A South Beach party means Miami heat, label-conscious style and Latin flavor. Decorating for a South Beach party is different than decorating for an ordinary beach party. South Beach partygoers revel in luxury and outdoor glamor. Seashells, flip-flops and frozen drinks won't create the proper ambiance. Instead, be influenced by the Art Deco architecture, the tropical landscape and the jet-set crowd who flock there.
A proper setting for a South Beach party makes decorating easier, because the landscape communicates the luxury beach vibe. Consider these locations: a poolside patio, an outdoor garden or an apartment rooftop, preferably with a view. Many South Beach revelries take place at night, at hotel bars, discos and pools. Some of the most iconic images of South Beach are Art Deco hotels, such as the Raleigh (raleighhotel.com) and the National (nationalhotel.com). If you've never stayed in these hotels, look at photos of the pools and public areas for inspiration. A hotel with modern decor provides a believable backdrop for a South Beach party, even if the nearest beach is hundreds of miles away.
Even if you aren't in Miami, you can bring Miami to your party with the use of props. Plan an evening party to heighten the fantasy. Improvisation will fill in the blanks. If you don't have a sandy beach, create a beach by ordering a delivery of sand, or simply use containers of sand as the base for centerpieces. You may not have palm trees, but if you add strings of tiny white lights, the trees will look festive at night. If you aren't near an ocean, you can create ocean breezes and the sound of surf with standing fans and recordings of ocean waves.
South Beach parties are usually outdoors, so chairs and tables for the party should be the type used outdoors, even if the party isn't. Seating for guests can be minimalist chic, with white chairs and benches, or tropical exotic, with cushions in vibrant fabrics placed on the floor. Explore the poolside theme with cabanas for private conversations. Tables should be scattered throughout the party area, so guests who are dancing or circulating have a place to stash their drinks and plates. Don't make guests look for the big, ugly plastic trash cans when they have discards. Use smaller, discreet bins below tables for throwaways.
Food and Drink
Miami's culture throbs with Latin influence, and nowhere is that more evident than in food and drink. Let the ingredients be the star of the show at the refreshment tables. It is customary for party tables to be decorated with fresh fruits, palm leaves and other natural items. For upscale chic parties, use monochromatic displays, such as clear glass bowls filled with lemons or limes. Display and serve grapefruit, pineapple, guava, papaya and other fruit. For drinks that reflect the cosmopolitan tastes of South Beach residents, serve one or two of the following: champagne, mojitos, reposado (aged) tequila, and rum and cola.
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