Thursday, December 17, 2015

"GOSH," - it's Christmas Party time! - 17th December 2015

Since 2013, the Balloon and Party Industry Alliance - BAPIA, has called upon its members to help create the decor for the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), Children's Christmas parties.

Built in 1852, Great Ormond Street Hospital had only ten beds when it first opened and was the first hospital in the UK that offered dedicated inpatient care to sick children. In 1858, GOSH survived its first major financial crisis when Charles Dickens spoke at a festive dinner and gave a public reading of A Christmas Carol in aid of the hospital. This raised enough money to purchase the neighbouring house on Great Ormond Street and increase the bed capacity to 75! Today, more than 255,000 patients visit GOSH annually. Not only is GOSH at the forefront of pediatric training in the UK, but it is also a pioneer of medical research to find new and better treatments for childhood illnesses.

Decorating the annual GOSH Children's Christmas party is such a great honour knowing that our industry, with some very dedicated helpers, has done a little to make this very special occasion a little bit more exciting and fun! 

The party is a Christmas treat for patients who are currently in the hospital or who have been treated over the last year. More than 2000 children, siblings, parents, and carers attended the four parties that are held over two days! 

These magical parties feature fun activities including face painting, arts and crafts, cupcake decorating, and an appearance from one very special guest - Father Christmas - who flies all the way from the North Pole for the occasion.

Decorating this party has its challenges as we are not permitted to use any latex balloons. So each year we get our thinking caps on and create exciting balloon decor without the help of our beloved latex balloons!

Balloon Images OCT/NOV/DEC 2015

After reading the fantastic article, Create Fabulous Foil Arches in Balloon Images Oct/Nov/Dec 2015, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for me and my team to recreate one of these amazing arches!

I loved the “Colourful Candy Surprise” arch by Cam Woody, CBA, that was featured in the same article.
Cam created an arch that incorporated all the Qualatex® 18" and 9" Candy Swirl Microfoils attached in a random pattern that spread the colour throughout the design. I felt that these balloons would be perfect for the children; we would add a Christmas twist to the design, too! 

Using David Mahoney's recommended H taping technique, we started our preparation. Firstly, we air inflated our selected range of "Candy Swirls" and Christmas balloons. We wanted to emulate the wonderful randomness that Cam had created in her beautiful arch and felt it would be easier if we could select the balloons as we went along! 

We taped the back of each of the balloons with packing tape, as recommended by David, in preparation to them being attached to the AeröPole System™ that we were using for the arch.

The idea of the H taping technique is to ensure that the Microfoil® balloons are securely attached to the frame or arch that you are making. 
  • Start by attaching clear packing tape to the back side of the Microfoil balloon.
  • Attach a length of tape from one side of the balloon to the other going over the frame.
  • Tape over the same spot with another length of tape to secure. It should look similar to an H.
For full instructions for this technique, check out the article in Balloon Images Oct/Nov/Dec 2015 on pages 18-20.

We chose to use gaffer's tape to secure the balloons to the frame. This means that when we go to remove the balloons afterwards, there is less chance that the tape will leave any sticky residue. We also discovered that gaffer's tape sticks really well to the packing tape, making a very strong fixing to the balloons.

Once we had created the main structure of balloons on the frame, we added more balloons using our best friend, Clik-Clik™ Stretchy Tape to add in the extra balloons. This helped to fill and disguise gaps and gave the arch more body!

The arch took surprisingly longer than I had anticipated. I know that this was something new for me and a learning curve for everyone involved. I suppose because it was a random rather than a uniform design, I thought that this would make it quite easy. However, I think it made it a little harder!

Here is the end result! It was everything that I hoped it would be and more! I loved the fun and excitement that the arch created! Packed with candies, Santas, Merry Christmas balloons and lots more!

Bob Armstrong, CBA

In addition to the arch, Bob Armstrong, CBA, of Doctor Bob Balloons Unlimited in Barry, Wales also helped to create a fantastic collection of air-filled decor that we were able to suspend from the ceiling throughout the ballroom using the fabulous MagMover® System.

I handed Bob a box of assorted Qualatex Christmas balloons that had been very generously donated by Pioneer® Balloon Company along with some Taper and Starpoint balloons, too! I knew that Bob with his team would be able to create something truly amazing, and of course they did!

What can I say... It was another truly magical, fun-packed day! Everyone working together with one goal; to make the room look amazing. And I can honestly say that we did! A huge congratulations to BAPIA and their members and to the amazing sponsors, who without their very generous support we could not make this day happen! 

I would also like to thank David Mahoney of Balloons Everyday in Carrollton, TX, USA for sharing his inspiration and techniques as well as Cam Woody of Pioneer Balloon Company, who very kindly shared her experience building her arch along with some great tips and hints!

Happy Ballooning!


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