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How to Decorate for Your Next Party in 15 Minutes or Less

You have guests coming in how many minutes? Okay, don't panic. If you need to get your space ready for a party in 15 minutes or less, you're in luck. Play your cards right and you'll look like you spent all day getting ready. Here's how.

  1. Clean it Up: Time for a speed clean. Clear away the clutter, wipe down the toilet, and throw any dirty pots and pans into the oven for safekeeping. Have a spouse or kids? This is a great job to delegate while you work on getting the rest of your decorations in order.
  1. Flowers in Vase: Fast, simple, and classic. Pick flowers, put them in a vase. Repeat until you're satisfied. Place your vases in strategic locations for a bit of freshness and a pop of color.
  1. Herbaceous Accents: Have some mint growing in your backyard? Keep a pot of basil on your windowsill? Great! Collect some clippings and tie them to vases, glasses, candle holders, or anything else you can find. Trust us: Martha Stewart would approve.
  1. Basket Case: Baskets make decorating easy. Grab a few small baskets and fill them with fruit, hard-shelled vegetables, or seasonally-appropriate knick knacks. Use them as a centerpiece or set them out around your entertaining area.
  1. Balloons: No, we're not kidding. If you're hosting for someone young (or young at heart), blow up a few balloons. Cluster them together around doorways for a makeshift balloon arch, or give them to your guests to toss around. With the right crowd they'll be the only decorations you'll need.
  1. Light a Candle: It's easy to focus on the visual when decorating, but what your guests smell will have just as much of an impact on their experience. Light a scented candle or two as early as possible to ward off stale odors and create a fragrant ambiance.
  1. Think about lighting: Lighting will play a huge role in your party's mood. Turn down the lights for a more intimate, cozy gathering. Bonus: if your guests can't see, they won't notice the lack of other decorations.
  1. Put Your Guests to Work: Pretend you purposefully chose not to decorate. Let your guests do the work by putting out markers and paper cups. They can decorate their own drinking vessels, bringing some visual interest to the party and giving you a chance to sneak away and wipe down the bathroom counter.
  1. Bring out the Nice Stuff: If all out fails, bring out the nice dishes and glasses. Using high quality serving platters will give your presentation a little extra oomph. Use unbreakable cups to give your guests the feeling of drinking from glass without the risk of shattering.

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