Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Party Planning 101 ~ Supplies

Ok - time for some shopping! But, before we do that, it's good to do a run through of supplies you already have on hand. You may be surprised what you find that can work into your theme, or meets a need. Do you have a domed cake platter with a top that fits into the base, but are not serving cake? Then you could instead have a punch bowl, or a trifle dish.

(Tiki Beach Luau, 2005 - The Dance Floor)

One thing I like to do is a walk through of where the party will be held. I look at all the different areas, and draw sketches of what I envision that area will look like for the party. In that way, people helping me set up on the party date know where things go. I also make lists of every single thing I can think of to complete that area - things I need to make, and things I need to buy. Electrical needs. Adhesive needs - everything. Don't forget about supplies you will need to cook with and serve food. Oh, and don't omit the restroom from your planning. There, you will need plenty of t.p., soap, and multiple hand towels (50+ people using the same towel all night = ick)

There are a few party supply chain stores (here in the U.S.), like Party City and Party America. My favorite local store is Alin. Themed party sets are easy, but...they are a little ho-hum. A (future) pirate luau will not have a picture of Jack Sparrow in sight (to the disappointment of some), but everyone will know it is a swashbuckler's affair. Be creative, and look for unexpected items that fit your theme. If you feel guilty about buying decorations for a one time event, look for more durable goods rather than paper cut-outs and crepe paper banners. It may be possible to pack up your theme "in a box" and sell it to the next party giver via Craig's List or Ebay.

Disposable tableware is the easiest to deal with, but may leave some feeling guilty about the amount of waste. If you have enough dishes (or can purchase dishes inexpensively at the thrift store, or can borrow from friends) and a high capacity dishwasher - go for it. Compostable dishware is gaining in popularity, and is coming down in cost. Something to keep in mind - if your City does not compost material collected through your curbside program, the environmental benefit of these dishes could be wasted if thrown away.
Modern landfills are designed to minimize decomposition of disposed material. Your biodegrable plate will be sitting there next to the plastic one for years and years. Many people find that the amount of material generated from a party is too much to put in their backyard compost pile. You'll need a lot more "greens" to balance the pile.

Other supplies to consider include prizes, favors, and, of course food. More on that tomorrow!

Party Supply Sources:
~ Plum Party (my all-time favorite party website. Even if I don't end up buying stuff here, I get a lot of ideas)
~ Oriental Trading Company
~ Target (newish party planning section)
~ LatinWorks Co.
~ Asian Ideas
~ Cost Plus
~ Michaels (esp. new Martha Stewart collection)
~ Paper Mart (favor containers up the wazoo!)


Jane said...

I had great luck at Target for my sister in law's bridal shower. I didn't want to use the regular bridal stuff. I went with bight pink and green cards from their stationary line, pink and green favor bags from the kids b-day party section and pink and green towels and flip flops for favors. If you think outside of the box- Target is a fantastic place to start.

At home with Kim Vallee said...

You provided excellent tips. You are right about the need for planning and sketching how the space will look like. Then, it is easy to make a list of what you need to get and how changes impact your scheme. It is a step that people often overlooked.