Sep 21, 2020
Milestone Celebrations
Debbie Eisele

Trends for retailers to consider when curating a mix for customers

Retailers have an opportunity to highlight milestone celebrations this year. Landmark occasions such as “big” birthdays, baby showers, gender reveals, and graduation are as important as ever this year. Party & Halloween talked to industry professionals on what customers are seeking and a look at what’s on the horizon for 2021.


Whether a party is celebrated face-to-face, via Zoom or a drive-by, partyware is part of the equation. Allen Scarsella, vice president of sales for Mayflower Distributing discussed what popular products shoppers want for milestone celebrations and the trends emerging in this category.

Gender reveals are popular and Mayflower Distributing offers a range of products to suit any theme or size gathering.

“Right now during these difficult times of social distancing, the milestone category such as décor including yard signs, banners and garland is outselling partyware. With all the drive-by parties this makes sense,” noted Scarsella.

Honk It's My Birthday Yard Sign from Mayflower Distributing
Yard Sign, Mayflower Distributing

“Party trends seem to always be big into ‘birthday’s’ including those milestone celebrations. Baby boy and girl reveal parties are still really big, including new and fresh reveal ideas that are always posting on Pinterest.” He also shared that wedding planning has the same “strong interest as it has had in the past.”

“Party companies are finding ways to design paper products that will differentiate their product from the utilitarian plain white plates,” said Rana Bacaloni, owner and president of EID Creations. “And people have been finding creative ways to celebrate milestone events within their homes. Consequently, as the dining table becomes the focal point, we have seen an uptake in orders of decorative disposable tableware, such as paper plates, napkins, cups, tablecloths, as well as table adornments and centerpieces.”

Partyware, EID Creations. Photo by @watermelonthestore.

EID Creations noted the current design trends for wedding celebrations are minimalistic and organic designs. “Foliage and botanical themes are trending, but in more muted and modern tones. Natural colors will be accessorized with rustic pieces, or combined with a pop of floral colors such as vibrant reds, oranges and yellows,” Bacaloni said. She also expressed that high-end, disposable tableware is on trend and believes this trend will continue into 2021.

EID Creations' partyware. Photo by @watermelonthestore.
EID Creations’ partyware. Photo by @watermelonthestore.

Bacaloni also noted that popular milestone celebrations include graduation, big birthdays, weddings, intimate celebrations, small weddings and more. A variety of shapes, and partyware designs that feature embellishments, such as metallic foil are also on trend.

Partware, EID Creations. Photo by @somethingmeetha.

EID Creations also emphasized that a theme of “happiness” for birthday celebrations is big, and consumers are using butterflies, rainbows, sea and celestial styled items to decorate in this theme. Customers are also seeking DIY creations to help decorate for any of the gatherings.

Other trends include oversized décor with all the drive-by celebrations and outdoor events. Bacaloni indicated that large banners, signs, and balloon arches are being used to decorate outdoor spaces. “Favors to give out to guests, driving by, are also sought-after,” she shared.

EID Creations partyware in a picnic setting
EID Creations’ partyware is ideal for an outdoor celebration. Photo by @somethingmeetha.

Mayflower Distributing’s Scarsella offers this purchasing advice to retailers: “Continue to look for trends in the markets, let your customers guide you a bit with hot new items. Keep current with online trends and with what’s going on with Pinterest. Put up a trending suggestion box in your store — seek input.”


Susan Dhillon and Lisa Bennett from Pioneer Balloon Company noted the top three milestone celebrations in this product category are: graduation, first birthday and babies (baby showers, births, gender reveals and birth announcements).

Milestone Celebration via Zoom with balloons from Mayflower Distributing
Mayflower Distributing’s balloons can be used for Zoom celebrations.

The top-sellers in the balloon category are designed for birthday celebrations, according to Dhillon and Bennett. “Birthdays are a foundation for any balloon business because there are millions of people celebrating a birthday every day of the year! In that same thought, babies are another huge money maker for balloons,” Dhillon and Bennett shared. “The benefit of selling decor for the arrival of a baby is that you can mark it on your calendar and follow up with that client 8-9 months later as they are starting to plan for the baby’s first birthday!”

The Pioneer Balloon Company noted that it is seeing parents moving into new types of themed celebrations, versus traditional ones. “The use of numbers and script ‘one’ foil balloons are great sellers to personalize or highlight the occasion. Ages 2-6 are seeing an increase in more trend-driven and themed events as well,” they emphasized.

Jumbo Ballons, Mayflower Distributing
Jumbo Ballons, Mayflower Distributing

Dhillon and Bennett also shared festivities that utilize both themed events and balloon décor based on a client’s personal interest include: Mitzvahs, 15 mis quince and sweet 16 birthdays.

Qualatex shared that the biggest emerging trend for the end of the year and moving into 2021 is yard art. “It has been a great way to celebrate from afar, and it has kept many balloon businesses afloat after every large-scale event was canceled. We did a fun article on the impact of Yard Art here,” they stated. “Organic Arches are another large selling trend that continues to grow in popularity, even smaller six-foot garlands work well for home gatherings, with all milestone events and themes.”

According to Dhillon and Bennett, deliveries and yard art are a “great way to signal to your neighborhood that you’re celebrating something special.” They also shared that having balloons delivered is a way to “send love” to people customers cannot visit in person.

Large Numbered Balloons from Mayflower Distributing
Milestone birthday celebration with large, numbered balloons.

“One specific balloon delivery has exploded lately — Marquee Bouquets. Originally created by Genesis and Iravid Nieves from Decoraciones Globos in Miami, Florida, these massive larger-than-life air-filled balloon bouquets have taken over social media! With the use of lots of foil shapes, letters, and numbers, they are almost like huge balloon greeting cards,” Dhillon and Bennett said.

Other notable trends include car décor, specifically for graduation and baby celebrations. “A lot of graduations were done with students driving through arches to receive their diplomas, so they decked out their vehicles to signal their celebration,” they said. “Drive-by baby showers used the same thinking – decorate your car & drive by the home of the parents-to-be to share your well wishes and excitement.”


Joni Compton from Nashville Wraps divulged that milestone festivities are celebrated with gift packaging in an array of colors and options — older milestones trend toward the color black and for 16th birthdays, “sweet bubbly pinks, in all shades” are still prevalent.

“Cactus, sloths, leopard print, and tropical flamingos are all trendy for 2020. Rainbows and sunshine give a gentle nod to brighter, more positive days ahead. Colors that are popular for birthday celebrations are gold, and metallics. Also multi-color rainbows make things festive and fun,” she said.

Compton also noted that this year the quarantine-themed birthdays were big. “Faces with masks on, or cartoon images of toilet paper are showing up in an attempt to poke fun at our current situation. Let’s hope next we’ll see a decline in these images,” she elaborated.

For all things baby, Nashville Wraps noted traditional blue and pink is still leading the way, but secondary options include yellow and green hues. She also shared that animals and woodland themed styles in colorful patterns are popular for baby along with simple, classic patterns.

Other ways to celebrate milestones is with old-fashioned snail mail! Offer customers a variety of greeting cards for each occasion so loving, funny, or friendly sentiments can be shared.

Debbie Eisele is the managing editor for museums&MORE, Party & Halloween Retailer, and Gift Shop Pets and the senior retail editor for Gift Shop Magazine and Stationery Trends.
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