Okay, I have a confession to make. I've been keeping a dirty little secret, and it's hard for me to admit it, being a "party girl"and all...

But I hate balloons.

Not for environmental reasons (which are definitely a concern these days). Not because they are depleting the world's helium resources (no, really - there was a helium shortage announced a while back). Not because they can be a choking hazard for little children and small pets (although that is always a concern for me).

And actually, "hate" is a little harsh. It's not that I hate balloons themselves, I just hate having to "do" balloons!

I am a huge fan of other people's balloons. I'm always amazed and awestruck by the balloon artists I meet. In fact, a dearly beloved vendor of mine, Brian Asman, is going to be starring in a new TV show called "The Unpoppables" about his balloon business. I've already set my Tivo!

Balloons are great for decor, I admit it! They are colorful, big, they float - and they can change the feel of a room in an instant. Children are mystified by balloons, too. To them, they're absolutely magical.

But balloons take time! LOTS of time. And if you are on a tight timeframe, trying to decorate a location, these babies can totally burst your time line.

And then there is the great hidden talent that all balloons possess, no matter how big or how small...

Balloons are the all-time great escape artists of the party industry.

Shall I tell you about the time when I was doing a party in a park, and opened up the door to my van, and the two dozen balloons I had tucked neatly in the back wriggled loose from their binding and zipped past my head and into the sky? Sure, I could have grabbed the ribbons - if I hadn't been holding a cake in my hands! Hm, let me see? Drop the cake or grab the balloons? Drop the cake? Grab the balloons? In that scenario I think I'll opt to send my assistant to the local Safeway to pick up some replacement balloons instead.

Another time, we had a van full of balloons (all with weights, mind you). The client was in a very large space, and we had very little time to decorate, so we opted for lots of pre-blown balloons. This would have been a great idea, had my poor husband, who happened to be helping us out on that party, not opened the back door while the side door was also open, causing a wind tunnel. And you guessed it, another great escape.

I was inside the rental hall busily decorating, and couldn't figure out where Scott was. He was gone for like fifteen minutes! Finally, he comes staggering in the door, completely red-faced and sweaty, clutching a tangled mass of balloons. He had chased the bundle for six blocks (in fancy shoes, mind you). The balloons had a weighted clip on them, but because my husband is on the vertically challenged side, they still hovered about two feet out of his grasp for the entire chase. Evidently, the balloons took off like a shot, down the street, past a park (much to the excitement of a gathering crowd), around a corner, across the road, and down two blocks where they finally came to rest in a tree outside a coffee shop. The morning breakfast crew stood and watched the entire affair while they sipped their lattes, and gave Scott a round of applause when he successfully caught them.

More recently, we were decorating for an adorable Father-Daughter dance at a local school (I'll write about that another time!). We were using these big, three-foot balloons with sixteen-inch "collars" (a collection of four sixteen-inch balloons tied together and gathered at the base of the big balloon). They were really cute, but we were pressed for time and were putting them together in the grand entryway with its 35-foot ceilings - you're already a step ahead of me on this, aren't you? Well, you got it. One of the collars escaped while I was attaching it to the three-footer, and quicker than you could say "Buzz Lightyear" it rocketed up to the pristine stained glass ceiling. Nothing says "dummy party planner who should have blown up the balloons in the low-ceilinged office" louder than balloons on the ceiling...

So, how to get them down? Well, that's where handy-dandy duct tape comes to the rescue! I ran up to the balcony (remember, we're pressed for time!), affixed a huge wad of duct tape to the top of another 16-inch balloon, and like a fisherman luring in the big one, I hunkered down to try and ensnare the collar. All around me gasps of "Oooh, you almost had it!" and "You're so close!" echoed in the great hall. It was tense. All eyes were on me. I couldn't fail! Finally, I was able to get the angle just right, and I made the collar - so to speak.

Fixing it with duct tape|sophie-world.com
Applying the duct tape...

Capturing the balloons|sophie-world.com
Almost there...

Balloons captured|sophie-world.com
Got it!

The ironic thing was that later that night, at another event where I was only providing entertainment, a child lost their balloon and was in tears. The problem was, I had no balloon to retrieve the escapee - Hmm..? Conundrum...? What to do? Do I ignore the inconsolable child weeping in the corner, or do I leap into action? I leapt onto the table and snagged the dangling string with a roll of plastic tablecloth with more duct tape on the end. There were cheers! I felt like a fireman must feel when he rescues Mr. Tibbles from a tree: elated. Tears were dried, and the smile on the little girl's face as we tied the balloon securely to her wrist was worth a thousand bucks. I was a hero!

Hey - maybe those balloons aren't so bad after all. Did I say hate? I mean, I LOVE balloons!