The hol­i­days brings par­ties and more par­ties, but what will make yours stand out? You don’t have to have an ex­ten­sive bud­get or a huge venue; it’s all about the spe­cial touches that can make your event be unique, clever and mem­o­rable. and plan stand-out h

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - HOLIDAY FAVORITES - By Va­lerie Sweeten | COR­RE­SPON­DENT

A photo booth is al­ways a nice touch. It gives your guests an op­tion to put down their phones and get cre­ative with themed props.” - Tif­fany Ha­lik, Carpe Diem PR

Deb­o­rah Elias with Elias Events re­cently marked a 20-year an­niver­sary in plan­ning events. If a theme is pre­ferred, the sea­son is per­fect for a win­ter won­der­land, Elias said.

She added that this is eas­ily done with white linens, a pretty sil­ver sparkle over­lay, and cen­ter­piece filled with white and sil­ver Christ­mas balls in clear vases. Add an ice sculp­ture in the shape of a snowflake with a luge for drinks to flow through, and a wait­ress dressed as an ice queen for more im­pact.

Big­ger bud­gets mean big­ger par­ties with an ex­tra level of the “wow” fac­tor. Photo booths and selfie sta­tions are not only fun, but great for so­cial me­dia post­ings and a take-home party fa­vor.

Elias said that the com­pany, My event is the bomb, has a rel­a­tively cheap photo booth op­tion for around $2,000. With this, you get the back­drop, photo print­outs and the op­tion of in­stant so­cial me­dia post­ing.

Cy­press Photo Camper, rec­om­mended by Tif­fany Ha­lik, Carpe Diem PR, has vin­tage campers con­verted to photo booths.

“A photo booth is al­ways a nice touch,” Ha­lik said. “It gives your guests an op­tion to put down their phones and get cre­ative with themed props.”

Go­ing over the top is easy to do with so many op­tions, said Elias.

In­door sparklers, a ni­tro ice cream or pop­corn sta­tion, a Lite Brite drink wall and even a live paint­ing are tak­ing over in larger high-end func­tions.

Cool cock­tails can be taken to the next level with the com­pany, Grand Bevy, which is able to trans­fer sugar im­ages and pic­tures to cock­tails.

J and D En­ter­tain­ment has not only a liv­ing wall back­drop, but also a liv­ing flow­er­pot.

“The liv­ing wall back­drop is in­cor­po­rated into your photo back­drop and is a fun way for peo­ple to get pho­tos. The per­son is painted to match the back­drop and al­most dis­ap­pears into it. A liv­ing flow­er­pot makes for a cool photo-op, adding am­bi­ence to the event,” Elias said.

Have a small bud­get, but big ideas? No prob­lem, as bal­loons are trend­ing in new shapes and forms.

“They are mak­ing a come­back in the form of sculp­tures. They are in­ex­pen­sive decor el­e­ments and serve as great In­sta­gram mo­ments,” Elias said. Ha­lik has rec­om­men­da­tions for cock­tail fun with a twist.

Start with a spe­cialty themed cock­tail or even a themed bar cart to save on hir­ing cater­ing staff to serve drinks.

“Bub­bly and the hol­i­days go hand in hand, but why not put a unique twist on it? With the bar cart, hosts cre­ate fes­tive sig­nage with the recipes and let (guests) build their own hol­i­day-themed cock­tails,” Ha­lik said.

Ha­lik has worked with Toast from the Host for nu­mer­ous events for spe­cialty cock­tails, which also adds an ex­tra splash of cre­ativ­ity with Twirl Cot­ton Candy that can be paired with whisky and vodka.

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