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How to Stock Your Party “Pantry”

By Nathan Coker
In AskErin
Aug 1st, 2022

by ERIN SHARPLIN LOVE  |  erinlove@panachebyerin.com

Do you love entertaining and hosting events as much as I do?  Every year I look forward to the numerous school events, birthday parties, and holiday gatherings that I get to host.  But, in order to ensure a successful event, there are steps to take and items to have on hand.  Starting from scratch is daunting and stressful, but it can be avoided with a little preparation.  

The title of this article suggests that you need an actual “pantry” in reserve for hosting, but  while some items will already be on hand in your day-to-day pantry, a small section in a closet or even a bin in the top of the closet could suffice.  It all depends on the party and how much  planning it will require.  For the purpose of this article, I am going to prepare you for almost everything!

You will need a variety of serving pieces. You know those silver platters you received when you got married?  It is time to break them out of the packages and place them in your party “pantry.”   I suggest having a few serving pieces that will look appropriate in every situation and for any theme.  For instance, those silver serving pieces would be appropriate for most situations, but clear glass is the star of this show.  There is no event where clear glass wouldn’t be appropriate.  So, make sure to include several sizes, styles, and varieties of glass in your party arsenal.  You should also keep plastic, non-breakable versions of the clear serving pieces, too.  These are perfect for events that may get a little rowdy, like bachelorette parties or gatherings for children.  Also, don’t forget also to have some clear plastic dinner plates, cups and utensils.  

You will need access to tables, chairs, and tablecloths.  These are the items that are typically rented and not necessarily kept on hand.  However, rarely will there be enough seating when you are the host, so having extras is a necessity.  I do like to have a few tablecloths on hand for small gatherings, and they also come in handy for friends and family.   Keep a list of the items and the number you normally need so ordering for the next party will be quick and easy.  Floor length cloths are the most elegant option and the one I choose for school parties as well as formal events.  Here are a few helpful measurements “

6’ oblong (rectangular) table = 90”x132” cloth to the floor
8’ oblong table = 90”x156” cloth to the floor
6’ round table = 132” to the floor

You will need styling pieces.  To keep your styling section to a minimum, you can always use flowers and plants as décor.  Nothing says “welcome” more than a beautiful arrangement or potted plant.  Greenery brings the outdoors in and makes an environment warm and inviting, so don’t go overboard on your accessories stash.  Rely on nature for help!  With that said, you will need some vases, planters, baskets, and a few unique containers for the greenery.  Think outside the box for risers that will add height to your decorative elements and serving pieces.  I have been known to use wood slices, bricks, and books, but decorative risers could also be used in most circumstances.  Having a variety of different levels makes the decorations more interesting and fun.  When stocking this part of your “pantry,” consider what type of events you will be hosting and purchase or collect odd items that go with a certain theme.  For instance, I host a lot of school events, so I have a lot of our school colors included in the decorations.  

You will need to have a few food items in your stockpile.  It wouldn’t be much of a party without food. Be prepared now so you won’t stress later.  I am not suggesting that you keep an entire buffet ready, just that there are some items that you shouldn’t have to buy for every event.  Below is a list of staples to have on hand:

• Chips
• Dip
• Cheese
• Crackers
• Olives
• Condiments (ketchup, mayo, cocktail sauce, ranch dressing, etc.)
• Small candies/chocolates
• Nuts
• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• A good bottle of wine
• Water

So, in a pinch, every appetite should be satisfied.  

You will need to have games and activities.  Games and activities come in handy whether you are hosting a few kids, a whole class, or even adults!  Playing games can lighten the mood and create a fun atmosphere.  Not only is it fun to watch children playing, sometimes it is also fun to have a game of Rook with some friends. Here are a few games and activities I suggest  having on hand:

For Adults:
• Rook
• Deck of Cards
• Phase 10
• Uno

For Children:

• Chalk
• Kickball
• Bubbles
• Paint/Canvas
• Go Fish
• Checkers
• Sprinkler or Slip-n-Slide

You will be surprised at how many things the kids can do with these items.  The opportunities are endless if they use their imagination!

You will need some miscellaneous items.  There are standbys every hostess will need at one point or another, so they must be kept on hand for such instances.  These include the following:

• Lighter
• Cake Candles
• Tealights
• Cake cutters
• Cocktail napkins
• Balloon
• Helium 
• Ribbon
• Variety of favor bags
• Cake stand
• Ice bucket
• Bluetooth speaker

Although this is an extensive list for a “party pantry,” you should choose supplies according to your lifestyle and hosting opportunities.  This article is simply a way to inspire you to be PREPARED for almost anything.  As you know “preparation is key.”