling a few of the Faballoon (balloon stuffing) units. Unfortunately they are no longer being made by the manufacturer. I kept one unit for myself and sold the other units. For some reason the company was no longer interested in making the Faballoon. Your best shot to find the unit, is to try Arts and Craft stores or Toy stores to see if they have any left in stock. It was a great inexpensive machine.

Stuffing Machines Keepsake International

  • Stuffing Machines Keepsake International 1-800-982-4480
  • This is a very good machine, very fair price, easy to use and they invented the Stretch-A-Roo to make getting the balloon on the port.
  • I purchased the Keepsakeer machine for a number of reasons. First of all, it was close to me (they are in Idaho) and since this is their machine, I have receive very personalized help when I need it. I have only seen Classy Wrap through suppliers and I wonder how much they would be able to help. Another reason is, I felt for the price (almost half) this machine would do everything the more expensive machine would do – why pay more? Plus, the Keepsaker uses the vacuum pump to its full value by being able to attach an inflater hose (included) – I can inflate my balloon in the vacuum chamber, remove from the machine and stuff, while inflating other balloons as needed. Since I am new in the business, I don’t already have an inflater machine and this was invaluable to me. The other reason is it’s size and weight. Also about half of the Classy Wrap – much easier for me to handle. I really like the feature of being able to remove the chamber once the balloon is inflated to “wherever” to finish stuffing it. I have a work surface that is just the right height for this. Plus they have a 2 year warranty – don’t see that much these days – on anything!!! So far, I am happy with this machine and it stuffs balloons just fine – what else do you need?

Stuffing Round Balloons

  • A well stuffed balloon is a beautiful thing indeed. It’s painfully obvious sometimes after the fact that you must still be careful with what you put inside. To attract attention try the standard 5″ and 260s then get a little more adventureous and try some soft toys.If you’re worried about bursting add a bit of padding with 260s and 5″ and tissue or shred. It’s a good idea to try to hang or at least support anything you put in with a very thin mono line although using a THICK cord can sometimes add to the “how did they do that?” effect.

    Most of all be hesitant about what you claim will fit in and travel well.

  • If you’ve got a shop window put small gifts in like choclates, a paperback novel, we’ve even put shirts (on a hanger) and men’s toilet kit.
  • Several times we’ve used it to put a company’s products inside for table decor at a party. Another time we hung the sheet for the nights events and an awards presentation.
  • For a base we use a looped 260 or a small plastic bowl.
  • Creative names like “***** under glass” or “Captured *****” sound good and provoke interest for the client and confidence that it is something special.
  • Tips on stuffing a 11″ round balloon into a larger round balloon so the balloon inside doesn’t wobble:First put the uninflated smaller balloon into the larger one (use a balloon straw if you have difficulty with this). Make sure the nozzle of the smaller balloon sticks out the nozzle of the larger one. Inflate the smaller balloon and tie the nozzle. Now inflate the the larger balloon, but hold on to the nozzle of the smaller one. If you inflate the large balloon fast enough, this is not difficult at all. When inflated to the right size, tie the nozzle of the large balloon so that the nozzle of the smaller one is tied with it.

    Use Hi-float inside the larger balloon and the part at the base will stick to the inside balloon and hold it steady. I’ve used this a lot in decor work and it really works.

    Try a 260 or 160/130. Make a ring to set the smaller balloon in so that when it is stuffed into the larger one it will act as a stand or base between the two. It might even enhance the over-all look.

  • Does anyone have any other ideas as to what to stuff the balloons with besides stuffed animals and flowers? They sell, but I want to get another market, maybe hit the males and older folks?
  • One nifty idea… take humorous (or otherwise) T-shirts, place in the balloon. While holding it, insert another balloon through the neck (of the shirt) and inflate until the T-shirt is sandwiched between the 2 balloons. You can gift wrap just about anything flexible enough to fit in the balloon opening, and just about anything that goes into a gift basket can go into a balloon… as long as it does not have pointy edges!
  • A t-shirt or sweatshirt: put shirt in balloon, then put another balloon in the shirt and inflate, this will push the shirt up against the wall of the outside balloon and make sure any printing or logo on shirt is facing the right way.
  • Basketball (football, etc.) deflate the ball, stuff it in the balloon then re-inflate with a sports ball pump
  • A six-pack of your favorite beverage
  • You can stuff anything that will fit though the opening in the stuffer. You can stuff other balloons, cups, gifts in a gift basket.
  • All I’ve done is put stuffed animals inside, but I can’t see why a balloon animal couldn’t be put inside.
  • One of our most popular and easy designs for the stuffing-machine is a four-petal flower. The great benefit is that you can coordinate the colors to match any kind of bouquet. It is simply using four air-filled 5-inch latex, tied and twisted together (a cluster) with 2 under-inflated 5-inch balloons (of a different color) to make the center bulb. I use the 260Q’s for the stem and make the leaves with a few simple twists.
  • The final touch would be to rotate the stuffing balloon. Pull it out of the machine and fully let the air out and then, refill it with helium. Make sure to hold a little bit of the end of the 260 stem and tie it along with the 16″ stuffing balloon. This allows it to stay erect.
  • I ease delicate objects into the stuffing machine by cutting the ends off of a plastic garbage bag and place the bag in the hole so that it hangs in and out of the machine. This method works great for any stuffing of latex balloons, since they will tend to stick together when a sculpture is being placed inside of them.
  • To make money at fairs, we have found that a real rose inside a 6-inch heart-shaped balloon still sells the best. Even 260’s and 5-inch balloons inside an 18-inch printed balloon are great. Put the balloon or sculpture on a cup N stick, and they sell very well. Stuffed animals inside balloons are extremely popular as gifts on Valentines day and Mothers day.
  • You need a machine that can do the single flower in the 6-inch heart very quickly and easy, because this impulse item will be your number one seller.

Special Stuffing Effects

  • “Mr. Clear” over a latex balloon, as described in this post by Mark Burringer:How do we protect the 18″ balloon wraps?

    A unique “plastic bag” that is on the market today is a product called “Mr. Clear.” It is a sleeve of crystal clear shrink wrap plastic. It can be placed on a 18″ Upside-down balloon, twist tie – and then you use a heat gun or strong hair dryer to slowly shrink the plastic to a form fitting barrier. The advantage to this method is that the plastic is barely discernible from a distance. This gives the customers a great view of the actual balloon wrapped product. The product has its drawbacks; cost, time and wrinkles when exposed to cold temperatures, but it does the job of protecting the balloon very well. Invented and produced at Incredible Balloon this product is always in high demand.

  • Cracked ice balloons are clear (or clear imprinted stars, snowflakes, dots, etc.) with loosely crumpled opal mylar sheets inside. Put them on your stuffer, suck out the air, loosely crumple 1/2 sheets of opal (silver, blue, etc.) mylar and insert. Deflate the balloon, remove it from the stuffer. On the day of your event, inflate them with helium.
  • You may want to suggest that your customer uses live blooming plants inside the balloons. I use 4-5″ potted mums and violets. They will live for about 1.5 to 2 weeks inside the balloon before they need to be popped and watered.
  • This is in response to Tammy’s question yesterday about floating a lily inside of a clear latex balloon:We used to do these a couple of years ago with either fresh roses or fresh stargazer or casablanca lilies. We started doing these as a competition piece, and then began selling them for some of our events. We decided to discontinue them though because of the guests who just had to put the balloons to the test and see if they could pop them. We actually had a guest put a cigarette lighter to the balloon to see if it would pop (duh!) – and when it did it sprayed water all over the table and the other guests sitting at the table. Instead of being embarassed for acting like a jerk and getting all of those people wet, the “Einstein” that popped the balloon threw a fit and demanded that the company hosting the party pay for his dry cleaning. (You have to wonder about people some times!) So, before you sell these unique centerpieces, think about the consequences and make your client aware of the risks.
  • Here is how we used to do it – again, this was quite a few years ago, before there even were stuffing machines (can you believe it?). So there may be an easier way to do it now, but here is our technique:
    1. Fully inflate a clear 9″ latex balloon with air and release to stretch the balloon and neck out. (We use 9″ so that we can keep it small enough to not need a ton of water and to inflate it enough so that the latex is stretched to be clear and not cloudy).
    2. Stretch the entire balloon neck over a thin piece of PVC (I am not sure what size, but the opening was about as big around as a silver dollar).
    3. Blow a puff of air into the balloon through the PVC. Take a very tight rose bud or lily bud and push through the tube and into the balloon. It may need another puff of air to get the bud inside the balloon. (It is important that you use a flower that has not opened up yet – do this a day or two ahead of time and the flower will open up beautifully inside the balloon.)
    4. Put the balloon neck over a water faucet and SLOWLY put enough water in for the flower to float on. CAREFULLY take it off of the faucet when you have the amount of water in that you would like.
    5. Using either your mouth, or a hand inflator, slowly fill the balloon with air until it is almost to size, but a little bit underinflated so that it doesn’t pop easily – tie a knot in the neck of the balloon.
    6. Now you have the flower bud floating in water inside of the balloon. The trick now is to be patient and wait for the flowers to open up inside of the balloon. This usually only takes about a day, so make sure you allow for this time. Sometimes the water will “fog” the balloon on the inside, but this usually goes away in a couple of hours and stays clear. To keep them upright, we usually just sat them in a decorated styrofoam ring – the weight of the water kept them in without glue or anything. Another cool trick we did was to use a set of battery lights under the ring and illuminate the entire balloon and water – which looked absolutely gorgeous! You can even add a little bit of food coloring to the water for a slight color tint.

    If you would like to see an example of this, there is a photo in Balloon &amp Parties, November 1990 on pages 34 and 40. There is also a lily one on a pedestal in a later issue, but I do not recall which issue exactly.

Keeping Clears Clear

  • I’m in a dilemma called HOT and HUMID weather vs. Diamond Clear Balloons!!! Doing a Decor job for a Wedding using lots of Clear Balloons (Qualatex Diamond Clear Flowers A Round), and the weather is a HOT 39C, overcast/cloudy, stormy and humid. The venue is air conditioned with an evaporative cooler (water cooled) adding more moisture. I’m extremely worried about clouding/oxidization of these Balloons.
  • Balloons have a very light powder inside of them. I have noticed that when I stuff a colored balloon inside a clear balloon, the clarity of the balloon diminishes. So, I tried rinsing powder out of the clear balloon, leting it dry or drying it with the blower, and have found that the clarity has increased.
  • If you have any regular HI-FLOAT (not the new super hi-float) It can be mixed with water and put into a small round wash basin. After inflating the balloon you can gently give it a bath. This is best done by holding the balloon in your hand upside down and using a cup or dipper pour the solution gently flow over the balloons until all surface is covered – hold in place until the excess flows off the balloon and into the basin. This sounds messy, but it’s not a scary as it sounds. We used a clothes-line in the back area of the shop and put newspaper on the floor. Just like doing laundry – I used a clothes pin to hold them in place. By the time the end of the line came around the first were dry enough to be tied into bunches.
  • Another way is to gently insert a pencil into the balloon and then hold the neck tightly onto the pencil and lower it into the HI-FLOAT. Remove and slowly fill with helium. After done they will take a few minutes to be dry enough to pull together in groups. We usually do anything like this in shop and transport. The pour method dries a little faster. I have even used this method on large paddle balloons! They are always a hit.
  • Yes, we also have turned our clear balloons inside out, rinsed them off, dried them, and used them (with super hi float inside, sometimes with hi float outside) for various jobs where we wanted the sparkling clear effect. However, this technique is time consuming and hi floating outside the balloon can get quite messy as well as being a challenge to dry if you have very many to do. We have used a hair dryer on low — again too time consuming for a big job. It’s most effective for a focal point grouping or arrangement or stuffed balloon.
  • We also use Klearkote, which does a pretty good job – I like it better than Balloon Shine, etc. Have also used clear acrylic waxes, like Future, when we have done 50 or more stuffed balloons for quick sale – Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day.
  • You’ll get the best results for a clear balloon if you use regular hi- float (not super hi-float) in a 1:1 ratio mixed with water. Rinse off the balloon (both sides) and dry completely. Dip it into the mixture and use a straw to move the excess off the balloon. Air inflate the balloon (or use nitrogen) and it will almost be dry when it’s inflated. If it isn’t, use a hair dryer on cool to completely dry it. This is a pain in the …. if you have lots of balloons to do, but if it’s just a few, you’ll love it because they are really crystal clear and will stay that way quite a while.

Foil Gift Wrapping

  • Buy a heat sealing machine, find a mall before Christmas and go into the business of gift wrapping presents in balloons. Special pillow shaped foil balloons with beautiful printed designs are available and are an incredibly fast way to wrap gifts. You spend seconds rather than minutes per gift and it’s totally unique and novel (read “$$$”). Opaque 16″ latex balloons printed with “Do not open ’till Dec. 25” are also available, as is the stuffing equipment used to fill them. A kit for home use is available from:
    Magic Wrap
    Anagram International Inc.
  • In this kit, the balloons are a 2 chamber foil-balloon packaging system where the gift is lodged in the inner chamber, and surrounded by the inflated outer chamber. You place your gift inside, seal it yourself, and then inflate the outer chamber through a small straw. Christmas patterns, 2 sizes, 5 balloons for $9.95 (possibly with additional shipping charges).
  • The balloon wrap and balloon stuffing business was highly profitable a few years ago, when it was still a novelty. You could charge high prices and have a high business flow. Since the balloon business is a *relatively* low starting-investment business, the competition has grown by leaps and bounds. Not only individual balloon shops, but it seems like every florist, gift shop, and even grocery store floral departments have balloons and balloon wrap machines. Even buying stuffed animals at the import wholesaler’s in downtown L.A., we couldn’t compete with the bulk rate discount the major grocery chains get when they buy by the millions.

Care Cards

Care cards attached to deliveries serve 3 purposes:

  1. provides customer with important product info
  2. provides customer with important safety info
  3. serves as a marketing tool

QBN has generic care cards available or you can design your own.

Our bouquet cards start out by letting clients know “latex and microfoil balloons pose no threat to humans, wildlife or the environment WHEN handled responsibly”. We let them know that broken or uninflated balloons can cause harm to young child and should be disposed of immediately. Children under the age of 7 should be under constant adult supervision while playing with latex balloons. We also list the California mylar laws and let them know that our latex are 100% biodegradeable — but should not be released. They should be disposed of in a proper trash receptacle. And we cover the issue of what inhaling helium can do.


We at Butterflight Balloons hope your Balloon Arrangement brings a warm and welcome greeting! Here are some safety and care tips to extend your enjoyment. Latex Balloons are 100% biodegradable keep them cool, dry and away from direct light. You can expect them to float at least 24 hours, depending on size and care. Floating latex balloons are made to float with non-toxic helium. Foil balloons must not be released into environment. They will float for 7-14 days, and can be refilled with helium. Discard broken, uninflated balloons as they can be choking hazard to children. Inhaling helium can seriously injure. Don’t do it.


I (Graham Rouse) have a project going to revive some old, and to develop some new, “Balloon Greetings…” text or patter that might be used in connection with a bouquet of balloons, balloon gift, balloon creature or balloon display. I will expect readers to refrain from commercial use of this text without my permission. Here is a sample that I have used many times over the last thirteen years.

“CARE &amp FEEDING” “Balloons are fragile and subject to deflate without notice, especially if they are treated roughly or punctured by contact with rough, sharp, or hot surfaces. To maximize the life of your balloon sculpture place it in a cool, dry, and shady location where you will see if often. Leave it undisturbed except to

  1. Feed it by blowing two gentle puffs of air in its direction three times a day,
  2. Talk to it frequently about good things in your life, and
  3. Throw it a kiss or, at least, wink whenever you pass.”

(Copyright, G. Rouse, 1984)

In 1985 I (Graham Rouse) developed balloon greetings to be used with a series of original balloon creations. All of these balloon creations came, according to “legend”, from the other end of the rainbow. The first one is generic to the series and intended for use with any of the balloon creations.


“The Other End Of The Rainbow is home for a host of magic plants and enchanted creatures. They have the charm and power to warm human hearts and brighten human lives. They are nurtured by warm hugs and friendly smiles. They are colored with purple laughter and carry the scent of golden joy. They taste of sky blue friendship and sound like thoughts of turquoise love. They sing with humor and dance with glee to celebrate the pleasure of knowing both you and me.”

“Now, one of their midst is delivered to you. It has been sent all the way from the Balloon Forest at the other end of the Rainbow with special wishes that it may warm your heart and brighten your day.”

(Copyright, G. Rouse, 1985)

All of the balloon greetings from my “Rainbow Collection” are designed as “warm fuzzys” for the receipient. This one, however, is a bit more “spicy” than normal.


Cattail Balloon Tails grow among the pussy willows in the Sweetwater Marsh near the Land of Hearts. They always seem to laugh and giggle when they play their parts. They seldom want to spend their funds, but love to show their buns, for they are known when they are found as the second best tail in town.

So please accept this Cattail Balloon Tail bouquet with special wishes that the first best may soon come your way.

(copyright G. Rouse 1985)

These cattails are usually made by doing a l…o…n…g apple twist on a #260 and inserting a balloon stick into the #260 and then into Oasis in a base.

Here is another balloon greeting from my “Rainbow Collection” of 1985. It contains the first published reference I know of to balloon “fantasy flowers.” Usually I sent out these “Fantasy Flower” arrangements in imprinted mugs appropriate for the person or the occasion. They are in the “all time favorites” category.


The fragrance of color, the taste of a smile, the scent of laughter, and the sound of joy fill the cups of cheer served in the Garden of Friendship at the other end of the rainbow. Sometimes their colors seem to laugh out loud and their fragrance appears to dance among the sculptured forms of latex and air. Sometimes they smile in yellow or lavender or green. And their joys echo like songs of pink or peach or pastel blue. Always they possess a touch of the magic that delivers good cheer to those open hearts who drink fully of their floral bouquet.

This bouquet of fantasy flowers is now sent to you all the way from the other end of the rainbow, with loving wishes that its magic will enter your heart and add a cup of cheer to your days.

(copyright G. Rouse 1985)

Balloon Weights

Sand Weights

  • Sand balloons are a good “Downtime” (read – in front of the television) project. I have baskets of them ready. I make mine with 1/2 cup sand, which is plenty to hold 1 doz. 11″ balloons. Using 14″ balloons makes it easier to fill, and inflating the balloon first to stretch it out is even better.
  • Don’t try to ‘inflate’ a 5″ balloon with sand. Use a larger size un-inflated balloon. It’s stronger, easier to fill, and will last longer.
  • To get sand into 9″ mylar balloons, I use a funnel with a straw. It’s just a plastic kitchen funnel with a very narrow “spout.” Take a straw, make a slit about 2″ long down one side starting from the top. Slip the top of the straw around the bottom of the funnel, and tape it into place. Cut the remaining straw off at the desired length at a 45 degree angle. If you can’t find a narrow enough funnel, just push the straw up into the funnel, so that the top of the straw is flush with the top of the spout, and tape it in place. Instead of a funnel, you can also use a squeeze ketchup/ mustard bottle with the straw.
  • We use 11″ balloons (odds and ends from jobs, colors that we don’t need etc.) and put a funnel directly into the neck and pour in the sand. If we need a heavier weight for a large bouquet we use a 16″ balloon. We’ve also had a lot of luck using washers (1/2″ size) and stringing the ribbon through the hole. But for that you need approximately 1 washer per balloon.
  • I think you may find our sand weight balloon method easier. I cut the bottom end off of a old round shampoo bottle. Then I simply put the balloon on the neck end and scoop up the sand with the bottomless bottle. Next I blow into the bottle to assure all the sand blows into the weight, and then pinch it so the sand doesn’t stick to my lipstick. These are also useful for decorative weights by covering the with 2×1/3 sheets of mylar paper criss-crossed and tied with ribbon. It should look like a Hershey’s kiss when your finished. Talk about cost effective!
  • I was making my sand weights with 14″ latex balloons, and then covering them with cello or whatever to match the bouquet. THEN I saw a friend make hers with plastic sandwich bags full of sand, covered the same way. It was a V-8 moment. Obviously, there are drawbacks to this – the “balloon” isn’t as firm, unless you do a good job of pushing the air out and tying the baggie well down on the “neck”. And, if you are using clear cello, you can still see that it is sand. But, for those jobs that you are using opaque cello or mylar, these can be a real time-saver.
  • You can fill them with water as well as sand. Don’t “inflate” them very much if at all. If you just put as much water as the balloon will hold without slipping the lip over the faucet, and tie a knot in it, it is virtually indestructible. You cannot pop it by slamming it as hard as you can on the ground (of course you can puncture it with a pin).
  • I keep a 5 gallon bucket of sand “over in the corner” and when I need a weight I just grab a balloon and dump a ton of sand in the general vicinity of the opening of the balloon (no funnel), letting the rest fall back into the bucket. Let the sand fill all the way to the top of the neck, then shake it down a little to clear the neck and tie it. Without forcing any extra sand into the un-inflated balloon, you get a sand weight about the size of an extra large egg. It will hold down about ten 11″ helium balloons.
  • Put your funnel to good use and fill up a clear 11″ latex balloon with sand and then cover it in mylar paper. Mylar paper is better because it comes in so many pretty colors. Tie it off with a ribbon. There you have a simple and inexpensive balloon weight which can hold up to 15 11″ latex balloons.
  • We have seen bouquets in the Images and other magazines where 4″ and 9″ mylars are filled with sand and floating balloons are anchored to them. A quick and easy way to fill these 4 & 9″ foils with sand involves a turkey baster. Simply take the bulb off and fill away.
  • Another method of getting sand into a 9″ foil:
    • Get a funnel
    • Get a McDonalds Straw. VERY Important that it’s from McDonalds – they are the widest ones out there.
    • Tape the straw into the funnel, to make an “extension”
    • Cut end of the straw off at an angle – they fill faster. If you want to get really creative, you can create a holder of sorts, to hold a number of the balloons and funnels to fill at the same time. I took one of the rigid straws from a “sip it” cup (sports bottle)… it fit perfectly on the end of my funnel (I do not use a large funnel… sort of medium-small one). The straw was already cut at an angle which made insertion into the star easy. It was also wide enough to provide good sand flow; I filled and heat sealed those puppies in no time!
  • We use a 5oz. plastic souflee cup filled with sand and wrapped with two colors of mylar paper (1/2 sheet each color). A souflee’ cup is more of a fruit cup, and has a broad bottom as opposed to being a narrow drinking cup. They are about 3 cents each. I get SOLO brand from a local party supplier. You can poke stars, onion grass, balloons on sticks, etc. in the center. Just tie your latex around the gathered mylar at top of cup. Balloons appear to come up from center. This is faster than filling latex balloons with sand and we feel it looks nicer too!
  • We bought the Sand machine from Pioneer and it works fantasticly. Automatically adds sand into balloon. We then let the balloon rest to let out any air before we knot it.
  • The Sand machine is about 2 to 3 feet tall. On the top is a round container that you empty your sand into. It holds at least a 50 pound bag. At the bottom is a connection that you slip the balloon over and above it is a handle and above that a clear tube. You turn the handle to let the amount of sand fill the clear tube. Once you have amount you want you press button, and an air compressor turns on, and it puts that amount into the balloon. Cost is about $500. We estimate that it produces 5 to 10 times the quantity that the coke bottle method does. Also we used to use 16″ balloons with the coke bottle method and this lets you use an 11′ for most applications.
  • A trick that I learned from Jan Iams is to put sand into a clean empty 2 liter soda bottle, put the balloon over the mouth of the about turn it over and squeeze! The sand will be forced into the balloon and your weight it ready to be tied and then used.
  • Try a clean empty 2 liter soda bottle and fill it with dry sand (we use a bird seed scoop with a switch that allows the seed/sand to fill the scoop or flow through the handle into the bottle). After the bottle is filled, fit an uninflated latex balloon over the top of the bottle and turn it over and squeeze gently. Slide off the balloon and knot.
  • We also use a 2 liter bottle with a scoop or two of sand (or more for big arrangements) then we poke a small hole near the knot to let the air escape. We just blow the bottle up when it gets crinkled and get a another one when it seems to get old. Ultimate recycling!
  • I don’t use balloons to stuff. I use inexpensive “Sand”wich bags. Fill them with however much sand you wish. Tie them, and wrap them with your decorative covering. Much easier, and works just as well.

Rock Weights

  • I have stopped using sand weights since kids like to play with them and cause a mess. So what do I use instead? I save all my plastic balloon bags from Qualatex – they too are a great quality – and fill them with small landscaping stones. I go through a lot of balloons, but if you don’t, start recycling all plastic bags. I fill with stones, tape and cut off the top, then cover with mylar paper. The cost of the landscaping stones is about the same price as sand.
  • I frequently use rocks wrapped in netting of tulle that will coordinate with the bouquet of balloons. A handful of small rocks works great and basically costs nothing. (I do wash them before using them to remove any crud that may have been attached itself at the site where I found the rocks.)
  • An alternative weight that might work for you is Plaster of Paris with a giant or standard paperclip inserted to provide a loop to attach your balloons to. You can mix your Plaster of Paris and pour it into small papercups to set up. Before it is set up all the way insert the paperclip so one end is sticking out of the Plaster of Paris to provide an anchor for you ribbon tie on. You can remove the papercup from the weight or leave it around the plaster of paris weight. It is very easy to add a sticker with your company logo and phone number to this weight for advertising purposes as well.
  • There is a very small brick called a “dobie brick” that I buy at my local Home Depot. They are about 10 cents each, are square, and have a wire sticking out from the top that you can bend to tie to. Wrapped in Mylar, they should work for you.
  • Our standard balloon weight is a 4 x 4 ceramic tile wrapped in mylar paper. It will hold a dozen 11″ balloons easily, and looks great. Add a cluster of 5″ in coordinating colors and you’ve increased the profitability!

Baby Theme Weights

  • Take your normal sand weight wrapped in coordinating tissue or mylar and sit it in a small or medium sized pampers or Huggies diaper. The diapers come with cute prints on them and the tissue will ‘pouf’ out of the top of the diaper. You could always tie balloons to Bottles filled with jelly beans, boo-boo bunnies (with more candies inside) or almost any other baby item, plush, etc.
  • A variation of the diaper idea is to take your basic sand weight wrapped in tissue and diaper it! Most already have cute designs on them, they make the cuteset base at baby showers (use small sized diapers)

Imprinted Balloons As Weights

  • It’s my opinion that as a retailer (regardless of competition) the price a customer pays for any balloon should include the weight as a matter of added value to the customer with no extra charge. If you feel you must get something for the cost of the weight, put your name on the weight (cheapie stickers 300 for a few dollars will do the job) and you can write off the cost of the weight as an advertising expense – we do.
  • Imprint them!!!! When someone has a bunch of balloons on their desk or coffee table or hospital room shelf, and someone says “Where’d you get the balloons?” The answer should be “Read the weight!” Go one step further, and punch a hole in your business card and slip that onto the neck of the weight, so the first person who asks that question can be told “take the card – it’s attached to the weight.”
  • Check out Images magazine, July/Aug 1996. There’s a picture of one of my weights. (Balloon AffAIRs 315-635-1000). It’s an 11″ Impress II imprint (neck up) with my logo. If you fill an un-inflated 11″ Qualatex balloon with sand, all you have to do is hold the lip of the balloon and hold over a bucket and pour a big cup of sand into the balloon.
  • I like to blow just a little air in it to keep it springy. You can mold it into shapes. Cost is whatever you pay for Impress II imprinted balloons (ask your Qualatex distributor) plus the cost of half a cup of sand. So, for less than a quarter, you have a weight with your name on it. I attach them to all arrangements which don’t have any other weight. I call them “the famous Balloon AffAIRs Squishy toy”, and some recipients like them better than the arrangements!
  • Everyone should have balloons with their name on them. It’s very cheap advertising. Do 1000 with neck up and 1000 with neck down. Add a helium logo balloon to each of your deliveries.

Metal Weights

  • When a customer wants a single balloon weighted, we found that a 1/2″ Zinc Cut washer securely holds an 11″ latex. We buy these in 5 lb boxes and they cost us about .06 a piece. Generally we dump the box – spred them out and give a quick spray with some Design Master in an assortment of primary and pastel colors. A lot of our customers are daycare centers that order large quantities for the kids at holidays. They love them because they fit perfectly on a child’s finger and no one is crying because their balloon got away.

Candy Weights

  • When I used candy as a weight for balloons that would be given to a child I have discovered that it is the same as not weighting it. They end up eating the sucker immediately and letting the balloon go. 🙁

Salt Weights

  • We use mylar wrap, cut into various lengths, dependant on weight size, and filled with salt (coarse is best – also try water softener salt).

Assorted Weights

  • Additional ideas for balloon delivery bases at around $10.00:
    1. Mug with coffee, tea, cocoa packets (or individual chocolates)
    2. Scented candle wrapped in tulle
    3. Journal and some pencils
    4. Elegant, small box of truffles
    5. Notecards and gold ink pen
    6. Cider, cinnamon sticks and mulling spices
    7. Small recipe book & a few ingredients (Cookies, etc.)
    8. Box of Dunkin Donuts or bagels or a huge cookie
    9. Small mum plant, poinsettia, African violet, patio tomato, etc.
    10. Gardening things – trowel, seed packet, watering can, gloves, etc.
    11. Pampering things – bath salts, moisturizer, loofah, etc.
    12. Picture frame, album, film, etc.
    13. Boxes of different shaped pasta, all stacked up and tied
  • These all can be incorporated into centerpieces for groups that like a practical/giveaway touch to their events – especially during the holiday season.
  • Anything that can fit in your delivery van can be a bouquet weight… some ideas:
    1. Bowling balls
    2. Plants
    3. disposable party cameras
    4. model cars
    5. Sports Balls
    6. T-shirts of a favorite team or Rock Group
    7. Almost anything from the import catalogs….
    8. lava lamps for 70’s theme bouquets
    9. Hats
    10. Gumball machines
    11. Sneakers or high heeled shoes (get from discount shoe store or old display shoes, or make friends at your local athlete’s foot shop)
    12. Coffee cups
    13. baskets
    14. bottles with gum or popcorn,stuffed animals.
  • We find that the weights you come up with yourself are far and away the most unique and saleable.
  • We do a bouquet called “Have A Coke and A Smile” in which the balloons (A 3′ Smiley and 12-11″ latex smileys) are anchored to a Collectable glass with a can of Coke or Diet Coke. Another easy one is our “Here’s One For You, Tootsie!” in which we use a dozen Tootsie Pop Lollipops, floral taped end-to-end in a big bunch for the weight. “Happy Birthday You Yo-Yo!” features Yo-Yo balloons as the anchor. All three of these sell themselves! They’re unique (at least to our area) and other shops around here choose to use the standard coffee mug, etc. so that helps the market for unique items.
  • For a change try using 3 inch round x 1/2 inch thick wood discs with a hole drilled in the top. You can even write a personal message on one side and your business info on the other. They can be stained, painted or left natural.
  • You purchase a six pack of Coke in bottles, take out three of the bottles and then fill the three empty spaces with different items. She suggested a rolled up magazine(s) in one, a small plant in another and candy in the last one, obviously you could put anything you want in there. Attach balloons to the handle and away you go! I work closely with a friend that owns a basket biz and she’s going to try this out with Christmasy stuff (it should look good with Coke’s red and white).
  • For foil balloons I have key chains (‘the HOT ones’) in the shape of a “1” imprinted with straight line copy with my name and number, plus they came with a stock imprint of a little bunch of balloons. They cost me about 20 or 30 cents apiece, and they will hold down an 18 inch foil.
  • Also there is a company that makes huge foamboard based postcards which weigh enough to hold down 1/2 dozen 11″ latex and are brightly colored with birthday, love and other greetings.
  • INFLATE-a-BUDDY comes in over 20 adorable styles, are easy to blow up, have wonderful personality faces. Their little arms and feet are so cute. They are tough enough for horse play between a three year old and his grandpa. If you are looking for something new and cool- (silly happy grin with some happy little lip prints) they can be used in baskets, Just fill their feet with salt or sand and they make the cuttest balloon weight. They stand on their own without sand, but won’t hold balloons. They will work in your balloon stuffing machine. The line is “Fur’s A Flying,” the company is:AGA Balloons – (aka Ashland Graphic Arts) 1102 Myers Parkway Ashland, Ohio 44805 Phones: 419 289-0265 or 800-528-2902 Fax 419 289-6816 or 800- 479-2074 Contact: Susan Madura

Alcohol Weights

  • In Idaho the beer license is about $200, if you sell wine or hard liquor it is another $800+, if you use non-alcohol juice (it may have 1/2% of natural alcohol, YOU MUST HAVE A WINE LICENSE. This is true on about half of the states. Also, Florida has a law making it a 3rd class felony to ship ANY WINE into their state, in any kind of gift basket or bottle carrier! It has always been a strange mixture of can’s and can not’s. Protect yourself by making sure what the rules are. In Idaho you can not even include a FREE bottle without a license!
  • Laws vary between states, but in NY and NJ, I’ve been advised that not only can I not use any alcoholic items under any circumstances, but that it is unlawful to handle or deliver it under any circumstances.
  • I think that this varies by state. In the state of Texas you are absolutely correct. In fact the law down here has a quirk in it that prevents home based business from getting a liquor license.
  • You cannot sell liquor in your gift baskets unless you have a liquor license. Another option is Sparkling cider or a product like Meier’s Sparkling Juices. They have 10 available flavors packaged in foil-wrapped champane bottles. 1-800-346-2941.
  • I think that this varies by state but, there are various types of licenses; we have a cartage permit that allows us to deliver alcohol and sell it, but we can’t serve it in our shop (i.e. wine tastings).
  • Unless you have a retail shop, you can’t get a liquor license. The law is vague about whether or not you can have the customer purchase it from someone else and bring it to you. Most people just have the customer call a liquor store, purchase the alcohol and then put it in the basket themselves.

Tips For Delivering Bouquets Of Balloons

  • How To Keep Bouquets From Getting Tangled During Delivery:Simply pull all the balloons down, so that all the necks are even, then secure with a balloon clip or small piece of ribbon. Just before you present the bouquet, we remove the clip. Everything leaps into place.
  • When I do a bouquet, I hold onto all of the ribbons and pull the balloon necks down together. Then I take a brightly colored 260 balloon and tie it around all of the ribbons, to secure the bunch. Be sure the weight does not twist around too much, and be sure it does not go *up* and get tangled in the ribbons!
  • To help prevent tangling of bouquets during transportation, we first tie each layer of balloons in the arrangement together as we are creating them. We then pull all the balloons down in a group and attach them with a clothes pin to whatever weight we are using. We don’t even have to cover them with a bag, unless it is a hot or windy day. When you get to the the delivery site, simply remove the clothespin and… voila!… each balloon springs back into its original position with no tangles, no muss, no fuss!
  • Have your company name and phone number inexpensively imprinted on some clothespins and ‘accidentally’ leave it at the receptionist’s desk as you go off to deliver the bouquet. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people call and tell you they found you on a clothespin!
  • Cut a hole in the bottom corner of a large bag. Then reach up through it with your hand and grab the weight(s). Pull the weight all the way through the hole and out of the bag. This is a lot easier than fighting to push all of the helium balloons into the wiggling bag!
  • The weight is dropped into the bag first. Then the balloons are gathered and pushed into the bag with as little space as possible between them, starting from the bottom up. The top of the bag is tied in a loose knot and the order blank is taped to the outside. The nearest deliveries are packed into the van first and the farthest are placed near the door – delivery person has a clipboard with the route, the basic delivery item and a place for time and signature of the recipient.
  • We bag all our deliveries in clear plastic bags that we purchase from our floral wholesaler. The bags are about 6′ long and 30″ wide, and cost about a quarter each, in rolls of 100. Never leave them with the recipient, always take them and reuse them.
  • When we receive an order, we make two copies. The first stays in the office and the second is the working copy for pulling, prep, and it gets taped to the outside of the bag. After the Hi-Float has dried, the customer card is attached and the grouping is bagged. When the grouping is delivered, the balloons are unbagged.
  • Bags, the clear ones sure look better than the black ones.
  • We use RainbowWrapper Balloon bouquet bags to separate and protect our bouquets.
  • GREAT BIG balloon bags available from MK Brody in Chicago….312- 666-9520. One person in our QBN chapter said he put a full gross of inflated 5″ in a single bag & they have air holes to protect mylars.
  • Just a tip, if the hi float isn’t dry, punch a few holes into the bag with your fingers. When you unbag, the top balloon should float out into the appropriate position and the arrangement shouldn’t need too much primping.
  • Always un-bag (or un-bunch) the balloons before they are walked through the building (delivered to the recipient).
  • When a bouquet DOES get tangled, I often cut all of the ribbons just above the weight and then retie it. I wonder if it would be easiest to just make the ribbons 6 inches longer and plan on doing this from the start.
  • Bagging customer’s orders also will set you apart as well as making delivery simpler and lessen the stress of wind/rain/snow/tangled curled ribbons, etc. We do not charge the customer. If you’re delivering the grouping, remove the balloons from the bag, primp them, and do the delivery – keep the bag. If the balloons are being picked up by the client, attach a coupon for $1.00 off their next balloon pickup if they return the bag. Again a little bit of advertising, a little bit of good will, a little bit of money saved if they choose you the next time. Remember to point out that the bags (and the weight you’ve slipped into the bag to keep the bag from floating away) are services that you offer to ALL your customers so they can drive safely, keep the balloons from getting away or tangled, and make it simpler for them to handle. Sometimes we have clients who ask for the bags when we deliver, our response – we need them for our next job and recycle them. We do leave them one if their need is obvious – again explaining that we need them for our next job.
  • An easy way to send filled latex balloons home with customers to decorate themselves is to tape the end of the ribbons (10 to 12 balloons) to an empty ribbon spool. Then I wind the balloons up on the spool and tape over it. It keeps them clustered tightly to make transportation easier and when they are unrolled again, the balloons can be cut off the spool one at a time making them easier to handle.

Delivery Area

  • We decided on the maximum distance from our base that an employee would deliver based on “time it would take an employee in our van”. Don’t forget the overhead charge (cost of having and running the van) as well as the labor. We worked out a delivery charge based on delivering to the furthest suburb. THAT is what we charge for ALL deliveries. Any nearby deliveries “subsidise” the occasional “long distance” delivery. Local deliveries (the majority of our work) are a regular BONUS. It also guarantees a PROFIT on delivering yourself. That is what we are in business for. A profit!
  • Giving “free” delivery is unwise. If you offer free delivery, make sure you calculate the cost of running a delivery service into your overhead percentage. You can’t afford to do it for “free” really. “Free” anything usually means – reduced profit. We find it easier to find out from the start if it’s a delivery enquiry. If so, give the price with delivery already included. If they then say, “how much less if I pick-up?” just reduce the cost by half the delivery charge you built in in the first place.
  • Sometimes the customer will say, “how much extra for delivery?” and give you the order immediately when you say, “delivery is included in the price.” Quoting a price for the arrangement PLUS an additional charge for delivery is like quoting a price for a car “plus extra” for on road cost of registration, sales tax etc, etc. The customer would rather know the simple, total cost of sending this message with balloons (or parking that new sports car in her garage).
  • Don’t forget that a delivery is also an opportunity to market your business. Van signage working for you – performance to the recipient – hand out business cards to others… etc. You should make the most of every delivery.
  • We joined the local QBN Chapter and refer bouquet deliveries to other QBN members locally and all over the world also. Works both ways too. We get referals from others in the network. We strongly recommend it to everyone.
  • Some have asked how far Dolly will take a delivery. Her radius is 10 km. That’s about 6 miles. Why 6 miles? Well, Dolly figured she didn’t want to be without an employee in the workshop for any more than one hour at a time, if he had to do a delivery. From our location, during heavy traffic conditions, it would take an employee one hour to drive 10km, park, check the bouquet, do the delivery / performance, then return to our premises. Some have asked how far Dolly will take a delivery. Her radius is 10 km. That’s about 6 miles. Why 6 miles? Well, Dolly figured she didn’t want to be without an employee in the workshop for any more than one hour at a time, if he had to do a delivery. From our location, during heavy traffic conditions, it would take an employee one hour to drive 10km, park, check the bouquet, do the delivery / performance, then return to our premises.It all depends on how much time you can afford to be without your assistant in your store. Then calculate how far they could drive within the time span you decide. Different times for different balloon businesses. Your location and traffic can be major factors. Always calculate based on the heavy traffic, rain, snow, had to stop and buy gasoline type of excuses.
  • If you typically do say 3 deliveries every morning and 2 each afternoon, the van will be out for 1.5 hours and 1 – 1.2 hours respectively. That’s when you actually start making money on deliveries. Multiple deliveries in a small area. Like Valentine’s Day???? Hope we all need to rent extra vans? Certainly in 2000!
  • We charge a certain amount for in-town and additional for the further out we go, but we do have boundaries as to how far we will deliver. Sometimes it’s not worth the time and effort to go farther than 15-20 miles. It’s depends our your own area, of course. and your competiton.

Extra Balloons

  • When I make a delivery for “loose” balloons not in a bouquet I usually always send along 1 or 2 extra balloons. If it is a bigger order of 50 or more I add like 5 -10 more. It helps especially if I have one or two break on my way to the delivery.
  • Perhaps offer to replace the popped balloons at no charge. It shows good faith on your part and keeps you from having to officially discount the price and setting precedent. Depends on what you feel is appropriate though. We have an excellent reputation for customer service which is why we get our share of the “Party City” business.
  • This is always a tough one, the way I see it if the delivery was made and the balloons were in good condition, we can’t guarantee balloons, especially after they have left our control. You might consider giving the client an extra couple of balloons the next time they order from you. NO discounts!!!….. your customer will calculate the price of each balloon if you give them a small discount and then they will question the entire price based on those calculations.
  • I replace them at no charge. By doing this, I made sure the customer was very appreciative especially in the “no charge”. It was only 2 balloons and for what we pay for them is nearly nothing comparing it to having a “Happy Customer”. And a customer that will continue to do business with me.
  • We always bring along one or two extra balloons, so we needn’t worry if anything should be damaged or defective.
  • Every delivery that leaves our store has extra balloons. I call it balloons insurance. If I don’t need them I give them to the customer if they are nice. On Bulk Latex deliveries we add 2 for every 25 latex balloons in the order. If I hear too many pops then I am in trouble!

Surprise Deliveries

  • I used to work as a driver for a florist. When it was a surprise delivery, it was set up ahead of time with the contact person. They guaranteed that the recipient would be there at a set time. If that person was not there, there was a re-delivery charge.
  • On other deliveries, other policies were established to leave the product with a neighbor or adjoining office or secretary.
  • As far as the charging for tax, it would be my recommendation that you establish a set price for your product, a zone/area charge for deliveries, with the re-delivery fee mentioned and agreed upon, then put the tax on the final amount ( if the delivery fee is taxable in your area ). Do not “eat” any charges, that is money out of your pocket that will add up over the course of the year.
  • We try to let the sender know it’s his/her problem to be sure the person is going to be there. If they just don’t know, perhaps there’s someone we can contact at the recipient’s office who DOES know for SURE and can keep a secret. If they really don’t know anything, we have to tell them this might not work at all, unless they can accept our leaving the balloons if the person isn’t there, and reducing the charge a little (which STILL makes it a lot of money for dropping off balloons, but if I’m gonna get in the gorilla suit and get there, I want some cash whether or not I have to sing!)
  • If we can get there whenever we get there and be sure the person will be there, we can offer a lower price, and we let them know that. If we need to make an appointment, it’ll cost them 10 C-shells more and we need at least (depending on how far it is) a half-hour or hour window during which we might arrive at any time and expect to see the person immediately. It’s one of the first things we ask, before we’re even prerpared to doscuss what we can do – it usually goes like this: DING-A-LING! (That’s the phone) – “Good morning, can I help you?” – “How much is it to get balloons delivered?” – “Were you thinking about a singing telegram by someone in costume, or just someone to drop off balloons and a card? And what area would that be in?” (And then if it’s somewhere we go, I tell them the features of our 2 levels of performances, and pause just before the price:) “And that, including balloons and everything, would be … is the person there most of the day or would we need to make an appointment?” At this point, either the person just doesn’t know, or knows quite well, and we can either blow ’em off with regrets, or quote a price appropriate to the requirements of the job.
  • If we’re willing to accept a “maybe they’ll be there” or in the event something has gone terribly wrong, we can (a) decide to go back when they’ll be there, or (b) leave the balloons and card and reduce the price, and call the client immediately to advise them that we’ve done everything possible. We try so hard to make sure the recipient’s presence is assured, that it hardly ever happens that they’re gone, but when it does happen, the client usually understands, and when they DON’T understand, it happens so rarely that we have to be prepared to take the hit and get nothing for our efforts – like a popped balloon, it’s one of the costs of doing business.
  • If we really don’t want to blow the surprise but we have to call (if we’re unavoidably later than our window or there’s no answer at the door but the car’s there or whatever): “Ms. Emma Bithdayperson? Yes, this is P.M. Delivery Service, we have a package for you marked “perishable” and you’re next on our schedule and we want to be sure someone will be there to receive it, are you going to be there for about a half hour or so?”
  • On Valentine’s day we just tell everyone we can only accept the order if the recipient is going to be there all day without fail, and that’s that, no appointments, no refunds.

Character Deliveries / Singing Telegrams

  • You probably want to start off with your costume “basics”, the gorilla is popular, a clown, a belly dancer, a Marilyn Monroe character, a chippendale-type character goes over VERY well as well as seasonal characters (cupid, easter bunny, santa, etc).
  • The problem that I have seen with most people doing character deliveries is that they are just a person doing the delivery. I strongly recommend making up a sort of routine to go along with the delivery – reading a poem, a song, a few minutes of funny patter, something, anything! A way to make sure this is consistent is create a three to five minute “script” for anyone working with you. Also have a “script” for your shadow/bodyguard in case something goes wrong.
  • Including a polaroid picture for the “victim” is also a nice touch to remember the moment (take one for yourself too, to show potential clients). I use this as an upsell for an aditional charge of a few bucks.
  • If its a birthday, have the group sing! If you’re a character you don’t have to sing well! Its funnier that way!
  • Another big pet peeve of mine is seeing the character getting dressed right in front of the building – obviously you can’t drive with a gorilla head on, but be sure to do your finishing touches around the corner and walk that extra block to make a grand entrance.
  • Character deliveries are a nice touch, the perfect gift for that person that has everything! The goal is to make a big entrance, embarrass the special person for a couple of minutes, preserve the moment in a picture and get out of there!
  • Some important things I have learned in 17 years of singing telegrams:
    • Insist on at least a half-hour time window to arrive
    • Describe to the client in GREAT DETAIL exactly what they are going to get
    • Keep your presentations at least half-complimentary (to balance the teasing)
    • No pies in the face or anything else (that’s assault)
    • Give a little something extra that you haven’t mentioned (We usually make a balloon hat)
    • ASK to include a tip in the charge at the end of the order process (“Would you like to include a tip for the performer… some people do and some don’t” is the way we put it – you’ll be surprised how many extra $5 and $10 you get)
    • Know when to stop performing (Spectators are bored after about 5 minutes) – we also let the pressure off the birthday person by telling everyone else they have to sing Happy Birthday like gorillas (or whatever the character is) – instant payback!

    Easy characters to do:

  • Gorilla in a Tux (that’s a guy in a tux & top hat with a gorilla mask – if you don’t describe it in detail to the client they’ll complain that it’s not a full hairy suit, but if you carefully tell them what it is, they’ll go for it, and it sure makes life easier for you). Rabbit in a tux (guy in tux with rabbit ears and rabbit makeup and rabbit tail clipped to the pants – again, describe carefully), pirate, drill sergeant (get brown pants and shirt from cop store, and get Smokey the Bear hat from someplace – “You WILL have a happy birthday, DO YOU UNDERSTAND, SOLDIER!”) (This transforms into a policeman nicely – never carry even a toy weapon with either of these), Devil, Undertaker or Grim Reaper (both are very popular and my routine for these two is a scream!), clown, doctor (scrubs and lab coat and stethoscope – “This man is brain-dead, I don’t hear anything at all!) or Doctor Gorilla, Phantom of the Opera (tux, cape and white Phantom mask)
  • Suggested package: 6 latex balloons (with Hi-Float, of course) (Why only 6? ‘Cause that’s all you’re gonna get into a small car & still drive safely – additional balloons for an additional charge, mylars additional) – sing Happy Birthday, take a Polaroid photo with the honoree, and we’ll write a special comedy poem about the person with all the funny and special things about them in it (17 years of writing cheap doggerel has given me a talent for doing it and a big stock of good verses to use as “canned” lines) and our laser printer and Microsoft Publisher make the poem into a nice quarter-fold greeting card to present at the end.
  • We have a basic price to which we add (and sometimes subtract) depending on how far, how late, and how big a pain in the butt it’s going to be to accomplish.
  • Yep, we do costumed deliveries as well as singing telegrams! We are also a costume rental company so we not only do over a hundred other characters! Some of our most popular include Marilyn Monroe, gorilla, Elvis, Phantom of the opera, clowns, top hat and tails, cows and pigs.
  • We charge an additional 25 C-shells to deliver in costume (non-singing) on top of the regular bouquet of balloons charge, for any costume of their choice. We then offer specials for the seasons, cupid was a huge hit this year! 25 C-shells for a bouquet (4 to 6 latex, one mylar, weighted by candy) delivered by cupid, for an extra 25 C-shells, cupid sang “yessir that’s my baby” and “Happy Valentine’s day to you”. The local television station followed us to one and did a piece on the news that night.
  • For singing telegrams, we charge 75 C-shells for an introductory song, a custom written song (includes jokes and teasers about the victim…I mean deliver-ee, usually birthdays and retirements) and the happy birthday song, changed for the occasion (Happy anniversary, happy retirement etc, etc.)
  • How do you actually pull off all the points of a good balloon delivery a la Qualatex CBA training while in costume?
  • If the costume is a full head costume (like a chicken or gorilla) either somebody else drives the performer there or they pull on their head at the last minute (making sure no one can see them). We make sure that the bouquet is ready to grab and easily accessable to the performer.
  • Our chickens don’t talk, neither do any of our full head costume characters. The tag on the bouquet is extra large and decorated to go along with the characters theme (ie: the chicken, cow and pig would have a large name tag shaped like a barn with the deliver-ee’s name on it) so that all they have to do is hold up the tag, and depending on the age, point and laugh at the recipient. There is always someone on location that knows that the delivery is coming.
  • It is rare that these kinds of specialized deliveries happen like they do in the movies (knock on door, person answers, they start to sing) usually they take place at offices, parties and restaurants where there are lots of people gathered.
  • You have to be very careful buying licensed character costumes. Unless you have the copyright to it you can be sued. This can happen even if you buy a costume that sells as Barney or Mickey Mouse. You would be better off to have generic costumes, i.e. a gorilla, panda, clown etc. It is my understanding that even building a licensed character from balloons is at risk. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. I am not a copyright lawyer but I am a cautious balloon retailer.
  • If you purchase a costume of a copyrighted character, you are usually entitled to use it in a private manner. You need to make sure that a costume that you purchase is legal, but that is another story. You cannot use that costume (the legal one) in another use, for instance in a “Mickey Delivery”. You also may not use it at a “Disney Party”. The same applies to a video that you purchase, you may not use it in a commercial venue, you may not charge people to watch it. The same kind of rules apply. You give VERY good advice, use generic costumes. In this way you will be sure not to bring the wrath of the “big guys” upon you. Remember, these characters belong to the companies and they (the characters) are the way these companies make enough money to keep their attorneys in champagne! This is the way that I believe that it works, better to err on the side of legality. Companies such as Disney and National Public Radio have very little humor. They WILL come after you.
  • With costumes, as long as you’re not advertising or selling your service as a “Mickey Mouse” or “Barney” delivery, you’re somewhat safe. However, The Lyons Group and Disney have been very sticky with Mickey and Barney licenses lately and are really cutting down on those manufacturers producing or buying the similar characters. The U.S. manufacturers of the Barney so-called costumes have ceased all production due to the lawsuits pending. I’m familiar with so many companies (big and small) who are still using the costumes to do entertainment shows, costumed deliveries…etc…and they’re not getting into any trouble…So it all depends on how big your business is and how you’re advertising the services. Also, many of the costumes have distinguishing characteristics about them that make them somewhat different than the actual character…
  • A large number of people in my area that have recently been hit with lawsuits over costume rentals and purple dinosaurs. One person in particular that I know was renting a purple dinosaur costume that didn’t look like Barney, that wasn’t named Barney, and that he never promoted as being Barney, lost a suit to the Barney people. Their argument is that someone dressing up as a purple dinosaur hurts the image of Barney that the company wants to portray. I think Barney being dragged off in handcuffs hurts the image more, but who am I? the other problem I have with it is that when I think of purple dinosaurs, the first one that always comes to my mind (even after all of this Barney stuff has been all over the place) is Dino from the Flintstones. If anyone should be able to claim rights to the purple dinosaur concept it should be Hanna-Barbara.Anyway, it becomes a serious question of what we can do. I am not a lawyer. I have no background at all in law. I’m just trying to cover my butt. So, I called my lawyer. We talked about it for a while. His answer is that what I do is probably legal (he didn’t do an extensive search but he doesn’t know of a legal precedent that would apply). He thought, after hearing my argument that it would be ok, but cautioned me that it would take a lot more research (and money) and his recommendation was to avoid it if possible.
  • I am another one of those lucky people being sued by the Barney people because they say I twisted balloons in a purple dinosaur costume. Although the lawsuit seems like somewhat of a joke and I began with an “are you kidding” attitude, these people are literally trying to ruin my life. They are suing me for in excess of $100,000 plus legal expenses for copyright infringment. The attorney fees are incredible because these attornies mean business. Although they may never win in court, they are sending stacks and stacks of legal papers every day that need replies and answers, and basically forcing a settlement with them, whether guilty or innocent, because our legal fees are mounting. They say if we don’t return replies to their legal documents we will receive default judgments, etc. It’s legal extortion.My point is, please be careful out there. I talked to copyright attornies but in the legal world there are so many gray areas, and in this country you can sue ANYBODY FOR ANYTHING. I will be forced to pay these people an out of court settlement so I don’t lose everything in legal fees, and I didn’t even do anything wrong. PLEASE, PLEASE PEOPLE, twist away, but NEVER NEVER NEVER call these characters by trademarked names!
  • Take it from one who learned the hard way… Lyons “IS” suing many, many companies (ours included). We were doing costume deliveries not as Barney but as a Purple Dinosaur. My people were instructed to NEVER say Barney and even inform our customers it is NOT a Barney.Nevertheless, we were sued and settled out of court for $20,000. How did they “catch” us? Lyons impounded all records from the company we bought the costume from. They checked their records, found our name on a receipt and BINGO! Someone from Lyons also called our office about placing an order for a Barney. We gave them our standard pitch about purple dinosaur, not Barney etc. and the caller kept asking over and over “But it’s like Barney right?” until my salesperson finally said “it’s like Barney”. And guess who tape recorded the entire conversation and identified my salesperson in the legal documents?

    Fortunately, insurance covered the entire amount, but not our legal fees. I say “fortunately” only because the financial damages were taken care of. Unfortunately, our competitive playing field is no longer level. Meaning, when a customer calls for Barney we tell them we can’t provide that service. They in turn usually get annoyed and I am sure they find it somewhere else. So we lose a customer (in the present and probably for the future) because we cannot serve them. Meanwhile our competitor, who is still doing this type of delivery, is the hero. We are the one playing by the rules and we look like the bad guys!! The damage continues!!

  • The money Lyons is looking for when suing depends on what “level” of offense you have committed. Costume shops and costume manufacturers seem to be hit the hardest. One local costume shop here in New Jersey was sued for $75,000. Ours was about half that because they “got us on tape” and then there is another level around (I think) $5,000 to $10,000. Just be careful or they’ll get you, too.
  • My story is similar except it’s “less” of an offense and they hit me much harder!In 1996 I bought a costume from the same company. Lyons has no evidence of any kind that I have ever done anything with this costume. They tried calling me and they were so obvious on the phone that it didn’t take long for me to figure out who it was! I never called my costume Barney.

    In 1997 I was sent a notice that if I did not send them $7,500 in out of court settlements they would sue me for $50,000. All of the girls in the area that had costumes called the attorney in charge and cried poor. They admitted everything and THEY WERE RELEASED. I tried the same thing but never admitted guilt. I told them they could have my costume. Well, all was quiet for almost a year until the papers came. Now I’m being sued for in excess of $100,000. So is everyone else in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware area. I don’t know why we were hit so much harder. They lumped us all together, costume shops, rentals, and home business, and weekend moms working for a couple extra bucks. We all got slammed for $100,000. Obviously we don’t have insurance to cover this kind of suit. Just entertainers insurance. I’m sure most of you have the same.

    These people will stop at nothing, costume or no costume! Watch what you make and what you call it. I never called my costume Barney and look what happened to me. Lyons’ says you can call it the Yellow Dragon and if it looks like Barney it’s a violation. Entertainers insurance will not cover you, folks! Take it from someone that is being aggrivated daily by these people. If it goes to trial I have to go to Texas.

  • BOYCOTT BARNEY! IF YOU TWIST HIM, PLEASE TWIST HIS HEAD OFF. If you make a Barney shaped balloon for a child, don’t forget to make the accompanying Lyon’s Lawyer. Twist up a SHARK!

Entertaining the “Not-Thrilled” Customer

  • John Brunner asks “Why do people think it is necessary to embarass a person on their birthday? I personally think this kind of humiliation is very tacky and uncalled for.”
  • There is a difference between embarrassment and humiliation.
  • There is a difference between a good natured ribbing and a malicious attack.
  • Your first two sentences are: ” Why do people think it is necessary to embarrass a person on their birthday. I personally think this kind of humiliation is very tacky and uncalled for.”If I may paraphrase, you’ve asked: “Why do people think very tacky and uncalled for humiliation is necessary on a person’s birthday?”

    The answer is: Most people think tactful, good natured teasing will lift a person’s spirits on their birthday. It is a friendly way of showing playful affection – like a puppy biting your hand, a parent tousling a child’s hair, the gatorade bucket dumping on the winning coach after the Super Bowl. I think MOST people would agree these are affectionate gestures. Take those gestures a little further, and they are inappropriate. Dogs should not bite off your hand. A parent should not pull a child’s hair out by the roots, and the team should not throw their coach into the arctic ocean after a game. (You baseball fans may remember a VERY ANGRY Tim McCarver (a baseball announcer) after Deion Sanders dumped the gatorade bucket on him as he took his microphone into the middle of a post- game victory party.) When I turned 10 it was quite in vogue at my school to give “birthday punches” – one for each year – to the birthday boy. Most kids gave me the standard good natured light punches, but some nasty kids really belted me pretty good. I went home crying, and bruised and quite aware of the difference between malice and good-natured abuse.

  • The fact is that SOME people go a little too far in their teasing, and SOME people simply have no sense of humor, very little self-worth, and can’t take a joke.
  • The “why” is very complicated to understand fully. It has to do with a basic human condition, humor. You need to understand the basic principal of the practical joke. In most humans there is a certain satisfaction gotten out of practical jokes, and mildly embarrassing someone. It is a “give/receive” thing. Most people enjoy the attention they receive when mildly embarrassed as the butt of a harmless practical joke, or when they are the center of attention having “Happy Birthday” sung to them. The embarrassment comes from a type of stage fright – the fear of being the center of attention. Some people thrive on it, others are mortified by it. Everyone has “something to hide”, and being the focus of attention threatens exposure. Some people are brought up to be ashamed of themselves, their bodies, their actions. Justified or not, they tend to be the “mortified” type. Others are brought up more uninhibited. “Show- offs”, Class Clowns, they tend to be the ones who thrive on attention. It may have something to do with being the oldest/youngest/first/last/only child. Happily married/divorced, bitter/deceased or absent parents.
  • You can observe the pure unadulterated version of “surprise” by playing “peek-a-boo”, or “Pop goes the weasel” or “This little piggy” with a baby. Most babies will giggle when you “boo” or “pop” or “wee-wee-wee all the way home”. Embarrassing someone on their birthday is an extension of this in a way. It is a surprise. The more mature element of embarrassment has been added. it is “good-natured” poking fun at someone. It is laughing at the human condition. It is pointing out the inevitable tragedy of life – unavoidable aging and death. We all must experience it, we all try to avoid it, and most of us try to enjoy the good things in life, whether we know it or not, by laughing at the bad things. Birthdays are a rite of passage. There is only one alternative to reaching your next birthday. (Uh, let’s see, that would be NOT reaching it.)
  • Some will not sell “Over the Hill” balloons which they believe to be in extremely poor taste. Concerning “over-the-hill” balloons, or more broadly, the whole concept of “over-the-hill” humor, my take on it is this: I see nothing wrong with “over-the-hill” balloons, or parties. Over the hill is when you reach 30. Yeah, right! 30 is really old. I though so when I turned 20. Over the hill is when you reach 40. Yeah, right! 40 is really old. I though so when I turned 30. I haven’t hit 40 yet, but I have a feeling that when I do, 50 will seem really old. For Pete’s sake, if you can’t figure out that there is no such thing as a hill, then you have a problem. I have had a few customers order “OTH” balloons for people who turn 60. I DO advise against that, because 60 is a bit far to be claiming middle age, and I can imagine that a 60 year old doesn’t feel the same way about how much of their life is left as someone who is 40.
  • As far as embarrassing people on their birthdays, I think a little embarrassment is quite appropriate, and there is a big difference between embarrassment and humiliation. I don’t think most people feel it is necessary to humiliate someone on their birthday, and for the most part people know the bounds of good taste when they embarrass someone on their birthday. It is a little childish for somone to feel humiliated by a little embarrassment caused by someone acknowledging their birthday.
  • Depending on the situation, and you could make the most of it by making sure that all his co-workers are there when you do the delivery. That is itself is probably enough to truly embarrass the guy. You could also get some information from his wife, or the person sending the balloons, and interject this info throughout the presentation. After years of experience doing singing telegrams, while it does matter what you are wearing, you can present it in such a way that the recipient will want to slink behind a chair or desk and never be seen again.
  • Some suggestions: give him a big “red” kiss on his head if he is bald, pinch his cheeks as you sing to him, sit on his lap, fill a clear ll inch balloon (incorporated into the bokay within easy reach) and pop it over his head as you conclude singing Happy Birthday (make sure you have a pin attached to your lapel for this to be successful).
  • I was really disturbed by the latest posts about many saying that “Over the hill” is not appropriate, but let me remind you that it’s what’s on the other side of that hill that counts. I agree that sometimes you may have the “giver” of the present take things too far, but for the many years that I spent doing singing telegrams, I never had one person refuse a telegram because they were totally mortified of being the center of attention. I think deep down inside, most people like the attention and the surprise and are grateful that someone took the time to order something special for them on their birthday. Why, I even had a girl order balloons for herself, to be delivered to her office on her birthday, with the card reading, (you guessed it) “from your secret admirer”.
  • You also do not know what has happened in the past. You know what they say about paybacks! I can’t tell you how many telegrams I delivered to a person and a year or so later that person decides to “get even”. Now for those of you on the defense, it is just friendly humor.
  • Sometimes you get hired by a jerk (let’s call him the instigator) to entertain a recipient. It’s like guys who get strippers for strait-laced friends for the bachelor parties: it’s a chance to get a cheap laugh at the expense of the recipient. Remember that you’re there only to entertain the birthday person, not the instigator. If the birthday person doesn’t enjoy it, no one in the crowd will ever hire you for their spouse’s (kid’s, boss’s, etc.) birthday (they don’t need the grief).
  • What do you do, when you’re dragged into the middle of a situation like this….?… First off, IMHO, it’s a no-win, stand-off situation…no matter what happens, someone is almost certainly going to be unhappy about it… If you ’embarrass’ her, then he’s happy…If you don’t, than she’s happy. (unfortunately, I think that’s their ‘goal’ here, to embarrass the other person…)…and if you refuse to do it, least in restaurant work, then you run the risk of upsetting the person making the request (usually 1 of 3, the management, the wait staff, or the customer…all 3 of which I want on my side..especially the management/wait staff)…
  • I’ve tried to set guide lines for handling it….1st) I want total control.. I don’t want someone else telling me what to do… I have to be able to ‘read’ the situation and act accordingly…. If the person is not ‘into it’ which is the way the lady in Arla’s case sounded, then I have to be able to soft-pedal and retreat if necessary…. 2nd)..while I’ll try to stick to suggestions, I pick the moment to do it..and the place if possible. 3rd) I can/will refuse it if it doesn’t feel right, but how do you really ‘know’ that it isn’t right……?… I try to go with ‘gut-feeling’, but that’s certainly not 100% right either…..
  • I was a waiter at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in Tustin (when Farrell’s was still a chain). We’d blow the whistles and bang the drums for any reason you can think of, and people were always trying to embarrass others at their table. The problem was, you never really knew how people were going to react. So, you have to be prepared to turn the situation around.
  • Appeal to their better nature. When it’s a person’s birthday, they are expected to go along. Encourage that right from the beginning. “Wow, you’re really a good sport to put up with this!” “Man, they try to throw you a curve and you hit it out of the park!” “Look here everybody, here’s a lady with _style_.”
  • One time I was reaching over some people in a large group to serve someone in the corner, and a banana split boat on my tray poured ice cream and chocolate syrup down the neck of the unfortunate gentleman over whom I was leaning. The table erupted in laughter, and I quickly said “Oh thank God this happened to someone with a sense of humor! I’d hate to lose my job over this!” Got him a warm, clean towel, comp’ed his ice cream. Got a huge tip, and he’ll always have a story to tell. They even came back the next week. When you give people a chance to be heroic, they’ll usually take it.
  • If the subject is really hostile, take his/her side. Turn on the instigator and try these techniques:
    • “Yeah! What in the hell did you think you were doing, hiring someone who could twist something stupid like this?” (Twist something very cool, very fast.) “Or this?” (twist twist twist) “Your idea of a good time is watching someone do this?” (twist twist twist twist twist) “I mean, grow up! This is a person of high culture, who would never be amused by something like this.” (twist twist twist)
    • “I mean, a woman lives to be (insert age 10 years younger than actual age — it’s cheesy, but always goes over well) and all you get her is the most popular clown in the tri-state area?” (Bay Area, Wichita, United States, you pick it.)
    • “You know, you really owe her a huge present now. Or maybe something small and precious.” (Twist earrings, a ring, whatever, and put them on the person instigator.) “Hint, hint.” A variation might be to make the instigator a bow tie and tell him to take her out to a fancy meal.
    • Make a sword and say to the birthday person, “You hold him down, and I’ll thrash him.”
    • If it’s all adults, make the dirty dog and tell the instigator that he can keep it if it “likes” him. (If you don’t know the dirty dog, e-mail me privately — it’s simple and embarrassing.)
  • When all else fails, turn the embarrassment your way.
  • Engage the crowd, and take the attention completely away from the birthday person.
    • “I know, you’re asking, how can an adult make a living by crashing people’s parties in oversized polka-dotted clothes. The fact is, I always dress like this. I learned balloons to keep people from staring at me….”
    • Get them all to sing: [nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuhhhh-nuh-nu’] They say it’s your birth-dayy! [nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuhhhh-nuh-nu’] Happy Birthday to you! [nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuhhhh-nuh-nu’] They say it’s your birth-dayy! [nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuhhhh-nuh-nu’] Gonna have a good time! (etc.)
  • To end your routine, go the sincere route. Make a bouquet or a teddy-bear or something so unutterably cute that it has to be accepted, then say:”(Instigator’s name) wanted me to come here today because he loves you, and he wanted to do something extra special to show it. Thank you, (birthday person) for being such a good sport. Everybody! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you….”
  • Remember that the instigator is not likely to hire you again (been there, done that). You want the birthday person to appear to enjoy your performance so that others in the crowd will want to hire you. And, if all else fails, you already know the important lesson: payment in advance!

Mail Order Balloons

  • Before the Wright brothers, sending a bouquet of balloons through the mail was the only kind of air-mail available…
  • I’ve sent out boxes of balloons a number of times. So far I’ve had pretty good luck by packing them so that they don’t move, using either crumbled newspaper or bubble wrap, but with no other precautions. Needless to say, it’s important to be mindful of how far they’re going and how long till they get there. I’ve found that, as long as the sculptures are secure, time is a bigger enemy than the physical handling of the package.
  • The problems you are having with the popping of pre-inflated mylar balloons during shipping is usually caused by the expansion inside the sealed balloon.
  • This can be caused by either interior heat increasing while being transported in a closed vehicle (just like latex in a hot enviornment) or cabin pressure during air shipment. There really is no solution to this occurance, it’s the nature of “gas molecules”, “physics” and “chemistry”.
  • During the hot summer here, we have the same popping problem with our pre-inflated mylar balloons that are stored in our warehouse. (When it gets up to 100* out there, we can lose up to 1/3 of the stock in one day. It sounds like popcorn!) (Also, the bottom inflation seals created against the inflation pressure are stronger and they with stand the expansion much better than the factory seams.)
  • Best to purchase the product flat and invest in a good heat sealer.
  • I think your problem had to do with the heat. If your balloons were air inflated in an air conditioned environment in Bogart, Georgia and then were put into cartons and transported in unairconditioned UPS semi trucks via ground, to Arizona, the heat had to be a factor. Slightly UNDER inflating when going to hot climates or high altitudes will get one past these problems most of the time.
  • Helium-inflated balloons AND air filled balloons will expand if subjected to warmer temperatures.
  • In our experience, we have left the mylars a tad soft so there is some room for expansion. We have not experienced any “exploded” mylars. Our damages come from other objects being placed within the carton with the balloons – for instance, a hard-cover book – we try to buffer all sharp edges, but sometimes contents shift.
  • We have been shipping for 12 years and perhaps it’s time to recheck the regulations with UPS and the post office to make certain there are no new restrictions.
  • In the worst scenario, UPS wouldn’t honor a claim for damages to the balloon which is one of the least expensive items in the shipment – our carton costs more.
  • We do quite a bit of mailing “Balloon in a Box”. Mylar balloons do very well in transit; latex do not, unless they are air filled. Don’t even let anyone talk you into doing a stuffed balloon through the mail – that’s just asking for trouble.
  • Some things to note: Put a label (or write a note) on the taped seam of the carton “Do not use sharp instrument to open”. Add some interest to the shipment (we add colored tissue, mylar confetti, air filled 5″ balloons, spiral 260’s, a card and a decorated weight to the 18″ mylar and charge a sliding fee based on the zone it is shipped to (17-25 C-shells). More than 3 mylars will create an oversize carton that will cost a bundle to ship UPS, but sometimes people are willing to pay.
  • Be careful of sending balloons to high altitude areas – we always leave them a bit on the soft side. Be wary of sending them into hospitals – be certain you have noted that the recipient is a “Patient”, that you have the correct room/bed number, and that they will be there for more than a week. Don’t ship out balloons on Friday (UPS doesn’t move packages on Saturday and Sunday). Suggest 2nd day or 3rd day air if it is going to a 4-5 day delivery area – which will cost the customer considerably more. Put a label or card inside the carton “If this shipment is damaged, or the balloon is deflated, please save all packaging and call us collect at_________.”
  • I’ve sent out boxes of balloons a number of times. So far I’ve had pretty good luck by packing them so that they don’t move, using either crumbled newspaper or bubble wrap, but with no other precautions. Needless to say, it’s important to be mindful of how far they’re going and how long till they get there. I’ve found that, as long as the sculptures are secure, time is a bigger enemy than the physical handling of the package.

MB 12/13/95
MB 12/22/95
SKB 01/13/97
SKB 12/23/97
MB 7/20/99
SMB 1/17/00
MB 4/13/00