Party Decor 101

Today I would like to introduce you to somebody who has become one of my favorite people in Philadelphia. Her name is Sarah. She blogs at smoorelovin’. And she is an incredible human being. She’s always smiling. She’s always got a really fun project that she’s working on. And she is the most kick-butt creative director The Blog Connect conference could have ever asked for. She’s also a saint for putting up with my hyper-left-brained emails.

Recently I’ve realized I don’t know much about party decor. It’s something I’ve been trying to do more of, just to make the evening feel a little bit more special, but I literally had no idea where to start. Sarah was the first person I though to ask how to fix this. Why? Because of her Friendsgiving centerpiece last year (which she mentions below). So I asked her what her best Party Decor 101 tips were. Here was her answer:

Having guests over can be intimidating, here are five of the things I do to help make both myself and my guests comfortable. To set the stage – I operate under the assumption that when people feel welcomed and comfortable in my home they enjoy things more. Obviously when my guests are enjoying themselves, I am more likely to enjoy myself and stress a little less about being a good host. I like to think that small decor changes really help people feel more comfortable. The tips I am sharing will hopefully help you feel more comfortable with dipping your toe into the waters of party decorating. They are just as good for a small dinner party as they are for a large pot-luck event.

It’s really easy to be intimidated by all the beautiful staged parties you see on Instagram and Pinterest. If you want to work up to that level of decor that’s awesome, but keep in mind the simpler things you can start doing at your next get-together. The more get-togethers you have, the easier it will become and the more at-ease you will feel adding new steps into your routine.

Party Decor 101 as told by Sarah Moore
Clockwise: Photo By Refinery29 | Photo By Jane
Photo By Lemon Thistle | Photo By Finding Home Farms

Bringing the Outdoors In

Flowers are my favorite way to make things feel warm and welcoming. The best part is you can get them from the grocery when you pick up snacks for your gathering. If you need to do the grocery shopping a few days before your party and are worried about the flowers wilting, make sure to cut the ends of the stems when you get home and put them in fresh water. Then stick the entire arrangement in the fridge – you’ll be good to go.

As an alternative for bigger get-togethers, I like to do some foraging for my decorations. Last year I hosted Friendsgiving for a group of 18. We do a potluck style meal that is usually pretty no-fuss and I wanted to add a few touches of festive decoration. I also wanted to have as much table space open as possible. I opted for a hanging mobile of sorts. I used some leaves that had fallen off a rubber tree I have + some leaves I picked up on a walk around my neighborhood + a branch + gold spray paint to create my mobile. I used the spray paint on the leaves and then attached them to the branch using fishing line. I hung the whole thing from the ceiling right above the food. It was pretty cool!

Alternative Lighting

Lighting always makes a space feel good. Add a candle or have a cool lamp turned on to give your space a bit more oomf. I specifically say, “add” because this should probably be in addition to your normal lighting unless you have a dimmer on your lights. As an example, in my house I have an open floor plan, my living area, dining area and kitchen are all connected. I usually turn the lights on in the kitchen and living area and have a couple of lamps on in between. It sounds odd, but the light from a lamp has a much warmer feeling than over-head lights.

Place Settings

If you are having a gathering where it makes sense to have place settings for everyone, definitely decide on that early on. Make sure you have enough for everyone and I lucked out in this department – my mom gave me the dishes she and my Dad got for their wedding. I am fully stocked for parties up to 8. Anything more than that and I usually pull out compostable plates and napkins. If you are not into the idea of using disposable, but also don’t have a set large enough for the group you are serving I say simply commit to the mis-matching. Make sure that all of the places are set with different plates and it becomes clearly intentional vs. something that just happened. It makes people feel like you knew they were coming and you were excited to get things ready for them.

Food as Decor

I am all about working smart. It’s probably a pretty safe bet that you are serving food, so take advantage of it! Use you appetizers as a centerpiece. I love the idea of using butcher paper as a giant, table-sized cheese board. You can write out what each cheese or fruit is to take away any confusion. Plus, add on any other hors d’oeuvres and you’ll have a pretty awesome and impactful display.


If all else fails, play music. There is no easier way to set a mood and add to the vibe. Personally, Jay-Z radio is my go-to. The nice thing about relying on a radio station by Spotify or Pandora is you don’t have to worry about running out of songs. If you would rather know what’s coming, playlists are the obvious choice. I have shared a number of playlists on smoorelovin for different moods and genres that can help get you started!

Thanks so much to Sarah for sharing a few specific tips. After my 22 oz. beer party I’m definitely going to be thinking more about using food as decor. I can’t wait to give it a try! Don’t forget to check out Sarah’s blog below.

Sarah from smoorelovin
Sarah is an Interactive Designer by day and a hand lettering enthusiast/blogger/art director by night. Her passion lies in creating big things where others may see little potential – developing the aesthetic behind a brand, unearthing personality in individual style and using her creative forces for good. She blogs at smoorelovin about the creative inspiration she finds in music, style and everyday life.

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