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Who doesn’t love a good party? To me, creating a festive ambiance can make or break a party. Maybe that’s why I somehow became the official party decorator for my family! Since I have never been one to do anything halfway, I have discovered some tricks for getting the most out of a tight decorating budget! Below are some of my favorite ways to create a magical party environment, without spending a lot of money.
There are so many colors and sizes available, and you can now buy helium tanks at your local party supply company! I love the new giant balloons, which you can (supposedly) inflate to 36″ in diameter. I never go quite that far for fear of an explosion, but they are still huge! One thing I like about these balloons is that they can hold some weight.
One of my favorite bridal shower, wedding, or anniversary decorations is a large pearl balloon wrapped with garland, like this one on afloral.com. This could be modified for any occasion…paper tassels, strands of curling ribbon, plastic crystals or pearls, or lace are just a few options you could use. There are also some fun accessories now available that will light the balloon from the inside, allow you to put confetti inside a translucent balloon, and decorate the outside of the balloon. The options are endless, and usually quite affordable!
You can’t beat candles for a flattering soft light. I love to use candles on tables, in lanterns on the ground and hanging from branches. There are so many inexpensive options for tealight and votive holders, and they make great party favors too! I personally prefer fragranced real candles, but depending on your audience, candles with fake flames are a viable alternative. For my wedding, my husband created adjustable length anchors on clear floatable candleholders and we scattered them across a pool. It was my favorite wedding decoration!
You can never have enough white lights! Wrapped around trees, under tablecloths, fairy lights in jars, and icicle lights all make for a magical environment. Decide what would best suit your need. Plug in or battery operated? White, clear, or green wire? Tiny lights or larger lights? They even make floating “fairy berries” which are glowing orbs you can scatter in the grass, on the water, or in a jar. There are so many options now. I try to find any leftover lights after Christmas because I know I can use them somewhere!
Local greenery can really stretch your floral dollar. The desire for minimal design brings this design option to the forefront! Some things to remember if you decide to use local greenery:
- Be considerate. If you are not on your own property, ask permission before taking anything. In some state and local parks, removing plants is a crime.
- Pre-determine the “staying power” of anything you choose to use. Some plant materials will wilt really quickly.
- Make sure you know what kind of plant you are using. You don’t want to end up with a rash or poisoning someone, so choose plants that are not hazardous or poisonous.
- Do not take a lot of material off any one plant or tree. This could cause damage or disease. Take small cuttings off of many different plants, and be considerate.
- Check for bugs. A friend of mine got married out in the country. On the way to the wedding, she spotted a yard full of peonies, which were her favorite flower. I don’t know how she knew she wouldn’t get caught, but she cut several bouquets out of someone’s yard (without permission). When she got to the wedding, her car and clothes were full of ants (which also love peonies). She said it was weeks before she got all the ants out of her car, and in retrospect, it just wasn’t worth it. Karma maybe?
Printable banners, signs, and photo props.
Pinterest is a wonderland of free printable party supplies. I can almost guarantee you that if you type in a party theme (let’s say unicorn for example), you will find so many decorating ideas and free printables, you might be overwhelmed. One printable I particularly like are banners. I use them for every event – birthdays, weddings, and holidays. Usually, I try to print the shapes out on cardstock, punch holes, then string them on ribbon or twine. I often tie curling ribbon, lace, and other items between the words to beef it up a bit.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Fake flowers have come a long way in the past few years. Higher end fake flowers often look exactly like the real thing. While the initial cost isn’t much of a savings, you can use them for years until they start to show wear and tear. I bought flowers for a baby shower, and have since used them for a wedding shower, an anniversary party, and Christmas decorations. Then I mixed them up and used them in combination with different flowers for each event, and I’m pretty sure no one even noticed. I actually like to use fake flowers in combination with real flowers. Usually, I put the real flowers closest to the guests, and use fake flowers in swags, garlands, and bouquets that will be further away. Sometimes I will mix in a few real flowers with the fake ones to keep people guessing.
Garlands, streamers, and ribbon.
I love to use garlands around doors, on tables, and anywhere else that makes sense. Again, you could mix real and fake greenery and flowers. Banners made with tassels, ribbon, lace, and other items can pull in your theme colors effortlessly. Finally, I like to hang curled curing ribbon of various lengths from light fixtures, wall sconces, and mailboxes.
Paper lanterns and pom poms.
These are available in a variety of colors at most party supply places. You can decorate the paper lanterns to make them extra special.
Particularly useful for weddings and showers, tulle is available in a variety of widths and colors. I use the spools of tulle to decorate baskets, create centerpieces, and even wrap gifts. Tulle over white lights creates a dreamy soft effect. You can also use tulle for a quick and easy chair sash or banister wrap.
Glue, glitter, and spray paint.
This category could be a post by itself. Spray paint bare branches for dramatic centerpieces. Use glitter on candle holders, garland, and sprinkled on a table with confetti. Glitter and spray paint jars, table numbers, and pretty much anything that you can think of! There is even edible glitter for cakes and desserts!
One other thing to remember is seasonal decor from outdoors. Flowers, acorns, pumpkins, gourds, evergreen branches and pine cones are just a few of the seasonal items you can find for free if you are willing to take a nature walk!
I hope this list has gotten your creative juices flowing. This is really just a starting point, and you are limited only by your creativity. The secret is to plan ahead and know what you want to decorate, and how elaborately. Once you have a plan, you should be good to go! What are some of your favorite party decor tricks? What are some tricks you tried that were epic fails (like the peonies)?
Until next time,