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Home Entertaining Part I/V: Décor

You already know the rudiments of entertaining: asking about allergies, pre-cooked dishes, lots of wine to get the conversation going. Now up your hosting game with these advanced tips from event planners, society doyens and industry pros.

THE EXPERTS
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THIRD-TIME LUCKY
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. To get peonies in the perfect shade of pink to fill the Marina Bay Sands boutique of diamond specialist Leviev, Evelyn Yo, who was director of marketing and communications for KOP Group then, visited three florists thrice in a week. Some florists with cold rooms for imported flowers include the Fresh Flowers Centre at Far East Flora and Ji Mei Flower, both in Thomson Road.

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BRIGHT IDEA
You’ve got the flowers, the thematic decorative items, even the right ambient music – but it still feels wrong. Melissa Wang, the creative director of Shop Wonderland (www.shopwonderland.com), sheds light, literally: “Ensure that the lighting is suitable for the decor intended. For example, the true colours of your decoration or flower arrangements might not show under warm light.” Keep in mind that different lights highlight different hues. For example, the light from soft white bulbs brings out reddish and yellow hues, while that from daylight bulbs provides a truer representation of colour.

FLY BY
Sometimes, it is all about going big or going home. Lynn Yeow, one of the directors of Ate Group which has organised events for brands such as Hermes, Cartier and Audemars Piguet, once brought in a private jet within 24 hours – to use as a backdrop. “It was for Vertu and we worked with Asia Aviation Company (www.asiaaviationcompany.com). The jet was brought into MAJ Aviation Hangar as a prop and backdrop for guests to take pictures against, and the jet was also used as a reception area where champagne was served while the guests “checked in” after being dropped off at a red carpet leading to the jet by private limousines.” Apart from Asia Aviation Company, Yeow also works with Go-Jets (www.gojetairlines.com) for private jets.

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YOURS TRULY
“Personalised take-home gifts make guests feel special, even after the event,” says Wang. For smaller parties, consider monogrammed gifts; for larger events, it could be take-home dessert with a handwritten tag.

MASS APPEAL
Thinking big also applies when it comes to small decorative items. Clustering small items together – such as mason jars or plain vases – can create a big visual impact. Also think big when choosing foliage for your flower arrangement – rather than dainty leaves, pick lush, large leaves that can add height and volume.

THINK OUT OF THE BOX
Source outside of Singapore, if you have the time. For her company’s most challenging event, which was to style the entire premises of Capella Singapore in a ’50s coastal look for a three-day event, Wang travelled to China to purchase vases, table lamps, ornaments, table linens and cushions in bulk. “This took two to three months of planning and days of execution, but the most challenging part was to source for every item in the same style and colour scheme.” On a smaller scale, Yo sourced silk fans from Wiracan Handfan (www.wiracanahandfan.com) – a Balinese fan specialist of international repute – as gifts for guests attending her garden wedding.

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PRACTICALLY SPEAKING
Pick a manageable theme that suits your budget. A beach-themed party can easily be given pizazz through clever use of affordable props such as beach balls and even palm leaves, but a Vegas-themed night which requires a mini casino set-up might call for professional services. Wang also recommends that party planners plan decoration with functionality in mind. So, in the case of the beach party, rather than buying a surfboard which would sit in the storeroom after the party, why not spend it on sarongs and Hawaiian shirts to let your guests wear? These could also double as keepsakes for them.

PRESSED TO IMPRESS
Up the ante with letter-pressed menu cards. Order them in bulk with basic details such as your name or a favourite saying, and simply write the day’s menu on it, together with the guest’s name, so that it also serves as a place card.

DOUBLE DUTY
Amazing decoration also can be practical. For a Moschino Cheap and Chic event, Alghani Soepono, a marketing and communications specialist in the fashion industry, brought in crates of fruit to create the look of a marketplace – and gave the edible decoration away to guests.

FLOWER POWER
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“Flowers are not exactly cheap in Singapore, because most varieties are imported,” highlights Jaclyn Lim, founder & florist of Bloomroom.sg.
Here are some professional tips on how to wow with blooms – without spending an obscene amount.

MIX IT UP
Mix expensive flowers like dahlias and hydrangeas with more affordable blooms like eustomas and spray carnations to achieve the desired effect.

ODD, NOT EVEN
Avoid using an even number of stalks because the arrangement can end up overly symmetrical. Using three or five stalks of each variety can be a great way to create a livelier bouquet.

CHOOSE YOUR VASE WISELY
Many people have flared vases at home, yet they’re surprisingly difficult to arrange flowers in. You will require more flowers to fill the larger mouth and prevent having gaps in the arrangement. For beginners, opt for vases with a smaller mouth, such as column vases.

HELLO, GOOD LOOKING
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HYDRANGEAS
Hydrangeas look like cotton candy, with a single stem holding many clusters of florets. They fill up space in an arrangement extremely well and you’d need about three stalks to fill up a standard cylindrical glass vase. They can also be used as a base of an arrangement: just feed other filler flowers through the florets.

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LILIES
Just a few stalks of lilies can create a dramatic impact in a room. They come in different colours and varieties, like Oriental lilies and white longiflorum lilies, so you’d never get bored. However, do note that its pollen can cause allergies in some people, and is toxic to cats.

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ORCHIDS
Perfect for our tropical climate, orchids also look great on their own – you don’t need to add other flowers to complete the arrangement. A mix of dendrobiums in different colours can look quite vibrant for the dining table. If you have a larger space, cymbidiums and phalaenopsis are suitable.

(photo credit: www.makercrate.com)

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