Party lighting is the unsung hero of any big event or celebration. It plays a vital role in setting the mood.
Brighter lights and color sets a cheerful mood and encourages activity – while lower levels of light are more suited to making your guests feel relaxed and at home.
From subtle to all-out, here are 5 ways to create absolutely stunning party lighting.
Welcoming and warm party lighting
For a low-key event like a dinner party with friends – gently does it. But that doesn’t mean party lighting has no place at these events. It just needs to hold back a bit.
If you’re on a budget, or it’s simply not practical to load lots of specialist lighting into your venue (for example, if it’s your home) – don’t worry.
There are plenty of ways to tweak normal lights to become party lighting.
Using table lamps with dark or colored shades can help to dim things down. Choose low-wattage bulbs to go a little darker.
Generally, we’d say turn off the overhead lights. But if you have a dimming switch for your ceiling lamps, even those will do. And if you can host the party in a room which gets lots of natural light, do so and dim the lights inside right down. Natural light is a lot less harsh than artificial.
If it’s a hot day and you’re planning for the party to be outside, you may not want the hassle of wiring up the yard with lots of bulbs. Fair enough. Maybe you’ll consider putting in a fire pit for a warm evening glow?
Another low-tech and low-cost solution for innovative party lighting is to to use candles. They are beautiful when set together in large groups.
You can do so many things with candles besides the obvious choices of table displays and patterns. In fact, there are pretty much limitless possibilities, as a quick online search will reveal.
They can be suspended to dangle from flowers or trees, creating a really magical feeling. Or you can float them in small pools of water where they’ll move around slowly over the course of the evening.
One word of warning: aromatic candles may be soothing while you’re in the bathtub, but we don’t really recommend using them at a party where there’s lots of food and drink around.
Because our senses of taste and smell are interlinked, the scent can affect appetites and the flavor of the food. So if you’re using candles at the dinner table, make sure they’re unscented.
On the dance floor
Dancing is great for everybody. If you’re up for a boogie, forget the candles. Here’s something more lively.
There are lots of different types of lighting used on the dance floor, from basic LED spotlights through to lasers and UV lights.
Scanners are a type of spotlight which are frequently used in nightclubs – they can rotate, swing on their axes, and be linked together to work in synchronicity.
Disco lights are a retro but very fun party lighting choice. They’re pretty much guaranteed to get guests in a good mood.
UV lights can look stunning if you’re really going big – offer your guests UV paint to daub on themselves before the music kicks off.
To personalize things, you can get lighting filters which will project a desired design onto the wall or floor, which might work well at a wedding or a business event.
Whatever you choose, make sure the lighting captures the same energy as the type of music you’re going to be playing. You don’t want to send mixed messages to people getting in the mood to dance.
Party lighting patterns
The way lights are hung or arranged can drastically affect the overall feel of a display regardless of setting.
Dangling rows of lights can be used inside or outside to create a simple but beautiful canopy. You can buy LED strip lights and strung-up bulbs which can be draped over objects or dangled from the ceiling (or from elsewhere) in all sorts of interesting ways.
Again, a quick search will provide a huge number of inspirational ideas!
You can also use the patterns of natural forms, such as rocks or trees as guides for your bulbs. Set rows of lights along the edges to illuminate their shape. Rather than using big bulbs, try using something smaller so it doesn’t become uncomfortably bright – a subtle approach is best.
If it’s Christmas time, why not let loose the festive cheer with rows of lights on your yule logs or spiraling coils of them into Christmas wreaths?
Fairy lights are the obvious choice here. But we like plain white bulbs for this, as they’re not too over the top, and work to highlight the decorations rather than overpower them.
Feel free to keep those colorful fairy lights on the tree.
Enhance your design with mirrors and glass
Mirrored and glass elements used within your lighting design can reflect and refract the light source beautifully.
Think about glass chandeliers for an elegant style, or consider outdoors glass lanterns for rustic chic. Or simply think hard about the style of glass lampshades you want to use for traditional bulbs!
Mirrors can also look amazing as a reflective backdrop to an intricate lighting display.
They won’t double the amount of light in a room but will increase the impact of the lighting. They also make rooms feel more spacious, giving your lighting the extra room it needs to really leave a lasting impression on your guests.
Just make sure the mirror is perfectly aligned with the wall, or it may give the impression that the room is slanting. You don’t want your guests to feel sea-sick halfway through the evening.
What will your lighting look like?
We hope that you’ve found these party lighting ideas inspiring. We know we’ve picked up some ideas for our next parties!
Be adventurous and find yourself a lighting set up that works for your party and your venue. It’s completely up to you.