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None of us redecorates our homes for a party, but we do tend to shift it to another level, so there’s a certain festive mood when that door opens. A few decorators and consummate party throwers provided some clever, creative and even cost-effective ideas they employ for entertaining.

Colours and themes

Lee Moon of Lee Moon Interiors suggests choosing a theme for a party. “Let’s say it’s an outdoor patio-pool occasion. If you live in a tropical area, choose loose concepts like tropical, game park, or beach. It narrows your decor focus. I keep a number of plain tablecloths like hessian, black, linen and white in the drawer – these can then be accentuated with your theme colours. Think blue and white on a white tablecloth with blue napkins and blue and white china, with green leaves and white flowers.”

Artist, restauranteur and photographer Heather Fitchet loves to play with decor. “Don’t be predictable; it’s boring. Use brown paper as your table cloth – and avoid having to wash any cloths!”

Lee’s also keen on minimising the cleaning up. “If you can use disposable and recyclable plates or newspaper in a rustic theme, even better. There’s no huge cleaning up.” Or be different. “Consider something different like enamel plates and mugs instead of glasses and plates – very French Provençal!”

Flowers and foliage

For flowers, Heather loves Checkers’ lettuce complete with roots, in cans with the labels still on them. “Then you haven’t spent oodles on flowers, and you can eat your floral arrangements later.”

Designer Chris Tozer loves colour and boldness, so for her, when guests open her front door, a wonderful sense of theatre greets them. There’s always a wow factor. She goes big on greenery, less on budget… so heads for her garden – or that of a friend – and picks any particularly graphic leaves, such as delicious monster or large fabulous fronds, and pops them into oversized glass containers. She’s also keen on using different types of big dried-out seed pods, spray paints them black, gold or whatever colour she’s chosen as her theme, and includes them with the greenery. Living aloes and succulents, grouped in stone or concrete pots, as opposed to cut flowers, is another favourite of hers.

Lee, too, loves picking leaves from the garden. She suggests putting them into big buckets wrapped in brown paper and tied with rope.



For consummate hostess Tassie Kougianis, music choice is a priority. “It sets the mood or keeps things lively, so compile the playlist well ahead of time. If you want to keep everybody happy music-wise, the Spotify app lets you add friends and guests, so you can all collaborate on a playlist.”

“Fit the music to the age group or theme,” says Lee. She, too, is a Spotify fan. “I’ve downloaded the free version of Spotify and play that through my Bose speaker or Sonos speaker system. No need then to jump up and down to change the music. Choose whatever style of music you like and even though there are ads, they’re few and far between.”


For evenings, there’s no such thing as too many candles. Christine doesn’t dot them around individually, but clusters them. “You’ll have pockets of pretty flickering light throughout the space.”

For outdoor parties, lanterns in the garden always look superb, as do tiny fairy lights in a tree or strung somewhere appropriate. But less is more.


  • Lee suggests you check with guests beforehand as to whether there are any food allergies or dislikes. “It’s a real dampener if a guest can’t eat what you’ve prepared.”
  • Tassie says, “If you’re including children – or people have asked if they may bring them – set aside an area with age-appropriate things. Then they have fun and parents can chill.”
  • “If you don’t have off-street parking, a car guard puts your guests’ minds to rest,” Tassie suggests.


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