Friday, December 11, 2009

Looking Back: One Design, Three Different Celebrations

Through the years, I’ve had the lucky opportunity to work with certain clients not just once, but sometimes twice, three times or more. Maybe it follows the progression of their lives—wedding, christening, anniversary--or maybe it’s a special annual event. One extraordinary client has hired me to design her holiday party year after year. We covered some of the previous designs for her parties in this post about choosing your color story.

Notice the progression of the design; the pictures in today’s post are from the first year we designed for her. This was also one of the first years we used printed images to look like projections to enhance the walls of the event.

 One unique aspect of these events is that they are thrown in a backyard in a brownstone on the Upper east side. All you New Yorkers will understand why this is so unusal—most folks don’t have backyards in Manhattan! In NYC, most hostesses have many social obligations and this hostess created a clever way of entertaining disparate groups--business, family, friends—in one location.

 As we said before, the importance of a classic, timeless design came in to play here. We were fortunate to have a backyard where she could keep the decorated tent up for three days. This way she covered all her social obligations in one space that fit up to 50 people.

Here are some tips for throwing your own multi-purpose celebration:
Tip #1: Pick a space where you can keep the decorations up over a span of 1-3 days. If, for example, you’re planning on hosting a lunch with your girlfriends on a Thursday, dinner with your family on Friday and a cocktail party with your co-workers on Saturday, pick a space large enough and versatile enough to be kept decorated throughout that entire weekend. It can be your backyard, a spare dining room, or even somewhere surprising like a garage or pool house (depending on how clever you are in decorating the surroundings).

Tip #2: Choose a color scheme or theme that is versatile enough to suit all different groups. With this event, we used a screenprint of winter trees to serve as a classic backdrop for the parties. The subsequent years, we chose a monochromatic scheme in classic Christmas colors.

Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to re-use the same decorations each year in a different way. This is a great way to be cost-effective, but still achieve your dramatic statement. For example, if one year your color theme was all red and you purchased red ribbons to decorate your napkins, save them to use for next year in, say, a candy-cane colored theme.

Do you have any tips for using one space in different ways? Let me know in the comments.


  1. I try to use a different theme for Christmas each year at home, and begin with of one idea for my inspiration, and then try to adapt what I own already to fit the theme. For instance, this year I was thinking of delicate lace and how pretty it would be if it was made of icicles and snow. So I have used paper trims in a lacy fashion to adorn ornaments, draped beaded ribbons and strung clear faux icicles everywhere. Another year, I just searched the toy box for any toy in the colors of red, green and white because of a Mickey Mouse dressed as Santa we recieved, and I dressed our tree with all kinds of plush toys in those colours - it was really fun that year!
    If I have something in the way, I will cover it to the time, a tall glass vase became a white Christmas tree by covering it with tons of curled white paper strips. I don't have to buy too much extra things, but I always keep a look-out through the year for decorating supplies: clear plastic 'rocks', crystal gel, glitter, green sand,etc. In this way,our friends come year after year expecting to see something new and they're always thrilled which makes it worthwhile.


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