I’ve been swooning over Hot Air Balloon party themes lately and thought it would be fun to share a DIY Hot Air Balloon Diaper Cake Tutorial (with matching free printables!).
This is such a fun, gender-neutral theme for a baby shower, and a diaper cake is always a great way to play up the theme at your party. So come fly away with me and learn how to make this one yourself. 😉
P.S. The size of this “cake” makes it a great option for baby shower table centerpieces too!
Paper Adhesive (glue stick, spray adhesive, or rubber cement)
(4) 36″ wooden dowel rods (3/8″ diameter or similar)
15″ Round Paper Lantern
Decorative Ribbon (one thick + 1 thin)
Paint Dauber + White Craft Paint
Wooden Craft Hearts + Glitter (I used fine glitter)
Printable Paper Flags
1. Make the “Basket”
First, roll the diapers tightly and secure them with elastic bands. Line your box with patterned paper, then fill the box with as many rolled diapers as you can fit. (For me it was 16.)
Next, line the outside of the box with a row of vertical diapers and secure with baker’s twine or another thin trim. (The trim will be covered later, so don’t worry too much about how it looks.)
It’s helpful to have someone hold the diapers up while you wrap the twine around. If you’re working alone, loosely tie the twine around the box first and insert the diapers underneath, adjusting the “give” of the twine as you go.
Add a horizontal row of diapers on top, using 3D glue dots to secure them in place. I had to cut one rolled diaper in half for use on 2 of the sides to make the fit line up correctly.
2. Get Crafty!
You’ll be using one wide and one thin ribbon to decorate the paper lantern. I wanted to give the “cake” a handcrafted touch, so I used a small paint dauber and white craft paint to add polka dots to the ribbon.
This step was really easy, but it’s also completely optional. You can always leave the ribbon solid or simply find a patterned ribbon to use.
One tip though – if you do paint daub your own ribbon, definitely do it before you put the ribbon on the lantern, as you need a firm, flat surface for the daubing to work correctly. I learned this the hard way and had to take the ribbons off the lantern then put them back on again! So please learn from my mistake and make your experience easier. 😉
Here’s how the DIY polka dot ribbons looked while drying:
3. Decorate the “Balloon”
Use tape to attach your (pre-measured and cut!) ribbon strands to the lantern. Cut the ribbons a little long so you can wrap them into the inside of the lantern and hide the ends and the tape. No one will see the inside, so feel free to be a bit messy. ;)
4. Embellish with Sparkly Hearts
Inspired by the heart silhouettes in the printables, I decided to embellish the lantern with glittered hearts. Hearts are always appropriate for a baby shower, and I never shy away from a chance to add a little sparkle! (for example, here and here! 😉)
I’ve found it’s best to do the glittering over a bowl so that you can be super generous with the glitter and easily catch the extra to pour back into the bottle.
Cover each wood heart with spray adhesive, then remove the lid from the craft glitter and pour or spoon it on top. Let dry and repeat if desired for a deeper color. (I did 2 coats here).
Optional: finish with a clear coat of glitter/craft sealant. Once dry, hot glue the hearts onto the lantern.
5. Construct the Hot Air Balloon!
First, insert the wooden dowels into each inside corner of the diaper-filled box. Trim about 6″ off the top of each dowel (unless you’re using a lantern that’s larger than 15″). Bend the dowels inward together and slide the paper lantern on top.
When you allow the dowels to contract back out, they’ll actually hold the lantern up pretty securely on their own, but you can use 3D glue dots to help keep the lantern positioned a certain way, if needed.
You can also adjust the height to your liking by further trimming the dowels.
6. Final Details & Display
Decorate the balloon with printable paper flags featuring phrases like “precious cargo” and “special delivery”! They’re included with the printables. :)
Embellish the “basket” with decorative trims. I used white tissue fringe, sparkly blue ribbon, and buttons!
For the finishing touch, display our matching free printable 8×10 party sign next to the cake.