Let me show you how I set up a perfect party table...

It’s me, Lou!
In this blog post, I want to share some of the things I have learned over the years. Things I have learned from creating parties for my three boys, for my friends kids, and also through creating set-ups in the office to show you how your parties can look. So, read on to learn the secrets that will ensure your party or event is the talk of the town, (or the classroom!)

The Styled Dessert Table
When you are throwing a party, one of the most gorgeous displays is a styled dessert table. This is actually so simple and is very, very effective.
Sunshine Parties Dessert Table Inspiration

As soon as I've chosen my theme I start to create a list of ideas in terms of decor and food.
So for example, with my little Ollie's 1st birthday, I had decided on a lumberjack theme. I logged onto Pinterest and searched for ideas relating to lumberjack and the outdoors. From there I got inspiration for the cake, the decor and accent colors. I used a lot of wood for the decor, chopped logs and greenery as well dots of red which you can see in the lantern, the plaid fabric and the red pick-up. So, get inspired then make a list of ideas. 

Once you have some ideas, take a look around your house and see what you already have that could be used for decor - boxes, platters, vases, a small table and tablecloths, cake stands, heirlooms - you get the idea!
There is absolutely no reason to go out and buy costly decor items, you can keep that budget right down by using what you have, or BORROW from friends. That is exactly what I do, if I don't have an item, I'll ask my friends or family first.
So, to keep a party set-up consistently coming in at under $100 I make sure I use what I already have, and keep the table small! You don't need to have too many different dishes - less CAN definitely be more sometimes!

Little Lumberjack Party Table Set-Up

For the Little Lumberjack Party table set-up shown above, I used logs from the wood pile, pine cones and plants from the garden, a hurricane lamp, copper bowl and wooden box I already had, toys from the boy's car collection, and candle and holder from the kitchen, as well as a tin pail and jug that were already around. In fact, everything BUT the printables and the actual food was something I already had lying around.

Dessert table set ups

Right, now, this is a secret for setting up your party table....Use the triangle set-up method!! Did you know there are three basic set-ups that you can follow to make gorgeous party tables?

Yup, you follow the invisible triangle rules!
You can create a visually-pleasing set-up by having one central focus to the table, that is higher and taller that the other items, and the remaining items descend from the center in height order, with the shortest items at the ends of the table.

Dessert table styling - triangle rule
Pop the triangle upside down! This set-up is created by having two items of display that are taller than the rest, and the display items then descend in height to a shorter, central focal item in the middle of the table.
Triangle rules for party table set ups
This set-up (below) gives the focus to a few different items. It is essentially the same as the single triangle rule, except you have duplicated it three times next to each other, into three smaller triangles.
Dessert table styling - triangle rules
A great set up if you have several beautiful items that all need attention, or if you are using a slightly larger main table. 

Try to keep the number of items (minus the centrepiece) to an odd number, as this creates a more visually pleasing table.

Following one of the triangle rules for your main table set-up simplifies everything for you, gives you a plan to work toward and makes sure your table set-up is cohesive and visually pleasing.

Once you know what platters and stands will be on your table, you can figure out what food you would like to put out, and where.

Setting up your party table decor

It's all part of the fun! Creating, planning and setting up your party table is a chance for you to show off your flair.  
Using color to create party set ups

Color is REALLY important, and really fun to work with. Using your theme as a basis, pick about three colors to work with. Depending on the theme, you can use two or three main colors, and then one or two accent colors.

If your table has a lot of pattern on it – whether it is the tablecloth, backdrop or the actual food and vases / platters, then try to use a lot of white as well, to stop it looking cluttered and confusing.

If you are not sure what colors you would like to go with, you can use this color wheel – pick any color from the color wheel and draw a straight line across and you will get a complimentary color that will look great with your original color. Your invite or theme should give you a central color to work from.

You can also choose two or three colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel for a really pretty effect.

Use the color wheel to create great party decor
Photography tips for parties

Let’s face it, we all love a good photo of our hard work! So, a few tips to make sure your photos show your party set-up in the best possible ‘light’!
  • If you use a tablecloth, make sure it is ironed! It seems trivial, but those ‘fold’lines seem to stand out in photos!
  • Good light makes EVERY difference to your photos! Try to set up your table in an area that is well-lit, with natural light if at all possible.
  • If your set-up is outside, the best time to take photographs is in the morning or the afternoon, as the direct light at mid-day is too harsh.
  • If your set-up is indoors, try to set-up near a window for some natural light, and switch your lights off when taking the photos. This is because artificial light tends to throw a nasty yellow tone to the final photos.
  • If you need to use a flash, it is best to bounce the flash off the ceiling or a wall if you can, as this will create a prettier, softer light for your photos.

Tips for photographing your party table

Deciding what food to serve at your party


Ok, we all know that the one sure-fire way to be considered the best in the west when it comes to parties.

Have G-R-E-A-T food. Now, before you run away screaming with the stress of it all, stop. Take a deep breath. We’ve got you covered.

When you are throwing a party, you have enough to think about. So, make life easy for yourself.  If you love cooking and baking, then by all means, whip up your favorite dishes and impress!

Think about the budget too - is it a saver to bake your own cakes and cupcakes? I think this depends on the size of your party - if it's quite a big one, it might save loads to bake yourself.

If buying is budget-friendly or makes life easier for you - make sure you put it on gorgeous platters with some fabulous food labels. It's the fabulous platters that are the secret - so don't use the store containers!

And if you want our tried and tasted, fool-proof recipe for cake or cupcakes, look no further. It comes out perfectly every time, guaranteed!

For chocolate cupcakes, use this recipe to make 12 chocolate cupcakes. Double up for a two layer cake.

For vanilla cupcakes, use this recipe to make 12 vanilla cupcakes, and again, double up your quantities for a two layer cake or more cupcakes.

And there you have it! Loads more of our Sunshine tips to make your party as special as you are!

Whew, it's been a wonderful journey with you! I love sharing my experience and the things I have learned, and really hope it has helped you out with your next party.

See ya later


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