Party Planning and Entertaining

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 The internet is amazing – it offers endless ideas when you’re planning a party. The only problem is that most of us don’t have endless budgets. This is where eBay is brilliant, the range of sellers and items means there is something to suit every budget.

Step 1 – Decide on a theme.
This is the really fun bit! Decide what theme you want for your party. The sheer volume of things available on eBay means that unless you limit your search slightly you’re going to quickly get overwhelmed. If you don’t believe me go do a quick search for that party staple, paper cups. Back with me? When I did the same search I got over 18,000 results.  Volume is great but there are only so many pictures of cups you can look at before they all start to merge into one!

Step 2 – Set a budget.
You’ve decided what you want to do but unless you’re extremely lucky you’re going to be working to some sort of budget. Work out how much you have available to spend and what you think it is reasonable to spend on each item. A quick eBay search would be useful here just to check your anticipated prices are realistic. Be prepared to be flexible. The last party I organised was my daughter’s rainbow themed first birthday party. Having only recently returned to work after maternity leave money was tight. Rather than buy rainbow patterned tableware I bought packs of different coloured cups, plates, napkins and cutlery. An instant rainbow at a fraction of the price!

Step 3 – Make the most of that budget!
There are lots of ways you can make your budget go further on eBay. One of the most important ways is to check out postage costs before you commit to buy or place a bid. Lots of sellers offer a discount for multiple purchases. The “see sellers other items” option is your friend here! If the seller sells paper plates the odds are they sell cups and napkins too – a quick search of their listings may save you paying 3 lots of postage. Some sellers will also offer a discount for buying multiple quantities or in bulk. The other way is through the myriad of crafty things you can buy. Back to my daughter’s party – I really wanted a large rainbow balloon for the window. Whilst I could have bought one it would have meant quite a chunk out of my decoration budget. The solution – a pack of modelling balloons (bought along with the latex balloons for the rest of the room to save on postage) shaped into a rainbow.

Step 4 – Do your research.
One of the brilliant things about eBay is the ability to leave feedback. As well as helping buyers and sellers improve it also helps protect other eBay users. It really is like one big happy family! Don’t be put off by 1 or 2 negative reviews though. Not even the best seller can please all the people all the time. There are even more types of people than there are types of paper cups to buy on eBay and what works for one won’t work for everyone. Also check out the estimated dispatch time and the method of shipping. If your party is in a week and a seller estimates dispatch within 5 days you’re probably cutting it a bit fine. Similarly if a seller dispatches something ‘signed for’ on delivery, factor in enough time to go and collect the item if nobody is at home in the day to sign for it.

Step 5 – Cultivate relationships.
The overwhelming majority of eBay sellers want to deliver a great service to buyers. Many of them are running businesses and really value hearing from their customers. If a seller has most things you want it is worth dropping them a message to ask about the things they haven’t got. They might not have realised there was a demand for them. They might not have them in stock at the moment but will be getting more shortly. They might be able to source something for you. Realistically the worst thing that happens is that they say no. As well as leaving feedback for sellers it’s also sometimes worth sending them a follow up message too if there was something you were particularly pleased with or if you used their product in an innovative way. The person I bought my coloured tableware off may not realise there might be a market for people wanting to buy mixed colours of things. The person I bought paper streamers off may never have thought of using them to create a banner.  By sending them a message not only are you doing a lovely thing you’re also potentially opening up new business opportunities for them.

That’s my brief guide to planning a party using eBay brought to you in partnership with Bzzagent I hope you’ve found it useful and enjoy planning your next event!
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