My absolute top 5 must-have-in-the-house list of party supplies goes like this: (1) striped paper straws, (2) sturdy white paper plates, (3) colorful birthday candles, (4) tissue confetti or fine glitter depending on preference, and (5) clear balloons.
With just those items, you can make a celebration out of anything! Clear balloons win in my book because they're so versatile. They go with any color scheme, work for all ages, and in a pinch you can even pop money and small toys into them to create a fun gift. Most of the time, though, we fill them up with glitter and confetti. The secret to doing this without making a huge mess is a water bottle top.
Cut the top of water bottle off, attach the balloon (just barely so you don't struggle getting it off!), and dump in your balloon filler. Remove the balloon and blow it up carefully, either with a helium tank or with your lungs. Note if you choose the latter: don't inhale on accident or you'll get a mouth full of confetti!
What you put in your clear balloons actually makes a huge difference. Super fine glitter produces a really pretty iridescent look but it can be hard to make out the exact color of the glitter, while chunky glitter creates a shiny constellation of sparkles.
Confetti also comes with some challenges. It can be tempting to use big shapes, especially if your party has a theme, but the larger the confetti is the more likely it is to just settle to the bottom of the balloon. These balloons are still fun to shake and kick around, but they don't have quite the same decorative impact as the teeny tiny shapes.
The good news is that the longer the balloons sit around full of confetti, the more the confetti will stick to the sides. This is true even if you've dumped a ton of confetti in BUT you have to remember that the more confetti you add, the less likely they are to float normally if you're using helium. Personally, I like these balloons better when they're just floating around on the ground anyway. They're just begging to be picked up and played with, especially by your littlest guests.
For little birthdays, my absolute favorite is chunky tissue paper confetti - the kind that comes in big circles. You can buy it online but it's not hard to make yourself if you invest in a one inch hole punch. Fold tissue paper over on itself until it's about ten pieces thick and then punch it out (you may need to adjust the width depending on your hole punch).
If it's a little stubborn coming out of the punch, keep a pair of scissors nearby to trim that last edge. Yes, it's definitely more work than bagged plastic confetti or cans of glitter but I just love the effect. Plus, you can make extra to toss around!