It’s no secret that we haven’t been gathering much this year. But as we’ve learned to take proper precautions, we can start looking ahead with great anticipation to a time when we can come together again as the social creatures that we are. Party planning is finally back on our horizons.
Of course, since it’s been so long since we’ve been throwing parties, we may have forgotten what separates a mere gathering of people from a full-fledged event with a capital E. Now is the perfect time to learn a few new tricks and maybe even, if necessary, unlearn some of those bad old habits from before. If you’re just now coming out of your shell, you want every event to be worth the effort that goes into getting a party off without a hitch. Here are some of the essential party supplies you need for your next get-together. Plan smart, have fun, and of course—be safe.
You don’t need sterling silver utensils for your party, but the stainless steel you use for everyday meals doesn’t feel appropriate, either. Go out of the ordinary and serve a big crowd with something that won’t put so much strain on your dishwasher at the end of the night. Peruse some disposable dinnerware sets and find the flatware collection that’s just right for your event. The best tip when it comes to disposable flatware is to make sure your knives are just right: not so dull that they can’t cut anything, but not so sharp as to be dangerous.
You may have heard stories of how millennials have killed the disposable napkin: by opting for the same paper towels they’d wipe down the kitchen counter with, they’ve obviated the need for dedicated paper products at the table. But reports of the napkin’s demise have been greatly exaggerated—after all, you would never dream of putting out paper towels for a party, would you? Napkins are going to accompany your hors d’oeuvres and your dinner, so pay attention to form as well as function when selecting the right napkins for the night. You don’t want napkins that will fall apart, nor should they be unpleasant to look at.
A special occasion used to be the time to “get out the fine china.” But let’s say your parents have held onto the family china collection, you’ve been in no hurry to buy an ensemble of your own, and even if you have, the thought of delicately hand-washing it all when the night is over is enough to make you forget about ever buying any in the first place.
So, with that out of the way, modern times call for modern tableware. But modern doesn’t always have to mean casual. We all love the notion of cooking a “one-pot dinner,” but a one-plate dinner doesn’t exactly hold the same appeal for your guests. You’ll need separate plates between courses to give your meal the elegance it deserves, because a dinner worth throwing a whole party for demands nothing less. But because any party supplier knows there’s more than meets the eye to assembling napkins, utensils, and plates, you can find expertly curated ensembles that come together exquisitely and save you money. Whether you elect to go with durable plastic options or equally as hardy but eco-friendly materials, a party with coordinated packages will make every guest feel special.
Cold temperatures hit most of us around this time of year, so anyone who’s coming over will probably be taking off their coat and staying a while. Having everyone toss their coats on the guest room bed seems like a simple and satisfactory solution until one person goes home in someone else’s black wool overcoat. You don’t need a professional coat-check operation here, but a little extra coordination could prevent any coat pile mishaps. Clearing out a hall closet for the evening or picking up a dedicated coat rack for your parties will cut down on clutter and confusion, not to mention keeping everyone’s nice winter jackets from getting crumpled in the pile. Consider some light color-coding for your coat hangers: it’s harder to mix up two similar coats if they’re hung on different colored hangers. The only catch is making sure you remember whose coat is on the blue hanger and whose is on the pink one. Take notes if you have to!
We’ve talked at length about some of the physical necessities of a memorable party, but your aural backdrop is important, too. A big event is too important to entrust to a phone set on shuffle, so if you want music to play a part in your gathering, make sure to do it right. Ensure that you can send your music through a good sound system, and curate your party playlist beforehand to ensure that all the music you play is fun, unobtrusive, well-sequenced, and won’t teach your guests’ kids any new words. Don’t let any obnoxious tracks slip into the mix—if you must, save those for a cue to get your last guest to leave.
Whether it’s a traditional Thanksgiving horn of plenty, Christmas candles flanked with of poinsettia and holly, or a photographic celebration of your shower’s guest of honor, a quality centerpiece can lend a special feeling to the dinner table. You can always buy a centerpiece, of course, but if you or your child is artistically inclined, this is a perfect opportunity to add some truly personal touches to the proceedings. If arts and crafts aren’t your thing, a nice selection of flowers, real or artificial, can serve you and your dinner table just as well.
These are a few of the essential party supplies you need for your next get-together, but as important as these items are, remember that no great party is complete without delicious food, treasured family and friends, and a convivial spirit. It’s been a rough year, and as soon as you feel ready to bring everyone in for holiday and personal celebrations, you’ll have everything you need to make the first big event in months one that your guests will enjoy and remember. And when the guests have gone home and the party is over, you won’t be facing a daunting list of cleaning tasks, either. That, more than anything, should have you looking ahead to your next party.