5 must-haves for easy party planning

This week, we’re happy to welcome back Elizabeth, our resident party planner, who’s here to share her 5 must-have items for party planning.


I host a lot of parties. Whether it’s a family member’s birthday party, a friend’s baby shower, or an end-of-the-summer happy hour, there always seems to be a reason to celebrate.

And recently, I realized that there are a few staple items that I’ve used at almost every party. I call them my “party planning must-haves.” They’re those items that I’ve invested in over the years, and that I repeatedly use to create quick and easy focal points that set the tone and style of a party. (And since I’m constantly reusing them, they’ve also saved me a bunch of money over time!)

Here are the top 5 items I recommend keeping on-hand to help with quick & easy party planning:

1. Place card holders

Wire place card holders are great staple items that you can use over & over again! #party #placecards

Photos courtesy of Tess Smith Photography

You know, the ones used to hold cute food and drink tags! I picked up twelve of these little guys on clearance, years ago, and have used them at just about every party I’ve hosted since.

Neutral-colored holders are best because they’ll match a variety of party themes. You can use them with colored paper, tags, ribbon, and anything else your creativity conjures up to add little bursts of color throughout your tablescape. They even make holders without a base, so you can stick them in pretty much anything that goes with your theme. Talk about a “neutral” set! ;)


2. Glass drink dispensers

Glass drink dispensers are great staple items that you can use over & over again! #party #drinks

Not only can these add a huge splash of color, but serving beverages from a dispenser, instead of purchasing individual drinks, can also save you some money… which you can then spend on things like cute-colored straws, of course! When shopping for the perfect dispenser, I recommend finding one that has a pedestal, so cups can easily fit under the spout without having to use a stand.


3. Beverage tub

Beverage tubs are great staple items that you can use over & over again! #party #drinks

Photo on right courtesy of Tess Smith Photography

For drinks of the beer and wine variety (or any other bottled beverages), I would suggest using a steel or galvanized beverage tub. This is a great way to keep cans and bottles chilled throughout your party, with a more attractive presentation than just a cooler on the floor—unless, of course, you’re throwing a red Solo cup party, in which case the cooler on the floor is totally appropriate :)

Beverage tubs come in so many colors and styles, but like the wire card holders, if you keep it neutral and choose white or steel, you’ll be able to use your tub with almost any theme.

I also suggest looking for a tub with foldable handles, or handles built into the tub, to make it more versatile. If you’re not using your tub the “intended” way (for drinks), you could turn it upside down and use it as a sturdy riser for food, or toss a table cloth over it and use it as a display piece. And if you didn’t go with the pedestal-style drink dispenser, you could even use one of these to give your dispenser some extra height.


4. Small galvanized buckets

Small galvanized buckets are great staple items that you can use over & over again! #party

Photo on right courtesy of Tess Smith Photography

Continuing with the tub theme, my next must-have is a set of small galvanized buckets (basically “mini-tubs”). Years ago, I scored a dozen of these 5” galvanized buckets at a craft store, and I’ve used them at so many different events, for so many different purposes, that I’ve definitely gotten way more than my money’s worth out of them.

These little guys are ready to help in so many ways, and with a little twine, ribbon, or tags, you can make them fit just about any theme. I’ve used them to display cake pops, hold raffle tickets, keep party favors safe, serve as small risers for food displays, and I’ve even arranged flowers in them.

While I normally go with a neutral option for other items, since these buckets are so affordable, and there are so many options for sizes and colors, I’ve actually splurged on colored buckets to match specific party themes.

Recently, I picked up several hot-pink mini-buckets to hold spa tools for a sleepover-spa birthday party. The next morning, the same buckets were used to display toppings for the waffle bar. And just last weekend, I was able to use them again to hold hot-pink and gold cake-pops at a 40th birthday party!


5. Glass cylinder vases

Glass cylinder vases are great staple items that you can use over & over again! #party #vases

Photos courtesy of Tess Smith Photography

Glass cylinder vases can be useful in so many ways when setting up for a party. Because there are so many different sizes available, you can use them for holding flower arrangements, silverware, straws, or color-coordinated M&M’s. You could even display swimming goldfish for an under-the-sea party theme!

Since they’re clear, they’re especially great for showing of items that are specifically coordinated to your party, but like the galvanized buckets, they can always be wrapped with paper and twine to match any theme.


I hope these ideas get you going, and help you style your next party—I know they’ve really been a lifesaver for me.

Have any party-planning must-haves sitting in your own closet, just waiting to be let loose at your next party? We’d love to hear all about them!



About Elizabeth Draeger

2 Responses to “5 must-haves for easy party planning”

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  1. Nice list of party planning must have. Beverage hubs can create awesome looks for friends who love to drink. :-P

  2. Excellent this party planning .

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