White or brown lunch sacks, acrylic paints, and stencils. Have your kids paints bags with stripes (outline with masking tape) or with symbolic shapes using stencils (pumpkins, stars, hearts). Add a tea light to make luminaries to line the front walk or deck rail.
Festive fabrics. Get a yard or two of several festive fabrics. No need to sew the edges, just tuck them under and scrunch fabric beneath centerpieces and platters. Go for solids rather than themed prints.
Tulle by the spool. Bunch up thick widths, tie in big bows around kitchen chairs, and instantly take them from ordinary to dressy.
A mirrored ball. No home should be without one. They add a festive touch of bling no matter what you set around them.
Cardboard and spray paint. Cut a large cardboard stencil of your school's letters on game day, or of “USA” during the Olympics. Then spray paint the image on the front lawn. It will go away after the first mowing.
Bandannas in assorted colors. These make great, cheap napkins. Colored metal buckets. Fill them with sand or rice to make bases for sticking in team pennants or skewered foods.
“Don't do the whole house,” said Quinn. Decorate the front entry, and the areas surrounding food and drink, and that's it. Then you'll have fun, too.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.