My 30th birthday party planning adventure: DIY Party Flowers!

March 31, 2017

My 30th birthday party planning adventure: DIY Party Flowers!

This post is part of "My 30th birthday party planning" series. I'm a wannabe florist, so I thought this little recount of how I went about planning, purchasing and putting together the party florals might help some of you out... especially if you're planning on doing some DIY floral centrepieces for your own event.

Unless you're a seasoned florist that visits the markets numerous times a week, you can't precisely predict what you're going to buy. As someone who visits the markets once every couple of months, the best I can do is work out the types/colours of focal, secondary, filler and foliage I would like to get.

I'd saved a few inspo arrangements on my phone in the week prior, and worked out how many flowers I might need for each Nutella bucket + a few extra for the cake and overage in case of any 'flower deaths' in transit. So, I came up with these rough calculations:

  • Focal flowers: ~3 per arrangement x 7 buckets = 21 flowers + a few extra = 25 FOCAL
  • Secondary flowers: 5 per arrangement x 7 buckets = 35 flowers + extra = 40 SECONDARY
  • Filler: 2 bunches/sprigs/sprays per arrangement x 7 buckets = 14 + extra = 18 FILLER
  • Foliage: 1 bunch/sprig/spray per arrangement x 7 buckets = 7 + extra = 10 FOLIAGE

This is what I'd set out to get, but as usual, when you get to the markets, you might have to change things up. So be prepared to adapt!

I headed to Sydney Flower Markets on Thursday morning (yes, a full 36 hours before the party) as the stress of a Friday morning flower-run was too much to comprehend. From experience, if you take care of your flowers, they'll definitely last a few days (or more)!

I arrived at about 6am. It was still completely dark, but most of the florists (and many suppliers) had cleared out, so I got an amazing parking spot and free rein of what was there. A pro florist would definitely go earlier in the morning to get the best of what was available, but it was hard enough getting out of bed before sunrise! (Which is why I am not a florist).

After a quick perusal of what was there, I settled on the following:

  • FOCAL = huge yellow pom-pom chrysanthemums and big purple dahlias
  • SECONDARY = hot pink roses, hot pink carnations and red carnations. 
  • FILLER = pink and purple aster, purple bud flowery things (can't remember the name)
  • FOLIAGE = gum and ruscus

All together it was $110. My budget was $100, so I think I went pretty well - always get more than what you'll need... a few of the yellow chrysanthemums were brown and unusable when I unwrapped them from their tissue encasing, so I was very glad I had some extra on-hand! This is what I ended up with:

DIY party flowers tutorial from Party Kit Company

When I got home, I cleaned out all of my flower buckets with a touch of bleach, to ensure any bacteria went bye-bye. I then carefully unwrapped all the flowers, cut about an inch of each stem, and stripped most of the leaves off so they were clean and fresh.

I left the flowers in the buckets for about 6 hours before I started arranging. TIP: Make sure your flowers are in a consistent temperature. It was a sticky and humid day, so I had to put the air con on, not just for me, but to keep the flowers nice and comfy.

When I was ready to arrange, I filled up all of my clean Nutella buckets, and started arranging using a spun/hand-tied technique. You could pop the flowers directly in the buckets and arrange like that, but I'm not very good at using that technique!! I have done a number of floral courses, but if you want to learn the basics, YouTube ALL.THE.WAY.

I finished my bouquets off with some tie-wire and snipped off the ends so they sat nicely in the buckets. I then repeated this x 7... oh and plus a few little Nutella jars, too.

Want to see how I did it?? Here'a a pretty little time-lapse!!

DIY Flower Centrepieces from Party Kit Company on Vimeo.

The next morning, I checked on my floral babies and they were pristine. You could probably snip the ends off each bouquet again for good measure, but I let them be. They lasted for about 5-6 days all up, so I'm pretty chuffed!

Nutella flower DIY centrepieces from Party Kit CompanyDIY party flowers tutorial from Party Kit Company
Not bad for about $100 worth of flowers, huh?

Overall, I love doing event florals, but I must warn you, it's pretty time-intensive and you'll end up with chipped nails and grubby fingers!


  • Be flexible - if you think you're going to get lush pink peonies in April, find an alternative!
  • Go the day before your event. Keep your flowers clean and comfy and they'll definitely last. Be aware, some flowers like tulips will grow overnight!
  • Keep it simple - get a few varieties of flowers only, or make it even simpler by getting only ONE type of flower, roses, dahlias, etc., look amazing en masse.
  • Hygiene matters - clean off dirty stems, strip leaves and bleach your buckets. Bacteria will kill your flowers, fast!
  • Practice. If this is your first time arranging flowers or putting together numerous arrangements for events, do a practice run first. I guarantee the process will take longer than you anticipate! Like, double the time you think it will take.

Want to read more from my 30th Birthday Party Planning Adventure? How about a balloon arch tutorial??


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