10 Hosting Gems Pro Party Planners Have in Their Kitchens at All Times

published Dec 15, 2023
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Angled view of a set colorful holiday tablescape with flowers and candles.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Margaret Ward

Whether you’re already the hostess with the mostest or just starting out on your party-planning ventures, you probably know the key to a successful event lies in the details. Hosting a memorable gathering consists of a whole lot of behind-the-scenes elements, including hard-working decor that adds intrigue and function to any type of event, holiday, or dinner party. 

We chatted with some of our favorite professional party planners to get the inside scoop on which products they can’t host without, and why — trust us, you’ll definitely want to take notes.

Credit: Twinkle Twinkle Little Party

1. Unique Food Displays

Unique food displays are like the VIPs of your party — not just for serving food, but also for sparking conversations and making memories. Plus, they’re total social media darlings, making your event extra share-worthy. Consider them the secret sauce that makes your celebration extra unforgettable, like this rainbow donut-displaying wall or these festive wood slice platters, both of which Andressa Hara of Twinkle Twinkle Little Party loves.

“Whether you’re throwing a birthday party or a get-together for the kids, this [rainbow wall] is an eye-catching piece all guests will be smitten by,” Hara says. “You can use versatile pieces to add interesting visuals to your decor by displaying sweets and appetizers.”

Credit: Twinspirational

 2. A Prepdeck

Preparing for an event often transforms your kitchen into a whirlwind of chaos. With the relentless chopping, slicing, and arranging, the aftermath can leave you with considerably less counter space than you started with, and the event hasn’t even started. Fortunately, there’s a solution, and it comes in the form of the TikTok-viral Prepdeck

New York City-based party stylists Archana and Kanchana Pinnapureddy of Twinspirational swear by theirs. “Our Prepdeck is our handy, all-in-one kitchen tool. It has a cutting board, 15 storage containers, a garbage compartment, and a side drawer for a mandoline, juicer, and grater. This tool makes it so easy to slice, grate, or chop our ingredients and have them fully prepped to cook elaborate meals. The cutting board is also detachable, which makes for easy cleaning. When we aren’t using it, we can fold up the cutting board and transform the tool into a beautiful marble box.”

Credit: Leela Cyd

3. Versatile Table Linens

Table linens are the unsung heroes of party planning, weaving together aesthetics and functionality to create a cohesive and visually appealing look. Aside from protecting the table from spills and scratches, table linens instantly elevate the visual appeal of the dining area and set the mood of the gathering, whether it’s a formal dinner party, a casual brunch, or a festive celebration. 

“Everyone should have one versatile table runner that can be displayed year-round for easy decor and entertaining,” says Sarah Sofia Knepp of Sarah Sofia Productions. “This French Blue table runner is neutral for year-round design in your home.”

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Eye-Catching Centerpieces

Centerpieces play a major role in the artistry of party planning. They serve as the visual anchor of the table and contribute to the ambiance and theme of the party, ultimately setting the tone for the gathering. A floral centerpiece, for example, offers natural beauty and fragrance, enhancing the overall sensory experience for guests. Practically, centerpieces create a focal point, guiding the eye and encouraging social interactions around the table.

“A vase for floral arrangements on your kitchen counter or dining room adds color and design,” says Knepp. “A simple round or square glass vase is versatile for designing various flowers or fruits like lemons and limes or a gold vase. You can find budget-friendly glass vases at your local dollar store. Here is another chic glass cylinder vase currently on sale.”

Credit: Meghan Splawn

5. Fun(ctional) Platters

Next up in the party playbook are unique plates and platters, which evidently aren’t just for holding your grub. Including fun platters in your tablescape adds a touch of personality to your setup — standout dishes are perfect for flaunting everything from starters to sweets in an extra-memorable (and Instagrammable) way.

6. Beverage Dispensers

Beverage dispensers are incredibly versatile and functional, making them valuable assets for hosting successful events — especially when space is limited. A dispenser serves as an efficient way to keep your guests hydrated without them needing to ask for refills, while simultaneously enhancing the visual appeal of the drink station.

“You should always have a drink station for guests, which includes water. It makes it easy for you as a host and for your guests,” says Knepp. “We love using this beverage dispenser that comes with a stand, a top lid to place cups and display fruit, and a chalkboard tag. It comes in a pair and stores easily!”

Credit: Amora

 7. A Multi-Cooker

A multi-cooker is a game-changing tool for party planners and home cooks of all kinds, offering convenience, versatility, and efficiency in the kitchen. Its ability to handle a wide range of cooking functions makes it an essential asset for preparing delicious meals, ensuring that the culinary aspect of any event is an easy success.

“The multi-cooker is one of our favorite kitchen appliances. It has a variety of functions like boiling, simmering, sautéing, steaming, frying, roasting, and stewing,” says Pinnapureddy. “It can also keep food warm. This appliance caters to busy individuals who seek convenience without compromising flavor. Best of all, cleanup is so easy, as it all goes into one pot.”

Credit: Twinspirational

8. Serving Trays

Let’s talk about serving trays, an essential part of every party planner’s toolkit. These gems don’t just carry snacks — they also bring the party to a whole new level by turning your spread into a stylish spectacle. And the best part? They effortlessly go from kitchen duty to party mode, doing double-duty as tools and party-ready decor.

“I love a versatile serving tray that is stylish and functional,” says Knepp. “Serving trays can be displayed in your kitchen against the backsplash when not in use, or you can style them with a floral arrangement, candles, and seasonal décor. Wood serving trays are great for creating a charcuterie board or salad board, or serving appetizers or drinks, like Target’s Heath & Hand Oversized Carved Wood Tray or Amazon’s Heavy Duty Round Wood Tray.”

“While we don’t make everything from scratch, a cheese board is a must, and assembling it on a grazing board is a breeze,” says Pinnapureddy. “The key to a successful cheese board is using a variety of colors, shapes, flavor profiles, and textures. For smaller gatherings, opt for a smaller grazing board, while larger parties call for a bigger board.” Here are our best tips for creating the grazing board of your dreams.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

9. A Stand Mixer

Although the decor and tablescape might steal the show, the appliances that help run the behind-the-scenes also deserve recognition. Similar to the beloved multi-cooker, a stand mixer is a must-have for practically every occasion — and not just to bake desserts.

“The KitchenAid stand mixer is our unofficial sous chef,” says Pinnapureddy. “We use it to make everything from meatballs and pizza dough, to cakes and ice cream. This appliance is an investment, but you’ll be able to make a lot of dishes from scratch quickly with it.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

10. A Quality Knife Set

Anyone who has ever prepped food for a party knows having a quality knife set makes all the difference in preparing food. Investing in a quality knife set makes the overall process smoother and saves time in the kitchen. Plus, they add value to your everyday life, too! The same goes with chic cheese knives. 

“Having a nice cheese knife set will always come in handy no matter what you’re hosting and pairs well with a good serving tray and takes your charcuterie board to the next level!” says Knepp. “We love this gold and marble cheese knife set along with these honeycomb sticks.”