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Party Decorating on a Dime

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Jennifer Sbranti, lifestyle and entertaining guru of Hostess With The Mostess, has great ideas for planning a fabulous party without emptying your wallet.

Here's some of her easiest tips using everyday items like flowers and scrapbook paper to create an elegant atmosphere without a large expense:

1. Floral Arrangements: Quality, Not Quantity
Instead of spending a lot of money on large flower arrangements, opt for centerpieces and decorative arrangements that call for just a few stems or blooms of beautiful, unique flowers such as heliconia, dahlia or cymbidium orchids.

Place each flower stem in its own large glass vase lined with river rocks or vase gems, float large blooms in shallow glass bowls with a few floating candles, or line a few inexpensive bud vases all the way down the table. For a dramatic twist, completely submerge a few flowers with stems under water in large glass vases (this works great with tulips too!).

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2. Print + Pattern
In lieu of cloth placemats, use 12" sheets of scrapbook paper or pre-cut paper placemats in patterns that coordinate with your theme. With so many fabulous designs to choose from, this is a fantastic way to instantly dress up your table--with minimal cost. You can also create coordinating napkin "rings" cut from strips of the same paper. Scrapbook paper usually runs around 40 to 75 cents each--and pre-cut 11x17 paper placemats at Whimsy Press are typically around $8 to $10 for a set of eight.

3. Decor: Think High Impact
Tall branches such as mitsumata, curly willow, birch, or bamboo make a dramatic impact, even in small doses. A few branches of these materials looks great in oversized vases filled with a few inches of sand, vase gems or decorative rocks.

Paper lanterns are another quick and easy way to create a party atmosphere. Hang them from the ceiling, backyard trellis, or fence--or use standing paper lanterns to created a festive "table runner" for food, drink, and gift tables.

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4. Raise It Up
To add height to centerpieces and buffets without having to purchase special pedestal bowls and servers, flip small bowls upside down and use them as pedestals for bowls and trays. For added security, bind the top and bottom pieces together with a small amount of sticky tack.

5. Borrow It (from yourself or your BFF)
Some of the best decor for your upcoming party could already be sitting on your bedroom dresser (i.e.--that fabulous vase that no one but you and your significant other ever see). Look around your house and "borrow" elements from other rooms to help dress up the area where you'll be hosting the party--this applies to everything from vases to throw pillows to wall decor. And instead of purchasing extra dishes and utensils, borrow basics like white plates, utensils, and cocktail stemware from close friends and family members.


next: Picnic Wine Pairing
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