Party decorating on a budget

July 9, 2009 4:27:50 PM PDT
While having friends over for a nice meal may sound like a good idea, some people may feel overwhelmed when it comes time to decorating. So we turned to a local event planner, who not only has some great tips, but showed us how to do it for about $10. We put together a table using the theme 'The four elements' - earth, water, fire, and air. It looks elegant and expensive, but event planner Alex Martinez says you can create this table for your next dinner party for about $10.

Martinez, with Flair Productions, said, "The best thing to do is just use the elements you already have in your house."

He started with the first element - air - represented by leaves from his own back yard. Just scatter those down the center of the table. For our table we used magnolia leaves but you can really use any kind of leaf that grows on your property for your table.

Next is the water element, using river rocks. Place several of those around the leaves.

"We can all find rocks everywhere, even if you don't have river rocks," Martinez said.

For fire Martinez chose small glass votive holders. If you don't have any, you can buy some for less than a dollar.

He said, "I got these at IKEA. They were like 50 cents each."

A box of tiny candles costs another dollar. You can find them at Target or Wal-Mart. For earth, Alex chose bamboo because he had some handy, but any wood works as well. We found some place mats that almost match the stones. They cost $2 apiece at the Dollar Store.

"They look inexpensive but when you dress them all together they look fantastic," Martinez said.

Your own plates, glasses and silverware are just fine. We rented earthy brown napkins for 65 cents each from the Linen House in Houston. Fold them in a simple square and leave a pocket to hold a hand-made menu. Those add an elegant feel for free. Martinez recommends using borders from your computer's software or from the Internet and heavy stock paper for a few cents a sheet.

"I would bring the brown color and the green leaf color into the menu," he advised.

Clusters of plastic flowers are optional and available at any craft store. Finally, make your party personal by writing your guests' names on place cards. For this party, the extra magnolia leaves provided the perfect cost-free canvas.

Martinez said, "You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a fabulous party."
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THE FOUR ELEMENTS TABLE

  • Bamboo props (earth) free
  • River rocks (water) free
  • Tea candle light glass holders (fire) 50 cents each at IKEA, Candles $1-2 a box Target, Wal-Mart
  • Leaves (air) free
  • Lighter/matches free
  • Place settings ($2 at the dollar store)
  • Plates free
  • Silverware free
  • Glassware free
  • Menu cards paper 5 cents/sheet
  • Place cards free (leaves)
  • Napkins (65 cents each from The Linen House of Houston )

TABLE DÉCOR MEXICAN FIESTA

  • VOTIVE CANLDES Z GALLERIE, DOLLAR STORE
  • RENTALS -- NAPKINS AND TABLECLOTH -- THE LINEN HOUSE OF HOUSTON
  • TABLETOP DÉCOR FROM MEXICO
  • CHAMPAGNE FLUTES Z GALLERIE
  • PLACE CARD HOLDERS POTTERY BARN
  • PLATES, GOBLETS, SILVERWARE ?EVENT PLANNER'S OWN

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