Good old-fashioned borrowing is also, of course, a helpful tool when stocking up for a party, but by going in on some essentials with a few friends, you'll save yourself time and hassles in the long run. Here are a few ideas for how to make this work:
• Shop together. Make it fun by setting a date to shop together at the dollar store, Ikea, or a restaurant supply. All of these places carry basics like glasses, plates, and napkins for very little money. (CB2 is another great resource.) And if you go in person, you can check out the quality to make sure it's passable.
• Use labeled plastic bins for easy storage. If your items are going to be constantly traded among friends, they'll need to be stored for transport. Take the time to wrap glasses and other supplies and store them in clearly labeled bins.
• Keep a spreadsheet. This might sound overly complicated, but even among as few as three people, it could get confusing unless you keep some kind of running tally of who's got what.
Here are a couple of posts to get you started with your shopping list:
• Affordable Cocktail Party Basics to Keep on Hand
• 9 for Under $5: Cocktail Party Necessities on a Budget
If you've tried this before, please share your own tips and ideas below!
(Image: Flickr member mscaprikell, licensed under Creative Commons)