Lighting can be one of the most impressive, not to mention cost effective, decorating tools. When working on a tight budget and trying to make a big splash gobos never let you down.
Take the example of HBO's golden Globes After Party. The very talented Hollywood event designer Billy Butchkavitz and Images by Lighting created an incredible setting in yellow tones shining gobos on the floor as well as projecting a leopard print on a large flat wall (or canvas). On a limited budget you can create similar floor patterns and bring bright colored drapes to life by shining clear light on each panel like this team did so well. And yes, there is a lot that makes this party stand out, but everywhere you look his team effectively used lighting to evoke a mood.
I've had my fair share of tight budget yet "must be elegant" events to pull off and adding a wall of color gels always made a good impression. My favorite lighting effect was a dinner party at Pebble Beach and the room was your typical brown ballroom and we chose a Cuban Havana night theme (as 85% of the attendees were men we can't exactly go with daisies and ribbons). The catering manager came up with a festive menu and linens and chargers in tasteful greens and tans. We then placed red, green and yellow gobos of palm leaves on the long walls. With a steel drum band playing as guests entered, the theme was set. But I must say, I remember the beautiful lighting more than anything else that night.