Jackie Horne, caterer, entrepreneur and former Auburn University professor, is in the process of decorating two tables for Easter dinner.
“Last year we decorated one table very traditional with pink flowers on the centerpiece and antique china,” she said. “The other was whimsical with a wagon, bird cage, butterflies and bunnies. We had a collection of handmade papier-mache bunnies on the mantel.”
Horne has collected many staple pieces through her gatherings, but because decorating can be expensive she suggests shopping on days close to the holiday.
“For someone starting out, shop the decorator and hobby stores, but do it just before the holiday and save it for next year,” Horne said. “Often seasonal decorations are half-price or less at that time. We have also had luck with props from dollar-type stores.”
Elizabeth Snipes, first year pharmacy student, gets her decorating ideas online and picks up the majority of her decor and staple pieces at Hobby Lobby.
“Pinterest is full of cute ideas for holiday decorations,” Snipes said. “The website also has a lot of budget-friendly options.”
This year, Horne said she will be using fresh flowers to bring in the Easter spirit.
“We are hoping for blue hydrangea because my color palette on both tables this year is blue,” Horne said.
Snipes said she prefers lilies as a centerpiece for her holiday decor.
“Something colorful and pastel-like makes a room cheery for Easter,” she said.
Placing fun foods on the table can be a way to involve guests in your decor. Gigi’s Cupcakes in Auburn offers a fun, edible option to serve for Easter dinner table ornaments.
Nichole Sinas, baker and decorator at Gigi’s, said she’s prepared several special order boxes for dinner parties.
“Our menu changes every day, but in our Easter box one cupcake is decorated with a little bird’s nest and one has bunny ears,” she said.
Once a theme has been decided, allocating enough time to decorate is the next task.
“If you are just doing tables, that can be done in a couple of hours,” Horne said. “Doing the whole house around a theme takes a couple of hours in itself. For Easter, I routinely do three tables—two for dining—and the tables take an hour or so each.”
For college students living in a small space, Horne suggests allowing an hour or two for setup.
“For an apartment, two or three decorations will usually set the stage pretty well,” she said.
Snipes said college students should focus more on the overall look and feel of the entertainment space than on specific pieces.
“It doesn’t have to be expensive to look cute,” she said.
For a decor that can last year-round, Horne suggests picking a favorite color and then building around it.
“Just keep it simple,” she said. “You can swap compatible napkins and place mats and drastically change the table appearance without changing anything else. Fresh flowers are great, and they will change depending on availability and season.”
Horne offers a final piece of advice: “Focus on the people first, the food second, the significance of the event third and fourth on the decor. If people feel that they are special and welcome, they will have a good time and remember your event for years to come.
“And never forget: the idea is to enjoy. Don’t get so wrapped up in trying to impress people that you lose sight of the reason for the gathering.”