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Party Decor Tips from Hoopla Events

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We’re thrilled to welcome our second guest blogger, Krista from Hoopla events. Today, she’s on the PlaceFull blog to talk about something she’s passionate about – PARTIES! Here at PlaceFull we love nothing better than a good party (we have “Thirsty Thursdays” in our office for goodness sake!) which means that we were super excited when Krista wanted to share a few tips about how to decorate for special celebrations.

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Parties are what I do, and really, what I love.  It might be a little odd, but I get a bit of a “high” when a party all comes together – the décor, the favors, the desserts, the photo ops.  Leading up to a party – knowing all the elements I have planned – I have that excited anticipation, sort of like a 5-year-old leading up to Christmas.  I know…I have a problem.

However, my “problem” ends up being a huge plus for my clients since I’m “all in” when planning their event, whether a kid party, Christmas party, or fundraising gala.  Same excitement.  Every time.

But, the truth is, parties can be pricey.  When you browse Pinterest and are pinning like mad those gorgeous dessert tables, garlands and favors you are also saying to yourself, “how can I possibly pull THAT off on my budget?”  Luckily, we have learned a few things at Hoopla Events about budget friendly décor.  You don’t have to purchase all high-end custom elements to make your party look like it belongs on a party planning blog.

Below you’ll find a few of our best tips for Budget Friendly Party Décor so you can get that high-end look for dollar store prices.  I’ve broken it down into categories of décor.  I’ve found that splurging on one category and saving on others can give me the inspiration I want, while staying within my budget.

Large Scale Décor Makes a Big Impact

Haybales and Large Scale Balloons make a big impact on a small budget.

Haybales and Large Scale Balloons make a big impact on a small budget.

Your parties will inevitable have many details that are small, but together make a big impact – colored straws, themed napkins, sweet favor boxes.  But, the BIG impact comes from the large scale décor items that really set the stage.  Here is a place to really save.  And while custom signs or banners are some of our favorite things to use, they do come at a cost.  Here are some ideas for large décor items with big impact.

  • Natural Elements – Use hay bales for backdrops on farm, pony, or outdoor themed parties.  They are cheap and can be purchased at most feed or farm supply stores.  You may be able to borrow from a neighboring farm as well…just as and return when done.  Branches, spray painted a coordinating color to your party and propped in galvanized buckets filled with sand are cheap and have HUGE impact.  String with some white lights and hang your favors on the branches and you have a party focal point for pennies.
  • Balloons – Yes, we all have seen balloons at parties.  This is nothing new.  We like, however, to use really BIG balloons.  For about $5 each, you can find 36” latex balloons that make an amazing impact floating over your buffet or at your outside party.
  • Signs and Garlands – Custom signs are all the rage can include messages tailored to your event.  We have several vendors that we LOVE for custom signs, such as Two Crafty Teachers and A Felt Affair.  And often, this is a great place for that one “spurge”.  However, you can also enlist the help of a handy family member (dad’s are especially great to enlist here!) to nail some old boards together, wash a little stain or paint across them, and stencil some letters across spelling the birthday kid’s name.  Hang this as a backdrop behind the dessert table or as a welcome for guests arriving.  Another easy, but high impact, element is a chalkboard.  Simply chalk your message and hang the chalkboard, or prop against a table, door, or hay bale.

Printables Turn Dollar Store Finds into Custom Decor

Inexpensive paper goods can be customized with free printables found online, or an inexpensive purchase of a coordinated set.

Inexpensive paper goods can be customized with free printables found online, or an inexpensive purchase of a coordinated set.

There are fantastic sites all across the internet selling coordinated, custom collections of party décor at very low prices.  A quick Google search, or better yet, cruise the choices on Pinterest, and you’ll turn up a wide range of printables to meet your needs.  For a low price, you can print or purchase custom tags, signs, invitations, and more.  Put these together yourself and you just saved a bundle on pre-printed paper goods.

We also find amazing FREE printables all the time.  Use a free collection as a starting point for your décor, matching your plates and napkins (hello Dollar Store!)  These won’t be custom, but you can incorporate them so easily into the party.

We use our local Cash and Carry (most areas have similar grocer supply stores) to purchase plain white paper cups and take out style white boxes for our parties.  The prices are incredibly low and when you take a little extra time to attach one of your printable elements to them, they instantly become custom party décor that will make your party shine.

Table Decorations Bring It All Together

Flowers, like the tulips seen here, in vases you have already, or something colorful that coordinates with the party theme (easily found at the dollar store), give a fresh look to party décor.

Flowers, like the tulips seen here, in vases you have already, or something colorful that coordinates with the party theme (easily found at the dollar store), give a fresh look to party décor.

Flowers.   Flowers.  Flowers.  These are the cheapest way to create elegant and vibrant décor on any table setting, whether a buffet or guest tables.  Cheap, you ask?  Since when have flowers been cheap?  Well, we do not recommend you call your local florist and ask for a beautiful bouquet for your party.  That WILL run you a pretty penny.  However, flowers and decorative foliage abound in Western Washington.  Grab some scissors and venture outside.  Even if you don’t have a green thumb, a vase of leafy branches with a few well-placed blooms has HUGE impact.  If it’s spring or summer, use your own flowers or ask a neighbor if you can cut a few blooms.  If none are available, purchase one large bouquet at a discount store such as Costco.    Using your own leaves with only a few blooms per arrangement will stretch your dollar.

Use Fabric to add color and cohesiveness to a table scape.  Linens can be pricey and you don’t want to purchase something just for one event.  So, use neutral table cloths you already own and purchase inexpensive lengths of fabric to create runners on your tables.  No sewing necessary!  Just fold under the raw edges.  Burlap is fantastic for this application and the raw edges add to the rustic appeal.

Party Favors That Do Double Duty

Pirate costume props such as head scarves, eye-patches, swords, and hats were a hit at this Pirate Themed birthday without breaking the bank.

Pirate costume props such as head scarves, eye-patches, swords, and hats were a hit at this Pirate Themed birthday without breaking the bank.

For kids parties, an organized activity is usually part of the plan.  We like to combine our party favor, or take away gift, with our activity. Thus, saving money AND giving your guest something to take home that isn’t just another plastic toy or bag of candy (both of these loathed by moms all over).  Here are some of our favorite ideas.

  • Decorate a Picture Frame or Initial Letter – purchase unfinished, wood frames and letters at local craft or discount stores for around $1.  Set out washable paints and brushes and have guests paint their item at the start of the party, drying by the end.  If you don’t want to mess of paint, offer foam stickers, gems, feathers, and fuzzy balls for them to glue onto the frames.  If you can, take a photo of the group at the start of the party and print off enough copies on your printer so that they can take a picture home in the frame.
  • Decorate favor boxes – Remember those cheap white take out boxes mentioned above?  Have your guests decorate their own at the start of the party.  You can have a few treats on hand to put inside after the kids have completed their own custom design.
  • Dollar Store Dress Up – Raid the costume section of your local Dollar Store, Target, or order from Oriental Trading Company online.  Coordinate the costumes with your party theme and set up a photo booth for kids to dress up and snap their picture.  Take a large, empty frame from Goodwill and spray to match your party.  Hang in front of a sheet or fabric backdrop and watch how much fun the kids have posing.  Print the photos and include with your thank you notes for a party keepsake.
Hoopla Events owner Krista O’Byrne is a passionate entertaining expert, having organized everything from special birthday and anniversary parties to corporate galas and fundraising events. Contact her at  Krista@hooplaevents.net

One thought on “Party Decor Tips from Hoopla Events

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