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Oct 13, 2017 9:50pm

Julia Usher baking in her home kitchen
Blog Recipes and Tips From Julia Usher

Bling in the New Year

Tick tock. Tick tock. Before you know it, this year will be a distant point in history. If you’re spinning your wheels on New Year’s resolutions or otherwise counting the passing of time, I urge you to stop. The few remaining hours of the year would be better spent throwing a blow-out party - one rich with friends, food, and memories that will last a lifetime! The satisfied smiles on guests’ faces will make the event planning worth it. Plus, as you’ll see in my New Year’s bash that follows, a priceless party doesn’t have to carry a huge price tag.

Having doubts? Let me assure you, it’s very possible to “bling” in the New Year with abundance and style even if you’re working with a shoestring budget and a tight schedule.

Successful blinging boils down to nothing more than a few high-return investments in small details. Here are some of my favorite tips for getting the biggest bang for the buck this New Year.

1 | Turn rags into riches.

Create a sense of wealth by generously layering your tabletop with a mishmash of linens and inexpensive china. Even flea market-finds can look luxe if arranged in eye-catching vignettes and at varying elevations (top photo). When “excess” is your design mantra, remember one thing, though: it’s best to stick to a single or dual color scheme, such as the soft green and metallics that I’ve used here. As colors start to multiply, watch out! Planned excess can quickly turn into unsightly mess.

2 | Put on the glitz.

More on color scheme: metallics are a safe bet, as they convey glitz and glamour with each and every sparkle. (Jewel tones also ooze luxury and make a wise pick.) Once you’ve homed in on your scheme, carry it through to the details for maximum wow-effect. As I’ve shown here (second photo from top), everything from the invitations to the china and utensils merits a splash. Side note: Once again, I’ve used a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs to stretch my silvery serviceware. Look closely, and you’ll see that my spoons don’t match!

3 | Forego flowers and costly centerpieces.

Comb your cabinets to see what else you can use as the focal point on your table. Get creative. Oftentimes, unexpected combinations are the most exciting. For this party, I spraypainted ordinary twigs (gold to fit my scheme, of course) and then hotglued rock sugar candy (leftover from a tea party) and spare chandelier crystals on top. Gold ornaments, not yet packed up from Christmas, were tucked into spare spots for extra glimmer. Now that’s pizzazz - and at zero incremental cost! (See third photo from top.)

4 | Dress up your displays.

And better yet, in inexpensive ways! Why stick to conventional plates when food can look all the more alluring atop an intriguing substitute? Again, comb your cabinets and maintain an open mind. For instance, who would have guessed that my collection of old star-shaped bobeche could double as a cookie tray (second photo from bottom)?

5 | Regale your guests . . .

. . . with striking gifts! The surest way to create a lasting impression, and to make guests feel special, is to go all-out with the party favors. But take a deep breath. “All-out” doesn’t mean “costly”; in my dictionary, it simply means “crafted with love and care.” Here (bottom photo), I’ve used inexpensive costume jewelry as the bling on gilded papers. The result: one-of-a-kind wraps. Heck, no one will care what’s inside when the gifts are too pretty to open, right?!

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