Decorations, props, and surprises are the extras that make your dinner party memorable. Subtle decorations and moments of delight all centered around a cohesive theme keep your party interesting and your guests entertained.
Quality over size and quantity: Dinner parties should reflect your style and taste, so keep this in mind as you select decorations for the occasion, choosing quality over volume.
The most elaborate decorations should be used on your dining table, but also plan unique and thought-provoking treasures to be discovered throughout the evening by your guests.
Neutralize the background: Make your decorations stand out by neutralizing the background. Replace off-theme colors with neutral tones, such as beige, brown or white in areas that serve as a direct background for your party decorations.
A prime example is to use a white tablecloth and napkins to emphasize your dinner table decorations.
Colors: Go through your closets and stored items to find everything
related to the colors appropriate for your theme. Use theme-related colors on your neutralized backgrounds throughout your home.
For example, use red, white and green for a Mexican Fiesta; blue and teal to represent water for an Under the Sea Theme; navy blue, red, white, and yellow for Nautical; neon pink, green, and black for Retro; and pink, naturally, for a Pink Flamingo party.
For color themed parties,
use a colored bulb to light a corner of the party area or bathroom. Buy scrapbook paper in your theme color to put in photo frames for dramatic splashes of color wherever needed. Scrapbook paper is available at hobby stores.
Strategic placement: Entertain your guests by strategically placing tasteful decorations where they will be seen over the duration of the party. Here are the key areas that almost every guest will look:
Invitation -- Whether you are using a simple or more elaborate theme, your invitation should be the first clue. The invitation is also an opportunity to create excitement and anticipation.
Evite offers a large selection of invitations for virtually every theme. If you do not see one you like, you can design your own. This may be the best option for basic themes, such as a color, where you simply use contrasting shades for the text and background.
Outside Entrance – Elevate your guests’ spirits as they arrive with decorations at the entrance to the party. Everyone has to get there, so a yard stake, colored mini-lights, or a front door decoration is visible to each guest and a nice welcome to set the tone and reinforce your theme.
Foyer – If you really want to go all out, add a more elaborate decoration inside the entrance in the foyer. Because of the distractions upon arrival, a decoration in the foyer should be larger or prominently displayed to be seen.
Bar – Practically every guest will visit the bar, therefore this is a logical location for a key decoration. A tabletop item along with a couple of votive candles will be seen without taking up too much space. Also, sprinkle theme-related confetti on the bar for an extra detail.
Cocktail area – With everyone packed into the party area, decorations are less likely to be noticed, however, lighting at eye-level or just above guests’ heads will stand out. Use theme and regular votives, placed in a group and/or throughout the room to add atmosphere.
Drinks – Not only can you name your specialty drink according to your theme, you may also choose a cocktail of a color related to your decorations. And regardless of what your guests are drinking, you can dress it up with theme-related cocktail accessories, such as, napkins, garnishes, toothpicks, swizzle sticks, and/or umbrellas.
Hors d'oeuvre tray – A small, themed decoration on your serving tray or along side a self-serve appetizer adds a nice surprise during the cocktail hour.
Bathroom – The bathroom is likely to be visited by every guest and is another primary spot to showcase your festive decorations. A tabletop display, hand towels, confetti, and soap are unique and interesting theme-related items that will captivate.
Dining table – To maximize the impact of your decorations use a white tablecloth and white napkins. Your dinner centerpiece and table decorations should be the most significant, by far, for a dinner party. Also, use appropriate taper, pillar, or votive candles in the center of your dining table.
Theme-related salt and pepper shakers, as well as beverage napkins in the center of each place setting are nice touches. Bead necklaces can be used as napkin rings and also help create a more festive atmosphere at dinner.
Theme confetti really pops, when sprinkled in moderation on the white tablecloth background. If you are using chargers or service plates, place a single piece of confetti at the top, sides, and/or center. Don't forget to remove the confetti if you are using the plates for food.
Confetti -- Confetti used sparingly, in key locations, adds an extra sparkle to decorated areas. Confetti should be used on the bar top and in the bathroom to accent these high visibility areas.
Personal attire -- Everyone will see the host, so be sure to get others into the spirit by dressing and accessorizing your outfit. Dress appropriate to the style of your party, for super casual wear a grass skirt and coconut bra to your luau, or dress it up with a stylish floral dress and a hibiscus for you hair.
Note: The effort you put into "dressing the part" will set the standard and directly impact the energy your guests will put into your future parties. And, as always, apply your good taste.
Accessories: – Leis, beads, glow necklaces, flowers and other accessories let you decorate each guest individually. You can also put colored beads in a bowl and set them on the bar for an attractive table-top decoration for guests to wear, if they choose. Hang leis near the entrance to place around each guests’ neck upon arrival.
Flowers: – Flowers are a nice touch to any party setting, but not required. Choose flowers that relate to the prominent color(s) of your decorations. A single flower, such as a Gerbera daisy, in the bathroom is dramatic and relatively inexpensive.
Birthdays: - For birthdays add an extra show of festivity by hanging swirls or streamers from the ceiling. Also include a “Happy Birthday” banner and special, fun candles for the birthday cake or treats. “Happy Birthday” gel letters are a unique touch for the bathroom mirror.