Balloons and Needles

Rating: Medium
Supplies: Balloons, safety pins or push pins, black thread, screw eye or thumb tack, tape

This is a tricky obstacle to pull off, but so worth it. If you are willing to take on the challenge here are the basics.

There are probably a million ways to use Balloons and Needles as a booby trap. Our method of choice has always been in combination with a web of black thread. A picture is worth a thousand words, but I will do my best to describe what we have set up here.

A thread is secured with tape on one side of the wall and then spans the width of the hallway and is wrapped around a thumbtack like you would a rope on a pulley on the opposing wall.  The remaining thread is draped and tied to a balloon.  Please see the image.

At this point I would test the balloons movement before the needles are installed. You just want to be sure that when the thread is nudged the balloon moves up and down smoothly. After testing the balloon, attach safety pins to the wall with tape (as shown in the image below) with the needle pointing downward. I would be sure to attach more than one (minimum three) safety pin for every balloon.  

If your escapees are prepared they may have a pair of scissors in their bedroom, which they can use to cut the thread. For this reason I would also secure a few safety pins below the balloon facing upward toward the balloon. 

Why is this trap so tricky? Because balloons are so light, they “float” or bounce against the wall,  away from the needles when the thread is pulled. I have a few work arounds for this.

  • Set up more than 1 balloon trap. They may get lucky once, but what are the chances they would get lucky 10 times?
  •  Put jingle bells or other items inside the balloons to weigh the balloon down and keep it resting against the wall
  • Set up your needles at a very close proximity to the balloon. I am talking about 1 cm or less. The problem with this strategy is that you will probably pop of few while you set up the trap, which can be a good or bad thing. One year we spent hours setting up a series of balloons and needles behind a pony wall so that the escapes would have no idea there were balloons there at all. Just to accidentally pop 3 or 4 balloons when installing the needles.

To make this obstacle easier…
1. Put some distance between the balloon and the needles
2. Use less balloons

To make this obstacle more difficult....
1. Use less distance between the needles and the balloons
2. Turn a rotating fan on in the area making the movement of the balloons unpredictable.

Merry Trapping!