Create an irresistible environment in 30 minutes or less!

Easy. Low-Cost. DIY.

Whether you want your room Sizzling or Subdued, this post is for you!

Imagine giant blue waves washing over the walls. What used to be blinding fluorescent lights are now a radiating a glow of blue.

If you listen hard enough, you might hear a dolphin chirp.

Two days later, you walk into the very same room. But this time you peak around a tall divider to discover an intimate candlelit setting.

Acoustic guitar music plays softly. Royal purple fabric veils the dingy white walls.

Whether you for …

  • Vacation Bible School
  • a Wedding
  • a Baby Shower
  • the Youth Lock-in
  • or a Special Worship Service…

get ready for some affordable and easy DIY tips to help you set the scene.


And it matters a lot.

When we enter a room, our senses are on full alert. We take everything in. Sight. Sound. Smell. Touch. Even Taste.

Every fiber of your being is affected.

Environment brings souls to attention.

Ready to run or ready to receive.

Unfortunately we forget this.

We run out of time, money and vision. Our physical room becomes an afterthought to an event.

  • VBS Posters are underwhelming.
  • Centerpiece Vases for the Mother’s Day Tea look tired and old.
  • The Wedding Reception Balloons are dwarfed in the space of the fellowship hall.

We neglect the physical things deeply affecting our spirits. We miss the opportunity to capture hearts walking in a door.

And instead find ourselves trying to grab attention after it is already lost.

Instead of spending money and time on things that go unnoticed, I want to show you 3 Big Impact Elements.

These will become your “go-tos” for decorating in your church.

  • The 3 Elements are Simple and Quick.
  • They take no special skills.
  • And they will bring a spark to any event.

Create dramatic change with less stress, less time, and less money.


#1 Grow Your Vision

You need big vision for big impact.

The first step is to Start Recognizing your everyday environments.

  • Do you feel anxious walking into the store with the bright headache lights?
  • Does the squooshy carpet under your feet make you feel more at home?
  • Are you dying to leave the restaurant because it’s cold?
  • Do you love your reading chair because of the warm lighting against pale yellow walls?
  • Does the music at the chiropractor’s make you want to stay all day?

Develop the Habit of Noticing.

Sound. Colors. Lighting. Temperature. Scents. How do these affect you? Wherever you find yourself, be mindful.

Now, consider the church environment you want to transform.

  • What do you want people to feel in the space?
  • At your Event?
  • What emotions do you want to foster?
  • Consider all 5 senses.
  • How will different elements contribute to the mood?

#2 Reject all “Not Enough Time and Not Enough Money” Excuses

Ugh. I know.

If we all had more time and money, right?


Let’s face it. We all have a budget.

I’m going to show you how to do this on the cheap. Not necessarily free, but cheap.

You will become a collector and a thrifter (or you will find collectors and thrifters to join you).

Re-purposing and Multi-purposing are key to saving money.


We all have 24 hours in a day. No one gets any extra.

If you have a small stash of these 3 Elements, you can flip a room in 30 minutes or less.

(Now if you are decorating for a wedding, I don’t necessarily recommend doing it in 30 minutes! But if that’s all you have, it can be done and I’ll show you how!)


The Church Multi-Purpose Room is neglected and only half loved.

Multi-purpose means not for any one purpose.

If yours is dirty, dingy or beat up, join the club! The room we use most in a church often has the least personality.

It looks ready for a dodgeball game, rather than the bridal shower happening this weekend.

So let’s tackle it.

My ultimate dream in our Fellowship Hall is a Big Red Button for Instant Transformation!

Push the Big Red Button and BAMM! … the bright, stark, multipurpose room transforms into a dimly lit, veiled environment, perfect for reflection and prayer.  

Push it again, and BAMM! … It’s fun and bright and ready for a family’s baby shower celebration.

Push it again, and BAMM! … It’s all set for community, potluck, and conversation.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a Big Red Button. So I’m going to give you the next best thing.

The 3 Big-Impact Elements of Dramatic Room Transformation that won’t break your budget or your back:

  • LIGHTS to Set the Mood
  • FABRIC to Frame Your Purpose
  • DIVIDERS to Define Your Space

Lights, Fabric, and Dividers:

  1. require minimal time,
  2. are economical,
  3. and greatly affect mood and energy.


I am a worship director with more candles & lights in my office than music. I have white Christmas lights, fairy lights, clip on lights.

Plus Candles galore: Votives, tapers, tealights. Large and small. Real wicks and battery powered. All well-loved and well-used.

I’m not preparing for a national disaster. I’m just ready to quickly change environments for maximum impact!

Become a Collector of Lights & Candles.

It is so easy to get lights on a budget. Christmas lights are given away, thrown out, and dirt cheap on sale. Candles and clip lights are common at garage sales. Seek and you will find!


Christmas lights.

  • Hang behind fabric for a starry effect.
  • Use in a classroom for a focused lesson or prayer time.
  • String outside for celebrations.

Wax candles of all shapes and sizes.

  • Use at worship events, communion services, evening specials.
  • Set up a display of lit candles.
  • Create an interactive element of candle lighting.
  • Careful trimming and shaving can make a tired candle look classy again!

Glass candle holders.

  • Clear and colored glass votives.
  • Find cool liturgical-looking glass holders at dollar & craft stores.
  • Collect all shapes and sizes.
  • Votives are often thrown away and common at rummage sales.
  • Messy ones can be cleaned carefully with a microwave or boiling water.

Clip Lights or Reading Lights.

  • These are great to illuminate readings or signs at candlelit events or outside entrances.


Second to my lighting addiction is fabric. Our church has lots.

If you don’t want to spend lots of money, the key is to buy raw fabric.

Not ready made tablecloths. Not ready made curtains. Just fabric.

We don’t cut fabric much at our church because it limits multi-purposing. We have rolls of 10 plus yards and bins with smaller pieces (a few yards each, varying sizes).

  • We drape lots and rarely hem.
  • Fabric pools on the floor.
  • Raw edges fold under.

Two fabrics to highlight:


Several times a year I visit SAS Discount Fabric store in Tucson, because I always can use 15 more yards of Gabardine (yes, I mean yards).

SAS has a variety of colors for $1.99 a yard. This is an AMAZING deal.

Find a discount fabric store in your state!

  • For the cost of 2 store bought tablecloths, we made 18 red table toppers. ($37 total)
  • For the cost of 1 kitchen curtain, we drape a 20 foot window in our worship center with 15 yards of fabric. (only $30)
  • After stocking up for few years, we now have loads of purple, black, white, red, and navy.

Gabardine cleans well and holds up great.

We drape, hang, suspend, and pool unhemmed pieces for any event imaginable.

Showers. Seasonal Worship Services. Youth Hide & Seek. VBS Scenes. You name it.


Burlap comes in a variety of weight, color shades, and quality. Burlap gives a homey, natural DIY look.

  • For intimate events, string lights under it when draping on walls or for defining walking path edges on the floor.
  • For Vacation Bible School, pool it on the ground for a desert theme or hang it on the wall for a jungle.
  • Drape it on a table with glass votives for a prayer events.
  • Pair it with chalkboards or tin pails for a trendy rustic look.

ONE CAUTION: the cheaper the burlap, the more it sheds. Vacuum cleaners might not love the straw-like strings that are left behind.

Gabardine and Burlap are my two favorite go-tos, but discarded table clothes, leftover ribbons, and bins of fabric found at garage sales can be repurposed in surprising ways.


Try magnets and/or binder clips if your church has a drop down ceiling or metal frames around lights!


20 people gathered in room that seats 100 feels deflating and empty.

But those same 20 people in a smaller space can be energizing and great fun.

Making big spaces small is an easy skill to learn!

Free standing dividers are your secret weapon.

Keep an Eye Out for these types of Dividers:

Room Dividers for Home

Any style, any material. Watch for these at rummage sales or put the word out to family and friends. Lots of people buy dividers for home and later discard.

Shutter Closet Doors

My friend Chuck called me one day to say the resale shop had a sale and did I want some shutter-style closet doors?

I had a hard time picturing why I would need old closet doors, but Chuck had a vision! They are now some of my favorites things.

  • They were cheap.
  • They look classy.
  • Multi-use.
  • Easy to store.
  • I want more!

Custom DIY Dividers

If you know handy person, chances are he or she can build you dividers with repurposed material they have at home.

We have a huge 3 panel divider built 10 years ago for Vacation Bible School. We still use it several times every year.

We have another homemade 4 panel frame divider. This one has horizontal wire for clipping photos and more. It’s a favorite for prayer events, creative team, interactive activities, and baby & wedding showers.




  • Drape inexpensive Christmas Lights behind fabric for a muted look.
  • String any types of lights (from Edison bulbs to Christmas lights) across the ceiling, from wall to wall. Zig zagging for effect.
  • Place simple tea lights in mason jars for simplicity.


  • Drape a wedding canopy or arch with fabric for indoor decor. It will bring focus.
  • Use magnets to hang opaque fabric to soften fluorescent ceiling lights.
  • Hang fabric over a focus wall (or divider) behind the cake. It will make a better picture than the bland wall.


  • Place dividers on stage sides to frame in the space.
  • Redefine the back of your room with dividers to make your space smaller.
  • Make a clothespin divider as a picture wall. Clip on childhood photos of the bride and the groom.



  • Cover your fluorescent lights with colored rolls of plastic tablecloth.
  • Use colored spotlights for mood and mystery.
  • Darken the teaching room and light only with lamps or lanterns for a quiet focused atmosphere.


  • Drape fabric over a door for a secret entrance (hang with strong magnets).
  • Use sheer fabric over windows for atmosphere and to limit distraction.
  • Suspend fabric from the ceiling in your big spaces to make huge rooms more friendly.


  • Use a divider wall as a photo board, for daily care cards and warm fuzzies.
  • Make larger spaces as smaller with dividers.
  • Create mazes for fun traveling between centers.


Download the Event Vision Checklist for your 5 Steps to get started and tips to make your vision reality!

Remember the basics:

  • Grow Your Vision
  • REJECT all Not-Enough-Money & Not-Enough-Time Excuses!
  • Choose Lights to Set the Mood
  • Use Fabric to Frame Your Purpose
  • Place Dividers to Define Your Space


As you collect things and as you dream, remember your small church. Don’t let your stockpile get dusty.

Share the beauty and the fun!

  • Are there upcoming events that would be even better using these tips?
  • What other ministry teams could use your ideas? Your talent? Your stuff?

Share the vision for creating environments that make a difference. Your small church needs you!

Like what you read? Check these out:

Why Your Church Needs a Creative Team

Women in Ministry: 2 Surprising Keys to Less Stress and More Peace