A feast for all the senses: Bargain ways to glam up your home

The right atmosphere creates a mood of celebration.

If you're on a budget, Christmas is the perfect time to throw a party. All of us have memories and emotions tied to Christmas and a few well placed touches around the house will quickly evoke a festive spirit in guests. Party and event company Green Ant Events (greenantevents.com), plans creative and stylish gatherings for everyone from none other than the Abu Dhabi royal family to more modest British house parties.

And managing director Joe Blackman says you don't need to be an Arab sheikh to throw a fabulous bash.

"There are plenty of ways to decorate your home for a party on a budget," he says. "The key thing is to think a bit differently. It's about more than just a tree – it's about bringing a festive feeling into the whole house."

LIGHTING

Nothing sets the mood quite as well as lighting. "Even having a dimmer switch on your lights can make a massive difference," says Blackman. He recommends that we turn off overhead lights and turn on a lamp or two. Add in as many candles or tea lights as you can (tea lights are a great budget option at 100 for just £1.89 from Ikea, ikea.com).

And invest in a couple of strands of fairy lights. It's worth buying a decent set as you'll be able to use these for parties and decoration year round. Try John Lewis (johnlewis.com) for a good selection from £8 up.

FOLIAGE AND FLOWERS

Blackman suggests using natural foliage as far as possible. "Skip the standard artificial decorations and make your own from foliage. It's free, readily available and is fun to do, too, especially if you have children," he says.

If you have ivy growing in the garden, pick long strands and hunt out pretty leaves and berries. Entwine all these in a string of fairy lights, add a couple of sparkling Christmas decorations then string your creation over a mantelpiece or maybe even trail it along a stair.

If you don't have a garden, visit a local park. Don't pick things that are growing (it's likely to be against the rules) but find fallen branches, conkers, pine cones and leaves and decorate with these. "Twigs tied with ribbon or decorated with baubles can be very effective," says florist Paula Pryke (paulapryke.com)

DECORATIONS

Don't just decorate a tree. Think creatively and hang baubles on ribbons in front of a mirror or by the window or scatter them down the centre of a table. This year the trend is for traditional and handcrafted decorations, so if you don't have any decorations and money is tight, make your own using salt dough. Bake them and then hand decorate them.

TABLE SETTINGS

Simplicity is the key to a great table. Church candles or tealights surrounded by simple foliage such as ivy look great on a table. Another great budget idea is to use small or miniature plants as table decorations.

"Succulents are very fashionable and they look fabulous dusted in glitter or even spray-painted," says Pryke. "Even though I'm not a fan of the Pointsettia, I do have a soft spot for the miniature ones and have seven dotted down my dining table with red tea lights this Christmas." Try garden centres or most supermarkets for miniature Pointsettia from about £1.

SCENT and MUSIC

"A key aspect of organising a great party is to consider all the senses," says Blackman. Music is immediately evocative of the season, but make sure you put together a play list that includes traditional seasonal tunes and your every day favourites. Simply having carols on rotation can feel a bit like being trapped in a shopping centre.

Scent is another simple way to remind guests of Christmas. Scented candles are one option – Diptyque's Perdigone is beautiful (from £25 at SpaceNK, spacenk.co.uk) – but if you're on a tight budget go for the Elizabethan approach and stud fresh oranges with cloves and place three or four around the room. Cinnamon and the scent of warm mulled wine will also help get everyone in the mood.

Getting in the party spirit

Light refreshment

Make sure that the socialising areas are softly lit, but that where the food and drink are laid out, party guests are able to load up their plates and glasses with ease

Green and pleasant

You don't have to invest in a designer wreath to make a festive impact. Gathering offcuts and ribbons round a bent coathanger looks good and scents the room, too

Baby, it's cold inside

With all those bodies and probably the heating on, too, drinks can quickly get lukewarm and unappetising. Use buckets, bowls and even flowerpots as coolers

Clear winners

Nobody wants the best crystal at what you hope will be a raucous party – look for the best hire deal from supermarkets and off-licences (some let you return it unwashed)

I can see a rainbow

If there's ever an excuse to go to town on decorations, a Christmas party is the time. Get children involved in paper chains, and use to cover any less than perfect corners

Mix it yourself

Rather than spend all night making the drinks yourself, put out a big table with all the goodies on it and allow guests to mix it up themselves (no linen – expect spillages)

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'