7 restaurant decoration ideas – make a splash without much cash

When you deal with thousands of customers a week, everything is on a BIG scale – and the decorations should be the same. If you want to make an impact, here are 7 ways to get tongues wagging and photos being taken (and shared).

100 balloons. Don’t waste money on helium to have them floating to the ceiling. It looks great, but the next day they’ll be sinking to the floor – all that money for only 24 hours. Instead, tie them onto strings, or a long ribbon. Blowing them up is a fun exercise for 3 or 4 people – stick to one or two colours, and the metallic gold or silver ones look very deluxe. They will last for a week, then remove – balloons are cheap.

BIG vase of flowers, preferably not like they have in a hotel foyer, but something more rustic – as if you grabbed 3 fabulous bunches from the markets. Here’s my collection of flowers in cafes, and you can see more of them on Instagram under #cafeflowers.

BIG decorations. Not Christmas decorations from the department store, but you’ll find them at specialty retail display shops – a giant red bow, massive red baubles or big red hearts for Valentines Day. Where you could use K-Mart decorations is filling big glass vases with shiny red or gold baubles – masses of one colour look great.

Old-fashioned Bunting. The coloured flags that were strung up for the village fairs of times gone by. Not plastic – go for the wonderful cotton ones from the Cotton Bunting Company. Buy several lengths, then roll them up to use again in a few months. The nautical flags are fun.

Fresh produce. Don’t hide all those bright red tomatoes, fresh lemons and shiny eggplants in the cool room. Put them in a big bowl on the counter or side table. Showing fresh is more believable than saying it.

Party lights. Strings of coloured lights are always available from a hardware, or the tiny white bud lights that we see everywhere at Christmas. For coloured lights, the cheap ones will make an impact, and if you can find them, brighter and bigger bulbs make a much bolder statement, especially in a big space. Same for bud lights – the K-Mart lights are OK in a small room, but brighter (and dearer) commercial ones will get the comments in a big courtyard or garden.

Chinese Paper Lanterns – they look wonderful illuminated, and are way beyond just being used in Chinese restaurants. Check the huge range at the Lantern Shop, and also buy the bulbs or strings of lights to illuminate them – can be very inexpensive. Ideal for an occasional splash, then fold them up for another six months.