As a wedding and special event planner, I’ve heard from many clients that they just don’t have the budget to do much with décor for their events. When I was a planner for a trade association I would have agreed with my clients. Now, the challenge from clients on tight budgets has me trying to think outside the box. With a little imagination, and help from websites like Pinterest, you can inexpensively produce creative décor yourself and bring color or theme to your events.
One of the easiest ways to develop décor is by having a theme for the event. Themes can make an otherwise standard meeting more fun and can easily incorporate your brand. Stuck for theme ideas? Make your host city part of the décor. If you are in Chicago, use the “Windy City” theme. One idea could incorporate floor fans and streamers that rustle at the entrance to the main session room. Your breakout could have a Chicago Cubs or Bears theme. When meeting in Evansville, Indiana, incorporate a “River City” theme using river rocks, water and floating candles in the centerpieces. Finish with light blue table runners to bring in the river feel at minimum cost.
Use the meeting agenda to develop a theme that leads to creative décor. I recently provided décor for a conference of meeting professionals. The meeting itself didn’t have a theme, but the agenda indicated they were planning on asking the participants to donate items to a charity that gives out backpacks for back to school. I found an idea on Pinterest that fit perfectly. The original idea suggested using an empty soup can and attach pencils with hot glue, creating a vase. I opted for rubber bands to secure the pencils to the glass and covered the rubber bands in ribbon. This enabled us to take the arrangement apart and donate the pencils.
Renting table linens can be a budget buster. To reduce costs, use a simple white tablecloth as your base and build on that. Cotton fabric cut into a 44-inch squares and placed in the center of a table will dress up even the simplest centerpiece. After the event, donate the one-time-used fabric to a sewing or quilting group. Napkins in rich, deep colors can add elegance to any table setting. If the tables are nice enough there is no need for a full tablecloth, simpy add a table runner to provide that pop of color.
Flowers can brighten any meeting or event. Keep the budget under control by working with a local florist. They will be able to help you select not only in-season flowers, but flowers that are native to the area. Incorporate branches, twigs or rocks with the flowers. Or fill vases with items to match your theme. You can create a dramatic impression and use fewer flowers.
You can easily develop low-cost décor and still have an event that looks like a lot of money was invested. Creating your own décor allows you to reuse the individual pieces for years. Allow time to hunt for a deal for your initial investment and you won’t break your budget in the long run. Dollar stores or secondhand stores are excellent places for inspiration.
Kim is the Chief Operation Officer/Owner Planner for Moore Voices/Events & Moore. She has worked in 501c (3) and 501c (6) organizations, both professional and trade associations in a variety of industries. Planning her older daughter’s Wedding made her realize that Wedding/Event planning with her own business was the next focus for her career.