How to Decorate Outdoor Tents

Updated November 21, 2016

Outdoor tents are often used for special events. Outdoor tents can easily be decorated to represent the event you are having. With the simple embellishment of the tent area as well as the tent itself, an event can be very memorable.

Draw a sketch of what you want your outdoor tent to look like, taking into account the event and size of the tent. Think of what kind of theme you want to project and be creative. Consider the time of year you are using the tent. A good example would be to create a winter wonderland by hanging snowflakes, using poinsettias to line the bottom of the tent, and of course adding snow. To create your snow use white cotton backing to place around table centrepieces or to drape on the buffet or dessert table. You can also position a few potted trees in the corners and use artificial spray snow to give the appearance of freshly fallen snow. String white icicle lights along the top edges to add an extra touch.

You can easily make your theme relate to the seasons or a major holiday. Spring events can be full of fresh flowers or tie into Easter. Summer events can have a fun beach theme or portray a Fourth of July type picnic. Autumn events should incorporate colourful leaves often in reds, oranges and yellows, pumpkins, apples or any other fall harvest accent. Use pumpkins and other gourds placed on and around small hay bales to welcome your guests into the tent.

Decorate with seasonal flowers. Place flowers on the tables as centrepieces, or try hanging them from the ceiling. This will add more depth. Add more height by bringing in potted sunflowers and placing them throughout the tent area. Line the outside of the tent with a few potted flowers or plants.

String lights along the outside of the tent where the tent meets the tent poles. These can be all white lights or multicoloured. Again consider the event. White lights may look more elegant for a wedding and multicoloured lights may be more appropriate for something like a birthday party. If you are tailgating, match the light colours to your team colours.

Add strings of lights inside the tents as well. If it is possible string them all the way across the tent and back a few times. This will create an inviting party atmosphere. Another lighting option for inside the tent would be to set up table lamps in the centre of guests' tables. Or, you can use different sized candles for an intimate feel. Place larger candles in the centres of the tables and surround them with smaller votives or tea lights.

For all white tents, use paint to decorate the tent. Write out the name of the special event. If it is a wedding, you can write out the names of the bride and groom as well as the date of the wedding. If you are using the tent for tailgating purposes, write out the team name and paint a picture of the team logo or mascot.

If you do not want to paint directly onto your tent, use poster board. Paint a few special signs, or ask several people to paint something. Then simply attach the poster board to the tent using duct tape on the back of the poster board. Instead of using paint, you may want to use an image projector. You can rent or buy a projector and illuminate the outside of the tent with images related to the theme of the event.

Use appropriately coloured helium balloons for more decoration. Tie the strings of the balloons around the tents poles to allow the balloons to rise outside the tent. Let the balloons rise inside the tent so they cover the ceiling of the tent. Or, string paper lanterns, which are available in many different shapes and sizes. Wrap the tent poles with ribbon or garland to complete the festive look.


Use unscented candles for big events. Scented candles smell nice, but when you light several of them at the same time they can be overwhelming. Rent heaters for your cold weather events.


Remember that if you are renting a tent, you will not be able to put any permanent decorations on it. Use temporary decorations. If you use candles inside your tent, make sure they are in appropriate holders.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pen/pencil
  • Flowers
  • Small potted trees
  • Portable heater (for cold weather events)
  • Strings of lights
  • Extension cords
  • Electrical power source
  • Lamps
  • Paint
  • Poster board
  • Duct tape
  • Image projector
  • Balloons
  • Paper lanterns
  • Ribbon
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