GAMES which use balloons are fun - but remember to provide adequate supervision so that you can avoid upset or injury.

CLEAR AWAY broken fragments of burst balloons, and make sure that uninflated balloons are away from any children who may put them into their mouths - avoid any choking hazards.

POPPING should never take place close to the ears or eyes - make sure that children place balloons away from each other before balloons are popped - avoid the hazards of ear or eye damage AND the trauma that a loud bang can cause.

ACTIVELY PREVENT children from teasing by threatening to pop close to another child.

MAKE SURE that any balloons are blown up by just one person - sharing the blowing up of any balloons can spread infections from one person to another.

PARTY INVITATIONS - balloons can be used in a couple of ways - write the invitation on a slip of paper and put it inside a balloon - deliver the balloon with instructions to blow up and pop the balloon to find a party invitation inside ( people who don't like balloons being popped will have the sense to fish around inside the balloon and get the invite out that way ) or you can deliver the balloon already blown up. Another way is to blow up the balloon and carefully write the invitation on the balloon then let the balloon down again. Deliver the balloon with instructions to blow it up in order to read the invitation. For both methods it's best to use a permanent pen - when you've written on the balloon itself you may need to let the ink dry thoroughly before letting the balloon down.

Particularly for kids - If you can't accommodate all the people you would like to be at the party, or if some of the guests were unable to come then put aside a balloon or two along with a piece of cake to give to them later.

BALLOONS for decoration should be blown up in good time - don't underestimate how long it can take. If you are planning a big display then before the day of the party make up a small proportion of it and see how long it takes so that you can plan the day of the party with a better idea of how long it will all take. If you plan to use one hundred balloons on the day of the party, then time how long it takes to make up a display using ten balloons - then multiply that time by ten - that is how long it will take you on the day of the party.

HELIUM BALLOONS don't float for ever - so don't blow them up the day before the party because they won't be floating on the day. Small balloons - seven to nine inch, will only float for a few hours. If you use twelve inch to fourteen inch then if you inflate them quite tightly then they should last for half a day which will give you more time to organize the rest of the party things - sixteen inch balloons last even longer and give a great display - if you have the room for them.

ALL LATEX BALLOONS begin to deteriorate as soon as they are manufactured and as soon as they are blown up they will start to lose their shine and become dull. This is a form of oxidisation - and can be made worse by direct sunlight and moisture in particular. If you are blowing up balloons some time before the party and want them to look their best then you should keep them dark and dry, but most importantly , dry. If you put them sealed as best you can into large polybags then they will stay shiny - make sure the bags you buy are going to be big enough. Another way is to put them in a room with good air conditioning - but it must be the refrigeration type of aircon - not the 'water evaporation' type - the type that is NOT suitable requires the room to be well ventilated and needs to be filled with water from time to time ( it's also sometimes called a swamp cooler ). The type that IS suitable is the one that extracts water from the atmosphere and so has a drain for the water to flow out of, or a container that needs emptying from time to time - it will have a hot air outlet too.