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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party!


November 2011 

Let's party in later life article series...

This series looks at some of the more unusual ideas to help you celebrate with style and panache – at affordable price levels, of course!

To see the full list of articles see the main Celebrating in Later Life page

This month –  light up your celebration.

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith

When we are planning a special celebration, whether at a venue or in our own home, there are so many vital details to consider that often the lighting comes way down on the list.


Yet lighting can really alter the mood and feel of an event almost to the same level as the effect that can be achieved by music.

If you are planning on going to a restaurant or outside venue, do check the lighting. If you pre-visit it in daylight and you are planning an evening event, then ask for the lights to be turned on to check them first, or enquire what lighting is available. While most restaurants are good at providing suitable lighting, some are over lit and some can simply be so dark that you can’t even see what you are eating!

But while you can’t make major adjustments to the lighting in commercial restaurants, if you are hiring a room or a venue, or celebrating at home, you can bring in some wonderful effects.

Candles are the traditional way to light up special occasions, but they take up room and there is always a danger from real flame, especially in celebrations which become quite lively! Electrical lights can emulate candle power, and they can also come in many different forms and colours to provide a unique atmosphere appropriate for the event you are arranging.

Twinkling starlights strung across the ceiling can provide a stunning fairy atmosphere for either the main area or just across the ceiling or porch in the entrance, either inside or out, to offer a really warm welcome and set the scene.

Lights can be used to help create special themes; coloured lights can create wonderful warm walls in areas which otherwise can look cold and very unpartylike! Uplights are especially popular these days, throwing up gorgeous deep colours to saturate walls and ceilings. Multicolour lights are also great, flooding different areas of the room in different colours to add a vibrant fun look.

Paper lanterns, either in white or gentle colours, are becoming quite trendy now because they look wonderful and add a soft flattering light. But rather than real flame, they are electric and can even come with dimmer controls for adjustment.

If someone is going to stand up to make an announcement, whether just to thank your guests for coming or to start everyone singing happy birthday, a small spotlight can be useful just to draw everyone’s attention at the right moment. Plus of course, if you are hoping people will get up and dance, then disco lighting or special dance lights flooding down from the ceiling can be really effective and add an extra swing to the event.

If all this sounds a bit too much and too complicated – think again! Today there are numerous specialist companies that hire out party and event lighting and also provide an expert to come and set it up for you.

Safety with temporary lighting is of course key and it is important to use people who know what they are doing. Check the company is accredited to ISO 9001 Quality Standard and you can ask the suppliers to confirm that all their lights comply with the European Low voltage Directive 72/23/EEC and meet the outdoor IP44 and indoor IP20 standards.

On a smaller scale, you can buy ropes and special lights from good lighting and event shops, and they will come with clear directions.

At any special event, we all pay enormous attention to what we wear, what we eat and what we drink. By paying extra attention as well to the lighting, you can make a celebration even more wonderful.


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