Photograph: © Syda Productions-stock.adobe.com
1 BUY A TANK
As Winnie the Pooh would say: “No one can be uncheered with a balloon.” Amazon, Birthday Express and Target are a few retailers who will ship helium tanks. The Balloon Time Jumbo Helium Balloon Kit contains a tank with enough helium for fifty 9-inch balloons, an assortment of colored balloons and a roll of ribbon. Prices range from $39 to $60 depending on brand and shipping costs.
2 HAVE A BALLOON STASH
Stock an assortment of colors (school, team and holiday) or foil balloons in numbers (to honor an anniversary, age, goals in a game) as well as letters of the alphabet (to spell out names, monograms or words like “love”). Clear confetti-filled, pearlized, and glow-in-the dark are some of my favorites. When your daughter gets a B on a test she was certain she would fail or your son scores his first goal of the season, tie a balloon to the mailbox. Sure, kids will act mortified but deep down they’ll love it. Or to ensure someone wakes up knowing it’s a special day, sneak a balloon bouquet into their room the night before so they’ll greet their birthday, graduation day, etc., with a smile.
PRO MOM TIP: Large theme balloons are expensive and often hang around your ceiling far past the celebration. Instead of popping them, insert a straw into the filler hole and gently press the balloon forcing the helium out. Foil balloons can then be flattened and stored to be refilled for another event.
3 PIÑATAS: INSTANT FUN
Unique stores like Urban Outfitters or online retailers like Oriental Trading carry mini-piñatas (about $12), perfect to hang from a kitchen light fixture or for your kids to surprise a friend in a school locker. Or go for the standard size (typically cost under $20), and remember they are not just for kids. Giant margarita glasses, rainbows, mermaids, guitars and the classic donkey all make excellent party centerpieces. They’re usually sold empty, allowing you to fill with anything from candy to something more adult, like lottery tickets.
4 GO CRACKERS
Make any meal a party—whether breakfast, lunch or dinner—by serving up crackers. No, not the Ritz sort—a traditional ENGLISH HOLIDAY CRACKER. And even better if you turn it into a DIY project with the kids. Begin by collecting the cardboard rolls inside gift wrap or paper towels; cut each into 6-inch rolls and fill with a surprise like confetti with candy or a small 6-inch-long rolls and fill with candy or a small gift. Then wrap like a tootsie roll with decorative paper, tying each end with ribbon. Not feeling crafty? Local shops like Party Paper and Things (410 E. Putnam Ave., Cos Cob) and Paper Source (100 Post Rd. E., Westport) carry a variety of crackers or go to oldenglishcrackers.com.
5 FIESTA IN THE FREEZER
Stock your freezer with tasty homemade empanadas. Riverside Chef JACKIE MENDIVE’s empanadas are legendary. Sold by the dozen, Empanadas on the Go come in an array of flavors, keep in the freezer for three months and taste like you made them from scratch. Pop them into the oven and in twenty minutes these hearty treats can be served as hors d’oeuvres or a main meal. Want to feel even better about your fiesta? A portion of the sales goes toward preventing infant malnutrition in Argentina through the charity Conin PILAR. empanadasonthego.com