Bouncy and bright! Balloons and flowers are the theme for this backyard birthday party.
Nestled in the clearing of any backyard is a birthday-girl's dream garden: A lawn-blanket meadow grows in the center; colorful balloon blossoms, Botanicus rubberous, line its borders, and the sweet fragrance of cupcakes fills the air. A floral-themed birthday party features all of these delights, and it isn't difficult or expensive to pull off.
Hint at the party's theme with balloon invitations. To make, punch six holes in a storebought card -- one in the center and five surrounding it. Starting at the center, weave a long balloon through the holes; tie them off inside the card and trim excess. Thread a green balloon through four punched holes to make a stem and leaf.
Flower Balloon How-To
These giant balloon blooms are easy for a parent to make. You'll need regular 5-, 11-, or 16-inch round balloons. Fill them with regular air or with helium (rent a tank for this). Before you attempt to make balloon art with helium-filled balloons, it's a good idea to practice on ones filled with ordinary air, so any slip-ups won't fly away. Don't blow up the balloons fully; leaving a little slack will keep them flexible enough to turn and twist without popping. To tie off balloons, pinch the necks with one hand; with the other hand, pull the neck of the balloon to stretch it, wrap it around two of your fingers, and pull the end through to make a knot. If you can, make at least one flower for every guest, since the kids will surely want to take them home.
1. For the petals, you will need five balloons that are the same color and size. Inflate the balloons, comparing each to the first one so they match in size. If you are using helium, place the balloons in a plastic bag held under a table so they won't float away.
2. Tie two of the balloons together: Stretch their knotted necks to make them easier to tie. There's no need to knot them tightly, since they will naturally hold together as you manipulate them around. Set aside.
3. Next, tie the remaining three inflated balloons together: First tie two of them together as described in step 2, then tie on the third.
4. Join the two balloon clusters: Push the pair into the set of three so the necks wrap around each other.
5. Lock the two clusters together by rotating the necks of the balloons around each other several times until secure. Don't worry about the balloons popping. They're more durable than you might think. Set the petals aside.
6. For the center, inflate two balloons of a different color; use balloons that are the same size as the ones used to make the petals, but fill them with less air so they are slightly smaller. Tie the two balloons together.
7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to insert the two balloons into the prepared cluster. Arrange the petals around the centers, twisting balloons several times to lock them all together.
8. Be sure the two balloons that make up the center are positioned correctly; the cluster should look like a flower whether viewed from the back or the front. Keep rearranging the balloons until the side view appears like this.
9. Wrap nylon string around the center of the cluster several times, changing direction to keep balloons well bound. To finish, pull one end of the string between two of the petals and cut off the other end. This will keep the flowers floating upright.
10. If using helium, tie the end of the string to a weight, such as a rock, or to a garden stake that you can plant in the grass. If using air, hang the balloon flowers from overhead.
For favors, fill pails (available at party-supply stores) with candy and give each a paper daisy with a lollipop poked through its center.