Mad About ... Parties
(This is a continuation of the Tiki Party post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.")
You don't have to sacrifice fun just because your budget is small. One of the easiest ways to get more bang for your buck is to pick one kind of decoration and spend most of your budget on that. Flowers, balloons, streamers, etc. will take center stage. And remember that you are decorating with all of your supplies, too.
I am a big fan of centerpieces because they capture the theme of your party and condense it into one explosion of color and design. You can have one big centerpiece and then a few smaller variations strategically set around your space. Centerpieces don't just have to be flowers! You can use fruit, rocks, jewels, etc. to make a statement. And don't forget the vessel it's in either; find an interesting vase, bowl, etc. to display. And, if you like, you can send them home with some of your guests - it's a nice gesture.
Room decor (cutouts, streamers, banners) (optional)
These could best be called accessories. I love accessories. You may already have fun little accents laying about the house or you may have found something when you were shopping - elaborate on that. But be frugal; the best rule to keep in mind is simple is chic. There are cases for excess - the aforementioned "Tiki party" is one. Just remember that if you go crazy it's going to come off as kitschy; if that's not what you were going for, scale it back a little.
These are optional but they do add a nice touch. You can go big and make a balloon archway, or just bundle a few and strategically place them around your space. Balloons are great for backyard parties and they add a splash of color to any occasion. Plus, they are deliciously retro - I can't think of one movie from the 80's where the prom scene didn't have hundreds of balloons.
Outdoor (yard signs, banners, etc.) (optional)
Yard signs and banners are best if you're having a big theme party and want to let people know where your location is. They can be posted in your front yard or on the door; or, if you are at a park or the beach, post a sign at the entrance of the parking lot and pin up your banner at the actual location. Balloons would work well here, of course. It's important that you make sure your sign and banner is eye catching; if you have a very specific theme, make sure that it shows.
Warm lighting is flattering lighting. Of course, if your party is during the day then you may not want to bother. Candles are versatile - you can float them in a swimming pool, use them in Chinese lanterns, place them in your centerpieces, etc. I don't really suggest burning scented candles - it can over-power the food you're serving and some people may be put off by the fragrances. I'm going to group torches in here; torches don't have to be regulated to just Tiki themes - they are all purpose and make a fun addition to any backyard space. Try to pick up torches that have bug repellent in them - same goes for out door candles.
Sure, it's seems silly (and it can kind of be a bitch to clean up) but confetti is really fun. Strew it around, on your buffet and the bar, on a coffee table or tables where people will be sitting. A Christmas party would be even more fun with white "snow" confetti. And sparkly gold and silver confetti on New Year's Eve? Give everyone a handful at midnight and enjoy. Confetti is pretty cheap and you can even make it at home. Give it a try!