How to Decorate for a Party

Three Parts:Planning the DecorationsChoosing the DecorationsUsing the Decorations

Decorating for a party can be difficult, but it does not have to be. Once you know where to start, the rest will come quickly an easily. The most important part of decorating for a party is to have a set theme and to know who your guests will be. Children and adults will have different interests, and you want your decorations to be appealing to everyone.

Part 1
Planning the Decorations

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    Decide who the party is for. Whatever the occasion is, you are likely throwing the party for a person or a group of people. Are they children? Adults? Are they close friends, fellow classmates, or co-workers? Knowing who your guests will be will give you a better idea as to what sorts of themes, colors, and decorations you should use. For example:
    • If your guests are mostly children, you'd want to use lots of bright colors, balloons, and streamers.
    • If your guests are older, you might want to limit the colors and use simpler decorations for something more elegant and/or sophisticated.
    • Is this a dinner party? If so, you'd want to focus more on the table itself, as this is where your guests will spend most of their time. Get some nice plates, napkins, tablecloths, centerpieces, and so forth. Focus less on extras, such as balloons and paper cutouts.
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    Decide what the occasion is. This will also help you decide what sorts of colors and decorations to use. It will help make the party more personal and special. For example:
    • If it is baby shower, consider whether it is going to be a boy or girl. Use lots of blues for boys, and lots of pinks for girls.
    • If it is a birthday or Quinceanera, use the birthday girl's favorite colors. Try to stick with one main color, and white as a secondary color.
    • If it is graduation party, consider using the school's colors.
    • If it is for a holiday (New Year's, Halloween, Christmas, etc), use colors associated with that holiday. For example, if it is a Halloween party, you might want to use orange and black. If it is a more formal Halloween party, use white and black.
    • If it is a wedding party, consider the wedding's theme colors. These will usually match the cake, wedding bouquet, and the bridesmaids' dresses.
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    Chose a theme. The theme will be most likely something that the person(s) you are throwing the party for is interested in. If you don't know what the person is interested in, then choose something that is currently popular (such as rustic, vintage, or antique). Here are some ideas to get you started:
    • Consider the person's interests. Do they like fish? Monsters? Ponies? Choose decorations that match these interests.
    • Do you and your friends have a favorite book or movie? Base your party off of that. If the book or movie is new, you might find the right decorations in your local party shop.
    • Try other general themes, such as rustic (lots of burlap and galvanized steel) or antique (lots of lace).
    • Take your guests away to another time and/or place. Try a Tiki, Luau, or Paris themed party. You can also try another time era, such as the 1920s, 1950s, or the 1970s.
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    Use the upcoming holiday or current season as inspiration if you are having troubles coming up with a theme. Take a look at the calendar, and note any upcoming holidays. If you feel that the holiday might get in the way of your party, then take note of the season: fall, winter, spring, or summer.
    • If your employee-appreciation party is set during October, you might want to give it a fall or Halloween theme. Use lots of orange, pumpkins, and bats for your decorations.
    • If your birthday is set during December, you might want to stay away from a Christmas theme, but you could consider a winter theme. Use lots of blues, whites, silvers, and snowflakes for your decorations.

Part 2
Choosing the Decorations

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    Know your budget. If you have a large budget, you can get elaborate with your decorations. If you have a very tight budget, however, you may have to use simpler decorations, or make your own.
    • Store-bought party decorations can get expensive. You can save lots of money by making your own banners, pennants, and centerpieces.
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    Keep the location in mind. Are you hosting the party in the classroom, office, or at home? Is it going to be in a restaurant or rented party room? Depending on where you host the party, you may have to limit your decorations. Some places, such as offices ad restaurants, simply don't have the space. Other places, such as rented party rooms, may have specific guidelines that you must follow.
    • If your space is small, focus on simpler decorations, such as balloons, paper cutouts, napkins, and paper plats.
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    Judge how much time you will need to set up the party, and how much help you will have. If you want to have a tropical-themed party in a few hours, and you will be the only one setting the party up, a full-blown Tiki bar and hula stage may be a little bit too much for you to handle. Remember, it is always better to start with fewer decorations, and add more if you have extra time, than to start with too much and end up not finishing.
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    Consider how much you are willing to clean up afterwards. After the party is over and your guests go home, you will likely be exhausted. Cleaning up would be the last thing on your mind. If you are a person who does not like to clean or take down decorations, you might want to go for something simple—such as a few balloons or a centerpiece—as opposed to something that will take ages to take down—such has streamers, cutouts, banners, etc.
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    Know that decorations don't have to be balloons, paper cutouts, banners, and streamers. These are the most popular decorations, but sometimes, they just don't fit the occasion, theme, or budget.

Part 3
Using the Decorations

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    Attach paper cutouts to walls and windows if you are short on space. Attach them to your wall using tacks, clear tape, or poster putty. Try placing the shapes at a slight angle, instead of straight up-and-down. This will make them appear more "active" and interesting. They are ideal for holiday-based parties, such as Valentine's Day and Halloween. They are also great for classrooms and offices because they don't take up much space.
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    Cover tables with tablecloths, table runners, and vases. Choose a solid-colored table cloth, and cover it with a patterned table runner. If you don't have a table runner, scatter some confetti down the middle of the table, or use wrapping paper.[1] Finish off by placing a pretty floral arrangement in the middle of the table.
    • The centerpiece doesn't have to be flowers. For example, if it's a Halloween party, you could use a jack-o-lantern or a creepy candelabra as the centerpiece.
    • Avoid scattering the confetti too close to the sides, where people will sit.
    • Add some light with pillar candles. Arrange your candles in groups of three, and use varying heights. This will make the table look more interesting.[2]
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    Hang banners and pennants in doorways or windows. Use tacks or clear tape to hold them up. You can also make a simple "streamer" curtain for your doorway:
    • Cut several long strips of streamers.
    • Tape them in a row above your door.
    • Gather half of them by the middle, and tape them to the left side of the door.
    • Gather the rest, and tape them to the right side of the door.
    • Cover the tape with big ribbon bows.
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    Don't forget the balloons. Choose balloons that match the color and theme of your party. For example, if this is a Halloween party, choose black and orange balloons. Blow them up with air or helium, and hang them around the room. Focus on the corners and tables.
    • Fill clear balloons with colorful confetti for a pop of color.[3]
    • If you have a helium tank, tie streamers to the ends of balloons instead of ribbons.[4]
    • If you don't have a helium tank, tie ribbon to the balloons, and tape the ends of the ribbon to your ceiling. The balloons will hang down above your guests.[5]
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    Don't forget the small things, such as plates, cups, and napkins. If you can, try and match them to your theme and color scheme. Even if you don't have many decorations, they can really take your party to the next level. They are great options for those on a minimal budget.
    • For a rustic theme, consider serving drinks in mason jars.
    • For an elegant theme, choose gold or silver colored plates (they can be plastic).
    • If you have a tight budget, get plain white napkins, and present them in colorful mason jars.
    • Instead of using plain straws, try paper straws, or straws with funky decorations on them.
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    Make use of ceilings, banisters, and fireplace mantles if this is a house party. If your guests are allowed to go to other parts of your house, you will need to make sure that everything looks festive. This will help extend that party beyond the living/dining room where most of the guests linger.
    • Drape garlands across fireplace mantles.
    • Tape streamers and balloons to ceilings.
    • Wrap garlands around banisters.


  • Clean the area you will be hosting the party in first. It is much easier to work on a blank slate.
  • Know your guests. Children will prefer a party with bright, colorful decorations. Adults will prefer something more elegant and refined.
  • Use the current season and upcoming holidays for inspiration.
  • Base your party off of a book or move.
  • Don't forget other party necessities, such as games, food, and drinks.


  • If you are hosting the party at home, store your valuables in a locked room.

Article Info

Categories: Parties