A History of Decorations

There is a reason behind everything we do – whether it be religious, cultural or through our heritage – and behind this reasoning come a wonderful and intriguing history that people don’t generally realise. Even in the world of event management and party planning, every decoration and every etiquette stems from a history or a tradition that unfortunately generally goes unnoticed when hanging up the bunting. There is more to the trends that we love to use in our celebrations, and I wanted to spend some time and share these histories with you.

This new segment is going to be split up in a few different ways, such as etiquettes, dress codes, historical celebrations and decorations so let me know if there is anything in particular you would love to know the history behind and I will be more than happy to shine some light on it, but first I want to shed some insight on the history behind some of your favourite decorations:

Cute tape

Photo by cutetape

Washi Tape

For those of you who are unaware, Washi Tape is a popular decoration used in the arts and crafts world and has been introduced into the party universe as great ways to decorate party glassware and flatware, as well as other treats on the dessert table due to it’s light and colourful designs to match a variety of themes. Washi means Japanese Paper and is commonly made from bark from the Gampi tree can be derived from hemp, rice or wheat.

Washi Tape was originally designed as Japanese masking tape that came from the Japanese company Kamoi Kakoshi Co. Ltd. In 2006, Kamoi Kakoshi received emails from a small group of women who wanted to tour the factory as they were working on a book using the industrial masking tape. After seeing the masking tape designed book, and having it featured in a big art exhibition in Tokyo, Kamoi Kakoshi allowed the women to tour the factory and agreed to create more designs and colours for the women to use. Eventually the turned the dull colours into fabulous designs and styles that are still used in scrapbooking and party decorations today!



One of my favourite party decorations of all time has to be bunting! It is extremely versatile in colours and materials, and will suite any kind of party. Usually seen as a lightweight cloth material in the shape of  flags on strings, the term “Bunting” derives from the Middle English term for the material it was originally manufactured out of, which was called buntine. Buntine was a light wool fabric that was used on Royal Navy boats as a form of communication between boats, and has since grown to become a way to communicate celebration between people. It’s never  a party until bunting is hung up somewhere!

Paper LanternsPhoto by Sharyn Morrow

Paper Lanterns

This might be a bit of a broad decoration for parties, but paper lanterns in all shapes and sizes (balls, cylinders, ceramic or glass lanterns, and even paper bag globes and their counterpart the honeycomb lantern) all stemmed from one place – China. Lanterns have been in use in the country of China for centuries because they symbolise good fortune and longevity. This is why you see them lined the streets of China town on Chinese New Years, and other such cultural festivities. These lanterns are usually adorned in red, which is a lucky colour in Chinese tradition, and decorated with glittering gold symbols that spread joy and luck. Paper lanterns have grown into a beautiful party decoration, thanks to their uses in other celebrations as well, such as Mexican parties and Italy’s Festa della Rificolona but you can never forget the strings of red, glittering delights that line the streets in China.

Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls

As Halloween approaches you will find the Mexican themed holiday of Day of the Dead becomes very prominent on my blog. The symbolism behind this holiday is absolutely beautiful and one of the reasons for that is the beautifully ornate sugar skulls that are used in the holiday. Sugar skulls are generally made from sugar cane, flavoured with vanilla and coloured with vibrant vegetable based dye, intricately patterned to  spark the imagination and create unqiue imagery in the celebration. The sugar part of sugar skulls are extremely important, because during the first Day of the Dead traditions, Mexicans realised that decorations were expensive and couldn’t afford to buy them every year, so they turned to the booming sugar industry to help and sugar skulls were born! What an interesting idea to turn to!

Is it just me or do you feel like you have just traipsed across the world? You’ve now learnt a thing or two about the history behind the decoration that span from many different eras and countries including Japan, China, Mexico and England. Is there anywhere in particular you want to know about next? Drop me a line in the comments section below and I promise to shed some light on it! But just to whet your whistle, stay tuned for my next historical post about the etiquettes and historical elements behind the outfits you will wear to your next event!

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