Sparkling Red, White and Blue Event Ideas

There are lots of ways to bring sparkle to your patriotic events this season – often literally! Glitter, glass, foil and rhinestones are just some of the ways we can summon such a thing. Let’s explore.

Fabric Decorations. Many of our decorating fabrics have metallic or glitter versions in the patriotic colors you’re looking for. A sampling: iridescent sparkle, metallic eyelash, liquid metallic, and metallic gossamer fabrics.

Use these fabrics for stage and podium backdrops, ceiling and wall coverings, and table decorations. Generally speaking, we like monochromatic domination in background materials for patriotic parties, mostly because you don’t want to overpower or clash with themed decorations, but there are other reasons, too:

  • to make patriotic patterns really pop via contrast
  • to avoid in general a visual that’s overly busy
  • to let textures and/or light effects “do the talking”

  • There are many choices, so here’s how to narrow them down. If you simply must have red as your dominant color, for example, shop by color first to see the available materials. Other considerations include translucence vs. opacity, a preference for no-sew/no-fray fabrics, a need for flame retardant options, and of course cost.

    Having at least a couple of your requirements worked out in advance means you’ll be able to zoom in on the most likely candidates in no time. Be sure to read other planners’ reviews to find out more about the qualities of fabrics that are new to you.

    Large decorations. The patriotic balloon arch and columns pictured at the top of this post get an extra vertical boost from clusters of our big mylar star balloons reaching up. Meanwhile, versatile swirl chandeliers frame it prettily and push it into the foreground. This creates interest at every eye level. You can also achieve the height you need in large spaces with a glittered arch and sequined columns in a solid color, greeted from the ceiling by hanging star decorations such as our 52” star in patriotic pattern and groovy fringe.

    For props that are larger than life we like to use parade float decorations such as the firecracker props shown above at right – yes, even indoors! Decorate a large table just as you would a parade float, covering it with shiny floral sheeting, festooning, a patriotic banner and the firecracker props. We bet others will wish they’d thought of it.

    Table decorations. Your tables should certainly duplicate the colors and perhaps some of the materials of the other decorations. For example, several of the fabric options discussed earlier would make chic table coverings, as would the floral sheeting. And if you’ve used the star mylar balloons elsewhere you could incorporate them into table centerpieces.

    Sparkle can also equal glassware. Shining glass plus a do-it-yourself adornment of Americana would be perfect as table decorations and as favors. Raid the DIY store for cylinder vases you can transform to suggest firecrackers, or simply embellish votive holders with glitter ribbon or stick-on star rhinestones. A glue gun and your creativity will do the rest.

    Ten Trivia Questions and Answers to Ask At Your Memorial Day Party

    This Americana Lei makes for great Memorial Day Party favors!

    Everyone gets together for Memorial Day – It’s what we do! We grill out, we set up the barbeque, we roll out cold drinks, we often go to the lake if we can… It’s a fun holiday where we get time off work, and there is usually a parade and a commemoration service to honor our veterans.  This Memorial Day, before or after prom this weekend, quiz your friends on how much they know about the Memorial Day holiday:

    1. What do bumblebees and the Air Force have in common?

    Answer: The Air Force used aerodynamics discovered during research on bumblebees on their F-117 fighter.

    2. Just because you “remember the Alamo,” doesn’t mean you know what the word means in Spanish. What does Alamo mean in Spanish?

    Answer: cottonwood

    3. Where was the first “official” observance of Memorial Day?

    Answer: Waterloo, NY

    4. While the first official Memorial Day celebrations began sometime in the 1860s, when was Memorial Day an “official” U.S. holiday?

    Answer: 1971 – yep, it’s fairly recent!

    5. Which U.S. State is closest to Bermuda?

    Answer: North Carolina

    6. Of all the “Founding Fathers” who signed the Declaration of Independence, how many of them went on to become U.S. Presidents? (Bonus if you can name them!)

    Answer: Two – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

    7. We know the famous line, but what was the actual first word spoken on the moon?

    Answer: Houston.

    “Houston. Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has Landed.” – Neil Armstrong’s first words back to base when his shuttle landed on the moon.

    8. On Memorial Day, is the flag raised to the top of the pole or kept at half staff?

    Answer: This is a trick question! The U.S. flag is supposed to be at half mast until  noon, and then raised to the top of the pole. Whoever gets this one right definitely deserves a prize.

    9. What time is the “National Moment of Remembrance” on Memorial Day?

    Answer: 3pm


    10. What state boasts the longest running Memorial Day Parade? And bonus points if you can name the town, too!

    Answer: Ironton, Ohio – it has been holding a Memorial Day parade every year since 1869.

    Now, when you start throwing out trivia questions left and right, it would be fun to sweeten the pot by offering an incentive to winning at trivia. However you decide to celebrate this Memorial Day, be sure to keep it fun while remembering the reasons behind the holiday.

    Five Classic Commencements and Why They Are Memorable

    Time Magazine published a list of their top 10 favorite commencement speeches; however, the question remains, what makes those speeches truly “great?”

    What is greatness, anyway? Commencement can be such a toss-up for so many. It’s a reward, an acknowledgement of achievement, whether from high school or college, it indicates a great work was accomplished and that those walking on the stage to receive diplomas are walking off the stage with the potential to achieve success.

    Amidst all the urgings for greatness, it seems that the answer to what it is is more often than not, implied. Some speeches are, unfortunately, less than memorable. The ones that are, though, seem to capture a few specific elements like keeping the time to under 18 minutes. The students want to walk across that stage, receive their diploma, and then go celebrate not being students anymore. After all, it is graduation. Also, speak slowly and articulately. A crowd is easily lost by a speaker they can’t understand.

    It’s not so easy, however, to convey or teach the other elements of a great commencement speech, like the one that is universal among the real classics: being completely and utterly yourself. Stephen Colbert and Ellen DeGeneres gave great ones, and never tried to pretend they weren’t comedians for their day job. Winston Churchill’s address was, indisputably, by Winston Churchill.

    Counting down the following five classic commencements and trying to understand what makes them so great, one other thing to pay attention to is that in each one, the speakers did something to startle those in the audience. Whether it was with an anecdote, a joke, or even coarse language, these addresses live in fame (and infamy) as some of the most commanding and impressive.

    5. Winston Churchill, Harrow School, 1941

    “Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”

    4. Jon Stewart, College of William and Mary, 2004

    “College is something you complete. Life is something you experience. So don’t worry about your grade, or the results or success. Success is defined in myriad ways, and you will find it, and people will no longer be grading you, but it will come from your own internal sense of decency which I imagine, after going through the program here, is quite strong…although I’m sure downloading illegal files…but, nah, that’s a different story.

    Love what you do. Get good at it. Competence is a rare commodity in this day and age. And let the chips fall where they may.”

    3. Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts at Philadelphia, 2012: Make Good Art

    “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

    Make good art.”

    2. John F. Kennedy, American University, 1963

    “So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

    1. Steve Jobs, Stanford College, 2005

    “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

    Why are these speeches so memorable? What makes them “great”?

    It’s simple, really: The speakers avoided cliches and told their audiences things that were important that were also things that they could believe.

    Four Star Decorating Tips for Military Balls

    There are few events that are both as formal and as fun as the military ball. Once a year, each branch of the military holds a formal gala where military personnel attend, decked out in their Class A’s or Dress Blues, with their spouse dressed to the 9s. Without a doubt, there is a lot of pomp and circumstance, and proper etiquette to accompany the customs and traditions of each branch and military post, but it is also a chance to unwind and celebrate all the hard work each service member does all year round. Many college and even high school ROTC and jROTC outfits also maintain the practice of holding a military ball, and while they mimic the etiquette of the formal military ball, there is also a little more wiggle room.

     The Big Entrance

    A garland of American flags flapping in the breeze instills a sense of awe and respect amongst the gaiety

    With an event this formal, the entrance is as important as the setting once the guests are inside. Make sure everyone’s arrival is memorable and invokes the honor and prestige of attendance. A flag garland outside the event location paves the way for the transformation just inside, with a formal coatroom and reception area tastefully illuminated with tissue paper lanterns and patriotic-themed columns of red, white, and blue, leading the way into the main event area.

    Set the Tables for Talking

    Lots of conversation happens across the table once the formal dinner has begun, so this is a time to avoid large, showy centerpieces and instead opt for elegant yet understated pieces.  Try several silver reflection centerpieces at each table. You can fill them with elegant red roses, or red, white, and blue flowers, or even flowers with the military unit’s guidon or post colors. Surround them with an assortment of candles, as the reflective surface of the centerpiece will work with the candles to create an illuminating and stunning effect for graceful and practical table décor.

    Keep the Occasion in Mind

    It’s fun to decorate and plan events, albeit quite stressful at times. You can find easy inspiration by thinking of the event as a 4th of July themed affair, but always be sure to match the patriotic fervor with an inspired eye for muted elegance. You don’t want to outshine the guests, and etiquette dictates that their outfits are not too loud, so pair the requisite classic fashion with subtle effects to plan a decorating scheme that will look like it was professionally planned. Create areas around the ballroom for conversation and networking with pairs or trios of luminescent columns.

    Light up the Night

    Finally, mirror the flickering elegance of the table pieces with easy-to-arrange lighting effects that would make even the most intricate of fireworks themselves become lit up with jealousy. Curtains lit with LEDs, placed behind various layers of gossamer in shades of royal blue, brilliant red, and pure, confident white, transform even the most drab event location into a tasteful, stylish, and premiere celebration of the hard work and dedication of military personnel.

    Following these decorating tips (and adding bits and pieces of your own insightful flair) will earn you your 4 stars and top honors with your gala, for sure.

    Capture the patriotic fervor of the 4th of July within the magic of the military ball

    Twenty Roaring Tips for Your Great Gatsby Event

    With The Great Gatsby promising to be the box office boom of the summer, why not plan a glamorous Gatsby-like event? The classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a staple in many high school reading curriculums, so nearly everyone knows the story of the “Great American Novel.” Plan your upcoming event to reflect the flourishing prosperity of the Roaring Twenties with these helpful hints and tips.

    Twenty Roaring Tips

    1. Set the scene for your Gatsby-like event with the proper decorations. Gold, black, and silver metallic gossamer will help you achieve the look of decadence that goes with the Roaring Twenties.
    2. Start on the right foot: send out Gatsby-themed invitations for your event!
    3. Take the invitations one step further: when your guests RSVP, ask for the number of guests that will be attending. Then send out personalized tickets for your Gatsby event—they’ll be able to keep the tickets as a fun souvenir!
    4. Always remember: No event is complete without balloons! To match your metallic gossamer and other metallic decorations, use metallic latex balloons.
    5. Make sure to have enough tableware and punch glasses on hand!
    6. Look for a punch bowl for your refreshment table that will fit in with your Roaring Twenties theme.
    7. Speakeasy signIf you have a refreshment table, hang a fun Speakeasy sign on it!
    8. Play music that fits the theme—big band jazz will be perfect for your Gatsby party!
    9. If your event is large enough to have a wait staff, have them dress like gangsters and flappers!
    10. Either request that your guests arrive in formal attire or in 20s fashion.
    11. It’s not a party without some dress-up time! Have black fedoras on hand for your gangster men and feather boas for your flapper ladies!
    12. Wearable party props are great, but what about props that your guests can take with them? Have funny money on hand, both for decorations and for souvenirs!
    13. When you put together your favor bags, don’t forget to choose favors that reflect the theme of the party—Art Deco compact mirrors are a great choice for your Gatsby event!Foil Gold Bar favor boxes
    14. If your event will involve kids, have a fun favor for them to play with—stacks of foil gold bars that double as favor boxes are a great way to keep kids occupied and entertained.
    15. Select other party favors that fit the theme of your event.
    16. As you put together favor bags, remember the personalized stickers, mint tins, and a variety of gold, silver, and black beads.
    17. If you hire a photographer, ask for them to dress in the attire of the era—it will get them involved in the fun and keep your theme going.
    18. Make sure your guests have fun—take a classic picture to remember the event and then also take a fun, 20s-themed picture.
    19. Make sure to include a personalized frame in the favor bags for your guests to display their memories.
    20. Finally, don’t forget to send out thank you notes!

    Eight Contest Ideas for After Prom

    All night at the prom students were dressed to the nines and hopefully on their 12pbagglibest behavior at such a formal event. After Prom is the time for students to let loose! It’s a great idea to have a number of contests for students to participate in at the After Prom. Make sure you have awesome prizes like gift certificates from local businesses, swag bags, or other prom favors.

    Costume Contest

    The dance is over and the dresses and tuxes have come off. But what will everyone wear to the After Prom? Make the decision easy for them and have a costume contest that fits with the After Prom theme. Most After Proms have a theme totally separate from the dance. It could be an 80’s theme where guests can wear their biggest hair and wildest makeup, or maybe a luau where guests show up in grass skirts and leis. Have a costume contest and award the best outfit that fits with the theme.

    Dance Contest

    Sure everyone has been dancing all night at the prom, but this is a contest that will see who the true dancers of the school really are. Since most people will be tired of dancing, see who can handle the pressure of dancing even more in some sort of dance-off. Either elect judges to determine who stays and who goes, or have cheers from the crowd determine the supreme dancing champion.

    Guess the Teacher Contest

    This is a fun contest for students and teachers. Have faculty and staff bring in pictures from their prom. Post them on the wall and number them. Throughout the night, allow students to look at the pictures and try and match each teacher to their photo. Close the contest down about 30 minutes before the end of After Prom to allow time to go through the entries. Whoever correctly matched the most wins! If there’s a tie, throw the names in a hat and pull out a winner.

    Prom Dress Contest

    Sure the girls spent hours and hours looking for the perfect dress, but what if they only had a few minutes… and toilet paper? Have a contest where groups of 3-4 are given a few rolls of toilet paper and they have to create a toilet paper prom dress on one of their group members. Have After Prom chaperones pick the winning dress.

    Hula Hoop Contest

    It might be right out of the 50’s, but sometimes there’s nothing more entertaining than a hula hoop contest! See who can last the longest, who can walk and hula hoop, who can hula hoop the fastest, etc. To make things even more entertaining, have teachers participate in this wacky contest.

    Karaoke Contest

    They’ve danced the night away, now let them sing! But don’t just have a regular karaoke contest, add some excitement to it! Consider having categories of music like rock, R&B, oldies, hip hop, and country. You might also want to award prizes based on other things like “Best Solo Male,” “Best Solo Female,” “Best Group,” and “Best Overall Performance.” The performances should have students and staff impressed with the talent or at least laughing at those who think they have it!

    Contest for Change

    This contest would involve some planning and advertising in the weeks leading up to prom. Have students collect change/coins from home and from people they know. Whoever brings the most change to After Prom is the winner. The great thing about this contest is that the money can go to a charity. Have a list of charitable organizations and let the winner decide where everyone’s change will go. (Note: make sure you deposit the change and give the charity a check.)

    Pie Eating Contest

    Everyone has looked so nice all night. It’s time to get messy! Pick up some pies from a local grocery store and see who can finish the quickest. You might want to divide the contest into girls and guys, or divide it by grade. Have a champion from each division and whoever finished in the quickest time overall is the ultimate pie-eating champion!

    A Night of Music – Event Decorating Ideas for Instrumental, Dance and Vocal Enthusiasts

    Greatful Dead drummer Mikey Hart once said, “There’s nothing like music to relieve the soul and uplift it.” And while music is certainly a beautiful thing for the ears to hear, it can also be an outstanding visual for A Night of Music. 12PKC1906Impress the instrumental, dance and vocal enthusiasts at your next event with these decorating ideas.

    General Music
    If your event guests are lovers of all things music, go with a general music theme sticking to the black and whites of the piano and sheet music. The Music of the Night Kit is a quick, easy, and elegant way to decorate for this theme. It includes eight different standees and columns perfect for a music theme. For your tables, consider marking where guests will sit with music place card holders. They look classy and double as a decoration on each table. If your event isn’t too fancy, you can’t go wrong with musical note balloons. Tie them to chairs or use as a table centerpiece.

    Music of the 50’s and 60’s
    12PDNGNMNA Night of Music doesn’t have to be black and white. If you focus on a specific decade of music, you can really go crazy with the color, especially if the event isn’t formal. Dangle some colorful music notes from the ceiling to help provide a bright, fun atmosphere. Hit up the local thrift store to see if you can find some old albums to toss on the tables as centerpieces, or purchase some plastic records to use. You might also want to hang some of them from the ceiling. Since it’s all about the music, decorate with lots and lots of music note silhouettes. And don’t forget the staple of this era- a jukebox!

    Jazz it Up
    Jazz lovers will be blown away by the decorations in the All That Jazz Kit. 2p428aCapturing the essence of the Roaring 20’s, this kit includes a city skyline, dancing couple standee, jazz guy standee, bandstand and a flapper girl silhouette. Make sure your decorations are flashy and fun, just like the jazz era was. Decorate with saxophones and other jazz-related instruments. Invite guests to wear 20’s attire like flapper dresses and gangster suits and they’ll be a great decoration in themselves!

    Piano Paradise
    The black and white keys of a piano make for a super classy decoration idea. Start by lining a wall with this 19-feet long piano keyboard standee. Cover tables in a bold color like red or yellow and then cover each one with a keyboard table runner. If possible, use a real piano as part of your decorations, and take things to the next level by having someone play it throughout the night. It will truly be a Piano Paradise with all the elegant piano keyboards around the room!

    Music is beautiful to the ears and the eyes. Make your next music event one to remember with one of these ideas for “A Night of Music.”