• Luft Balloons Breathes New Air Into a Tired Event Décor Element

    Float This Idea

    POSTED September 5, 2018

If the thought of balloons conjures images of lopsided prom arches, cheesy wedding centerpieces or a child’s birthday party, you’re not alone. However, a Chicago company is reinventing what it means to incorporate these inflatables into events.

Two years ago, attempting to create a balloon centerpiece to replace the standard flowers for a dinner party, Elaine Frei realized it was nearly impossible to find unique colors that matched the event’s theme, even after spending more than $200. 

“I thought, there is a void here,” says Frei, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, who subsequently launched Luft Balloons. “People love good color selections, so this was a design opportunity.”

Frei calls her creations balloon art, crafting pieces such as columns, arches, wall attachments and even a few that take up the entirety of a space. She’s designed balloon art for birthdays, corporate events, galas, window displays, weddings and more. These are not just bunches of balloons tied together; they’re pieces that can take up an entire space and truly elevate an event. 

“Balloons transcend everything,” says Frei. “You can do anything with them.”

One such piece was for Soul City Church in Chicago, a creation Frei says was one of her favorites. The church was opening a new space for its anniversary and was looking for a new way to christen it. Frei’s team woke up at 5 a.m. on the morning of the celebration to install a giant gold, white and blush piece outside the building, as well as one inside.

“It sounds cliché, but it was ethereal, being in a spiritual place,” says Frei.

Other installations include a celebration for the Nike Air Society in Chicago, Macy’s spring fashion show, an event at Eataly and a celebration at the BHLDN in Houston. 

The installations can serve as great backdrops for a step-and-repeat, a grand entrance and, of course, an Instagram moment. Each of Frei’s installations is designed specifically to fit your event’s space. 

“That’s what sets us apart,” says Frei. “We don’t offer off-the-shelf ideas. It all comes down to what you’re trying to do in the space and what you’re trying to [make guests] feel.” 

When life hands you lemons (or lemon juice), make a Northwest Huckleberry Lemon Drop.

> 1.5 oz. Wild Roots Huck Vodka
> .75 oz. Cointreau
> .75 oz. lemon juice

Build like a lemon drop in a shaker. Shake and strain, serve neat in a martini glass with sugar rim.

Courtesy of Semiahmoo Resort, Golf and Spa in Blaine, Washington.


MIX: Two parts Honeyville Chokecherry Lime Mixer to one part Honey House Distillery Colorado Honey Whiskey.

ADD: Club soda or sparkling water to taste. Also can use ginger ale or ginger beer.

FINISH: Press equal parts fresh basil and mint leaves and add to beverage. Serve over ice.

Courtesy of Honey House Distillery, Durango