Helium Shortage Forces Party Planners to Think Outside the Tank

A helium shortage is forcing party givers to find creative solutions.

A global helium shortage has the balloon business up in the air.

Last week, Party City announced it was shutting 45 stores across the country, though store officials said the closures were not caused by dwindling helium supplies.

Meanwhile, graduation, prom and wedding seasons are approaching.

Even though helium is a naturally occurring gas, it has to be mined. The U.S. mines about 55% of worldwide production. According to the  government's Federal Helium Program's Operations Division for the Bureau of Land Management, helium demand exceeds supplies. When that happens, the BLM must allocate helium to federal suppliers, leaving retailers at the bottom of the list.

But there are creative ways to battle the helium shortage.

Party planner Seri Kertzner in New York says there is a novel way to fill up balloons  — beginning with air. Of course air-filled balloons won't float, but Kertzner suggests affixing them to walls and ceilings to create "the illusion" of floating balloons.

Party City said it has found a new source of helium that should prevent them from running out despite dwindling supplies.