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High vs. Low: A Tale of Two Parties

I throw elaborate parties mostly because I enjoy it, but there are certainly times that I prefer less planning and quicker setup. That means a couple hours, tops, to accomplish everything from the baking and food prep to the decorating. In the Summer 2012 issue of Festivities Magazine, I thought it would be fun to style two parties with the same theme—one thrown together pretty quickly and one fully planned out and executed. The theme for both parties was “Pancakes and Pajamas,” with a hot pink and orange color palette.


A low effort party is about speed—buying items that fill a large design space easily is important. Here, balloons filled the visual field on our buffet, and on the table, bright colored plastic plates and napkins against a wrapping paper tablecloth made a statement and a focal point.

In the interest of time, most of the food was store bought and then dressed up a bit with printables or a fancy serving container, such as popcorn boxes for the cereal. This whole display was shopped for and set up in a few hours; you can see the rest of the photos from this low effort party in the project gallery.


Creating a more high effort party is about upgrading and adding more layers to the decor and spending more time on detail work. The table setting in the high effort party was made of layers of linens and brightly colored serving trays. Floral arrangements also helped polish the party.

More time was spent on desserts. “Bunny Slipper Bon Bons” were made from chocolate-dipped two-bite brownies rolled in coconut. This dessert buffet held mostly handmade items instead of treats from the store, which added another fun layer of detail. The serving presentation was also a little fancier. Instead of boxes for the cereal, I used scrapbook paper wrapped push pops, and I placed cut fruit in saucer champagne glasses. I also lined plates and ribboned stands for a bigger design impact.

Both parties were fantastic—so whether you have a lot of time or a little, you can always put together a fabulous party.

Adele Lamb

Saturday 1st of September 2012

This just shows that how little or how big the effort you spend on any party does not matter when you have the knack for decorating and putting nice elements together. The party's gonna come out fun and lovely no matter what.

Paula @ Frog Prince Paperie

Monday 27th of August 2012

That's the great thing about these parties--the low really did only take about 3 hours (including shopping) to pull off. The food was store-bought and I used materials (like white serving platters) everyone probably has on hand. The balloons really pulled everything together, and at a dollar a piece, they were well worth the investment!

Fabie Natashinov

Monday 27th of August 2012

Those bunny slipper bonbons are so cute! I bet making those alone require some amount of effort. But really, both parties look really great.


Sunday 26th of August 2012

Like what Karen said, is the first one really a low-effort party? I can go much lower than that and it really shows. LOL.

RookieMom Heather

Thursday 23rd of August 2012

I like what you're doing here, but I am sad to say, even the "low" effort party looks "high" to me.