Global Helium Shortage Means Parents Need Non-Balloon Options for Parties

If you're planning a party and can't access helium due to the global helium shortage, consider these top five balloon alternatives.

Decorating for a graduation party or birthday party this summer? You might need to get a little more creative than running out for some helium balloons.

That’s because there’s currently a global helium shortage, the Detroit Free Press reports, and it affects more than just balloon drops and table decor.

In addition to making it harder for people to buy balloons at party supply shops, helium is also used in airbags, MRI machines, rocket fuel and more, the article explains.

William Halperin, a Northwestern University physics professor, told the newspaper that the shortage is expected to increase and that it “will affect, broadly, everybody.”

The shortage is even putting businesses at risk of closure, with Party City recently announcing that it’s closing 45 stores and citing the helium shortage as one of the reasons, according to NBC News.

So what are party-planning parents to do instead? Beyond choosing a birthday party venue that’s already decorated for a event, you can also consider these tips for non-balloon decorations.

Photo from Martha Stewart

1. Tissue pompoms

These adorable-looking decorations are a hit at any party. They’re an ideal balloon alternative, since they’re simple to make and look festive. Find instructions from Martha Stewart or buy easy-to-use kits online.

Photo from Architecture and Design

2. Paper lanterns

These come in a wide variety of styles and can dress up any party theme – from whimsical to sophisticated. Find 20 styles to try at home from Architecture and Design.

Photo from Momtastic

3. Banners

Banners not only look great, but they also give you a chance to get creative and send a message to your guests. Scrapbooking paper in a variety of colors, plus glue and other supplies you probably have around the house, are all you need to get started.

Photo from The Spruce Crafts

4. Paper flowers

Paper flowers are a neat way to dress up a party room. You can also use them to create a flower wall – perfect for taking selfies during your child’s birthday or grad party. Get DIY ideas from The Spruce Crafts.

Photo from

5. Pinwheels

Homemade pinwheels can be used as cupcake toppers or standalone decoration pieces. Since you can use any colored or patterned paper, they make it even easier than balloons to match the party theme. Get inspired with these pinwheel-incorporating parties.


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