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How do you light an indoor party?

Lighting is a critical aspect of any indoor party or event. The right lighting can set the mood, enhance ambiance, and make the party space look its best. Poor or improper lighting can detract from the experience. There are a few key considerations when deciding on lighting for an indoor party.

Assess the Party Space

First, survey the party space and determine what you have to work with. Consider the size and layout of the room. Is it a large open space or divided into smaller rooms? Are there windows, and if so, how much natural light comes in during the time of day the party will be held? Take note of existing fixtures like overhead lighting, lamps, and sconces. Decide if you will rely solely on existing lighting, enhance it with temporary lighting, or if bringing in all new lighting is needed to achieve the desired ambiance.

Consider the Event Type

The type of party or event will inform lighting needs. A lively dance party will need bright, colorful lighting. An intimate dinner calls for soft glowing light. Is the event during the day or evening? Daytime parties rely more on natural light, while night parties need artificial lighting. A kids’ birthday party may use fun, whimsical lighting. Formal events like weddings and galas require elegant lighting. Know the purpose and tone of the event, then choose lighting to match.

Set the Mood with Lighting

Use lighting strategically to create the right mood or ambiance. Here are some examples:

  • Soft white or amber light bulbs create a warm, inviting mood
  • Colored bulbs or gels make for fun, vibrant energy
  • Dimmers allow you to control the brightness and energy of the space
  • Candles add cozy, romantic ambiance
  • Up lighting placed around the perimeter of a room has an uplifting effect
  • Disco balls and rotating lights inspire dancing

Enhance Existing Lighting

For many indoor party spaces, enhancing existing lighting is all that’s needed. Try these tips:

  • Increase wattage in existing fixtures to make the space brighter
  • Replace dull bulbs with brighter, higher wattage bulbs
  • Use smart bulbs that can be adjusted to different colors and brightness
  • Add table and floor lamps around the space for a warmer glow
  • Install dimmer switches to control overhead lighting
  • Use mirrors to reflect and increase existing lighting

Add Temporary Lighting

It may be necessary or desirable to bring in additional temporary lighting just for the party. Popular options include:

  • String lights – these come in various bulb sizes and styles and can be hung from ceilings or wrapped around columns, railings, etc.
  • Fairy lights – miniature string lights used for decorative accent lighting indoors and outdoors
  • Paper lanterns – a soft decorative light source perfect for creating ambiance
  • LED flood lights or spotlights – useful for highlighting architectural features or creating a dance floor
  • Stage lighting – colored LED lights create a fun party atmosphere

Use Lighting for Decor

Lighting itself can become part of the event decor. Use these creative lighting ideas:

  • Project patterns onto walls or hang sparkling crystal chandeliers for elegance
  • Place flameless candles around the party space
  • Wrap tree trunks or columns with string lights
  • Line the food and beverage area with small pendant or track lights
  • Hang lanterns, colorful globes, or paper umbrellas from the ceiling

Light the Food and Beverage Areas

Don’t forget to light areas where food and drinks will be served. Provide enough light for guests to easily see what’s offered. Use:

  • Pendant lights or chandeliers over dining tables
  • Track lighting or spotlights to accent buffet stations
  • LED or string lighting around food presentation areas
  • Tabletop lighting like votives, lanterns, or table lamps

Illuminate Paths and Walkways

It’s important guests can easily navigate around the party space. Use lighting to identify paths, transitions between rooms, seating areas, restrooms, exits, etc. Options include:

  • Rope lights lining walkways or stairs
  • Small table lamps to mark seating areas
  • Battery operated candles or lanterns to illuminate paths
  • Fairy or string lights along railings and ledges as a safety precaution

Create Focal Points with Lighting

Use lighting to draw attention to party focal points like the dance floor, DJ or entertainment area, bar, cake table, photo booth, etc. Try:

  • A disco ball and colored lights over the dance floor
  • String lights backdrop behind the entertainment or music area
  • Pinspot lights to accent the bar, buffet, or food stations
  • LED lights around the photo booth

Lighting Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional lighting tips for indoor parties:

  • Layer lighting for depth – combine overhead, accent, and decorative lighting
  • Hide wires and cords from fixtures for clean look
  • Use lighting gels, filters, smart bulbs to create colored light
  • Highlight architectural details like ceilings, arches, fireplace
  • Place lighting on dimmers for adjustable brightness
  • Position lighting at different heights and angles for visual interest
  • Use platform lighting stands if tabletop space is limited
  • Check for glare if using strong spotlights or harsh lighting

Choosing Lighting Fixtures and Bulbs

Key considerations for selecting lighting fixtures and bulbs:

Lighting Fixtures

  • Type – overhead, tabletop, floor lamps, string lights, spotlights etc.
  • Style – formal, modern, vintage, colorful etc. to fit party theme
  • Size and scale – ensure fixtures fit the space
  • Placement – factor in room layout, outlets, ceiling hooks etc.
  • Quality and durability – inspect electrical parts for events with many hours of use
  • Quantity needed – have enough to properly illuminate the entire space
  • Adjustability – dimmers, smart technology allow lighting control

Light Bulbs

  • Lumens – higher lumens means brighter light
  • Color temperature – lower Kelvin is warm, higher is cool toned
  • Color – clear, colored, adjustable spectrum
  • Shape – specialized shapes direct light
  • Base – must match the lamp or fixture
  • Wattage – higher wattage equals brighter light
  • Lifespan – LED lasts the longest

Lighting Safety Tips

When installing lighting, keep these safety guidelines in mind:

  • Don’t overload electrical circuits
  • Use extension cords of proper wattage rating
  • Keep cords out of high traffic areas to prevent tripping
  • Check that all lighting fixtures are secure
  • Never leave lighting unattended for long periods
  • Ensure outdoor lighting is weather appropriate
  • Don’t run cords under carpets or furniture
  • Read labels for installation heights and proximity to flammable items
  • Have extra bulbs and fuses on hand


The lighting sets the entire mood and ambiance of an indoor party. Take time to assess the space, consider the event type, and determine the mood you want to create. Enhance existing light, or add temporary fixtures and specialty bulbs to transform the party space. Layer multiple types and heights of lighting for the best effects. Most importantly, keep safety in mind and enjoy your perfectly illuminated party!