A Party Planner Says You’re Wasting Your Money on These Hosting Goods—Here’s What You Should Invest in Instead

Photo: Getty Images / Kelvin Murray
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Soirée, party, or a casual get together—there's so much forethought and prep work that goes into every gathering, and for good reason. You want your guests to have a good time! Depending on the type of event, be a cocktail hour, dinner party, or potluck, having the proper hosting essentials can leave guests happy and make the night a memorable one. If you're trying to get your Martha Stewart on and host more at-home gatherings this year, you've come to the right place.

We know that hosting can quickly become a costly endeavor, so we chatted with the pros, aka party planners, to learn what hosting materials are worth and not worth investing in.

What not to waste your money on

Overly-themed dinnerware

First off, Hovik Harutyunyan, a party planner and creative director at Harutyunyan Events, says that you can ditch the overly-themed dinnerware. Plates with holiday themes, seasonal or bold patterns, and vibrant colors don't age well and "given their highly specific looks and aesthetic, they can only be used during certain times of the year, so they don't really get you a lot of mileage," he says. Instead, Harutyunyan recommends investing in two or three timeless dinnerware collections that can be used all throughout the year or creatively mixed and matched. Solid and or neutral colors work best.

Themed disposable decor

Next up: Overly-themed disposables. According to Rachel St Amour, a principal partner and co-owner of Van Saint Group, themed partyware (think: paper Mardi Gras signs)—which you can find in the aisles of Party City or Target—may be cute at first, but they'll just end up in storage or your trash bin. "Opt instead for solid colors that go along with the theme; you'll be so much more likely to be able to reuse those in the future," she says.

Non-edible party favors

If you're thinking small trinkets or non-edible party favors—don't do it. "Most of the time, you'll be left with an excess of them for years to come," says St Amour. "If you are absolutely compelled to have a favor for your guests, opt for something edible. No one is ever sad to see a specialty cookie, little jar of jam, or infused olive oil."

What host essentials to invest in


Serving dishes not only elevate your space and event, but they're also practical. "Investing in a variety of shapes and styles of appetizer bowls, platters, trays, cake stands, cutting boards, and cheese knives will not only make your food look more beautiful, but will make planning your party (and its menu) all that much easier," says Harutyunyan.

gomakren serving platters set
Gomakren, Serving Platters (Set of 3) — $39.00

For dinner parties, spruce up the table with Gomakren’s Serving Platters. They have exaggerated corners that look aesthetically pleasing, are easy to grab, and fit all dishes, from pasta to salad to protein. Food never looked this pretty.

uncommon goods wooden board
Uncommon Goods, Compact Swivel Cheese and Tapas Board — $98.00

Host to impress with this Compact Swivel Charcuterie Board from Uncommon Goods. Made of sturdy bamboo, this board features special sockets for ceramic serving bowls, a built-in groove for crackers, and a hidden drawer to store cheese knives. From fruits to nuts to salami—this board holds it all.

williams sonoma black marble cheese boards
Williams Sonoma, Black Marble Cheese Boards — $80.00

Build your dream butter board with Williams Sonoma’s Black Marble Cheese Boards. The black Marquina marble looks incredibly classy with its delicate white veins, and since marble is naturally cooling, it’ll keep fruit and cheese fresh throughout your event. I know this sounds cheesy, but this board really is “grate.”

west elm marble and brass charcuterie knives set
West Elm, Marble and Brass Charcuterie Knives (Set of 3) — $42.00

No cheese board is complete without a set of charcuterie knives, and this set of three is timeless. The set includes a knife, spreader, and slicer to make munching a breeze. See, everything tastes gouda!

porcelain bowls
Sweese, 10-Ounce Porcelain Bowls (Set of 6) — $28.00

Originally $30, now $28

For appetizers like olives or nuts, use these perfectly sized porcelain bowls that look a lot more expensive than they are. This set of six is ideal for holding side dishes like soup, salads, cereal, fruit, and ice cream (ice cream partay anyone?). Made of durable porcelain, these bowls are durable and have a classic look with an all white finish. Plus, the curved design adds visual appeal to any space.

ceramic shell shape bowls
Lustide, Ceramic Shell Shape — $10.00

We also love these squiggly bowls for smaller sides (like fruit, nuts, sauces, and dips). The shell-shape is unique and doubles as decor, and the bowls are perfectly sized to be easily passed around the table. Each dish is glazed to prevent staining and are made of chip-resistant porcelain for durability in the years of hosting to come.

Timeless dinnerware

Investing in timeless and high-quality dinnerware is a better investment. Harutyunyan says you can't go wrong with a classic all white china set, one with a gold or silver border, or a more modern and playful set.

our place set the table
Our Place, Set the Table Set — $225.00

Originally $260, now $225

Harutyunyan recommends investing in staple dinnerware sets, and this one from Our Place is timeless (but still feels effortlessly modern). The set comes with everything you need to host brunch or dinner. What’s included? Four large ceramic plates, four midi plates, four small dessert plates, large bowls for pastas and salads, and small bowls for dessert. Available in four colors, pink, cream, orange, and charcoal, this set will stand the tale of time no matter if it’s a party, baby shower, or casual get-together. Happy hosting!

Colors: 4

gibson home dinnerware set
Gibson Home, Zuma Dinnerware Set (Set of 16) — $50.00

Originally $55, now $50

As recommended by Harutyunyan, solid colors work best because they tend to age better over time. That’s the case with this set of 16 by Gibson Home. This set comes with four of each dinner plates, dessert plates, bowls, and mugs for the ultimate feast. Each piece has a smooth and matte finish to illuminate whatever you’re cooking in the kitchen. Available in seven solid colors, from yellow to black to grey, there’s a color for your hosting needs.

Colors: 7

glinda glass dessert plates
Anthropologie, Glinda Glass Dessert Plate — $10.00

Tea party? Look no further than Anthropologie’s Glinda Glass Dessert Plates. These seven-inch flower petal-like plates are made of glazed glass—which look beautifully when paired with cake. Now these plates are worth saying “cheers” to.

Colors: 4

kaloh melamine outdoor dinnerware collection
West Elm, Kaloh Melamine Outdoor Dinnerware Collection — $152.00

For outdoor soirées, you can do no wrong with Kaloh Melamine’s dinnerware collection. This set comes with 16 items: four dinner plates, salad plates, pasta bowls, and cereal bowls. Each piece is lightweight, durable for outdoor conditions, and has a modern look. It’s available in classic colors like white, gray, and black, and the light blue color way makes for a unique pop of color.

Colors: 4

shiny latte pasta bowls
Anthropologie, Shiny Latte Pasta Bowls (Set of 4) — $56.00

These Latte Bowls from Anthropologie give pasta parties new meaning. Each bowl fits spaghetti, fettuccine, and more. The finish undergoes a glaze process, giving the bowls a smooth, sleek look—like they were *just* dipped in half-and-half. Choose from cream, lavender, pink, maize, and terra cotta, and if you can’t choose, the assortment works, too.

Colors: 5

famiware plates and bowls
Famiware, Plates and Bowls Set (Set of 12) — $70.00

For something with a bit more design and texture, Famiware’s Plates and Bowls Set is another way to spruce up your event. This stoneware set comes with four dinner plates, salad plates, and cereal bowls. You can plate soups, salads, entrees, and even desserts. What’s more, these plates passed the dishwasher and microwave vibe test, all of which are safe to use on those devices, making clean up easy peasy.

Colors: 5


Another cost-friendly way to spruce up your event is through candles. "Candles are one of the easiest, quickest, and most affordable ways to spruce up any party," says Harutyunyan. "I recommend having a bulk set on hand at all times that you can throw on a table in a moment's notice for even last-minute entertaining situations."

hosley candle pack
Hosley, Ivory Unscented Candles (Set of 48) — $40.00

This 48-pack of candles come recommended by Harutyunyan. This bulk set features 48 ivory and unscented candles that immediately brighten up the room. Add around your event space or use to set up the dinner table. Whatever way you use them, it helps that they go with everything.

burke decor fukai candle
Burke Decor, Fukai Candles — $6.00

There’s something about tall candles that can jazz up a table, and these Fukai Candles from Burke Decor are jaw-dropping. The wick is made of cotton and is OEKO-TEX certified and lead-free. All in all, the candle last 12 hours, so you’ll get plenty of use.

oatnauxil gold candle holders
Oatnauxil, Gold Candle Holders (Set of 6) — $26.00

Originally $30, now $26

If you’ve got a little extra spending cash, candle holders are another great way to beautify your space, says Harutyunyan. These gold candle holders are timeless and come in three different heights: small, medium, and large.

Cloth napkins

Having cloth napkins like linen and cotton can go a long way, since guests will be using them throughout the event. "I recommend investing in a few key color sets that will give you great value," explains Harutyunyan. It also helps that they can be reused time and time again, making them more earth-friendly. White for formal entertaining, a soft green for spring or summer, and a burgundy one for fall and winter. He adds that you can find beautiful linen and cloth napkins at Target or Sur La Table.

solino home white linen napkins
Solino Home, White Linen Napkins (Set of 4) — $38.00

Linen can really jazz up your table setup, and we’re swooning over these white linen napkins from Solino Home. Made of 100 percent flax linen, these napkins are lightweight and are perfectly suited for spring and summer dinners. Even more, they’re machine-washable and are extremely easy to care for. No matter the occasion, be it ice cream parties or get-togethers, these napkins have got your bases covered.

sur la table linen napkins
Sur La Table, Linen Napkins (Set of 4) — $50.00

Instead of paper napkins, party planners recommend opting for linen ones, and these Sur La Table ones are perfect for setting the table. The packs comes with a set of four and is available in 13 fun and solid colors, from red to green to dark blue.

Colors: 13

target linen napkins
Target, Tick Stripe Cloth Napkins (Set of 4) — $10.00

For a subtle print, we’re gawking over these springy tick stripe cloth napkins from Target. Made of a cotton-linen blend, these napkins are absorbent, environment-friendly, and stylish. Fold and add on top of a plate to complete your dinner table.

cloth dinner napkins
Fingercraft, Cloth Napkins (Set of 12) — $22.00

For something more heavy duty, these cotton and linen blend cloth napkins are great. They’re durable, machine-washable, and are great for absorbing crumbs and debris from your mouth during gatherings. The set comes as a pack of 12, which is great for medium-sized gatherings, baby showers, and more.

Colorful glasses

Lastly, you can't go wrong with an array of colorful tumblers. "Build a collection of rocks and tumbler glasses—vintage, handblown, colored, etc—and they will tell a great story when you serve cocktails," says Courtney Zentner, co-founder of the Drifter. Plus, they double as water glasses and add an extra pop of color.

Nordic Peace, Colorful Vintage Glassware (Set of 6) — $68.00

Originally $80, now $68

This colorful set of glassware from Nordic Peace will have guests in awe. The slightly scalloped glassware is beautiful as it is functional, and can be used for cocktails, juice, soda, water, and whatever your guests desire.

Blue Print, Murano Tumbler — $35.00

Zentner recommends this Blue Print tumbler. Each tumbler is handblown and doubles as a glass for cocktails or water. “We love the tomato-orange color,” she says.

comfit colorful glasses
Comfit, Colored Wine Glasses — $59.00

For the wine enthusiasts, having a set of colorful wine glasses will be sure to entertain. Each glass has been handmade and crafted with only the best materials, and the set of six comes in different colors: green, orange, red, blue, purple, and pink. Made for red or white wine, these glasses will give you something to celebrate no matter if it’s a party, wedding, or holiday.

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