How to Decorate An Event With Flowers Without Spending A Million Dollars on Something That Dies in Four Days


The only new things I purchased for the most recent Barn Event were flowers and plants.

These are all pretend flowers, I’m under no illusions that I’m fooling anyone.

But, I do have some secret weapons when it comes to adding flowers to a gathering or event…

girl time

For years I’ve avoided pretend flowers. Normally, if I have a party in my house, I only need one or two big bouquets of flowers, but in 800 square foot Barn with 20 foot ceilings, one or two bouquets get lost–it’s just not enough. And since I’m not decorating for a fancy wedding, but simply trying to make my barn look pretty for 20 women on a random Saturday, I can’t invest in bushels of fresh-cut flowers.

So I used both real and pretend flowers and real and pretend greenery. I save the real stuff for the coffee tables and the places where people will be up close to the flowers…

flower antler

Pretend flowers on the antlers because they sit high above the sofa…

the barn


real flowers on the table here on the right. Back there in the ceramic boots are dried pussy willows, dried eucalyptus a fake hydrangea and fake greenery. Since it’s out-of-the-way and just needed color, I opted for pretend. In a perfect world where flowers were free, of course I’d line the walls with the real stuff.

decorate for an event


Here you can see some fake greenery in the round vase, real live cut tulips in the pink vase, and in the distance, my other secret weapon…

foxglove how to decorate an event with flowers


Potted perennials.

This is Foxglove. I bought four huge foxglove plants because they have a massive impact and, once the event is over, I can plant them outside next to my office and they’ll come back every year. A great use of a $15 plant. Seriously, these four plants transformed the space, when I removed them to water them the day before the event, the Barn looked sad, nekkid and lifeless.

Make sure your event has enough greens. It’s another simple trap we fall into–like the biggest decorating mistake we all make--we can get so caught up in themey decorations that we forget the lush, gorgeous impact that flowers can add to every occasion.

For your next event, or gathering focus on large impact pieces first (one large-scale focal wall, a huge interesting use of twinkle lights more examples here) and then add in your greens–THEN see what else is needed–you might find you need a lot less stuff than you imagined.



By using a combination of pretend flowers, planted perennials and cut flowers, I had a beautifully decorated space and flowers I can enjoy again.


And don’t forget, if you need more greens (you do) bring in plants from the house–I borrowed this succulent on the far right from my office just to add in even more natural color.


How to Decorate for any Party (here I used weeds to decorate an event)

Using Plants in Your Home (a 5 part series)

decorating an event with flowers


  1. Love these out of the box brainstorms, friend! I’m sharing your creative genius on my sidebar today …

  2. Teddee Grace says

    I’m so pleased faux flowers and greenery are making a comeback. I made and sold “silk” floral arrangements independently and for a short time as a floral designer for JoAnn’s some years back. The key is to pay top dollar for your fakes. They last forever if cared for and can be recycled endlessly. They are space hogs, though, and create storage challenges! But, then, you have the barn! Your idea of mixing in fresh, potted and dried is a good one.

  3. Great ideas for getting the look! I have had the best luck with all kinds of flowers and plants at the big box home stores like Lowes and HD. In the past year I have found boston ferns, large orchids and a huge ivy plant for $5. I also got a great deal on foxgloves last month at 3/$12! Check out some unusual places for plants and flowers, you can often find amazing deals!

  4. Most foxgloves are biennials: they grow from seed one year and get big and flower and set seed the next year, after which they die. Many people can get them to reseed in the area in which they plant them, but I have never had much luck with that (maybe they don’t like my Iowa environment?). You should plant yours outside after the event and leave the flowers to dry on the stalks (or cut them off and leave the flowers on the ground).

    I don’t know what kind of landscaping already exists around your new house, but you could plant some perennial flowering shrubs and other flowers so that you have your own inexpensive source of flowers and greenery: peonies are nice, although they take 5+ years to get big enough to have much to cut; oxeye and shasta daisies, iris, roses and annuals such as zinnias and cosmos are lovely for later in the summer.

    Your barn looks very pretty — thanks for sharing your tips! -Beth

    • WHAT?! You are kidding me! OH my word!! I actually had some regrow one year (in Georgia) –it must have been a magical fluke and all this time I assumed they automatically come back! This is so good to know, thank you Beth!!

      • Some foxglove varieties can be short-lived perennials if they are happy where they are planted, but most only live two years. Also, keep in mind that foxgloves are extremely poisonous plants. Eating any part of the plant or drinking the water that the cut flowers are in can be toxic or fatal, particularly to children (who are usually the ones who do these things). Even inhaling the pollen can make people sick and the pollen can also travel to other plants, so they should not be planted near areas in which edibles are grown. They are very pretty, but most people are not aware how toxic they are (digitalis, a powerful heart medicine, comes from foxgloves). I would plant them where their stately beauty can be enjoyed from a distance. (Not trying to scare you, but you should be aware….) -Beth

  5. I love using potted plants!!! I like to use them as party favors too. I get super cheap containers whenever and wherever (yard sales, dollar stores) and set them all over and make sure everyone takes one home. But of course, that wouldn’t apply to a big event like the barn
    I am so loving this article, would be great for weddings too…

  6. Great advice!! I have used potted flowers several times. Also, cutting foliage from outside is a great idea too. I’m sure you have some beautiful trees, etc. around your property. I actually just cut some (well, I broke it :P ) Autumn Olive branches while walking my dogs and brought in my house. I’m having company this weekend so I also plan to cut some wild flowers (aka…weeds ;) ) and other pretty foliage later. :)

  7. My problem is I can never find pretend flowers that look any good!! None like the pretty ones you have here :/ Where did you find yours?

    • I shopped forever at Michaels and Hobby Lobby! be super picky & the more expensive ones did look more real–but they were all 50% off!

  8. FOXGLOVE! I am SO glad you mentioned the name of that one. I asked you about at the barn but it fell out of my brain by the time I got back home. :) I will be hitting up The Home Depot for some Foxglove this weekend for sure. XOXO

  9. Love it! I can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t in the pictures. Someone told me once that not o use real and fake in the same space, and I’ve been plant paralyzed ever since. I’m so glad that rule can be beautifully broken.

  10. Sadly, I only have fake flowers in my house because of my husbands horrible allergies. I am no stranger to fake, which is why I have very few. But I am happy to see that you use them as well, even if they are mixed in with real.

  11. Laurie-Jean says

    I’m always gobsmacked my your artistic creativity. You’re blessed with such a gift and it’s so gracious of you to share it all with us! Thank-you!

  12. Gorgeous plants! I love how creative you are in your decorating – thanks so much for all the tips!

    However, I wanted to point out in case you didn’t know – Foxglove is extremely poisonous to pets and sometimes even humans. Be careful handling that plant!

  13. I LOVE flowers. Love them. If you hunt, you can find great deals and afford the real deal. There’s a shop near me called “The Flowerman.” They sell box-lot flowers. Often, after a wedding or some other big event they’ll sell the leftovers for PEANUTS. For example, this valentines day they were selling a dozen roses for $1 in the late afternoon. A DOZEN.

    If you can find a place that sells flowers in bulk it’s sooo much cheaper than going through a normal floral store or the local grocery store.

    P.S. I got my wedding flowers from the same place. Paid about $100 for a giant box lot of roses that we then cut ourselves and put everywhere. It was as magical as it was cheap. Tried to find a photo to show you but can’t! :(

  14. I love the tip about putting real flowers where people get up close and fake further away! That is genius!

  15. As I was reading this post I played a little game and tried to guess which was real, which was fake. You’ll be pleased to know I got about half of them wrong. You are officially fooling us ;)

  16. Years ago, a friend was getting married out on the West Coast. A friend of the groom’s family had been asked to cater and decorate for the wedding reception – with an extremely limited budget. So the night before the wedding, several of us went out and scavenged flowers and greenery to make fresh centerpieces. One friend scavenged the trash of a flower shop (after they closed) and found gorgeous, fresh flowers that had been thrown out. Nothing wrong with them. We cut bags and bags of ivy from a friend’s yard, stuffed it in water, and it was beautiful and fresh for the reception. The centerpieces were gorgeous, and no one knew that the bride didn’t pay a dime for any of them. They were exquisite and really looked quite expensive.

  17. Flowers always give a special halo to the spaces. I really loved your idea of mixing pretend and natural flowers for an event. My favourites are the ones on the antlers!

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