For Peyton’s 10th birthday, I wanted to go above and beyond. How fun are these balloon numbers?! What if I told you I made them by myself in less than 3 days and for under $20!?
Usually, I make a balloon garland (tutorial here) for birthdays, but I felt like double digits just needed something extra. I had seen a few summer weddings with giant balloon-filled letters of last names for photo-ops, and absolutely LOVED the idea. I set out to make my own, and, while it was time-consuming, this DIY was fairly easy.
These DIY balloon numbers made a HUGE impact, and Peyton has already stuffed them into her bedroom and claimed them as “hers” forever. Here’s my tutorial on how to make balloon numbers!
How to Make Balloon Numbers
First, gather supplies, here’s what you need:
What you need:
- foam board (I used about 6 per number, and found them at Dollar Tree for $1 each, which was cheaper than EVERYWHERE else by far!)
- hot glue gun and lots of hot glue sticks
- x-acto knife
- cutting mat
- glue dots
- measuring tape or ruler
- balloons (we used a few different shades without a pattern, but ombre or single-color would be cool too!)
What you do:
Making the Numbers
I started making my balloon numbers by using this FREE balloon mosaic template creator. You absolutely could eyeball it and free-hand your number(s), but I didn’t trust myself to make a round 0 without help, or a 1 that didn’t look like a 7! I printed the number out, and taped the sheets of paper together to form the number. Then I cut each number out. Leaving me with a paper 1 and a paper 0.
Then, I laid out the paper number stencils on top of the foam board. Make sure the foam board area was larger than the paper stencil area. Trace the border, and then but with an x-acto knife. Scissors would work, but a box cutter or x-acto knife is a lot easier and more precise (and leaves less “fringy” pieces all over the floor!)
I didn’t number my pieces, and did get confused when trying to re-align them. I’d definitely recommend numbering them, or at least lining all the foam board pieces up with the paper stencil before you start gluing things together. If you’re working with double digits, it’ll ensure they’re both the same size!
For the next parts, you’ll want to work on a safe surface, like a leather mat or cover your work area with parchment paper. Carefully hot glue the foam board pieces to each other to form the number. I found it easiest to do one part at a time, and hold it for a few minutes, until the glue sets, then move on to the next seam.
You can see in the photo above, I also used chip clips to reinforce the drying glue. They just made sure I wasn’t accidentally pulling a seam apart while holding a new one. I let each number sit for a few hours, so the glue was fully dried. I added a piece of packing tape along each seam to really reinforce it.
Adding the Sides
Now, to make the sides or edges! Decide how “deep” you want to make your numbers. I wouldn’t suggest anything smaller than 5″, because most balloons inflate larger than that! For my numbers, I went with 5″.
First, I measured and marked pieces of foam board, and then I cut out my 5″ strips. Again, when it came time to hot glue the sides along the foam board numbers, it worked best to go one by one. I held each strip for a few minutes after I hot glued it to make sure it was “cured” before moving on to the next.
Fair warning: you will go through A LOT of hot glue. In fact, I ended up plugging in BOTH of my two mini hot glue guns, and alternating them, so I always had enough hot glue. This likely wouldn’t be an issue with a full-sized hot glue gun.
For the curved part of the 1 and for the whole 0, I “scored” each piece of foam board on one side with my x-acto knife (be careful not to apply enough pressure to actually slice through the foam board). Then, I carefully shaped them into a curve by slowly bending them along the scores:
After the side pieces were fully attached for both numbers, I went around with the hot glue gun again, and reinforced any seams that were gaping, or seemed flimsy. I let them sit overnight.
I will also note, on numbers like 0 with a “rounded” bottom, make sure you are squaring them off a bit. It will help them stand up better!
Now, the fun part: the balloons! I wouldn’t blow them up more than a day in advance, because once they shrink, you’ll be left with gaps in your numbers! Also, it helps to inflate balloons in a variety of sizes. I found myself blowing up balloons maybe 20% of the way at the end, so I could stick them to fill in bare spaces!
Using these glue dots, I started with the biggest balloons. I did 3-5 balloon dots per balloon, but fair warning: THESE ARE STICKY AF. You’re more likely to pop a balloon than unstick two balloons! It also worked best to only unroll one dot at a time, because they were so sticky. That said, they were basically mess free (aside from the roll and the backing paper, and they didn’t leave a residue anywhere, and were fairly easy to work with!
Once I had all the large balloons inside the numbers, I started to fill in the spaces with smaller balloons. I layered ours, to make them extra full. My numbers looked a little bare, so I ended up taking apart a few leftover leis from a different party, and adding them to the balloons (with the glue dots). Any fake flowers could be added to these balloon numbers, or you could leave them with balloons – personal preference 😉
And here’s the finished product:
How fun, right? These balloon numbers could easily be letters, a last name, or even just a shape – like a square backdrop! They were more time-consuming than a balloon garland, and I don’t know how well they would hold up outside (with wind or extreme temperatures), but we have been enjoying these for 3 days, with minimal balloon shrinkage!
For more party-planning fun, check out the balloon garland in this blog post from London’s frog hunt party and here’s my longest balloon garland ever, from Addy’s 5th birthday party!
Happy ballooning, friends!