I’d suspect at one time or another you’ve been called upon to host a gathering, throw a party or entertain some guests. Fresh off of five birthdays and one First Communion in the last six months, here are a few of my go-to items when planning a get together. Whether your house is the spot for tons of guests and lots of prep or just a few guests and a low-key agenda, this list just may reduce your stress level and have you enjoying that celebratory glass of wine sooner than you think.

10 party must haves

1. Scrapbook paper. You can buy it on clearance for peanuts, usually at a craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. I’ve used it for placemats, craft projects, food labels, invitations and thank you notes. So many great uses.
Best time to buy: August (back-to-school) and November/December (holidays)

2. Paper cutter. Mine is a handy one from Fiskars, purchased from the office supply store. My best suggestion is to buy one that can cut at least 12″.
Best time to buy: August (back-to-school)

3. Double stick tape. If I had to pick an all-time favorite, this would be it. I use it for labels, sticking down streamers, attaching things to walls and glass. It can be used for “pin the X on the X” and just about anything else. Bottom line, it’s better than duct tape.
Best time to buy: August and December

4. Drink dispenser. I got this fabulous one at Target for less than $20. I love it because you can set it on the counter and dispense, or elevate it using a cake stand and make it fancy. This thing has seen some seriously fun drinks: Gamma Juice, Orange Julius, Sweet Tea and Butter Beer, to name a few.
Best time to buy: Summer

5. White platters. I’ve picked up a few of these at Target over the last several months. I have one large square one and two small rectangular platters. While you can definitely serve food on them, you can also write a message on the platter with a dry erase marker. Supremely versatile and a great staple when setting out food, fancy or not.
Best time to buy: Anytime

6. Mason jars. These are versatile and can be dressed up or down, depending upon the occasion. You can use them for silverware holders, drink cups, vases or take-home party favors. One year, we mixed up a cookie mix and layered the ingredients in these. They are *super* cheap and Ball just came out with their blue “vintage” collection. When not using them for parties, I’ve been known to steal a few from my stash and use them as paint containers!
Best time to buy: Spring/Summer

7. 6′ plastic table. We purchased one of these when Lowe’s put them on sale a few summers ago. I believe it was $40 and we have used it for nearly every event (no joke) we’ve had at the house. It’s lightweight and can easily be wiped clean. It doesn’t warp or stain and when stored upright, you don’t need much space in your garage or closet. I’m kinda wishing I had two.
Best time to buy: Mid-summer

8. Paper punch. I have several of these and purchased many of them on Cyber Monday for 40% off from The TomKat Studio. You can pick them up at any craft store or via Amazon. They’re great when making your own food labels or thank you notes. I’ve even used mine to cut out unique shapes for colored banners, crafted from paint samples.

9. Ribbon. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Great for tying favor sacks, stringing up banners, tying bows for vases, attaching food labels, hanging foam core, displaying signs or dressing up your tableware. Michael’s has a great collection of grosgrain ribbon in various colors with a side stitch pattern or polka dots. While satin ribbon can often be used, I tend to side with grosgrain. If you cut it at an angle, it reduces fraying or you can lightly pass a flame across the bottom and singe the bottom so it doesn’t fray at all (do that one with supervision!)
Best time to buy: Anytime you’re at a craft store, see what they have on sale

10. White tablecloth. I bought a nice one from Pottery Barn a while back and while I do love it (it’s my fancy version), even on sale it wasn’t the cheapest tablecloth. I did, however, find a floor length one via tablecloths.com. It’s not 100% cotton, but it doesn’t require as much ironing and it covers the table nicely. I love white because you can easily adapt it to any color scheme. It never goes out of style.
Best time to buy: January, during everyone’s white sales

Bonus: Don’t forget about the labor. As Scott and I often say, child labor laws don’t exist at our house. We’re all in this together. Every event at our home is an extension of our hospitality. {southern girl raised right!} If you’re a guest in our home, we want you to feel like your presence here is a tremendous gift to our family – because it is!

Party on, y’all.

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3 Comments

  1. Ellen Thrifty & Chic Mom on July 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Great tips I have over half of these things but definitely need to add some of the ones I missed!

  2. Wanda on July 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    These a great! Over the years of hosting I can’t tell you how many wedding and baby events I have done. I finally went to Walmart and over the course of a few weeks bought 50 clear glass plates ($1.00) each and the glass champagne flutes were less expensive than the plastic. I have 56 champagne glasses because we NEVER have a party without mimosas!

    Keep the ideas coming. I have another’s baby shower to host in 3 weeks!

    • Kathryn on July 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Wanda, that is so smart because they can be washed and reused! I’m working more and more toward finding things I can reuse. Great idea!

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