I’m a big fan of event design, big or small. From family birthday parties to weddings, I love arranging pretty items to celebrate an occasion. But here’s the thing about party decor: it can be EXPENSIVE! And its especially easy to pay an arm & a leg if you shop at party supply stores & buy all new theme-specific items for every event. Here are some tips for designing an event on a budget…
1 – Pick your theme based on what you already have.
Your house is your store! “Shop” around to see what you have in terms of colors, styles, seasonal items, etc. This could be literally anything from a curtain you’re not using that can act as a table cloth, to a large centerpiece you already have displayed in your dining room. I corral as many items as I can, put them in a pile & edit it down until there’s a theme.
2 – Shop ONCE for base supplies that can be re-used.
Example: paper lanterns are easy to store flat & are the perfect party accent b/c they’re large. Buy them once & use them over & over. I have white & gold ones on hand so they can go w/most themes. Other versatile reusables are vases of all shapes – I tend to stick to clear. I scoop them up at thrifts stores & keep a cabinet full of them! I’ve found that if I buy decor as I see it at a great price, that I know I can reuse, I’m not stuck needing to ever purchase full-price for a last minute event.
By mixing in items you’ve used before into a new theme w/other colors & decor, they will take on a different look each time. I promise nobody is going to come to your party & say “wait, you used those lanterns last time.” And if they do, escort them to the food table, that always distracts people 😉
3 – Fake flowers are your friend.
Yes I know fake flowers can be expensive. Find out when Michael’s is having a floral sale (usually at the end of a season) & then look for their 20% everything including clearance coupon on the app. Create a collection as you see deals. The bonus is they don’t die! AND you can reuse them in all kinds of ways to make each party different – like mixing w/other flowers (real or fake) or separating them into multiple vases to create pops of color throughout the room. This also goes for flowerless tall branches/grasses to create height & focal points.
Ready to party yet?
Obviously for some occasions you will need to purchase specific items (like balloons, plates & napkins, garland, etc) & that’s to be expected. But I’ve learned it saves me money to utilize the majority of things I already own & then buy just a few specialty themed decorations to mix into the room. It will look like you spent more than you did! Last tip: make Dollar Tree your first stop for these extras before hitting up the bigger stores, you’ll be surprised what you can find.
Here are some pictures of conference room birthday parties I designed at my previous workplace. As you can see I have a pattern of how I like to arrange a long table, but that will be another blog post 🙂 Note the recurring recycled home decorations in these six different themed events!
Please share w/me your tricks for decorating parties, I’d love to hear other ideas too!