Monday, August 30, 2010

Frugal Party Decorations

This is part two of my “Parties on a Budget” series, in honor of the big birthday bash I am making for my son on Tuesday without breaking our very tight budget.

When money is tight, extras usually go out the window, as they should. Decorations can't exactly be classified as needs, so having them may seem like a foolish decision, especially for something as transient as a party, as their costs are both extraneous and high.

Decorations, however, really change the mood of a place. They change rooms from bleak hospital like rooms into comfortable and homey places. Atmosphere gets altered to a more welcoming and enjoyable place by adding some well placed décor.
When having a party, decorations are what makes it feel like you're celebrating instead of having an ordinary and boring day.

Party decorations spell fun and festivities and don't need to be excluded even when a budget is really tight. You can spruce and spiffy up your place so easily and cheaply that you'd be passing up on a great thing should you chose to forgo decorating.

The decorations that I am making for my son's party are costing me almost nothing, as for the most part they're either made from things I had in my house or got for free; all the things used are low cost, even if you don't have them in stock and need to buy them.

Homemade party decorations generally fall into three basic categories: crafts, arrangements, or nature's gifts.

Crafting Decorations:

Paper chains. These are easy to make out of strips of colored paper. If you cut the strips thin enough, even four papers is enough to make a really long chain. To make this project even more frugal, you can use homemade glue. Hang these up instead of streamers.

Paper chain, hung on the fence at the entrance to my home
Popcorn Strings. Make stove top popcorn and, using a needle, poke homes in them and thread them onto your thread. Use these instead of streamers, or simply drape them over things.

Threaded popcorn wound around the railing on the stairs leading up to my home.
Posters. Using oak tag or even a few pieces of computer paper taped or glued together, you can make large posters with either designs and letters cut out from colored paper, drawn with markers or crayons, or a collage of pictures and photographs related to the party (like a collage of pictures of the birthday boy, in my case).

Nature's Beauty

Collect some flowers, leaves, rocks, shells, pine cones or foraged fruit to decorate your home. There are endless ways to decorate with these, I'll just name but a few.

Wildflower bouquets. You don't need to be a florist or even have learned flower arranging to throw together a bouquet of wildflowers. These can be either large or small. You can even take a single flowering branch and stick it in a wine bottle filled with water if you have no small necked vase. For larger arrangements, try to make the bigger things in the middle with the smaller things on the sides so everything can be seen. Alternatively, stick the bigger things on one side and smaller on the other. If you don't have a vase, even a glass jar or large cup will do the trick.
If no wildflowers grow near you but people in your area have flowering trees or vines, consider asking them for permission to take a few. Most likely, they will have absolutely no objection.

My wildflower bouquet.
Floating Flowers. In a pretty bowl, put some water and a tiny drop of food coloring. Floating a flower or two or five on the water can add a beautiful and elegant touch to the table. (Also a good use for that food coloring I had from the days in which I used it, but now it goes unused because of the health concern.)

Use less food coloring. Lee added too much in his zeal to help.

Natural Centerpieces. If you have fruit or vegetables in the house or unshelled nuts, try artfully arranging them in a basket or bowl. This can look very beautiful if done correctly. Consider also using pine cones in your centerpieces.

Free Confetti. To decorate a table, putting sea shells or leaves or wildflowers or small pretty rocks can add a nice touch to the table instead of decorating confetti.

Decorating with Arrangements

There are so many things you probably already have around the house or will be using for your party that can make beautiful decorations with a bit of effort.

Floating Candles. Like the floating flowers above, if you take tea lights and float them in water, especially colored water, you can have a beautiful and even romantic decoration at very little cost.

You'll want to light the candles. I couldn't take a normal picture
with my bad camera if the candles were lit. Imagine there are flames.

Use Your Disposables. I'm not a disposable person, at all, but when it comes to parties, I do use disposables. These disposables can at least be multi-functional- decorate with them! Cup pyramids, napkin flowers, and artfully arranged plates and bowls are a good way to make beauty double with functionality.

And of course, you can't forget...
Balloons! I did not have these already in the house, but they sell these cheaply- you can usually even buy at the dollar store. No need for helium balloons or expensive- simple balloons blown up by mouth and taped to the walls, arranged in flowers, or strung on strings across wide areas are a good, cheap way to decorate!

How do you decorate cheaply? Have you ever used any of these frugal decorating methods?

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