Send one-of-a-kind lantern invitations to set a playful tone for your party. Start by penciling lines for "ropes" on plain cards. Punch holes with a tack every 1/2 inch; erase lines. Using knotted embroidery floss, sew running stitches along each line, then double back, filling in spaces between stitches. With pinking shears, cut "lanterns" from wide-striped grosgrain ribbon. Cut "tassels" from colored paper; fold in half. Affix lanterns and tassels with a glue stick; write message.
For a fresh-looking party table that makes cleanup easy, start with an inexpensive roll of white paper. Use painters' tape to hold paper down, and decorate with garden-inspired rubber stamps: a hydrangea blossom (blue ink) and a pair of butterflies (red and pink).
Make a cherry-blossom branch fashioned into a place card to greet your guests. Press the stem into a small floral frog, about the diameter of a quarter. Wrap a piece of pale-green grosgrain ribbon around the base, and secure with double-sided tape. Cut a leaf from a similar shade of vellum, write the invitee's name, and attach to the side of the branch using a hot-glue gun.
Document a life and make a big, bold visual statement at the same time. It's a snap to do -- and inexpensive, too. Print photos in various sizes. Lay them on the floor in the shape of the birthday number to determine your arrangement, then tape them to a wall. Attach more images to bottles with double-sided tape.
Made of fabric scraps, these cheerful goody bags sew up in a snap. Cut an 11-by-7 1/2-inch piece of fabric with pinking shears. Fold in half, right sides facing; machine-sew one short and each long side with a 1/2-inch seam allowance; turn inside out. Fill bag with treats, and tie with a strip of contrasting fabric.
A party table can be fashioned with one (or several) of the simplest items: a cake stand. The pretty pedestals raise decorations and sweets high, elevating offerings in every sense. The displays here -- small stands atop large ones -- show off pots (actually teacups and votive holders) of miniature African violets and stacks of cookies whose ribbons repeat the colors of the flowers.
Add a lacy border to your disposable party dishes. First, cut around the circumference of a plate with scallop scissors. Then use a variety of punches to make a pattern. (No need to measure -- just fire away!) If you like, slip a colored plate underneath a white one (or try the reverse) to highlight the design.