After sharing with you the cutest Pinterest~Worthy Bridal Shower earlier this week, I decided it was high time I opened my little party goodie box and let you see what I consider my favorite must~have party essentials. I’m not a professional party planner, I just love to host parties: plan the menu (food and drink is a major component), the table decor, setting the dining or buffet table, all the little things that make a party, regardless of the size, special for every guest. It doesn’t matter what’s the theme of the party, the occasion, the number of guests or the time of year. Certain party essentials that you keep on hand and use over and over make party hosting so much easier.
Hosting parties is so much easier if you have some basic party essentials on hand. These are pieces that come in handy year after year, never go out of style, mix with everything, are versatile for any occasion, and aren’t too expensive. That’s my criteria for party essentials.
My Favorite Must~Have Party Essentials
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My Favorite Places to Shop for Party Ware
I have my favorite places to shop for party essentials. When we need multiples of items, such as dishes and glasses, cost definitely plays a role. For plates, glasses, serving pieces, such as platters and trays, and napkins, both cloth and paper, you can’t beat these stores. If you don’t have a nearby location, all these sources can be found online. For monogramming styrofoam cups and napkins, Swoozie’s is a great option. I always find the cutest party napkins at Tuesday Morning at a great price.
Think Outside the Box Must~Have Party Essential Sources
Don’t think that party essentials are only available at retail stores or online. Over many years, I’ve accumulated what I consider must~have party essentials at off~the~beaten~path places. I’ve found spotless, like new napkin sets at garage sales. Trays, platters, cake stands, and bowls are great buys at estate sales. Even flea markets carry glassware and tableware. I found some of the sweetest sherbet glasses and my fiesta glasses at an antique mall.
You’ll notice that so many of my suggestions are white: white dishes, white napkins, white serving pieces. That’s because you can’t so wrong with white. Clear glass and metals also function as neutrals. I love color, put I like to use it as accents, in flowers, and decor. BUT, I throw that rule out the window if I’m focusing on a colored~themed party!
My Favorite Must~Have Party Essentials for Dining and Drinking
You have to have plates for people to eat from (unless you are serving finger food and napkins suffice), glasses to drink from, silverware to eat with, and napkins for folks to clean up with.
NOTE: I love finger foods at parties where no silverware is needed or at the most, just a fork. No knives unless it’s a sit down meal.
Years ago, when we had our first Kentucky Derby party, I shopped for all these items at World Market. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have used them. I have 2 sets of the dinner plates, 4 sets of the napkins and 2 sets of the forks. We have 2 cases of the glasses, which can be used for wine, tea, lemonade, and water. I love using table and glassware in this less expensive price point for buffets and cocktail parties. If someone drops a glass and it breaks, it’s not a big monetary loss. I can honestly tell my guest that it’s not a big deal. There is nothing worse that having a guest break a valuable piece of crystal. They feel bad, you feel bad.
PARTY ETIQUETTE TIP: As a guest, if you break something that is obviously valuable, always offer to replace it. As a hostess, always graciously decline the offer. If you want to be wonderful guest, surprise your hostess, find out the crystal or china pattern and replace it, anyway. You’ll forever be a treasured friend.
NOTE: Save your good china and crystal for sit~down events where accidents are less likely to happen.
Must~Have Party Essential Serving Pieces
If you read the post How to Host a Pinterest~Worthy Bridal Shower, you saw some really ideas for serving food and beverages. Here’s some that I think are essential ~ not only practical, but pretty.
TIP: always think vertical for displaying and serving your food. It makes for a more pleasing arrangement, allows you to need less space for serving and lets the guests see the food better.
Here’s a simple option.
If you like something with a little more pizzaz, here’s one with chalk board signs that even comes with a chalk marker.
I love that this one can have bowls or plates for serving.
This rectangular one is a really great choice for desserts, appetizers, or breakfast goodies.
For dips, chips, crackers, this is a very practical dish.
Cake stands make great serving possibilities. Stacking different sizes is so attractive. I love these options. And don’t forget that flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales are great resources for cake stands.
I love the vintage look of the stacking World Market Amelie Cake Stands with the scalloped edge.
I have had this Cake Stand that converts to a punch bowl/salad bowl from Williams~Sonoma for years. It is so versatile. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve used it.
The rustic, casual look of this Galvanized Cake Stand from World Market is super cute.
TIP: another way to add height to your serving pieces? Place cardboard boxes under your tablecloth or a large napkin. Then place your serving piece on top. Just make sure that the box is sturdy. I showed the step~by~step of that idea last year.
I hope these ideas have been helpful. As we get into May (graduation, Mother’s Day, end of school parties, Memorial Day) and summer holidays, it’s nice to think ahead about parties you may be planning and can be on the watch for party essentials and sales. But remember ~ Christmas is 7 months away. It’s never too early to plan ahead.