Keeping A Well Stocked Party Pantry

At the end of every month, I go through our family spending and “consolidate” our spending and our budget. I used to always hate doing the May and June consolidations, because that’s when my girls birthdays are, and I would always go way over budget buying things for them.  So, this year, I came up with a new plan of attack.

All images belong to Becoming Martha, with the exception of
the straws (Make Something Happy) and the tissue poms (Design Dazzle)

First of all, I started stocking up on certain items that I knew I would use.  This spread the cost out over the year and easily fit it into our budget.  I kind of think of my party supply stock like a pantry.  I buy things when they go on sale and try to keep a steady stock of certain items. (Picking your theme and color scheme as early as possible helps too.  I try for 2-3 months prior to the party to give me lots of time to fully develop my vision.) What kind of consumable things should you keep on hand?  For instance…

1. Streamers.  You can buy these 2/$1 at the Dollarstore, and even at our small fancy party store here in town, they are only $1.50 a roll.  I try to stock a roll in each color so that I can go to my supply when its party time.  They can be used as a backdrop or decorations, and they can be straight, twisted, dip-dyed, fringed, or ruffled.  That’s a pretty versatile supply for a buck!

Column 1: BHG / My Hands Made It / Dandee Designs / Dana Made It
Column 2: Glorious Treats / Design Dazzle / Fiskars
Column 3:  Annie’s Eats / Perfectly Imperfect / Martha Stewart


2. Bags.  I always keep three types of bags on hand – (i) cellophane bags, which I buy at Walmart, 40 for $2.  (ii) paper bags, from the dollar store, which are like 60 for $1, and (iii) small craft storage bags from the dollar store.  Depending on the size you get, they range between 40 and 80 bags for $1.  The cellophane bags and paper bags I often use for favors, while I use the small craft bags to divide supplies up for craft themes party activities.
Column 1: The Sweetest Occasion / BM’s Budget Party Favors / BM’s Monster Cookie Bar
Column 2: eighteen25 / Wants & Wishes / BM’s Monster Cookie Bar
Column 3: BM’s Paper Bag Favors / Fiskars

3. Tissue paper.  Again, super cheap at the dollar store.  I find they usually only have solid colors, but WalMart has some cute patterned ones for about $2 a pack.

Clockwise from top left: Design Dazzle / Fiskars / Hip Hip Hooray /
Sugar & Charm /  Little Pumpkin Grace /  Mary Janes & Galoshes

4. Kraft paper.  It’s brown and neutral and makes a great backdrop for banners, tissue poms, folded flowers, or any other decorative background.  You could also use the white kraft paper but I love the brown.

Column 1: Baker’s Royale
Column 2: decor8 / A Place For Us

5. Paint Chips.  Totally free!  As soon as you know your colors, grab a bunch, and you can make some fun and snazzy items with them.
Column 1:  A Bit of Sunshine / A Darling Day /  Sew Many Ways / How About Orange
Column 2: BM’s Paint Chip Garland / Capital BMy Hands Made It

6. StrawsI bought a huge package of krazy straws, so whatever color I need, I almost be guaranteed to have.  I also try to buy big mixed packages of striped paper straws, with different colors so that the leftovers might suit the next party. Don’t want to shell out the money for paper straws?  You can make plain old straws fancy too with a tag or strip of washi tape.

Row 1: Make Something Happy / Preppy & Pink
Row 2: Plucky Momo / Craft & Creativity 

7. Ribbon.  Michaels often has the basic thin ribbon on sale 3/$1 and I honestly do have every color of this.  It is so easy to use and a quick added decoration to finish things off.  I also shop their special value ribbon bin a lot – it’s a pain to dig through, but there are often good finds hidden in there! The dollar store often sells cute ribbon too in a variety of sizes.

8. Cardstock.  Keep lots of solid colors on hand, and any patterns that you find on sale.  Michaels often has open stock sheets on 4/$1, so stock up!  Those suckers are expensive to buy full price.  I found the cheapest place for white cardstock was WalMart, its about $6 for 100 sheets.  And I always buy my colored pads at Michaels with 40% off coupons.

9. Paint.  Small bottles of acrylic paint are always on sale at Michaels for 2/$1, or you can shell out $1 for them at the Dollar store.  I also keep a can of each general color in spray paint – so I have one red, one orange, etc… It would be too costly and too space consuming to collect them all, so I find one in each color area works for now.  (If I need to, I run out and buy one more can closer to the party date.)

If you keep those very inexpensive things on hand, you have the basics to a great party already.  There are a few things you should invest in, however, and they will last you for eternity… hopefully.  Some examples of things I put the money down for?

1. Cake stand.  A good cake stand, usually in a neutral color like white, will last for years and years.  Mine has a beaded pearl edge (very similar to the PB one above), and I am dying to find one that you lace ribbon through!  I just find it’s a classy touch, and you can use it for so many things.  I also have a three tiered glass stand that is super handy, since the three tiers separate to make individual stands as well.  You can easily make your own cake stand – do a pinterest search and you will find tons of tutorials – but I love the elegance of a “real” one.

Top: Layla Grace / Amazon
Bottom: Pottery Barn

2. Frames.  I have a selection of frames that I repeatedly use for parties.  For starters, there is the frame that I swear appears at 90% of the parties out there – the Ikea Tolsby frame.  At 99 cents a piece, I think I bought 10.  They are double sided and hold two pictures (or menu cards or activity station signs, etc).  You could also use the frameless plastic stand up frames that you find at the Dollar Store.  Lastly, I like to keep one pretty, more ornate frame that I use as a sign on the table.  Mine started ugly plastic thrift store gold, but I spray painted it pink… and then red… and then orange… and you get the idea.

Column 1: BM’s Lovebird’s Party / BM’s Ballerina Birthday
Column 2: BM’s Silly Summer Photo Booth / BM’s Monster Bash/ BM’s Lovebirds Party

3. Clip art.  If you can teach yourself how to make your own party printables, you will be laughing.  The only costs will be cardstock and ink – or if you don’t want to waste your own colored ink, it costs 39 cents a sheet to print in color at Staples.  You can create invitations, cupcake wrappers, menu signs, activity signs, cupcake toppers, and just about anything else that you would pay someone to make for you. (The image below is a selection of party printables that I made for my most recent party, Cecelia’s Summer Party.) What to look for when buying clip art for party printables?  Look for a big coordinated kit (Just So Scrappy has HUGE kits for $1.50 with more than enough to put together a party) and then head over to my tutorial series on how to create cupcake wrappers, invitations, and more.  I have amassed a HUGE collection of clipart – find your favorite designers, sign up for the newsletters, and always buy when they have their big 40-50% off sales.

4. Beverage Dispenser.  I finally invested in one of these things this year, and I love it!  I managed to score a big glass one over at Liquidation World (Big Lots) for $14!  I wish I bought two.  They are so simple but so elegant, they add a perfect touch to the table.

Left: Amy Atlas / Right: Kara’s Party Ideas 

5. Mason jars.  I buy mine at a local thrift store where I pay 4/$1.00 for the small ones and 4/$1.69 for the big ones.  These beauties can serve so many purposes, so make sure you grab them whenever you see them!

Column 1: BM’s Boo’s Monster Party
Column 2: Elizabeth Anne Designs / BM’s Lovebirds Party

6. A White Sheet.  This wasn’t really an investment for me, as I don’t use a flat sheet but they always come packaged together.  I put my flat one aside and I always use it for a table cloth.  It fits perfectly and that way I don’t have to worry about fancy linens.  If you see sheets on clearance, its a great thing to snag them up for, and you can use the lower thread count ones perfectly!

Silhouette America

7. A Silhouette Cameo.  Okay, so this one is a stretch, but it makes life so much easier.  I received  mine as a Christmas gift, and I use it to cut out letters and pendants for banners, cupcake wrapper shapes, and many, many more things.

About Sarah

Sarah Desjardins is a mother of two girls, a wife, an elementary school teacher, and a self proclaimed glitter addict. Becoming Martha is a place for anyone who wants to make their domestic life more beautiful and creative. Sarah started Becoming Martha as a place to find bliss between the diapers and the dishes, and invites you to do the same.


  1. These are all fantastic tips! The paint chip ideas are amazing ones! Thanks so much for sharing this. Megan

  2. What a great idea!

  3. These are amazing ideas! I have a small bin with party supplies but nothing like your pantry :) Thanks for all the great tips.


  4. I am so glad you posted this! I have the same problem around Reed’s birthday (which is right before Christmas). Now I can slowly stock up on supplies and add them to my craft closet! Thanks friend!! =)

  5. What a fantastic tip list. Now I want to throw a party!

  6. Great post. I love all your tips. Pinning so I can have it on hand.

  7. These are all such great ideas and really ones, too!

  8. Sarah! I love this post! I am in the middle of party planning for my son’s 5th birthday and these are all great ideas of what I need and where to get each and every little thing or detail.

    Just became your newest follower :)Hopping over from Blissful & Domestic’s Blog Hop :)


  9. What great idea! I love to throw my kids parties and these tips will definitely come in handy for years to come. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Love all of these party ideas. I have that Pottery Barn cake stand and love it! I’m excited to be a new follower. I would love if you stopped by and followed me back at

  11. What a great collection of ideas. This is a really fun and inspiring post. Jodi @

  12. Awesome line up of ideas. love it

  13. You are obviously a lady after my own heart. I keep many of these items as year round staples and always buy cute partyware if I see a great bargain – if I don’t have a party coming up I can always invent a reason to throw one :-)

  14. Fabulous post and so many fun ideas!! I would definitely love to come to one of your parties!! Thanks so much for linking up at Clean and Scentsible. I’ll be featuring this on my Facebook page. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
    Jenn :)

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