Tuesday, October 29, 2013
PPP Day 29: After the Party is Over
I know the series isn't over yet, but I have a guest post scheduled for tomorrow, and then Thursday will be the series wrap-up, so I thought today would be the best day to cover a part of party planning that is often overlooked. What do you do after the party is over? Well, besides heave a sigh of relief, I mean!
Often the first thing is clean-up. You can save yourself a lot of time and energy if you think about what you will do with the leftovers beforehand. And I am not just talking about food! You will have lots of decorations to deal with, and if you handmade things, there may be some sentimentality attached. There are four things you can do with your decor and serving items:
1. Scrap it! It may be difficult to pitch the carefully constructed banner that took you three hours to make, but if it says, "Carson's Wild Rumpus" there is probably not much else you can do with it. I am ashamed to admit I finally threw out that banner this very week. I held onto it for 2 and 1/2 years! I don't know what I thought I was going to do with it. Take plenty of photos-they require a lot less space.:) Mostly this is your best option for anything that was damaged (torn plastic tablecloths) or that is difficult to save, but would be easy to make again (a pom-pom garland). I am all for recycling, but in my mind whether you put it in the trash or the recycle bin, you are still getting rid of it.
2. Send it! Home, with your guests. This is a great option for anything that could potentially be used as decor. I send home mobiles with my guests (although since the one from the Raindrop shower matched my playroom, I kept that one!) and also, usually anything I have framed, like the Scripture verses. I know of several nurseries that have my "art" in them. It is a lovely gift to the guest of honor, and it keeps your creations in use for longer than a three hour party.
Don't just limit your "gifts" to your guest of honor, though. Does something match another guest's living room colors? Give it to them! Banners without words or phrases, can often be re-purposed as decor. Framed prints are cute, too. Ask the guests if anyone has use for an item you are planning on tossing-you might be surprised who wants it!
I often give away things to people with kids, too. At the Superhero shower, I sent some Pez dispensers home with a mom of boys. I also sent the onesies from that shower home with the mom-to-be (I carefully attached the capes so they wouldn't ruin the onesies). I gave away the butterfly nets from the purple butterfly shower, too. Kids love junk, and even if they only use it for a few days, you have extended its lifespan!
You can also "send it" to Goodwill or another charity. They will happily sell even handmade items if they deem them worthy. I always figure it is better to donate it and let them decide to toss it. You can even send partially used rolls of streamers and opened bags of balloons!
3. Save it! If you throw parties frequently, you will often find that you can re-use items that might seem limited, but if you spent more than a few dollars on it, you may find that it benefits you later. I keep my floral foam and use it over and over. I also save paper/foil shreds. I use those to line containers with candy, and also at the bottom of vases that I put stick decor and balloons in. I put it in a ziploc bag and it stores easily. I also keep scrapbook paper pieces-I often put them overlapping on the diagonal for "table" runners, and if they didn't get anything on them, I simply throw them in a drawer. I use scrapbook paper all the time, so that doesn't go to waste.
I also usually save my plastic serving pieces, even if they are just from the Dollar Tree. I buy plain ones (without words or specific themes) and use them over and over. I save things that are easy to store-I reused the lanterns from my 80's party at my clothing swap because they stored flat and it was a snap to put them in the basement.
I also keep picture frames if the guest of honor doesn't want them. I switch out photos and printables all the time, so I usually have a collection of empty frames waiting to be filled. They are easy to store since they are flat.
4. Sell it! I purchased premade "Hello Kitty" decor for my daughter's 5th birthday. That stuff is not cheap! After the party was over, I carefully saved everything I could-I even went so far as to peel stickers off a "pin-the-bow-on-Hello-Kitty" game, and deflated a mylar balloon with a straw- and listed it on Craigslist. The woman even wanted my used "pull-string" pinata! I did not make back all my money-but it was definitely better than trashing it. I save all my paper punches, but I bet you could sell those easily on CL. You can also sell on Amazon, too. I haven't tried it but it looks easy. I purchased this cloud punch, and there is an option on the right side of the top of the page to sell it. However, I did notice there was a $0.99 per transaction charge plus "other selling fees", so this may not be the best option if your item isn't worth much. However, every little bit helps, right?
Consider listing on Craigslist, eBay or a Facebook page to move stuff out of your house, and recoup a little of your costs. It won't take too much time to list on Facebook or CL, a couple of pictures (when I sold the Hello Kitty items, I just used photos from the party!) and a few minutes to meet someone to get your cash! Listing on eBay is a little more complicated, and I hate mailing stuff, so you will have to decide if that is worth your time.
Also, don't forget to save all your receipts. I often have unused rolls of ribbon, or pieces of scrapbook paper that I don't need (and didn't use-I don't advocate returning used items-even if they seem new, that is dishonest) and I will take them back after the party is over. That is why I never open more than one package of anything at a time-often you won't need nearly as many napkins or plates as you think, and if they are unopened you can get your money back!
My strongest encouragement is this: deal with everything as quickly as possible-perhaps even dropping stuff off at Goodwill on your way home! The longer stuff sits the less enticing it is to deal with. I am terrible about throwing everything in a laundry basket and shoving it in my basement, to have to pull out crushed paper and ruined decorations months later. Ugh!
The tricky part is refraining from being a hoarder, while not tossing stuff that you will moan about needing later. I am getting better at this, but my rule of thumb is to keep it-as it is usually easy enough to get rid of it later. I had just decided that I needed to clear out all the things from the superhero shower when my friend told me she was having a superhero birthday for her son. I was so glad to be able to pass on some bits of all our hard work (she re-used the masks, canvasses and pennant banner)! However, it would not have been worth it if those things had taken up valuable space and been in the way. I don't usually repeat party themes, but I had debated having a superhero birthday for Carson, so that is why I saved them. Use your best judgement!
Clearly label and store what you are saving-nothing will do you any good if you can't find it. I put like items together, rather than storing by theme. I have drawers for paper, felt, fabric and craft foam. I also have drawers for my punches and other embellishments. That also helps spur my creativity because I don't feel locked into a specific theme.
If you plan on sending thank-you notes, try to do that as soon as possible, too. The longer I wait, the less likely that is to happen. Send some photos to the printer and write "thank-you" in Sharpie on the back. Hand them out, skip the postage and you are done! Everyone would rather have a photo to save, right?
Don't forget to organize your photos! Delete the crummy ones right away, and it will make them easier to use in the future. I try to upload mine as soon as possible-and post a few on Facebook, too. Everyone loves to relive the memories, and it is great for those who couldn't make it. And if you are a blogger, go ahead and upload them to your blog. It will make future posts easy.
And then start getting ready for your next party...;)
Find the rest of the series here!