DIY: (Classy) $1 Party Decorations

There's decorating for a party using items from dollar stores, and then there's decorating using the same items, but giving them some class.

All of this was under $10.

It's all about knowing what to watch for.

My favorite places for cheap items are Dollar Tree, Michaels, and the $1 aisle at Target (my personal favorite).

I keep a "party bin" with all of the items which can be used over and over, like glass vases, tins, and twine. And when I spot something I know I can use multiple times and for a variety of purposes, I grab them, like the white tin from Target for just a buck.

My all-time favorite vase filler is split peas. The green color is unique and as long as they don't get wet, you can use them over and over. They also work great under candles.

When you're picking flowers for a party, sure, you can get an elaborate, pre-made bouquet. Or, especially if it's an outdoor party, you can pick up a few bundles of brightly colored carnations and daisies for a buck each. Kroger usually has a sale bin with a nice selection of these. Carnations get a bad rap, but the stems are perfect for hanging bottle vases, they come in bright colors, they're a nice full flower, and they last for weeks. Even the sale ones! Don't knock carnations.

More flower tips:
1) Use short vases, like the white tin. Then cut the flowers so they create a nice dome just over the top of the rim. When the stems are shorter, the bouquet will look fuller.
2) Add greenery from your own yard. Snip of a few sprigs of green leaves from trees or bushes. Crepe myrtle leaves are some of my favorite, and my crepe myrtles always need to be trimmed! Two birds with one stone.
3) Look for full flowers. Gerber daisies are pretty, but creating a full arrangement on the cheap is a lot more difficult than with an easily packed flower.

My favorite way to display flowers?

Hanging in the trees, of course! Instead of throwing out (or, ahem, recycling) glass bottles, wash a few and tuck them away. I'm partial to clear ones, but beer/root beer bottles or other colored bottled work too. Tie a piece of twine around it and then hang them in the trees with one of two flowers in each. A really dramatic effect for pennies!

Scrapbook paper is a super cheap way to tailor your colors to the party theme or season. One 12x12 square page is usually between $0.25 and $0.50. Go when they're having a sale, and you can get an even better deal.

To make these pinwheels, cut the 12x12 squares down to about 8x12, which will leave you with a 4x12 piece you can make another smaller pinwheel with. Then fold the short end of the paper like an accordion. Fold in half, and put one staple in the center. Snip the edges at an angle. Then pull the ends together and secure with a piece of tape. The sticks are just bamboo skewers I already had for grilling. Tape one of those on the back.

Scrapbook paper: $0.25 each, Michaels
Glass vases: $1 each (3), Dollar Tree
White tins: $1 each (2), Target
Split peas (enough for 3 vases): $1.25, Kroger
Flowers: $1 each (2 bundles), Kroger
Twine, clear bottles, skewers, stapler and tape already on hand: free!

Grand total: $10

For other free ideas think -- repurpose! Here are a few tricks from recent parties.

Hand towels add pattern under drinks ~plus~ catch any drips.

Dollar store glass vases can also hold candles.

For a balanced display of food, add height. A box, upside down bowl or in this case, a hard plastic wreath storage case (seriously) covered in a scrap of fabric I had laying around make dishes in the back easier to reach.

Don't throw the top of the pineapple away! Use it in the center of a fruit dish to add height and visual interest.

Put battery powered tea lights in candle tins that can be hung in the trees or set on a table. If you remember to turn the lights off when the party is over, you can use them over and over (with no fear of starting a fire).

Pull out Christmas lights and drape them in the trees or over the porch. A beautiful effect at night.

Now go have a fantastic party on the cheap! :)


  1. I'm trying to make the paper pinwheels, but the paper won't reach around on both ends. Am I missing a step?

    1. Make sure the paper isn't any bigger than 8x12 and that you're folding the short end. Snipping the ends also makes a difference. Hope that helps! --Erin

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