Tonya Coleman here from Soireé Event Design and I’m back with this month’s Look For Less “Budget Chic” guest post where I share with you my tips on how you can have a fabulous, high-end looking event for less! Today’s post is all about how to get in on the party trend- Self Serve Party Bars without breaking the bank. Be sure to click over to my blog, “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Party Planning” to find out where I purchased everything!
Here, I was inspired by this high-end DESIGNER Sweet 16 “Mock-tini” BarI designed for a group of teens recently, to create The Look For Less: Self-Serve Ice Age Inspired Snowball Bar for tweens to celebrate the release of my daughter’s favorite movie: Ice Age Continental Drift!
Self serve bars can range from Drink Bars, Popcorn Bars, Candy Bars and Snack Bars to Craft, Activity and Favor Bars. The idea is to have an impressive looking table that does double duty to offer guests something to do. Remember, self-serve bars should be just that… self serve… so they must look fabulous, but also function well on it’s own.
4 EASY SELF SERVE DESIGN TIPS:
1. Make sure your bar’s decor and color palette matches the party’s theme
2. Keep the items your guests will use easily accessible and within reach
3. Place tall decor across the back of your table for the most visual impact
4. Add creative details to further accentuate your theme
Let’s see how I put these 4 easy design tips into use on the designer “Mock-tini” bar:
Tip #1: Make sure your bar’s decor and color palette match the party’s theme
The high-end bar design began with a crisp, modern color palette of bright white and turquoise which complemented the featured self-serve non-alcoholic Blue Curacao Mock-tini. The party’s theme was “Winter Wonderland” and used these same colors so it all tied in beautifully. I used a white fur blanket as the tablecloth to give the table a wintery texture and used a crystal tree centerpiece to bring in the sparkly ice feel.
Tip #2: Keep the items your guests will use easily accessible and within reach
Since the bar needs to be functional, place the items people will use within reach and use photo boxes to create multiple levels to maximize their accessibility. Here you see how all the usable items (glasses and drinks) are placed on the middle to front of the table. For a seamless look, use photo boxes that match your tablecloth’s color.
Tip #3: Place tall decor across the back of your table for the most visual impact
The back of the table is the best place to put your decor pieces so your guests won’t have to reach around your table’s decor to reach the items they need. I ALWAYS use a theme-appropriate, wow-factor centerpiece (like this crystal tree) and then place tall, complementary items on either side of it to create a stunning backdrop for the table. Here I used stemmed hurricanes in varying heights filled with sparkly blue gems to fill out the back of the table.
Tip #4: Add creative details to further accentuate your theme
It’s all in the details! Details are what guests remember and are where you can really get creative! Here I added sparkly rock candy to the bar which provided another opportunity to add an icy looking element while giving guests a sweet treat. I also made sure to rim the glasses with sparkly blue crystal sprinkles.
My daughter is an Ice Age movie fan and when setting up this Sweet 16 “Mock-tini” bar, she mentioned how it reminded her of Ice Age, so it set my wheels turning on how to create a budget-friendly version of this that would be appropriate for kids her age. Keep in mind that food or drink self-serve bars do not work well with very young kids. They work really well with tweens, because they feel so grown up!
BUDGET CHIC self-serve bar TIPS:
Budget Chic Tip #1: Choose a self-serve bar that uses low-cost ingredients or supplies
Snowballs are very inexpensive… just ice and syrup… and ice you can make at home… so that is free. The syrups come in lots of cool colors & flavors so you can match this bar to many different themes. Here we used the blue raspberry flavor that matched our blue color perfectly. The ice shaver machine is budget-friendly and so easy to use. Set out all the supplies the kids need to make these on their own. They LOVE doing this by themselves. All you have to do is replenish the ice. I would suggest incorporating this bar in a pool party theme with the same colors. Imagine how cool this bar would look poolside with the sparkle of the blue water in the background with white beach balls (looking like snowballs) floating in the water… SO cool!
Budget Chic Tip #2: Use low-cost containers that look high end
The blue footed bowls look like glass, but are actually plastic and add a touch of chic to the table while only costing $1 each. I could have easily used paper cones or disposable cups, but it wouldn’t be “budget chic!” In addition, the glass cylinders and bowls used on the table were also just $1 each.
I totally lucked out, and I must admit I did squeal out loud, when I found these white snowball cakes in Walmart! They matched my theme and color palette perfectly and only cost $4 for 12 of them! I showcased these on a multi-tiered cupcake stand filled with blue gems and topped it off with Manny from Ice Age for a tall, kid-friendly wow-factor centerpiece. To pull in the blue color I used a satin tablecloth that I didn’t even bother to iron as the wrinkles gave the table the look of rippled water… YAY!… total time saver!
Budget Chic Tip #3: Use budget friendly decor elements in large quantities for maximum visual impact
Take clear glass containers or vases you already have around your home or buy inexpensive ones like I did here, fill them with water, place a few drops of food coloring in the water to match your color palette and you have easy and budget chic table decor for next to nothing! You can use food coloring to create any color. 4 colors come in a box that you can then mix together to make any color of the rainbow! Use more for a bright intense color and less to create lighter shades like turquoise or light pink. I use this tip ALL THE TIME! To purchase colored glass vases to match your party’s decor for every event would cost a fortune, so using colored water in clear glass containers is the budget chic alternative! Keep on hand one set of clear glass containers and a box of food coloring and you’re all set for any party theme!
I also used lots of budget friendly white marshmallows in my table’s decor for maximum impact. Their white color, fluffy texture and round shape is perfect to simulate snowballs! And to maximize their impact, I suggest using ALOT of them! At only $1 a bag, you can really get a lot of design bang for your buck!
Budget Chic Tip #4: Spend the bulk of your budget on items you will use again
The two most expensive items were the ice shaver machine and the cupcake stand. Who won’t use an ice shaver machine again? You can use it all summer long for adult parties to create shaved ice for many frozen cocktails too. The cupcake stand is a party staple! Anything looks fabulous displayed on these! You’ve saved so much money on the other decor elements of the bar that you should definately invest in this. I use mine in almost every party I do.
Speaking of saving money… Let’s see how much each table cost:
Designer “Mock-tini” Bar: $310
– Fur blanket $70
– Stemmed Hurricanes (2 large) $40
– Stemmed Hurricanes (2 small) $32
– Crystal Tree $80
– Blue gems (12 packs) $12
– Drink Carafe/Decanter $20
– Rock Candy Sticks (12) $12
– Glass Bowl $1
– White Photo Boxes (2) $4
– Silver Bar Tray $27
– 4 Margarita glasses $4
– 8 Wine glasses $8
“Budget Chic” Snowball Bar: $120
– Snowcone maker $20
– Snowcone Syrup 1 quart (Blue Raspberry) $9
– Blue footed bowls (12) $12
– White Snowball Cakes (12/pack) $4
– Glass Cylinders (2) $2
– Glass Bowls (2) $2
– Marshmallows (5 bags) $5
– Satin Tablecloth $10
– 5-Tier cupcake stand $27
– Blue rocks (8 packs) $8
– Floating Candles (2) $2
– White Photo Boxes (2) $4
– Manny Plush toy $15
– Food coloring $1
I hope this has inspired you to setup a “Budget Chic” Snowball Bar or a Designer “Mock-tini” Bar for your next event! Follow my easy 4 Design tips and 4 Budget Chic tips and you can have a fabulous Self-Serve Bar at your next event for less! Want to know where I got all the items? Save yourself time and hours of research and click here to my blog, “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Party Planning” where I tell you where I got everything complete with online links and I share with you the recipes to make some babulous “MOCK-TINI” drinks for your next teen party!
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– Event Styling & Design and Photography: Soiree Event Design