If you want party planning to be more than just an occasional thing (perhaps your gift is hospitality, you have a large family, or you have lots of pregnant friends!) than if I were you I would work to build my repertoire of party "essentials". There are a few things that I really use over and over. I won't list all of them here, but just to get you started:
1. A cake stand and punch bowl. I absolutely love my cake stand. It is even better because if I flip the stand part over, I can set the lid in it and it becomes a punch bowl! It is this one from Walmart, and I paid $10 for it about 8 years ago and have gotten every penny's worth of use out of it. It is also lovely, because I don't have to store it when it is not in use, I just keep it on my counter filled with fruit. Since it is glass it goes with virtually every color scheme and decor theme you can think of!
2. A 1-inch *and* a 2-inch circle craft punch. These are some of my most used items. I use the one inch to cut cupcake toppers all the time. The two inch I use for tags and have also used for larger toppers. Often when printables are available online (like these that I used for Valentine's Day or these for the Super Hero favors) they are sized to be cut with a two-inch punch. I purchased mine at Micheal's, this is one area where they seem to be superior to Hobby Lobby. With a 40% off coupon (get their app for those!) they were between $6-$8 each.
3. Mason jars. They can be vases, or floating candle holders, or beverage glasses, but these are really workhorses at a party. I have used them several times filled with drinks and topped off with cupcake liners. They are super trendy right now, (My sister has a whole Pinterest board of them!) but they are such a classic you won't regret buying a dozen. These should only run you about $8-$9 at Walmart for 12.
4. Clear fishing line. This is probably the most random seeming item on this list, but I use it over and over. Anything hanging from the ceiling will be mostly invisible if you use fishing line. I used it for both the mobile and to hang the balloons from the ceiling at the Raindrop baby shower. I borrow my husband's, but you can get it from Walmart for around $3-$4.
5. Hot glue gun. This is probably at the top of the list as far as must-haves. I use it for E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! I have this one from Walmart, I don't recommend it. I am planning on buying a full size high-temp one soon. Low temp sounds all good in theory, and I don't burn myself, but the trade-off is clumpy glue that dries a little too quickly. It is hard to get a fine thread, or not make a lump. I think high temp would be a little smoother. And I think it is time to upgrade to a full size one. These can run you anywhere from $5 (what I paid for mine) to $50, but I probably wouldn't pay more than $20 unless you are a professional!:) A mini will work great for most occasional crafters. But do get one, I use it to make garlands, wreaths, attach things (hot glue will remove pretty well from most glass surfaces if you want to reuse) and put together almost anything!
I wouldn't run out and buy these things if you don't have them, but do know that if parties are more than an annual occurrence for you, that you will most likely find it beneficial to invest in these things. I have quite the collection of stuff that I use over and over for parties. I may have to do another of these posts before the month is up!
This is Day 12 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning." Find the rest of the series here.
Linked up to "Thrifty Thursdays" at Living Well, Spending Less.