Make it Shine: 7 Sparkling Low Cost, High-Impact Tips for Holiday Events

Great ideas are both timeless and adaptable. With New Year’s celebrations upon us, providing a low-cost, yet bold focal point on a tight budget can be an annual challenge. Double the dare and make sure the solution also shines with functionality. Here are some tips for making a big impact while keeping a handle on the budget.

1. Combine lots of the same inexpensive item to make a big statement

The sparkling reflections of a champagne flute tower or wine glass pyramid bequeath any event with an elevated feeling. For the Napa-Sonoma chapter of International Live Events Association, steady hands at The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California, stacked stemmed wine glasses to make a bold entry. Guests selected wine glasses from the display and wandered to a pouring station at their leisure. No long lines at the bar and no additional investment to create this festive attention-getter.

2. Invest your money where it will be seen and appreciated

Growing up, my dad had practiced parlor tricks, such as testing the diamond in a ring to see if it would scratch glass or running his dampened finger around the rim of a glass to induce a musical tone. Little did I know he was priming me to recognize quality. Thickness, weight and the ability to create prisms are all distinguishing attributes of crystal. But really…who has time for that when you’re socializing? Trim your stemware budget by 50 percent or more by using standard glassware at the bar during cocktail hour and then showcase the crystal on the dining table when the guests are more likely to examine the drinking vessels.

3. Light one spectacular element rather than many small pieces

Think about it. The word spotlight infers special and it’s easy to turn an object into a showpiece just by focusing lights on it. If your focal point is on the floor, give it room to root. To make it seem larger, place it on a draped table. To really direct attention, put a riser on the table. To add volume, add more risers and crunched linens. Applying basic theatrical staging and lighting tricks can quickly turn an ordinary prop into a statement piece.

4. Mirror, mirror on the wall

In addition to weddings and awards ceremonies, the one time people dress to say, “Look at me,” is New Year’s Eve. Your guests will be delighted if you provide full-length mirrors so they can admire themselves. While one mirror simply looks like a mirror; multiple mirrors turn a lonely hallway into a grand entrance or a pre-function room into a discrete vignette. Available through rental companies and sometimes the venue, prop them against the wall or on an easel. When you position several mirrors together they enliven the space into ever changing design decor. Not only do they provide a reflective surface, but guests instantly become part of the action as they twirl and pose in front of the looking glass.

5. Repurpose those Christmas tree lights

Call them what you will, fairy lights, Tivoli lights, patio lights–battery operated or hard wired, they’re all strings of lights that, when used outside during the summer or on the tree during the holidays, add twinkle to any festivity. Cut glass bowls and vases are the perfect receptacle to scatter light beams throughout the room, light up an otherwise dark buffet table or enliven a centerpiece. Bonus–you’ll find them on sale after Christmas or at summer’s end.

6. Combine an activity with the take home memory

Those party togs call for a photo memory and everyone has a camera phone. The key is to build a few settings that the guests can easily walk into for the perfect shot. Enhance the sets with easy-grab accessories such as top hats, feather boas, a champagne bottle and faux pearl Mardi Gras beads. A themed mural back-drop, step-and-repeat branded wall, or up-lighting a basic wall with color will provide photo worthy settings while adding to the overall ambiance of the event space.

7. Incorporate props from your venue

The repurpose concept is as easy as using ice buckets to hold floral centerpieces or as a riser for a glass garden globe. Turn the venue’s wedding loveseat, pillars, archway and potted silk ficus into props for a photo scene or to spice up an otherwise lackluster area.


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