Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Just What are the Top Balloon & Party Trends for 2020?

After a little research on the mighty Web, I found quite a few contenders for the top trends that could have an impact on our balloon and party businesses this year.

2020 Colour of the Year - Classic Blue

Beautiful Decor by Moon and Blooms, San Jose, California, USA.

There is nothing very new about this classic colour, which is why many have questioned its choice as the Pantone Colour of the Year! According to The Pantone Institute, that exactly was the main idea behind choosing this shade. They wanted to select a colour that stands out while also being familiar. It should gives everyone a foundation of faith and peace.

So could this be the year of of blue balloon décor en masse, or are there other new trends in the balloon industry that will be even more prominent? Historically, it takes a while for the colour of the year to make its way into the balloon industry, and that transition happens mainly through fashion, especially the wedding market.

Gender Neutral Party Ideas

Circus Theme Party Decor
Designer: Shannon Kilford, of Born to Party, Sydney, Australia

It's time to think outside of the "gender box" and embrace more Gender Neutral themes! There is an abundance of exciting and classic party themes that will suit anyone! 

Zany Zooventure!
Designer: Sam Josie, CBA, 
Pioneer® Balloon Company

Here are a few great gender neutral suggestions!
  • Zoo, Safari and any animal theme.
  • Carnival and Circus
  • Magic and Wizards
  • Under the Sea 
  • Luau and Beach 
  • Ice-Cream and Candy
  • Hot-Air Balloons and Vintage Travel

Streamer Backdrops

Whimsical and packed with colour and movement, these stunning streamer backdrops will be a big hit for 2020! Streamer backdrops add the wow-factor to a party, and are customisable to match an event’s colour scheme. It also creates a fun photo opportunity for those looking to create an “instagram moment” at their party.

Last year Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, Sydney, Australia presented streamer backdrops as being one of Australia's hottest trends. Chris very kindly made a short video tutorial the demonstrates how to make these awesome streamers. If you missed it the first time round, I have added the video again below! 

80's and 90's Theme Parties

As millennials get older, they are starting to put a focus on fond memories of their youth. From Cheers to Friends, the 80's and 90's set the scene for fabulous sitcoms that are still popular 30 years on! And of course, who could forget Beanie Babies? I still have a trunk packed with mint condition Beanie Babies waiting for their revival! 

11" Neon Music Notes 

Neon was a big trend in the 80's, and this new 18" "Happy Birthday Neon Glow" balloon from Qualatex fits the bill perfectly! Don't forget these vibrant 11" Neon Music Notes, these would fit just as well with this theme. 

Au Naturel - Pampas Grasses & Dried Flowers

Photograph courtesy of
Photographer: Andreas Pinacci
If you have not yet noticed the beautiful Pampas Grasses & Dried Flowers trend, it's definitely time to! It seems like everywhere you look for inspiration, from large scale events to every day parties, the fluffy pampas grass and dried flowers appear in some way. It gained traction in the floral industry and it's only recently started appearing with balloons. It is always worth watching the floral industry trends as they usually gravitate into the balloon industry especially as so many of us now work with balloons and flowers! 

The great thing about pampas grass, dried and faux flowers is that they can be used repeatedly, making it very sustainable, a 2020 buzzword that clients love to hear! You would be amazed at how many people grow these resilient grasses in their gardens, I myself have some beautiful species that would look fabulous in balloon decor! Maybe 2020 is the year to start growing your own accent decor! 

Of course there are even more trends that will certainly play a part in the ballooning world this year:

Sustainability and Sustainable Parties, using live plants over cut flowers, succulents are very on-trend right now.
Many are also making it a point to eliminate the use of single-use plastics - offer only latex balloons.
Planners also focus on only utilising re-usable decor options, such as cloth bunting or any props that can be rented and/or re-used.

Space and Galaxy Theme parties

Children of all ages love a space theme party; they have become extremely popular over the past few years! Have you heard about "Two the Moon" Birthday Parties? These parties specifically celebrate a child's second birthday - I could see this becoming an even bigger trend in the future.

Disco Balls are making a big comeback as an accent detail at parties, not just one or two, lots of them! 

Personalisation remains a top trend, so adding a name or a message on your balloons and décor will definitely be a hit! 

And finally, have you seen Pinterest 100: The top trends to inspire and try in 2020. This is a fabulous resource and a good round-up of lots of different trends anticipated for 2020 and beyond! 
"Peek into the future with the top Pinterest trends for 2020. 
When Pinners are looking for new ideas, they come to Pinterest first. It’s where they get inspiration, dream about new possibilities and plan for what matters most. And every time someone searches on Pinterest, they’re thinking about what they want to try next. Multiply that behavior by the more than 320 million people using Pinterest all over the world, and you get unique insight into emerging trends. The Pinterest 100 is our annual report showing what’s next, with ideas across categories including food, home, style, beauty, health, travel and family. This year, we organized the trends into ten themes that show broader cultural shifts and changes in consumer behavior. Wondering what’s with re-wilding, dog halos, Granny pods, agritourism and rockhounding? Read on to see what will be big in 2020!These insights tell us that more than ever, people are thinking and acting globally and sustainably. They’re staying home to work, entertain or be entertained, and then heading outdoors to be reacquainted with nature, look for adventure, and travel responsibly. All while lowering stress and elevating different areas of their lives, from pet care to scrunchies."
If this information is new to you, I recommend investigating further, as it is  packed with some great information, which very well may help you get ahead of the game!  

Happy Ballooning!

@suebowler - follow me on Instagram 

Friday, February 14, 2020

If Asked, Would You Be Able to Name Your Favourite Balloon Design?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to name what I consider as my favourite ever balloon design, something of my own creation. After nearly thirty years of being in the balloon industry, that question stumped me. So before I tell you what mine and a few of my ballooning friend's favourites designs are, I would like you to think about what yours would be, and why?

Naming your favourite design is a little bit like publicly saying who your favourite child is, and that is exactly the problem my fellow "balloonies" had when I asked them! 

Elephant Sculpture by Chris Adamo
Elephant Sculpture by Chris Adamo
Here's what Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia said;
"OMG it is so hard to decide on a favourite design but this is the first one that I thought of.
It was made to the exact proportions of an adult male African Bull Elephant. I actually saved the working drawings I used for proportions.

Why is this my favourite? I spent a long time researching how other elephants designs had been made with balloons, but I couldn't find anything that was made using a texture that seemed appropriate. Depending on the texture you are looking for, quick links and twisted balloons sometimes looks a little messy and draws focus away from the overall project. What I endeavoured to achieve in this project was a finish that was smooth and consistent, and the duplet square pack method created a finish that allowed the audience to see beyond the balloons and for a moment in time be transformed to a vintage circus"
Elephant Sculpture by Chris Adamo, CBA

Chris will be building a large balloon sculpture as part of the sculpture competition at BACI 2020 in Milan in March. I am very excited to see what he builds - of course I will report back! 

Cam Woody, CBA, of Pioneer Balloon Company, Wichita, USA, is a little like me, in that she struggled to find her absolute favourite. So she chose 4 designs! 

Flashy Flamingo Design by Cam Woody
Flashy Flamingo
"I love this one because it has so much personality. My friends, who aren’t fond of balloons, couldn’t resist these flamingos. It’s not a complicated design. My favorite designs are usually the ones that are the most simple to make. These flamingos only require a minimal amount of twisting to create a character that draws people to it and makes them smile." 

 Baby Shower Decor

Baby Shower Decor by Cam Woody
"I chose this shot because of the way it makes me feel. There are a lot of different details in the scene that make it special. I like how light and airy it feels with the clouds and the hot air balloons. I like the rhythm that the different textured balloons add. The difference in the way the Chrome, Pearls and Standard colors reflect the light in the room makes the photo feel light it’s breathing. And one of my favorite details in the shot is the hot air balloon cupcakes. Again because they were so easy. I hadn’t seen anything like this before and it seems like it should have been so obvious. I used washi tape for the stripes on the 5” balloon and attached the balloon to cake pop sticks and added little bows."

Elegant Hearts Column 
Elegant Heart Column by Cam Woody

"I like this column for several different reasons. First, the balloons look so elegant! The Chromes mixed with the Rose Gold and White come together to make this design radiate luxury. I created a tack weave in the center part of the column with the 260Qs, a technique that I don’t use often, but I’m so pleased that I did for this piece. The elegance of the design justified the extra time that it took to add this detail."

Sparkling Unicorn Smiles

"This design featured some of our newer balloons, which I love. I made white the primary color to keep the piece light and airy. The sheer white ribbon also adds to the ethereal atmosphere. The whimsical Unicorn and Unicorn Horns along with the fun saying on the 18” foil delivery the message and color for the design. And I added a few paper flowers for the final details. The piece feels like something out of a fairy tale, which is exactly what I was trying to achieve."

My final guest for this blog post is Luc Bertrand, CBA of WaW Balloons in Vichte, Belgium. Luc's designs vary from large sculptures to small retail designs, so I was intrigued to see which of his designs he would consider to be his favourite and why.
"In spring 2011, Qualatex introduced the numbers shapes and the 18” foil smile faces in different colours. 
As I was teaching at the JBAN convention in Japan I was asked to showcase both new products. I was allocated two “demo” time slots of 15 minutes each to show one design including these. Subsequently, I traveled to Japan with a design for the numbers and a design for the smiles in mind. 
On the day of the demonstration, I was informed that the timetable has changed and that I now had only one 15 minutes time slot! 

Realising I could not show and properly explain my two designs in such a short time, I knew I had to come up with a new design. I decided to combine both, positioned the number on a base and topped the number with a smile face, gave the character two arms to create emotion and the “Happy Numbers” were born! 

Happy Number by Luc Bertrand
I started teaching the design worldwide and soon pictures started to pop up everywhere with my creation. A bit later, I start adding other faces on the numbers and now 'Happy Pigs', 'Angry Cows', 'Wondering Giraffes', Winning Lions', 'Waving Frogs', and many more soon appear.
Then I started to hear dazzling numbers when delegates told me how many "Happy Number" they sell a month, a week, a day! Gratitude is great but knowing how my design resulted in such huge sales for my colleagues worldwide will always be my biggest reward. 

Happy Numbers by Luc Bertrand
9 years later, they are still a top design. I was teaching abroad only yesterday. During the break a lady came over and showed me the picture of a happy number (not my picture) on her cell phone. Little did she know it was my original design. She then asked me kindly if I was able to explain “such design”.
Therefore, when you ask me what my favourite design is, I must go for the Happy Numbers.

  • a simple concept
  • easy to reproduce when knowing the right techniques.
  • 2 arms giving the character all kind of expressions and emotions,
  • a gift that must have made numerous of thousands happy.
  • long lasting air filled design
  • a definite money maker,
  • a timeless design that will be alive and kicking for many years to come!

And now it's my turn! Like everyone else I really struggled with choosing my favourite design. I wavered between two solid options. Should it be my first place winner from many years ago at IBAC 13 that helped me to boost my International profile, not to mention my ballooning and teaching career?  On the other hand, should it be a design that has excited me the most more recently? I have chosen the latter, as I have always enjoyed and thrived to create something a little bit different, which is exactly what I did last year for a client for their Great Gatsby event in London. I knew that I wanted to create a column, but also add something unusual. After spending a little time researching the Gatsby Theme, watching the film and referencing Art Deco style, I made a simple sketch in my note pad. I then turned my sketch into a digital image that I was able to show my client. 

Gold Column Sculpture by Sue Bowler

On the right is my digital image with the final result (shown side-by-side), made from Gold Chrome balloons and complimented with 3' and Deco Bubble confetti-filled balloons! 

Whilst I was making these Gold Column Sculptures on-site at the venue, I could not believe the number of compliments that I received from the hotel staff, the event organisers and general passersby! It was so exciting to hear all the positive comments and exclamations of "we've never seen such beautiful balloons!" 

A week after the Gatsby event, I attended the Qualatex Event in Mexico and decided to share the design with the delegates. I made a few changes and added a few new elements - once again I was greeted with an overwhelming positive response. 

Since this event, I have used the same style of frame to make an elegant organic style wedding design. 

We are so used to strong vertical lines with balloons that by using soft curves often feels more natural, organic and playful. I have also found that creating a curving line rather than a straight adds volume, giving the appearance of a bigger or more voluminous design.

I have loved seeing the designs selected by Chris, Cam, and Luc. I truly admire their work and styles, and have really enjoyed compiling their testimonies and getting their perspectives.

Have you decided what your favourite design is? Considering this aspect is an important reason to acknowledge our personal success is it can help us continue to achieve. If we reflect back on what worked well and why, we can often repeat the process and hence continue to benefit repeatedly. 

Happy Ballooning!


Friday, February 7, 2020

Creating Your Brand & Image - Digital Marketing with Zoe Adam- Jones CBA

Was one your New Year's resolutions to up your game and give your balloon business a bit of a makeover? Though we are now in to February, it's definitely not too late to get started on this!

So, how important is your branding?

Branding is important not only because it is your first memorable impression with consumers but also because it allows your customers and clients to know what to expect from your company. Several areas should be used to develop a brand including advertising, customer service, promotional merchandise, reputation, and logo.

Consistency is key to effective branding. In this quick Video Tutorial, Zoe Adams-Jones CBA from JAZ Trading shows you how to use the Branding Kit feature in Canva to help you achieve consistent branding.

I met Zoe three years ago when I attended the Australasian Balloon Convention (ABC) in Australia. At that time, Zoe was just starting her wholesale distribution business Jaz Trading. Over the past three years, Zoe has made her mark, whether it is through her continuous contributions to the balloon industry with her fabulous design skills, her generosity in sharing her extensive digital marketing knowledge, or working tirelessly to protect the balloon industry taking on the role of Director of PEBA - Pro Environment Balloon Alliance.

To learn more about Zoe and her impact on the world of balloons, check out my post from last year - Everything You Need to Know About Zoe Adam-Jones - Designer Extraordinaire and CANVA Queen!

If you are new to CANVA and would like to know more about how to use it, check out Zoe's extremely helpful article and video tutorial - "Good Design Matters for your Business" - Zoe Adams-Jones Shows You How to Create Fabulous Social Media Posts Using CANVA.

A huge thank you to Zoe for making this fabulous tutorial for the Very Best Balloon Blog readers and for sharing her immense knowledge on this subject! 

Happy Ballooning!


Monday, January 27, 2020

Balloon Character Designs Perfect for Valentine's Day - with Step-by-Step Video Instructions!

I have always really enjoyed making "little people" mini-balloon sculptures. I have found that they make truly great gifts in their own right, or add extra value to a bigger arrangement! They are an air-filled design too, which is a major bonus! 

Valentine's Day is not only for the true romantics, but also for friends, children, and even pets! So having a good repertoire of design ideas that caters to all tastes helps ensure that you have something for everyone! 

I love this "Naughty Smile & A Kiss" design. It's a very simple design, and has instant "smile" appeal. If you download the recipe sheet below and complete the job cost form, you will also find that it's also cost effective, giving you the opportunity to make a good profit! 

This little guy is based on the  design above, instead of using a Microfoil balloon for the head, I simply used a 5" Face - there are a variety of different faces that you could use for this design (I include some of these at the end of this post.

Here are a few more Mr Valentine's design's as featured on the Qualatex website - QBN members can download free step-by-step instruction sheets.

The design on the left is using a 646Q balloon for the body, which will make this design stand approximately 3' (1m) tall! 

Here is a great video tutorial by Vadim Shushkanov, CBA. In the video, Vadim shows how to make this super cute 260Q "Gentleman with Flower". If it's your preference, this design could be easily adapted to have him holding a 4" Microfoil® Heart balloon instead! 

Here are some great Qualatex Face Balloons that would work perfectly for these cute Valentine's Designs!

9" "Smiley Wink Heart" #97140
18" "Smiley Wink Heart" #78549/ #97140

28" "Smiley Face with Heart Eye's"

9" "Smiley Love" - Air-Filled

"A Smile & A Kiss"
11" Round

Smiley Faces Assortment
 05" Round
Color: Yellow
Package item #: 57961

I hope that I have given you a little inspiration to add to your Valentine's Day designs!

Happy Ballooning!


Thursday, January 23, 2020

You are Never Too Old for a Balloon!

I wanted to share this short, but uplifting story with you! 

In 2019, a friend asked me if I could make a balloon arrangement for someone who was reaching the incredible age of 100 years old! 

After some careful consideration on what would be a balloon fit for a 100 year old, as well as deliberation towards the availability of space to accommodate it, I decide to make something small and compact. The arrangement also needed to be elegant, but fun - it is a balloon after all!

Personalisation was high on my list of importance, as reaching 100 years of age is no mean feat! For me, putting someone's name on a balloon lets the recipient know that they are an exceptional person with a very special occasion to celebrate!

One of my favourite styles of arrangements from last year was my air-filled board designs. Where the rest of the ballooning world is super-sizing their designs with fabulous giant fusion arrangements (which I love), my preference, especially on this occasion was for a design that was compact and neat. I used a large cake board for the base, which I covered with a stretched Microfoil balloon - you can learn this technique by clicking HERE or by referring to Tips and Tricks of the Trade - Part 2. I've noticed that using the same or a complimentary colour balloon for the base cover gives a sense of unity to the design as well as a mirror like reflective effect. I added a personalised air-filled 18" Microfoil® balloon to the base using Oasis Uglu™️ Dashes, and then added a selection of balloons inflated to a range of sizes, and finished the design by adding in a couple of silk roses heads and greenery - all carefully secured using Dashes.

The great thing about a design like this is that it's long-lasting, robust, and easy to transport.

The reason I am telling you this story is because Cath, the birthday girl, had never once received a balloon in her 100 years, and she absolutely loved it! She loved it so much that she took it away with her for her Birthday celebrations, and brought it back with her when she returned home a week later. She still has her balloon... quite a few weeks later now, and proudly displays it for everyone to see. 

This truly does prove that you are never too old to enjoy a balloon, and how much pleasure it can bring to someone! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue Bowler