Who Decorates for a Cocktail Party?

Decorating for Dinner

It doesn't matter whether you're having an intimate dinner with close friends or having a cocktail party for 20 people, it's always more fun, interesting and memorable if you decorate using a theme. Many people ensure the house is tidy and the table looks lovely, but the fact is that your guest will be visiting more than one room in your house. Why not create a "special occasion" with visuals that set a beautiful background for your evening by using plants and flowers that will portray the atmosphere you'd most like to feel.

Choose a Theme, Create a Flow

First, choose a theme that you'd like to focus on - perhaps East-Meets-West or Tuscany Sunset. Use containers that will build on your theme, for instance, bamboo tubes for an East-meets-West party, or distressed terra cotta pots for a Tuscan feel. You don't (and shouldn't) have to redo your house, instead, go with what the décor suggests in your home - be it traditional, modern, or eclectic, and stay with one color scheme, especially if there isn't a consistent look in the house. By staying with one color, you can create a lovely flow from the entrance way, through the foyer and into the cocktail and dining areas.

Don't Be Afraid, It's Only a Dinner

Be edgy. Now, for some people that's a real challenge, but it isn't as difficult or as painful as you may think. Choose a massive leaf - perhaps a huge banana leaf over stalks of bamboo or a massive leaf on which you place serving platters. Stagger floral and plant arrangements on the buffet table, but be sure to leave room for the food! If you have a light hanging over your table, place your flower arrangements at either end of the table to be balanced in your effect.

Keep Things According to Scale

Be sure the arrangements you create and use are in proportion to the room you are using. The height of the ceiling and the size of the room both affect the size and scale of the décor you are providing. It is wise not to overpower a room unless you are intent on building a jungle theme or perhaps a secret garden effect.

Your China is a Canvas...

One great way to make an impact is to color-coordinate your china and food to the house and flowers. It sounds a bit much, but if you use lighting, your linens, cutlery and the dishes as a backdrop for the food, you can create something eye-catching and delicious at the same time. Feed the body and the senses. It is most subtle and often people don't see it, but discerning eyes won't miss it.

Keep Things In Context and Enjoy Yourself

When you are putting together your floral/plant/interior design for the evening, be sure your foliage goes together. Putting abundantly flowering plants in a Zen-style environment is inconsistent with what you are trying to accomplish and makes the flowers look like weeds. If you are not sure how to create the atmosphere you are wanting, discuss your plans with your florist to get suggestions and ideas.