Ideas for the Party Human

Tip 5: Create an Atmosphere

Posted on: October 7, 2009

            The use of decorations at a party is, of course, optional.  The only necessity is that the place of the party be clean and comfortable.  However, the chosen theme will likely fail if you do not make some effort to create an atmosphere at your party.  Decorations often make the first impressions that are very important to getting the party off to a good start.  So, how do you go about creating the right atmosphere for your party?

            To begin, you look at your theme and your agenda of activities, and then you decide what kind of atmosphere you want to create.  Do you just want it to feel homey?  Do you want a festive air?  Do you desire a foreign feeling?  Is there the spirit of a certain holiday that you want to capture?  Are you turning your home into an elegant restaurant, or the studio set of a game show?

            Next, you put on your thinking cap and decide just how to create that atmosphere.  You may need to do nothing but clean the house and rearrange the furniture or borrow a few chairs.  Or, you may go big on balloons and streamers and centerpieces.  Maybe it’s a matter of finding some Hawaiian music to play in the background.  A few props to carry out your theme can go a long way toward creating that atmosphere; you can tastefully arrange such items as sports equipment, dolls, socks (for a Sock Hop), camping equipment, stuffed animals, etc.  Sometimes you may want to put up signs to let the guests know exactly “where” they are supposed to be.

            One alternative often overlooked is to have your guests participate in creating the atmosphere.  As well as lightening your load, this method also helps to unify the guests and get them more involved.  You might ask your closest friends if they have any authentic artifacts you can display.  Or, depending on your chosen theme, you may ask all your guests to dress in appropriate costume.  This can be all you really need to get the feeling you are trying to evoke.  You may put up no decorations, but a room full of top hats and hoop skirts can easily turn your home into an English manor of the Victorian period or a Southern plantation of the pre-civil war era.  And, it has been my experience that, when guests are in some sort of costume, they automatically feel more like partying in the spirit of your theme.

            The object, again, is to be creative and unique.  When guests see something new and different, it gives them a little jolt that says, “My hostess is really creative, and it looks like she cares about this party because she put in so much effort.  I think this is going to be a lot of fun!”  Another thing I’ve found is that creativity is catching, and it is a wonderful thing to spread around. 

            Last of all, you go to work!  Plan ahead to give yourself enough time so you can have things just the way you want them when the guests arrive.  Whatever you decide to do to make your theme come alive, I promise you that it will add to the spirit and enjoyment of your party.

            I do have one caution, however.  There is such a thing as going overboard with decorations.  You don’t want to have so much stuff around that guests cannot move freely, relax comfortably or communicate easily.  Unique touches here and there in out-of-the-way corners are better than miles of streamers, clouds of balloons and piles of props.  You also don’t want to overload yourself with work, such as making 200 crepe-paper flowers, or whatever.  If you take into account all the various aspects of your party when you plan your decorations, you should come up with the right balance of atmosphere and free space.

            For specific ideas on decorating, stay tuned for the party descriptions in future posts.

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