A party to remember
You can dazzle your guests with just a few delicate touches. Gabrielle Fagan challenges the experts to serve up their top decorating flourishes
Summer gatherings can be the most memorable of the year, especially if they’re spontaneous, relaxed and filled with special touches and decorating ideas that your friends and family won’t forget. “When it comes to decorating for a party, it’s not about playing super hostess or laying out the best china or the most expensive crystal,” says Holly Becker, who with Leslie Shewring has put together a brilliant guide to decor for all occasions, Decorate For A Party.
“It’s about creating a little magic and hosting joyful celebrations in your own home, where you can do as you please and really be imaginative about your look.
“Most important is adding character and love with creative, thoughtful and fun decor, as guests feel important, cherished and welcome.” SUMMER SOIREE “We love a soft tactile look, which is a warm mix of organic materials and textures, handmade details and a touch of vintage glass,” says Holly.
“This elegant style would be perfect for an indoor or outdoor evening, maybe to celebrate a forthcoming wedding or simply just to mark summer and all its pleasures.
“Aim for a calm palette of chalky, bleached colours, plenty of flowers in clear glass vases and plain white or strikingly patterned cloths for tables.
“For a more rustic feel, leave wooden tables plain and allow glassware to star.” TIP: Tie single blooms to individual napkins with ribbon and harmonise by laying more lengths of ribbon down the centre of a table to create a focal point. Wrap party cutlery in beautiful pieces of fabric (use off-cuts) that could double as napkins. NATURE’S TABLE “We love the challenge of creating something special and memorable out of very little and keeping an overall look inexpensive and relatively simple to prep,” says Holly.
“Being inspired by nature and using foliage, leaves and plants is a lovely way to bring flair to a summer dinner party. This can conjure a country garden atmosphere, or for a more exotic look, use tropical foliage. Add gold details by using a metallic pen to write guests names or messages on large, glossy leaves.” TIP: Make a striking centrepiece by placing a single large tropical leaf in a clear glass cylinder vase filled with water. A group of three vases will look effective. Use plain brown wrapping paper to make a wall poster menu; write details of the courses in black and pin to the wall with a tiny posy on each corner. AFTER DARK “Nothing says party more than the disco ball,” says Clare Harris, managing director at Talking Tables. “A celebratory classic since the Seventies, the disco ball has come of age, featuring on paper plates as well as disco ball-shaped cups.
“Glittering foil curtains (gold or silver, £8.49) are another party classic that have made a comeback, creating the perfect Instagram-worthy backdrop for your party pics.
“Frankly, cocktail parties are not the time to be a minimalist — layer up your bar and table with gold foil straws, party poppers and photo booth props, then bring the look up-to-date with a plug-in neon light or light box to show guests exactly what to expect from their evening.” TIP: Don’t forget to organise games — they’re a great way to break the ice. Talking Tables has Prosecco Pong, £14.99, where players attempt to throw or hit ping pong balls into glasses of Prosecco and opponents must drink the contents of any glass in which a ball lands. Decorate for a Party: Stylish and Simple Ideas for Meaningful Gatherings by Holly Becker & Leslie Shewring is published by Jacqui Small, £20
TASTY TREAT: LSA International Moya Grand Design champagne serving set, £250, Black By Design
Cocktails neon light, £69.99, Talking Tables
Champagne cork wire cage side table, £149, Decorelo
Mini party drinks and canapes trolley, £18.95, Luck and Luck
Gold cutlery set, 24 piece, £95, Miafleur