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5 Tips for Creative Party Styling (Design & Decor)

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Vintage Circus Birthday Party Ideas

Ready to get super creative with your next party, but not sure where to begin? Start here!

(BTW – These steps are meant for after you have your theme & color palette picked out. If you don’t have those decisions made yet, start there and THEN below. 😉)

#1. Shop for THESE high-impact items first.

Styled parties can have a zillion small details to shop for, especially when you’re doing multiple tables. It helps to break things into stages, though! Start by checking off these items/necessities:

A) *Table Linens* (This doesn’t have to be a tablecloth! In fact, I rarely use those. See Tip #3, below.)
The linens set the foundation for styled tables of any kind and really help set the tone of the party. They’re always one of my first decisions, and I typically opt for patterns or textured fabric.

B) Plates, Napkins & Cups that coordinate but aren’t TOO matchy-matchy (See Tip #2, below.)
This includes all sizes of plates & napkins + utensils, cups/straws, and anything special you need like popcorn bags or treat cups. If you’re styling place settings for dining tables, this step is especially key.

C) Balloon Garland Kit (+ an electric pump to make your life easier 🙌)
Yep – this is still a big party trend right now and I’m loving it! Balloon garlands have a big wow factor, are relatively easy to make, & can be used in more than one way. The kits usually come with different styles of coordinating balloons, and you can use them for other things too – like styled centerpieces or several mini garlands instead of one big one. Here are some kits I’ve recently used: Black & Gold, Shades of Blue, Pinks & Reds.

D) *High-Impact* Hanging Decor
To me, this means items that make a BIG impact, quickly & without much work, like large garlands, honeycomb decorations, and giant letter balloons. Some of my current favorites include tissue fan garlands, streamer garlands, fringe foil garlands, and these *new-ish* honeycomb diamonds with metallic tassels from Target.

E) Printables
You had to know this one was coming! 😉 Designer printables will forever and always be my #1 method – and advice/tip – for adding creative details and customization to ANY celebration. I design them for every single party I style and currently have over 125 themes available on my website (including brand new Mermaid Birthday, Graduation, and Spa Party collections!). Every theme is super easy to personalize and guaranteed to make a big impact throughout your party. 🤩


vintage circus party table with balloon centerpieces

#2. Use *themed* store-bought supplies sparingly.

This is especially true for kids’ birthday or graduation party supplies – where the plates, napkins, cups, etc often have a very similar design. Buying everything in a given theme and using it all together can result in a cluttered look or just too much of a similar graphic all at once.

Instead, try pairing a themed lunch plate with a simple solid color napkin, or shop for a patterned napkin from outside the collection that compliments the plate. (I love doing the latter because it makes the party design way more unique, too. 💛)

For example, I found some festive gold star napkins on Amazon to pair with circus stripe plates for my daughter’s Pink Circus Birthday party…

vintag circus party table setting


#3. Consider elements that aren’t technically “party supplies”.*

For example, you can use…

  • Curtain panels or shower curtains as table cloths (or cut them into multiple table runners). This gives you the high-end rental linen look for WAY less! 🙌 One example is above (the white textured linen is actually a curtain) and here’s an example of a fabric shower curtain used as the linen. There are lots more examples like these… maybe I’ll create a separate round-up post. 🤔
  • Decorative home objects, toys, garden statues, etc as table centerpieces & accent decor.
  • Office supply holders, kitchen utensil holders, and planters as creative “centerpiece vases” or decor “risers”. Crates, decorative/gift boxes, and floating wall shelves also work well as dessert table stands/risers.
  • Drawer organizers, jewelry trays, and small planters to hold craft supplies (for a party craft) or for small treats & candy.

*I always shop the home discount stores first for this stuff – places like HomeGoods, Marshalls, Ross, etc.

tiger circus party centerpiece

#4. Treat each type of table/station as its own project.

Styled parties often have multiple tables & areas to plan out. Some of the most common include:

  • dessert station
  • activity table(s)
  • dining tables
  • food station
  • drink station (like these Halloween and Safari Bridal Shower versions!)
  • gift table
  • party favors
  • welcome table

Map out the details for each table/station on their own paper or document. Focusing on just one area at a time will help you stay organized and prevent the overwhelm that can happen when your brain wants to think about everything at once!

Separating things out also makes it easier to track your expenses for each station. (Budgeting is another big part of the party planning process & I’ll cover that in a separate post.)

circus party dessert table idea

#5. Beware of clutter + create empty space.

Party tables & backdrops often have a lot going on, but the best ones also have places for the eyes to rest. If you put too many things on one table or wall, all of the elements start to blur together, and then nothing stands out at all. 😕

To prevent this, make sure there’s ample space and a variety of heights between clusters of things. If you feel like your table surface looks empty after spreading things out or elevating them, try sprinkling a little confetti around. I’ve found this to be the perfect, easy solution most of the time!

vintage circus party punch

Remember what it’s all about…

There’s a lot that goes into styled parties, and the planning process can feel overwhelming at times… even for someone like myself that’s worked on them for years. 🤪

However, they’re also super rewarding creatively and such a treat for the guests and the guest of honor. Putting obvious effort into creating something fun & unique for others to enjoy is a surefire way to make them feel loved. 💕

If you’d like more content like this – where I expand on specific areas of party styling, please comment and let me know! And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask away. 😊

Pink Circus Party Printables

P.S. My Pink Circus printables (featured in the photos above) are available in our store. They make it super easy to add designer style & personalization to your event. It’s like instant branding for your party! 🙌 Click here to shop this collection.

Pink Circus Printables

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