You're Invited: Decor

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Photograph by Darren Braun

Just as we turn to our closest friends for advice about life’s most colossal questions—Did I choose the right career path? Am I better with bangs or without?—we should not forget to ask for help when it comes to parties. My friend Lauren has long served as my design guru, and I rely on her for establishing the proper ambience. As soon as she arrives at one of my get-togethers, I give her carte blanche to dim the overheads (they’re always too bright), shift the furniture (too crowded), trim the flowers (too tall), and adjust the music volume (too loud). You’d think I’d have learned these lessons by now. Her fresh set of (aesthetically gifted) eyes makes me see stuff I already own in a new light. Another upside: The redecorating is free.

Island Paradise
If inflatable palm trees and coconut bras aren’t doing it for your luau, visit the temple to all things tiki, Oceanic Arts (12414 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, 562-698-6960), for everything from puffer fish to ceremonial shields.

Blossoms, Dearie
Even if you’ve never been there, you’ve probably heard about downtown’s Flower District (Wall Street between 7th and 8th). Here the public can get incredible early-morning deals on bouquets and single stems (hours and admission prices vary) and in the surrounding neighborhood, the cheapest vases and cake stands in town.

Best Bet
L.A.’s one-stop decor shop, Vine American Party Store (5969 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, 323-467-7124) is musty and funky, but it always has what we’re looking for. “I just had a lady from Denmark who loaded up on stuff for a ‘Casino Night’ back home,” says employee Dennis Corsino.