Although streamers, noisemakers and party hats are a bit passe when it comes to parties, they have not completely gone the way of the dodo. When decorating for a party, look to the party’s purpose, the guest of honor or the season for inspiration. Decorations do not need to be over the top to make an impact. Simple touches are all that you need to make the celebration successful.
Decorate the Table
Whether your party includes a sit-down dinner, a buffet or a simple assortment of finger foods, the table is often the center of attention. Although a floral bouquet is always appropriate, avoid a large centerpiece for a sit-down dinner. Look to the food for your inspiration. For an Asian theme, set pillar candles on white sushi plates with some soy sauce on the bottom or in rice bowls filled with white rice, or set a runner or meandering path of polished stones across the table with tea light candles nestled here and there. For a fall feast, set tea lights inside of hollowed-out gourds, miniature pumpkins or oranges studded with whole cloves.
When your party includes a large gathering, make an impact on the ceiling to keep the room clear for the guests. Inflate enough helium balloons to cover the ceiling and let them go, drape a deflated weather balloon or parachute from the ceiling to give a soft feel to the space or use a projector to project photos or images onto the ceiling or floor-to-ceiling fabric panels.
For a party centered around a holiday or event that has strong color connotations, simply bring those colors into the objects around you, like the fabrics, flowers, food and tableware, to bring a festive feel. Use red and green for a Christmas party, black and orange for Halloween, black and white for an over-the-hill birthday party or school colors for a class reunion.
Give It a Theme
Avoid in-your-face decorations for a themed party and go with subtle touches instead. A few bales of hay and cowboy hats gives the feel of a rodeo better than a cowboy-printed tablecloth. Think vinyl records suspended from the ceiling for a 1950s bebop gathering or a simple disco ball with appropriate lighting for a “Saturday Night Fever” theme. Use beaded necklaces and party masks for a Mardi Gras theme or pineapples and tiki torches for a luau.
For the Minimalist
When pressed for time, minimalism has its advantages. It is perfectly acceptable to use only one or two decorative items, but if you do, go large or go home. Instead of a few balloons scattered across the room, create one large column of 30 or more balloons to center in the space. For an elegant evening theme, set a large assortment of candles throughout the space instead of a few single tapers.