How to get your house ready to party

Best In Class: Set the scene with disco lights, balloons, whiskey and more


Planning a party should be fun and a little bit of work and effort on the décor side really reaps rewards in terms of making it memorable. The first thing you need to do is create atmosphere and the easiest way to do this is to dim the lighting. This raises the endorphins, says London-based Joe Blackman who has thrown parties for the likes of 50 Cent, The Killers, Premier League footballers and royalty, and sold his premium events company, Collection 26, earlier this year for a seriously large, undisclosed sum.

Photograph: Joe Blackman
Photograph: Joe Blackman

His suggestions include buying plug-in dimmers for lamps and overhead lighting – you could also install rose pink bulbs to warm skin tones – and buying lighting gels online to cover overhead lighting in rooms. Invest in dancefloor lighting too, he says.

Search “disco lights” on YouTube and run this link – – on a laptop in a darkened room and you have an instant hit. It runs for 10 hours. This string of disco balls costs €15, ex delivery from Prezzybox.;

The fact that upmarket restaurants use candlelight tells us something. Candlelight is flattering. It softens our mood as well as our features. Rooms look better. Food looks better. Guests appear less tired and more beautiful. Plus it is romantic. You can fake it using battery operated tea lights or go for the larger-format real ones – M&S sell a great range that burn all night.

You can put these in old jam and chutney jars that, with the help of gardening wire, you can hang them from trees in the garden as well as set on tables and windowsills. Or, as Montenegro-based photographer Sonya Khegay has captured at this Moscow-based winter party, you can repurpose some of the many wine bottle empties left over from Christmas as candlesticks – simply spray paint them gold or the colour of your choice and you have a cost-effective accessory that can tone with your room décor.

Balloons are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to say P-A-R-T-Y. You can spell it out with letter balloons, be on trend with marble-effect and confetti-filled designs or opt for a whimsical hot air balloon decoration DIY kit, available on Etsy. Hang shimmering streamers from the walls or windows to create an even glitzier space and set trumpets on every surface to create some noise.

If you are ordering balloons from one of the many services available and hoping to collect them in your car be advised that the balloons can sometimes obscure the windscreen so bring a balloon wrangler with you. This Happy New Year balloon garland costs €10 from Dundrum-based Moss Cottage.;

Pop! Did someone say Champagne? While the modern thinking is to sip a glass of bubbly from a wine glass, nothing says “party” like a tower of coupe saucers.  Marks and Spencer sells a Bellagio two-pack for €27 while Ikea has a very affordable, silver screen siren-style, Storhet, that costs €1.50 per coupe.

Set on a grey tablecloth or on Ikea’s gold Glattis trays, €9 each, you can add some gold disc garlands, €13.50 each from Industry and Co, Drury, Street, Dublin for a subtle décor hint.

On the food front, whatever you decide to serve keep the clean-up to a minimum by using disposable paper plates and cups. Flying Tiger and Sostrene Grene do some lovely designs that feel far more special than the plain white options.;;;

Fan decorations, hung in groups from the ceiling using fishing wire and little screw-in hooks in contrasting colours can really add to the ambiance. This trio, in pink, black and blue, costs €5.11, ex delivery from UK-based Ginger Ray but keep your eyes peeled for similar styles of decoration in Sostrene Grene and Ikea.

Article Dublin has some lovely laser-cut honeycomb balls that would also add ambiance. These come in party colours gold, purple, pink, white and blue and cost €14 for a set of three, comprising a small, medium and large globe shape.;  

If you’re having a gang over for a sit-down dinner then dress not just the table but the entire room, from battery operated, winking fairy lights strewn over central pendants to candles set atop every surface to create a womb-like warmth to the space.

A linen tablecloth knits the room together. This limed oak table, the Balmoral, costs from €3,980 while the Suffolk chairs chairs cost €350 each from Neptune stockists nationwide.

If it’s going to be a quiet night in with just a couple of friends and fizz isn’t your thing then why not set a scene that is clutharach, the Irish for cosy, with a selection of your very own amber nectar whiskey. There is a palate-tickling selection of styles and brands to try so why not set up a small blind-tasting to see whose nose can sniff out one barrel-aged distillation from another.

This Islay decanter, which comes with a walnut base, and for which you can buy matching glasses, is a collection by LSA International, which is stocked at Arnotts and online at Cuckooland. It pays homage to a certain Scottish distillery but will look equally good filled with a Yellow or Green Spot, Redbreast or Midleton.;

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