|Gathering items from around the house|
added a hint of authenticity to my Western
parlor for my son's Cowboy Party.
I have spent several afternoons munching on popcorn watching "reality" TV shows where doting parents throw elaborate birthday parties for their children, sparing no expense. Little Johnny wants Justin Bieber to sing him happy birthday? No problem, Justin name your price. Little Susie wants to be carried into the room on the shoulders of 12 Chippendale dancers? If that's what she wants, that's what she'll have, here's some cash, see that it happens. I find myself wondering what dimension the producers of these shows traveled into to film this alternate-reality TV. These people spend more on their daughter's sweet sixteen than I spent on my house. It boggles the mind.
That said, I have nothing against throwing a great party for your kids. Personally, I enjoy hunting down the decorations and props, planning the menu, making costumes, planning activities, and putting it all together. I just cringe at the thought at spending a lot of money in the process. And believe me, my definition of "a lot" of money is vastly different than those folks who make it onto TV.
I've compiled a list below of my favorite places to go for party supplies. The key is to pick and choose, find what is going to make the most impact for the least price, because even when shopping these places, one could end up spending a small fortune if one doesn't show restraint. Without further ado, here's the list:
Dollar Tree: Dollar Tree stores are located across the country and also, conveniently, on the web! My favorite thing about shopping Dollar Tree is that everything's a dollar, so I can count the items in my shopping cart and know exactly how much I've spent. Inventory includes paper plates, plastic silverware, table cloths, fancy cookies, balloons, and floral and craft items for centerpieces. If you want something a little more formal, Dollar Tree also sells a selection of glass and ceramic dishes, candle holders, and fancy serving dishes. This is always my first stop when I am preparing for a party.
Big Lots: You never know what you will find at Big Lots, but it is a good place to buy seasonal decor, food items, and outdoor party items at a discount. Big Lots is usually my second stop after the Dollar Tree. This is where I hunt down unusual props and strange or festive food and drinks.
Oriental Trading: For a theme party, Oriental Trading Company is an excellent resource. You can shop from their catalog or website and buy items in bulk for larger gatherings. Oriental Trading Company is a good place to buy that special item to set the mood, whether you are purchasing a cardboard corral for a Western party or Tiki torches for your next luau, they've got it. Word of caution: it wouldn't take long to blow your entire budget shopping here, so save this for your "wow" item and get things like table settings elsewhere.
Party Cheap: I stumbled across this site and instantly loved it. There's a big variety of themed decorations for all kinds of different parties, and they take PayPal. I admit, I haven't actually ordered anything from here, but there's a lot of inventory that tempts me, and the prices are pretty good.
Your Garage or Attic: You may be surprised how much stuff you already have that can be re-purposed to set the mood for your party. Christmas lights, party platters, extra chairs and tables, lamps and candles, you name it, I bet your house is full of things that you can utilize for your party. And don't forget, you can always make decorations and costumes from things you have in your craft room if you want something more specialized. There is no limit to what you can do if you give it a little creativity and time, and if you have kids, making party decorations together can be a lot of fun and can create many fond memories for your children.