New to Event Planning? Check Out These 15 Event Design & Decor Ideas for Inspiration

February 16, 2024 Mario Stewart

New York City event planners have their hands full when planning any event, no matter how big or small. The checklist is lengthy. Create a budget, find a venue, make the guest list, book the event entertainment, research potential vendors, secure staffing, and the list goes on. The design and decor of your event are where you can really get creative and make choices that complement the style of your event. Whether you’re planning a milestone party for family and friends or a corporate event, the decor will set the tone and create ambiance your guests won't forget. 

Why is Event Design & Decor Important?

There are many aspects to planning and hosting a successful event. Every detail matters. The decor choices will create an atmosphere that will bring your NYC event to life and ensure the different elements reflect the identity of your gathering. By making event-appropriate choices, you can convey to your guests the desired mood you’re trying to achieve. Formal galas are going to feel very different from a child’s birthday party, and the decor should reflect those themes. 

Carefully thought-out design and decor choices will always create a memorable experience for your guests. Let us help you get started!

1. Start With the Venue

You’ve booked your venue, and now it’s time to see how you can utilize and enhance the space. It’s important the decor fits with the venue’s aesthetics. Some venues are blank spaces, while others have their own decor. Incorporate your choices into what the venue already has to offer. 

2. Incorporate Furniture Pieces

Different types of parties and events will need different seating arrangements. Whatever furniture pieces you choose will directly influence how your guests interact throughout the event. Some may need large round tables for a sit-down dinner, smaller cocktail tables for a cocktail party, couches for casual seating, or conference-style tables for a corporate event. You could also create a variety of spaces for your guests to enjoy or arrange furniture in a unique way to elevate the rest of the decor. The most important aspect is to make sure your guests are comfortable and the furniture is functional for the event you’re planning. 

3. Pick a Theme

The easiest way to streamline your event decor is to choose a theme. By choosing a theme to plan around, you can narrow down your decor because some themes lend themselves to certain color schemes and patterns. A tropical luau theme might have colorful florals, grass table skirts, and pink flamingos, or a casino theme might have neon lights, lots of round tables, and a more moody color palette. Not all events are going to need a theme, and that’s okay! If you do choose a theme, be sure it makes sense with your event goals, and it will be enjoyable for all of your guests. 

4. Color Schemes

If you’ve chosen a theme, the color choices may be a bit easier to narrow down. But some events don’t call for a theme, so it’s best to consider the vibe you’re trying to achieve and make your event’s color decisions from there. Darker colors can be more moody, somber, and sophisticated, which are perfect for cocktail parties and fundraising galas. Neutral and pastel colors are soft, romantic, and warm, great for baby or bridal showers. Bold and bright colors create intensity, joy, and energy that are perfect for a milestone party. If you’re planning a corporate event, it’s always good to stick with the company’s color scheme, which can create a positive association for the attendees. 

5. Light Up the Room

Lighting can set the mood for any party or event. A darker ambiance can encourage dancing and mingling at a birthday party or gala event, whereas brighter lighting might be best for corporate events or a bridal shower luncheon. Additionally, outdoor spaces need different lighting than indoor spaces. Consider chandeliers, fairy lights, sponsor logos with lighting stencils, outdoor lighting strands, pillar candles, and more! The lighting options are endless and can enhance any venue space while bringing your color choices to life.

6. Make a Grand Entrance

Everyone loves a grand entrance, and it’s the best way to make a fantastic first impression on your guests. Create a large backdrop, use floor graphics, incorporate floral or balloon arches, or even roll out the red carpet. Guests will love having a picture-perfect spot for all those initial photo opportunities, and the buzz for your event will be in full force the moment they arrive.

7. Delicious Food Displays

The food options at any event are of the utmost importance, and incorporating these offerings into your decor is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Food displays are becoming increasingly popular as a focal point of any event. You can arrange the food in an innovative way that’s both beautiful and enticing. Consider DIY bars, doughnut walls, food trucks, interactive food stations, and more!

8. Aesthetics with Fabrics

Using fabrics can enhance any space for a cozy and welcoming feel for your guests to enjoy. This can be everything from drapes, rugs, cushion coverings, table covers, backdrops, and skirting. Fabrics can incorporate your color choices while bringing diversity and versatility to your event environment. 

9. Table Decor That Shines

Once you’ve covered the tables with carefully chosen fabrics and runners, it’s time to spruce them up even more with beautiful centerpieces and attractive tableware. Elevate your tables with candles, floral arrangements, place cards, mirrors, and vases. Moreover, if you’re planning a corporate event, consider having an iPad at each table to display event information or games to keep attendees engaged.  

10. Decorative Backdrops

Decorative backdrops are a simple way to bring the fun to any event. Photo ops galore! They can be used to promote a business with the company’s logo, serve as a beautiful photo booth, and emphasize the theme and colors you have chosen. Consider draping fabrics, balloon arches, company signage, and digital backdrops perfect for any event.

11. Digital Media and LED

This clever way of incorporating digital media will elevate your event and wow your guests. Consider using a “social wall” where attendees can add their own social media posts on a large display screen. It’s interactive and engaging while also promoting your event via social media. 

12. Video Projectors

Video projectors are perfect for milestone parties, weddings, and corporate events. Consider a slideshow of family and friends at more intimate gatherings or highlight a company’s past, present, and future through personal videos at a corporate event. Either way, you’re sure to get an emotional response from your guests, creating a lasting memory that will stay with them well after the event is over.

13. Decor from Above

You have everything on the ground level taken care of but don’t forget about the ceiling. It’s often overlooked, but with the use of streamers, balloons, garlands, or fabrics, you can tie together the whole room from every corner. Ceiling decor adds sophisticated drama and necessary depth to any venue.

14. Natural Elements

The use of natural elements will always make any party event more beautiful and captivating for your guests. This is why outdoor venues are so popular. Whether your venue is indoors or outdoors, consider floral arrangements, seasonal items, branches, wildflowers, seashells, pine cones, and driftwood to elevate your event decor. These pieces will bring a hint of freshness and unique beauty your guests will love.

15. Swag Bags & Personalized Gifts

It’s very common to give your guests a parting gift after the party is over. You can incorporate these fun surprises into your event decor by adding them to each seat or even creating a display table for the gifts to set on. It’s a great way to say “thank you” or maximize brand exposure.

Get All the Design & Decor Tips and Tricks at The Event Planner Expo!

If you’re new to event planning in New York City and want to learn more about all the design and decor trends for 2024 and beyond, don’t miss The Event Planner Expo happening October 15th-17th, 2024! This three-day event is perfect for networking and connecting with fellow event planners AND potential vendors to make planning all your events a breeze! Secure your tickets now!

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