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Top Tips for Great Event Decor on a Dime

Top Tips for Great Event Decor on a Dime

With decor budgets still recession-wracked, how do you get great event looks? Here are expert tips for creating beauty on a budget.


Choose an event space that is attractive on its own, then create the right flow—that’s the key to getting plenty of wow without plenty of money, says Koby Bar Yehuda, senior partner and founder of KBY Designs, with offices in Israel and New York.

He adds:

  • Put your money where guests spend most of their time. For example, during cocktails, guests need a good bar and an attractive space, "but if you put heaps of flowers there or fewer, no one will remember," he says.
  • Mix tables of varying shapes, then put linen on some of the tables and leave others bare except for candles.
  • Create drama in the room by placing three or four huge vases filled with flowers—real or silk—off center.
  • Use monochromatic masses of inexpensive blooms.
  • Rent plants to fill the space and warm it up.
  • Never skimp on quality. "Don't compromise on the quality of products even if there are fewer flowers and such," Bar Yehuda says. "We will never skimp on the 'wow' factor when a guest enters the event, if it sets the mood and the tone of the event."


"When a supermodel walks into the room, no one notices her friends," Jack Kelly says. Keep this in mind with your decor, says the entertainment technology designer with Charlotte, N.C.-based Eye Dialogue, and you can create drama without dollars.

  • Take the "centerpiece" concept and apply to the room, Kelly suggests. Instead of using 20 floral arrangements at $50 per table, sink all the money into one dramatic floral arrangement in the center of the room. "No one will think that the handful of candles on their table looks poor," he says. "Instead, they will comment to all their friends how magnificent the floral display was in the center."
  • A custom steel gobo—the honoree's initials or a slogan—creates a unique custom brand that makes the event special and valuable—all for about $70.
  • If you can put what would have been a two-room event into just one room, you essentially double your decor budget.
  • If you can't afford to wash all the walls in one color, then throw the color onto one element in the center of the room. Kelly did this at one pink-themed event: "The brightest thing was on the middle, so everyone looked inward. Psychologically the room was pink, because no one stares at the wall behind them." And, "Instead of 30 to 40 lights, we only needed four."
  • Spend big on one thing and let the rest go. "To get the 'wow' from a meager budget, some risk must be taken," Kelly says. "Anything can be left out. Style is all that matters."
For more, see the May-June issue of Special Events.


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