Party Planning – Choosing Paper Products

As an event planner, I am always looking for ways to improve my business, save money and make things go as smooth as possible. Events are finicky and turn on you as quick as a rattlesnake. So I like to seek advice from those in the business with experience and knowledge. One such person is the owner of Celebration Sensations, Cindy Runge. Cindy runs a very successful event supply company. She knows what is hot, what turns heads, and how to keep your inventory in check. I had the opportunity to discuss an important yet overlooked area of party planning.

What is the most overlooked area in party planning?

When it comes to party planning, one of the most overlooked areas is paper products. People tend to think of these last. This is a huge mistake! Paper party goods have seasons just like clothing fashions; they change every three months. If a particular design does not sell as quickly as others, it will probably be discontinued. When you find the “perfect” pattern in the “right” color, order as much as you need immediately! This cannot be stressed enough!

Can you talk to us about paper napkin? What are the best and what should we look for?

There are many beautiful designer prints and solid color napkins. The “best” napkins are 3-ply tissue and use environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Caspari and Ideal Home Range (IHR) are the leaders in this category. Both are equal in quality. You have a choice of cocktail, luncheon, dinner and guest towel sizes. IHR also carries rondo (round) napkins and they occasionally offer gala napkins, a very large dinner napkin. The Caspari and IHR napkins have an allover print with vivid color depth and they have a unique pressed edge design which prevents the three tissue layers from separating. Creative Converting offers a lower priced 3-ply solid color napkin, some with slightly smaller dimensions and a pressed edge of straight lines.

Be aware of the quantity per package/case when calculating your paper napkins needs! Caspari and IHR offer 20 napkins per package in the cocktail, luncheon and dinner sizes, but Caspari has 15 guest towels per package (192 per case), while IHR and Creative Converting have 16 guest towels per package (180 per case).

Aren’t all paper plates the same? How different can they be?

Not all paper plates are created equal! Paper plates come in round, square and rectangular café shapes in banquet, dinner and salad/dessert sizes. The dimensions between manufacturers can vary significantly. The paper plates from Creative Converting are smaller than those made by Caspari and IHR. In fact, the banquet plate from Creative Converting is smaller than the dinner plates offered by Caspari and Ideal Home Range! You can see a comparison chart here.

Any advice on how to purchase paper plates and napkins?

It is best to order paper plates and napkins from the same manufacturer. Colors and shades/hues can vary greatly between manufacturers! Be sure to order 10% – 15% more paper plates than invited guests. It is best to order about 25% more napkins than guests; more than that if your party/event is long, the menu includes “messy” foods or if children are invited. If your event is for cocktails, plan on 2 – 3 napkins per person per hour minimum; more if appetizers are being served! A 2 hour cocktail party with appetizers usually requires 7 cocktail napkins per person, especially if they are being used as coasters too.

Be sure to ask your salesperson for help in coordinating your choices and determining quantities. Ask all questions before ordering! Ask if samples are available or if images can be emailed. Due to health concerns and in Health Department regulations, many retailers do not accept returns unless they make a mistake filling your order. Read the website Policy page for clarification. If you are still unsure, ask questions. Good customer service requires timely response to customer needs.

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About Richele McFarlin

Richele is a Christian homeschooling mom to four children, writer and business owner. Her collegiate background is in educational psychology. Although it never prepared her for playing Candyland, grading science, chasing a toddler, doing laundry and making dinner at the same time.

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