5 Tips for Creative Party Styling (Design & Decor) // Hostess with the Mostess®

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Ready to go all-in on styling your next party, but not sure where to begin? Start here!

(Quick note – These steps are meant for after you have your theme & color palette picked out. If you don’t have those decisions made yet, start there and THEN below. 😉)

#1. Shop for these high-impact items first.

Styled parties can have a zillion small details to shop for, especially when you’re doing multiple tables, so it helps to break things into stages. Start by checking off these larger decor items/necessities first, then move onto the extra details.

1. “Table Linens” (This doesn’t have to be a tablecloth! In fact, I rarely use those. See Tip #3, below.)
The linens set the foundation for styled tables of any kind – dessert, dining, drinks, etc – and really help set the tone of the party. They’re always one of my first decisions, and I usually opt for patterns or textured fabric over solids.

2. Plates, Napkins & Cups that coordinate but aren’t TOO matchy-matchy (See Tip #2, below.)
This includes all sizes of plates, lunch/dinner napkins, beverage napkins, utensils, cups/straws, and anything special you need like popcorn bags or treat cups. If you’re actually putting place settings on the table(s), this step is especially important.

3. Balloon Garland Kit (+ an electric pump to make your life easier 🙌)
Yep – this is still a big party trend right now and I’m loving it! Balloon garlands are easier to make than you might think + can be used in more than one way. I often use balloons from garland kits for styled centerpieces or make a few smaller garlands to spread around (instead of one large one). Here are some kits I’ve recently used: Black & Gold, Shades of Blue, Pinks & Reds.

4. *High-Impact* Hanging Decor
To me, this means items that make a BIG impact, quickly & without much work, like large garlands, paper lanterns, and letter balloons. My current favorites include tissue fan garlands, streamer garlands, fringe foil garlands, and these *new-ish* honeycomb diamonds with tassels from Target.

5. Printables
You *had* to know this one was coming! 😉 Designer printables will forever and always be my #1 method – and advice/tip – for adding creative details and customization to ANY celebration. I design them for every single party I style and currently have over 125 themes available on my website (including new Mermaid Birthday, Graduation, and Spa Party collections!). They’re super easy to personalize and make SUCH a big impact. 🤩

vintage circus party table with balloon centerpieces


#2. Use *themed* store-bought supplies sparingly.

This is especially true for kids’ birthday or graduation party supplies – where the plates, napkins, cups, etc often have a very similar design. Buying everything in a given theme and using it all together can result in a cluttered look or just too much of a similar graphic all at once.

Instead, try pairing a themed lunch plate with a simple solid color napkin, or shop for a patterned napkin from outside the collection that compliments the plate. (I love doing the latter because it makes the party design way more unique, too. 💛)

For example, I found these fun gold star napkins on Amazon to use at my daughter’s Pink Circus Birthday party…

vintag circus party table setting


#3. Consider elements that aren’t technically “party supplies”.*

For example, you can use…

  • Curtain panels or shower curtains as table cloths (or cut them into multiple table runners). This gives you the high-end rental linen look for WAY less! 🙌 One example is above (the white textured linen is actually a curtain) and here’s an example of a fabric shower curtain used as the linen. There are lots more examples like these… maybe I’ll create a separate round-up post. 🤔
  • Decorative home objects, toys, garden statues, etc as table centerpieces & accent decor.
  • Office supply holders, kitchen utensil holders, and planters as creative “centerpiece vases” or decorative “risers”. Crates, hat boxes, and floating wall shelves also work well as decorative table risers.
  • Drawer organizers, jewelry trays, and small planters as inexpensive supply holders for party crafts & activities.

*I always shop the home discount stores first for this stuff – places like HomeGoods, Marshalls, Ross, etc.

tiger circus party centerpiece


#4. Treat each type of table/station as its own project.

Styled parties often have multiple stations and areas to consider. Some of the most common ones include: the dessert table, activity table(s), banquet table(s), food station, drink station, gift table, etc.

Write down the details for each table/station on their own paper or document. Focusing on one table at a time will help you stay organized and prevent overwhelm. This also makes it easier to track your budget/expenses for each station.

circus party dessert table idea

#5. Be wary of clutter + create “empty” space.

Party tables & backdrops often have a lot going on, but the best ones also have places for the eyes to rest. If you put too many things on one table or wall, all of the elements start to blur together, and then nothing stands out at all. 😕

To prevent this, make sure there’s ample space and a variety of heights between clusters of things. If you feel like your table surface looks empty after spreading things out or elevating them, try sprinkling a little confetti around. I’ve found this to be the perfect, easy solution most of the time!

vintage circus party punch

Hope this all makes sense! Party styling can definitely get overwhelming… even for someone like myself that’s worked on them for years. 🤪

However, they’re also incredibly rewarding creatively and such a generous treat for your guests. Putting time & effort into creating something amazing to enjoy is a great way to make both your guests and your guest of honor feel loved & special. Have fun!

If you’d like more content like this – where I expand on different areas of party styling, please let me know in the comments below. And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask away. 😊


Pink Circus Party Printables

My Pink Circus printables are available in our store. They make it super easy to add pro designer style & personalization to your event. It’s like instant branding for your party! 🙌 Click here to shop now.

Pink Circus Printables

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