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Party Supplies List: Everything You Need For A Party in 2024

Last updated: March 27, 2024

It’s surprising how few party supplies you need to host 15 to 20 guests for a great event.

The most common thing that I hear from first-time hosts is: “I bought way too many drinks and snacks!’

In this article, I’ll give you a barebones shopping list for what to buy to host a cocktail party, happy hour, or even a housewarming party. That includes:

  • General supplies: cups and name tags
  • Alcohol: liquor and hard seltzer
  • Mixers: non-alcoholic drink options
  • Snacks: salted nuts and chips

Keep reading to see what you’ll need to host your next cocktail party.

Why you should listen to me: I've hosted hundreds of cocktail parties. At first, I bought all of the wrong supplies. Now I have learned how to host great parties in a way that uses the least amount of time and money.

Party Supplies Shopping List

Here’s a quick rundown of the supplies you’ll need to host a great cocktail party.

If you’d like to download or print this list, you can get a nicely formatted PDF here:

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General Supplies

Alcohol

  • 750 ml each of whiskey and vodka, or other liquor like tequila
  • 2 bottles each of red and white wine
  • 12 cans or more of hard seltzer

Mixers

  • 4 L of sparkling water or 24 cans
  • 1 L of cranberry or orange juice
  • 1 L each of diet and regular soda
  • Optional ice: 5 lb or less

Snacks

  • Baby carrots: 1 lb (450 g)
  • Hummus: 8 or 12 oz (300 g)
  • Guacamole: 1 lb (450 g)
  • Chips: two 12-15 oz bags (370 g)
  • Nuts, salted: 16 oz (450 g)
  • (optional) Cheese plate: 2 lb (900 g)
  • (optional) Grapes: 2 lb (900g) these are very popular!

More Party Supplies Info

Here’s a quick explanation about each of the supplies you’ll need.

Suggestion: Buy the necessary supplies at least one week before your party to reduce your pre-party planning stress.

Name Tags

I’ve purchased and tested 17 different types of name tags on Amazon. I’ve also written extensively about why your party needs name tags, even if you think they’ll make it too formal.

As of January 2024, here are my current recommendations for the best name tags to use at a party:

Avery 5154 Name Badge Labels, $8.16 for 100

These are small but functional. Great stick, compact packaging, five per page. I keep a few sheets of these in my backpack at all times. Works equally well for friend parties and work functions.

I like the Avery 5153 colors better (they’re brighter and more fun), but I think they’re discontinued.

Cualfec 300 Cute Dot Name Tag Stickers, $6.99 for 300

March 2024 Update: Sadly my last favorite the Cualfec 210s have gone out of stock and I cannot get in touch with the manufacturer. So these are my new favorite name tags.

These name tags sort of look too cute but now that I have them in my hands I can tell they will work well.

I might even like them more than my previous top pick because they don’t have the “HELLO MY NAME IS” which was honestly wasted space. You can clearly write bigger names in these.

We use the different colors for events to randomly split people up into small groups.

These pair well with a clipboard to help keep you organized. Any letter-sized clipboard with decent reviews under $10 is fine; this or this or this.

I’ve tried many name tags. Most of them do not stick well and are hard to read. You should also be careful of getting single-sheet name tags that are individually cut. These create a lot of trash when peeled off.

Plastic Party Cups

Plastic cups go in and out of stock on Amazon. I’ll list a few. You want a sturdy, clear plastic that holds 9-12 ounces. I’ve paid around $20 for 100.

Markers

Alongside name tags, I recommend purchasing a thick, black marker to write your guests’ names with. This will make the names easy to read. You can also write names on the plastic cups to reduce waste.

Sharpie Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Black, 12 Count

I use Sharpie markers and am consistently satisfied with them. You’ll only need a few, so pick whatever works best for you. Generic is fine, too. Just do not get Ultra-fine point!

Sharpie marker

Amazon Basics Retractable Permanent Markers, Black, 12 Count

I love the retractable markers so that I don’t have to worry about the cap and putting it on and off when I’m doing name tags at the party. As of January 2023, these are actually my favorite black markers. But I don’t like paying more than $1 each for them though, I guess because I am cheap (LOL), so I didn’t list them at the top.

Sharpie was the first to introduce their retractable permanent marker, but they seem to have gone out of stock. I bought these on Amazon as a replacement and I think I like them better.

amazon marker
I can’t find them in a smaller quantity right now. You’ll only need 2 or 3, so if you buy a big box, you can give the rest away to friends!

Alcohol for Cocktails

Honestly, no one comes to these types of parties for the food or alcohol. They come to meet other people.

Even though this is a cocktail party, note that these parties are first and foremost about the people and the conversations.

So I keep my alcohol selection simple.

Two bottles of hard liquor. Vodka and tequila are great for mixed drinks. Whiskey is usually a hit, too.

And four bottles of wine: two red and two white. For the red wine, I usually get a box of wine because it will last longer. Wine snobs will hate this idea, but it is practical. You might not even need this much wine, especially for parties with people in their 20s. But it doesn’t hurt to have the extra bottles available. You’ll use them eventually.

Regarding beer: I find beer difficult to serve. You need to chill it in advance, and it usually comes in single servings. Some beer drinkers are often highly brand-loyal as well. It’s easier for me to just not serve beer. I haven’t gotten any complaints. If you really want to serve beer, don’t let me stop you. Buy whatever you think is best.

Drink Mixers

Some of your party guests will want to make cocktails, and some of them will want a non-alcoholic beverage.

Sparkling water is the most popular drink among non-drinkers.

A bottle of juice, like cranberry or orange juice, is another great drink to have. And a bottle of soda, like Coke or Diet Coke, is nice to have around.

Party Snacks

Make sure not to overthink the snacks. They are not supposed to be a meal, just some simple snacks to hold your guests over if they are eating dinner after.

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Baby carrots: 1 lb (450 g)
  • Hummus: 8 or 12 oz (300 g)
  • Guacamole: 1 lb (450 g)
  • Chips: two 12-15 oz bag (370 g)
  • Nuts, salted: 16 oz (450 g)
  • (optional) Cheese plate: 2 lb (900 g)
  • (optional) Grapes: 2 lb (900g)

Conclusion

It may come as a surprise, but it doesn’t take much to have a great party with 15 or more great guests. You can probably buy all of these supplies for close to USD $100.

The best piece of advice that I can give you is to buy all your supplies at least one week in advance of your party. You don’t want to wait to the last minute and get stressed. Buy them now and be prepared.

Have a great party. Send me an email with any questions and I’ll be happy to help.

Hey there! I am Nick Gray, the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. It is a guidebook that shows you how to host a successful party for various events. I am incredibly proud of this book and I am certain it will assist you with creating new connections and building strong relationships. 

When are you planning to organize your next event? I would love to keep track and provide you with some guidance. Send me an email with the exact date of your party and I’ll cheer you on.

Leave a comment on this article here.

About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

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