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Do-It-Yourself Theme Parties: Inexpensive But Elegant 
 
by Graham PZ September 19, 2005

Theme parties are great fun to attend and pulling one off with style is an indescribable thrill. With the right food and decorations, any house, hall, or outdoor location can be transformed on a small budget.

For example, on a buffet table, a fiesta mood is set with red, blue and regular corn tortilla chips tumbling out of a sombrero to touch on colorful bowls of sour cream, cheese dips and salsa. Alternatively, for a beach theme, fruits in clam shaped bowls can be displayed on faux sand made from white and light brown sugar.

Supplies

If you like to host many themed parties throughout the year, buying some decorations may be penny-wise in the long run as opposed to renting them. Having the following supplies on hand is a good idea.

A couple of plain white twin-size sheets: Use these as buffet tablecloths. Scrunch sections of them over props like shoeboxes or baskets to give the table texture and interest. This allows the food trays and chafing dishes to be set at varying heights and lends room for decorative items.

A roll of white paper - 40x 300: This paper is an inexpensive tablecloth for banquet-style tables, a good start for homemade posters, banners, or even placemats, and with some artistic talent, can even be colored then cut up to resemble palm leaves for a tiki bar.

A roll of white plastic - 40 x 100: This is for an elegant looking skirt for gift tables, cake tables and buffet tables. Subtly pleat it as you wrap it around the edges of a table; tape in place as you go then top it off with a linen cloth or the scrunched sheets. It looks like real linen and is oh so much cheaper.

Tape: Masking tape is good; two-faced tape is better

Craft scissors, glue or staples, and a supply of sticky dough for hanging things where tape, glue and staples are out of the question.

Props: Baskets, bowls, and boxes in assorted sizes and colors are items that can easily be used to hold food, napkins, silverware, and most anything that could fall out of place if unwrapped.

Strands of miniature Christmas lights, colored and/or white, are always a help in setting a mood. Pushed under the buffet, or cake tablecloths gives a festive glow and wrapping them around garlands of flowers or boughs highlights the color scheme. Fastened along the ceiling in your house or a small rental hall, they provide a soft mood light. For an outdoor cruise party, string long lines of white lights to make the outline of a boat deck.

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