70 percent of the clothes you own should be meat and potatoes. 30 percent should be icing and fluff — that’s colour, pattern, shine, accessories.

— Michael Kors, Times Online

Who knew that the fashion guru’s knowledge could go for the party world as well?!? We truly believe that it doesn’t take much to “wow” partygoers, and there are definitely some party essentials that should serve as your “meat and potatoes” so to speak.

OK, we’re no Isaac Newton, so bear with us here, but we’re gonna break it down mathematically for you….or try to.

  • 70% Meat & Potatoes The things you keep in your secret party stash and go with virtually every party. If you don’t yet have a party stash, hold tight, we’re getting there. And we’ll even tell you some of the most cost-effective places to get them at the end of the post.
  • 30% Icing & Fluff The things that you go out and get that are specific to the party you are throwing–the color, the pattern, the shine, the accessories.

The Meat & Potatoes
OK, so you may ask, “What in the world would I have in my party stash and do I use it at EVERY party?” Your party stash should be the things that you use at almost every party–your serveware, your containers, your tablecloths. A few rules of thumb:

1. Table Cloths
Resist the urge to buy that Over the Hill plastic table cloth! We have found that a basic white fabric table cloth with a “runner” of wrapping paper adds more punch and looks well thought out. Nothing takes the focus off of a well thought out spread faster than a plastic table cloth full of creases! Don’t believe how fabulous the wrapping paper can be? Just ask Martha Stewart!


Precious, but….the wrinkles!
Think about the impact a white tablecloth with a polka dot wrapping “runner” would have had!

2. Basic Serveware
Give yourself an excuse to go to Target. You know you’re looking for one! We have found the most versatile serveware out there is at Target, HEB, and Walmart. In fact, we share our stash between the two of us! We have a set of glass carafes, large square dinner plates, one square serving bowl, and two rectangular serving platters (all in plain white) and we use them at virtually every party we throw in some form or fashion–whether for food or favors. An easy way to dress up serveware is to place a piece of the wrapping paper in the deepest part of the platter/plate, tie a ribbon on to the bowl, stack plates to make a custom cupcake stand or attach a custom party circle.

Both Images Courtesy of Amy Atlas

One more thing that we have added to our serveware stash is a cake pop stand (OK, maybe two). Cake pops are all the rage right now because they are easy to make and a great alternative to cupcakes–and to be honest, we’ll jump on just about anything Starbucks puts in front of our face. Sooooo, our handiness went to the next level, and we made a couple of cake pop stands. They are great for really anything on a stick–hot dogs, lollipops, rice crispies, etc. It’s not a must, but it sure is fun to have on hand. And the lovely Something Shiny has given a lovely tutorial on how to do just that.

Image Courtesy of Something Shiny Blog

3. Containers
There are no real rules for using containers, but we do always try to keep them simple. Whether your container is made of glass, crystal, porcelain, cardboard, wood, or galvanized metal, we believe that less fuss is more. And the less specific they are to your particular event, the more likely you are to be able to use them for parties in the future. So keep your eyes out during your next trip to TJ Maxx or Marshalls–we can always find them there for less then $10! Some good staples to have are:

      • Galvanized Buckets: Great for wrapped silverware, centerpieces, favors, food, icing drinks, etc. The smaller ones can be picked up in the dollar section of Target from time to time and always at your local craft store like Hobby Lobby.

      • Glass Vases: We prefer the cylindrical type because you can use them on a candy or favor bar, for flowers, or filled with ornaments for a Christmas party centerpiece.
      • Glass Apothecary Jars: Great for filling with food and candy and can go very vintage or very modern. These will never go out of style! And a bonus, you can use them for decor in your home when you’re not using them at your party. We picked up two yesterday at Marshall’s for $6 each!

      • Risers: You may be asking…”What in the world is a riser?” It’s something to give your display table a little dimension. It can be made of cardboard mailing boxes covered in a coordinating wrapping paper, or it can be a small wooden crate. It doesn’t matter, but give your dessert table some height! It will truly make a difference.

While this list of the “meat and potatoes” is not exhaustive, it does cover the basics to be on the look out for on your next shopping trip. Aim for something universal that you can add the “icing and fluff” to at your next party, and we’ll see you next week to help you do just that!

Now for the resources of some cost-effective places to get some of these goodies:

Tablecloths: We found the best deal on Amazon at Linen Tablecloth. Normally plastic tablecloths are around $2-3 a piece, but these come in at less than $10 a piece and will last forever. They are of restaurant quality, and you can’t go wrong.

Basic Serveware: We bought ours at Target and Walmart, but we have recently noticed that HEB is carrying their own line. These dishes look fabulous on any spread because they are so basic.

Containers: The best deal we have seen on glass containers is at your local Marshalls and Homegoods stores. But if you prefer to shop online, Save On Crafts has an incredible selection of containers in general. Their apothecary jar selection is extensive!