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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party!

February 2013

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

Let’s party - Say it with flowers

Whatever the event or occasion, flowers add atmosphere and charm.

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith



Today the variety of flowers one can obtain throughout the year is astounding, and it doesn’t cost a fortune to select some colourful flowers and arrange a wonderful display yourself. But flowers can do a lot more than just sit in a vase on a side table, and with a bit of thought and careful planning, you can really lift a party with the use of beautiful floral displays.



For formal occasions, it is worth talking to a professional florist who can come up with stunning arrangements to suit the event, often including additional aspects like ribbons and balloons as well as all the vases and ties needed.

Even if you don’t want to employ their services, it is still worthwhile talking to a local florist who may be able to suggest some specific flowers or arrangements that would work well for your event.

If you are organising it all yourself, then there are a few good tips for using flowers to enhance a party:

  • Size is important. For dinner parties, if you are all sitting down at a table small floral arrangements really help to make the table look welcoming. However, too tall or ambitious arrangements can be a disaster as people have to peer round the flowers to try to talk; or have to crowd up their plates and glasses because the wide vases simply take up too much room. Ensure the size of the display is appropriate.

  • Think about theming a party with flowers. If you have an idea for a mood or a theme, flowers can be used as the basis to create the right setting. Asian themes can work wonderfully well with the use of bamboos and orchids, or stunning tropical flowers like bird of paradise or heliconia. For an anniversary party, romance is usually depicted in deep red roses. However, to make the most of them, you need to balance the display with greenery. There are lots of good examples online on how to display red roses.

  • Use petals. Sprinkling gorgeous flower petals around a table with food or snacks on is still popular, but how much better to also sprinkle a few along the sides of the room where people won’t be walking; or up the side of the entrance hallway as an additional welcome.

  • Hire a display. Dramatic plants and foliage can transform a room or patio. Numerous nurseries across the country hire items for one off parties as well as for bigger events such as weddings. Costs will vary but in some cases, if you are willing to collect the items yourself, the costs can come right down. Topiary trees and indoor palms are especially popular for parties.

  • Unusual areas. Think about placing flowers in unusual areas such as the bathroom or kitchen if there is room. These can widen the party mood and create a pleasant atmosphere in areas that can otherwise appear cold and uninviting after the warm party mood in the main room.

  • Safety. Flowers are lovely, but it is vital to check the containers if you are inviting a lot of people into your home or a hired area. Some modern vases are made with very thin glass that can really shatter when knocked over; others are designed for short flowers and overloading them with longer blooms can make them unstable. Spilt water on the floor can be slippery and dangerous for guests. Some floor plant containers can have sharp corners which can be fine in normal living but can become dangerous in an overcrowded room.

  • Create an unusual garnish. Single flowers can be added to the edge of serving dishes or even used as garnishes on certain foods, not to be eaten but to give a lovely professional finish to a dish. You might prefer to use edible flowers - there are lots of colourful flowers that are safe to eat. You can research this easily on line.

  • Farewell posies. For certain occasions, it can be a perfect finish to offer departing guests a little posy of flowers as a farewell. A bit like a grown up party bag, it can make guests feel very special and be a wonderful finishing touch to a party.

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