If I Did It

Several weeks ago we had an office discussion that eventually got around to xkcd and the fascination with ball pits, to pranks involving filling up a cubicle with balls or packing peanuts. The problem with such pranks, it was observed, is that balls are expensive and balls or peanuts take up the same volume ahead of time — storage is an issue. But balloons … they don’t suffer from this problem. You could fill a colleague’s office with balloons.


“That would be cool,” that colleague was heard to utter.


To me, such a statement is an invitation. It would be rude to not fill that person’s office with balloons, should such an opportunity arise, and I fear that someone might do it. So it got me thinking. How would one go about doing such a thing? (Not that I would do such a dastardly thing — I wouldn’t want to expose myself to a wrongful breath suit)

First thing would be to obtain a pump. Double-action, so it fills on both the up- and down-stroke.

When filling the balloons, I would use a balloon clip to speed things up (tying is such a pain) and would find that twisting the neck is important, otherwise the air would tend to quickly leak out.

Then, I would start filling the office. Maybe during lunch hour, or at odd times during the day (and staying late to ensure my real work was done). Get an idea of how many balloons I and any co-conspirators could fill. The progress after one day might look something like this

After four days, it might look something like this


I’ll bet with some help I could use up 200 12″ balloons and 122 (50+72) 17″ balloons, along with a few balloon-animal style balloons (which would be close to useless, since they take up so little volume). With that many, I’d probably notice that there is significant balloon-stink. And I would find the non-stick agent they use (probably cornstarch) to be really annoying after a while.

To be especially devious I might even fill some of the balloons with confetti, so that popping them all would become more of a challenge. I might be tempted to also fill some with helium, but they wouldn’t survive the weekend, so I wouldn’t bother. I’d probably find that about 10% of the balloons would be lost to defect and breakage, and would be amused by the occasional “boom” coming from the office. I’ll bet it would remind me of the episode of the Simpsons where Homer becomes the Beer Baron (Homer vs. the 18th Amendment), and his stills kept blowing up.

If I were to do such a thing.

12 thoughts on “If I Did It

  1. I applaud the way you have managed to fake those photos to illustrate your purely hypothetical musings

  2. If… say, a friend of mine, were interested in being especially devious, and he had access to the advice of a physics master, how would he best go about filling a balloon with confetti?

  3. If somebody gave a penny-farthing… Rover!


    Confetti (metallized PET: TEMPEST shielding plus recycle value) is wonderfully diabolical. Smear the inside with ultra Hi-Float, dry well, add confetti, then party helium inflation at small pressure differential. Assuredly one cannot get into trouble for adding a mere one balloon to an office.

    If somebody has a friend in Homeland Severity, helium-3. They’re rolling in the stuff, making squeaky voices.

  4. @Phi
    Confetti, hypothetically, should be small, and could be poured in with a small funnel or even added by hand a pinch at a time. Paper in the shape of small hole-punch circles might work really well, or paper from a good cross-shredder. A bad shredder that gives you strips, not so much. You want something small compared to the balloon neck or funnel cross-section, to minimize blockage.

    You might find that the act of pumping electrostatically charges the confetti, and that the confetti can fake you out when it’s in a defective balloon, because it will block the hole, which would allow you to fill it up before discovering the leak.

  5. Confetti is insufficiently sadistic. Use glitter. Remember, glitter is the herpes of craft supplies.

  6. I may or may not have done the same thing when I worked at camp Chingachgook to someone’s tent/home.

  7. Payback can be a bitch.

    If I did something like that, I would probably not document it on a public venue using my real name. Honest it might be. Courageous, possibly. Forthright, certainly. Smart, I think not.

    My victim might retaliate and escalate, with, say water balloons, or with a noxious gas fill. Or ….

  8. I’m not worried about payback; I can take it should it happen. I’ve been the target of some good jokes before. The recipient does not want to escalate, because there were co-conspirators, and he would be outgunned. Plus, I think we all have a feeling for the unwritten rule that if you break it, you bought it — causing damage is not a prank, it’s vandalism.

  9. We did this to an old boss (his last birthday before retirement after 35 years).

    10 foot by 15 foot office with glass on 2 sides. Door open and cardboard put inside to hold the balloons in.

    Shop air (it was an instrumentation shop) but you could rent a compressor. 10 people working in teams of 2. One fills and one ties (before the days of clips) our fingers were sore! Filled 1 foot above the windows, pulled cardboard out and closed door. Took about 2 or 3 hours. When the boss showed up we called his phone. Great time!

  10. I sounds as though you have a very good work environment. Playful but never destructive. Excellent.

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