THE Party Decorating Strategy (ULTIMATE GUIDE)

To transform a space, you need a combination of decorations: visual, interactive, atmospheric, at different layers, heights and completing each other so that 1+1+1 equals not 3 but 300 in effect!

Professional party decorators know this and have an eye for choosing the right combination of decorative features to maximum effect.

For those DIY party planners out there, who love being the hostess with the mostess, this guide gives you all the options and a bit of theory behind decorating to help you create the maximum effect for your next party too!

Event decorations really set the tone of the party, and are the best way to make a lasting impression from the first moment!

So whether you’re planning a birthday celebration, …. or corporate event, read through this guide for an idea of what’s out there, and how to play around with party decor to create the perfect overall look! (Once you’ve finished this post you might like our party entertainment guide post)

Party Decoration Strategy

Depending on the budget and scale of the event, event planners often choose a focal point for the decorations. This is a great way of making an impact with the theme, and it can carry the party decorations in the rest of the space. 

For big parties or corporate events, where the budget is big and you can hire an event decorator to spend a lot of time setting up, you can decorate the whole space according to the theme. However, with the right decorations, careful planning of decorations around a focal point can totally set the tone and enliven up the whole event venue just as well! 

Theme and colour

Whether the party has a theme or not, its good to have a think about a few key theme ideas for the decorations. Themed parties make life easy in terms of defining the colour scheme, vision, decorative items and atmosphere style. 

If your party doesn’t necessarily have a theme, such as an anniversary or birthday, it can be nice to spend a bit of time thinking about the type of event you’re having and what colours and vibes go with it. The general rule amongst party planners is to go for a two or three-colour scheme palette. Then think if it’s going to be bright and colourful, moody and elegant, sparkly and celebratory, funky and kitsch…. or whatever other ideas come to mind. This can help you develop the style of decoration you want as you go through the following prompts.

Here are some ideas of colour palettes that work nicely and tend to be popular for you to think about:

  • Black and gold
  • Silver white and blue
  • Gold peach and white
  • Pink orange and white
  • Silver, purple and white
  • Dark green and gold

Draping effects

Draping instantly, creates the boundaries of a space, covers any unbranded areas of a room, hides ‘ugly’ parts and sets the streamlined colour and material theme feel. It can be expensive, but using it around the focal point, or in a focal corner has a fantastic effect, and renting is a great option for this.

Draping can be rigged in many ways. For a professional outfit, you would hire draping rigging, like two legs with a pol between into which the fabric is strung. For lightweight fabrics, it can be double side taped, or pinned into a wall (if you own the space/right to the walls!). Although it involved a little investment, it’t not excessive compared with the impact of the feel fo the space with the draping.

Lo lighting up the draping is one of the moodiest effects you can create when decorating a party space, and it really creates a different atmosphere in the party venue. This is a great effect also for small spaces, where you need compact lighting effects (more on that in the next section),

Draping options can include:

  • Metalic fabric,
  • Floaty Chiffon
  • Bead curtains
  • Sequin curtains
  • Velvet Draping
  • Crochet style netting

Lighting strategy

Great lighting is essential to any cohesively decorated event space, and the type of lighting will go a long way in creating the atmosphere of the whole party. 

Here are some types of lighting to consider:

  • Neon lighting for party signs
  • LED strips of changing colour
  • Dancefloor disco lighting
  • LED low-level uplighting
  • Screens displaying colourful, moving light graphics
  • Festoon lights
  • Icycle lights
  • Mirror balls
  • Pendant lights
  • Pin lights or spotlights
  • Fairy light curtains
  • Musical lantern lighting
  • Chandelier lighting
  • Candle centrepiece lighting

Spotlights into props or decorative areas will draw the eye immediately amplifying the decoration in the general visual artistry of the vent

Icyle lights, festoon lights and fairy light curtains are instantly romantic and intimate, creating a warm, appealing and inviting atmosphere. They have a big impact and are a perfect way to draw the attention towards the area they light, be that the dancefloor, and outdoor space, or a focal wall.

Low-level, up lighting is perfect for a relaxed and moody party atmosphere and creates a romantic feel to it. In areas where there is not too much space for musical decoration, this can be a great effect to play with. LED low-level lighting options will be dimmable and usually come with a variety of colour options, meaning, you can just about customise them to suit any party’s theme. They are therefore super helpful for the party budget if you want to hire some wow factor decorations and don’t know where to start.

Dancefloor, disco, projection and LED flash or laser lighting can be used for amazing effects to create dynamic party movement and energy within a space. With a little creativity, you can create almost any effect (snow and ice showers at a Christmas or winter wonderland do, Starry nights and cosmic flares for a musical theme, circus lighting for a carnival theme, rainforest thunderstorm for a dramatic jungle theme….the list goes on!). 

Lighting and projection can also mimic flying butterflies, flower patterns, shimmering gold lights, the night sky, and any other animations with great visual interest and appeal. This makes them a perfect set up to complement any event theme.

Neon signs add fun and party spirit, for instance, a sign reading “let’s dance”, “let’s party” or even a sign pointing out the “bar”.

Dancefloor lighting effects

  • Having a haze or fog machine will massively amplify the lighting effects already selected for the dancefloor. This can be brilliant to totally amp up the vibe at any stage of the party, such as when you’re calling people to the dance floor, or creating a special moment to cut the cake. The atmosphere it created is a great decorative option.
  • Bubble machine, bubbles on the dancefloor catch the lights beautifully and lovely to immerse and dance in
  • Water wave projection, for some themes this effect can look super cool and add a great style highlight to the space.
  • Flashin laser displays, lasers make for a wealth of opportunity, whether they particularly suit the theme or not

Did you know we also have some pre-made theme party ideas guides that put these strategies into action? Check out some of our best themes such as the 1920’s Gatsby party, or our 1990’s retro throwback party!

Furniture for effect

One of the first steps you can take in designing an area is selecting the furniture you are bringing in. If you are having formal seating, you can consider the colour, style, material and visual appeal of the furniture. If you have a bar area and bar tables only, its possible to hire glow-up tables and stools. 

For parties where simple seating and furniture is the most affordable options, you can plan to vamp up the table settings and create impressive centrepieces to draw the eye to, if not to the furniture itself. 

Sometimes, parties with spectacular decorations use theme props for all of these ideas, for instance, an old-fashioned car front as a DJ booth, or a vintage drinks cart as the cocktail station. The opportunities here are endless, and Pinterest can be a great place to browse for inspiration.

If considering furniture think of these ideas as well:

  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Sofa areas
  • Pillows and cushion lounde areas
  • Pedestals or plinths for decorative focuses
  • The bar area
  • The DJ station
  • Large screens
  • A cake table
  • Food areas

Decoration props

Props are the ultimate birthday party decoration items, and these will be the talking point of the decorations, even if the main vibes are created through colour, lighting and sound. These are also cute ways to add a personal touch to any party, and most people spend a lot of their time in planning these aspects. We will start with a long list of options and then discuss a few of them in detail.

Decorative prop items:

  • Disco ball towers
  • Chalkboards with messages
  • Cushions and pillows
  • Lanterns
  • Vases and Urns
  • Candles and Candle holders (commonly LED nowadays for regulation in many venues)
  • Easels with signage
  • Stanchions and plinths for floral displays or greenery
  • Mirrors 
  • Artificial plants
  • Bird cages
  • Hanging butterflies
  • Metal clocks
  • Large animal statues such as flamingoes or zebras
  • Bunting
  • Hanging flour discs
  • Hanging mirror reflective panels

Large centrepiece prop decorations:

Giant structures that are real wow factors in a decorative space! Here are a few ideas as inspiration:

  • A greenery tower or artificial tree
  • A mirror ball tower
  • Balloon Pillars
  • Artificial Trees filled with string lights

Table Decorations

If you’re having a sit-down event table decorations will become a huge part of the planning process. It’s common to have centrepieces on each table, but there are also plenty of other decorative items to go with table seating and can be fun to plan into the decorations. Here are some of the options for table-setting decorations:

  • Tablecloths
  • Table runners
  • Confetti
  • Centrepieces
  • Table lighting (paper lanterns, fairy lights, illuminated centrepieces, overhead lighting, candles)
  • Foliage (fresh flowers, plants or artificial greenery)
  • Crockery and cutlery
  • Statement serving items such as water jugs wine coolers
  • Placemats and general arrangement of place setting
  • Name cards of directive options
  • Napkins

Interactive decorative options

Art installations that develop with the party are a lovely living decoration! We talk about these in our post on the ultimate party entertainment strategy, but here are some of the ideas just listed again:

  • Graffiti wall for guests to add their tags onto, perhaps with a little doodle or message
  • A live illustrator
  • A fingerprint tree
  • Sign and light a lantern party display

Another cute idea is to have party favors on display at the party as part of the decoration. Not every party will have these and it may not always make sense but I have seen this done to great effect before, with cute little packages, personalised mugs, edible take-homes and lots more ideas. Pinterest can be a great way to search for theme-specific inspiration for these ideas!

Final things to think about

Here are some final tips and things to consider from professional party planners:

  • Think about having decorations at every level, lights or bunting or balloons on the ceiling, low-level lighting, table and eye-height decorations and column decorations. While you don’t need to include all of these, thinking about a mix will have great effect on a space.
  • Timing – have a think about some decorative features that are there all evening (such as props) and some immersive aspects that are used to effect to heighten the vibe at strategic points, such as haze lighting, or changing colours on LED light displays.
  • DIY or hire, some aspects are more arduous to set up, so consider this when coming up with the strategy to make sure you have enough help when needed for all your decorations. This way they will come together properly on the day for a cohesive quality look.

Good luck with the planning!

We hope these ideas have given you loads of inspiration for your next event and that you feel ready to decorate for any party theme!

Happy Party planning,

Zoe x

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