I was going to name this post “how to hoard party supplies on a budget” but I was afraid that word might cause people to feel negative, and think that I have a hoarding problem. Okay, I do. The first step is admitting it, right? The thing is, I feel like being a party supply hoarder is a good thing. I am like a boy scout, always prepared!
I’ll tell you a story. Once my friend Jen was turning 30, and she wanted to have a party. She went back and forth on themes and couldn’t decide, time was running out. Finally she decided on a simple game night, playing bunco, making Italian sodas and finger food. It was the night before by the time she decided though and she was panicking a little about decorations and how much everything it would cost. I took her to my house and started pulling out my hoard. We took most of it over to her place and decorated the night away. Neither of us spent a dime, her apartment was decked out, and we all got to enjoy a fun party. Don’t worry, I still have all the stuff we used. I had used it before that and I have used it again. It pays to have a hoard.
I touched on this in my first how to throw a party without breaking the bank post, but I decided that I need to get specific about it. Here’s what I do. When I am out running errands or buying groceries, I’m always going to wander into the party aisle. It’s a sickness. I always head straight for the clearance shelf at the end of the aisle though, you know the one. If there is something good, I grab it and factor that in to the weekly grocery budget. If I buy a couple packs of napkins, I opt not to buy the frozen cookie dough I had been thinking about getting. It’s a give and take.
Buy the good napkins when you see them! I don’t like to spend more than $2 a pack, and the pack should have at least 20-25 napkins. You want as much bang for your buck as you can get. Lately Target has been killing it in the cute napkins department so I had to stop myself at four packs one day ($1 each) and I think I’m good for the next year, unless I end up having a huge, very stripey party.
If there is one thing you should absolutely hoard, it’s tissue paper. Every color. You can do so many things with tissue paper and it’s so incredibly cheap! Garlands? Pom poms? Confetti? Gift wrap? Yes to all. There are certain colors that every store has, but trendy colors like mint can be harder to find. Actual party supply stores or Hobby Lobby have larger selections.
So tissue paper, and paper in general can take care of almost all the decor. Food serving is a party necessity and it’s less easy to get cute and functional together. My secret: keep regular, plain white paper products around. That way they match every party. I also have just started to collect nicer white and pewter serving dishes. You can find them at Ross for under $10 pretty often so that’s how I’m slowly adding a few of those into my hoard. Don’t pay $40 for one of those at a department store, please oh please!
I also collect stripey straws. I have done a whole post on the cheapest way to buy striped straws but since writing that they’ve become so popular that you can find them at homegoods, marshall’s, tjmaxx and craft stores! I still have not seen any as cheap as amazon though.
Tablecloths I mainly buy at thrift stores. I prefer cloth or vinyl to paper ones because if they are paper they are harder to use more than once. Never pay more than $5.
Storage. You want to know where I keep my hoard? Well, I plan to have an “occasions” closet at my new house (anyone? last night’s modern family!?) but right now I keep a lot of my supplies in suitcases, like this pink one. They double as decor in various parts of my home so when curious visitors open them to see what’s inside they get a very fun surprise. My birthday party in a box houses a good chunk of this stuff too.
Love this? Check out how to celebrate birthdays on a budget and this post (which has a fun paper banner tutorial!) If you have a question about something in the photos that I didn’t explain just ask in the comments!