20 Party Essentials You Should Always Buy at the Dollar Store

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Woman shopping for party supplies
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FRUGAL FESTIVITIES

Party supplies are among the best dollar-store buys, especially as the weather warms and backyard barbecues return to decks and patios across the country. Whether you're planning a kid's party, a poolside bash or a Memorial Day blowout, you may be surprised at just how far your money can go by shopping at the dollar store instead of a place like Walmart, Target, or Party City. Here are 20 things to stock up on before your next get-together.
Marbleized balloons
Photo credit: Courtesy of dollargeneral.com

BALLOONS

Don't overpay at the grocery or florist -- the dollar store has you covered when it comes to balloons. Choices include basic latex balloons in solid colors, pre-inflated stick balloons, and occasion-specific mylar balloons. We even spotted unique marbleized balloons at Dollar General. Oh, and don't forget the balloon weights -- dollar stores often stock those, too.
Party favors
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FAVORS

If you're throwing a kid's party, send 'em home with smiles on their faces for less. Dollar stores are a reliable source of trinkets for favor bags, including some with popular characters, such as Frozen or "Despicable Me" minions. Of course, you'll also find an assortment of plastic whistles, glow sticks, tops, stickers, and other standbys.
Gift bags
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GIFT BAGS

Stop buying those pricey last-minute gift bags at the big-box store. Instead, stock up at the dollar store, and you'll always be ready for the next party. We spotted plenty of options at Dollar Tree, including plain kraft paper bags that can be used for nearly any person or occasion. Other options included popular characters, fun designs, and wine bottle gift bags. You can also snag tissue paper for less, too.
Wrapping paper
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WRAPPING PAPER

Of course, if you'd prefer to go the old-school route, you'll find plenty of wrapping paper at the dollar store. We spied everything from solid colors and shiny metallics to whimsical kid-friendly patterns. Another alternative? Jazz up some classic kraft paper with colorful stamps or rustic raffia. And don't forget the tape.
Silver serving platter
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SERVING PLATTERS

If you're feeding a rowdy bunch, especially somewhere other than home, keep the fancy entertaining dishes in your cabinet and buy some disposable serving dishes at the dollar store. Your options include large foil pans perfect for hot eats, plastic pitchers and serving bowls, and much more. These 16-inch silver serving trays can be the workhorse of any event, ready for cheese and crackers, a fruit display, cookies, or just about any crowd-pleasing nibbles.
Red plastic cups
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DISPOSABLE PLACE SETTINGS

Now it's time to set the table. You'll find everything from those ubiquitous red plastic cups, perfect for a casual barbecue, to plastic utensils and paper plates in all shapes, colors, and sizes. If you'd prefer cheap place settings you can reuse, look for durable melamine, another common dollar-store option.
Mason jar mugs
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GLASSWARE

Don't want to go the plastic route? You may be surprised to find that you can still buy real glassware, including these wine glasses and even rustic jar mugs, for a buck each at Dollar Tree.
Happy birthday banner and colorful flags
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STREAMERS AND GARLANDS

No one wants to spend a bundle on decorations that will only be up for a few hours, so see what's in stock at the dollar store first. Streamers and garlands in most solid colors are a safe bet. So are "happy birthday" banners and hanging decorations like these tissue-paper balls at Dollar General.
Decorations for a tiki party
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SEASONAL DECOR

The dollar store is also a great place to find cheap seasonal party decor, like everything you need for a luau at the Dollar Tree. For the best selection, shop a couple months out from major holidays like Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Of course, shop immediately after the holidays to snag things on clearance for next year.
Floral arrangement centerpiece
Photo credit: segray/istockphoto

CENTERPIECES

Whether you want to jazz up a few tables at home or deck out a wedding reception for less, there are plenty of centerpiece-worthy finds at the dollar store. There are candleholders galore and mirrored plates perfect for reflecting candlelight, decorative gems that can become easy vase filler, moss-covered rocks, and fake pieces of fruit. Jazz up a kid's party with characters little ones will enjoy, like Spiderman.
Woman making a floral craft
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FLORAL SUPPLIES

Of course, flowers are the ultimate in party decor, and the dollar store offers an abundance of vases perfect for cheap and cheerful bouquets. There are traditional clear glass options, colors to match any theme, and rustic metal buckets. Dollar Tree also stocks craft-store standbys like floral foam, wreath forms and plenty of artificial flowers.
Hellman's Mayonnaise
Photo credit: Courtesy of dollargeneral.com

CONDIMENTS

It never fails: You're ready to host a party and realize you're missing a crucial condiment like ketchup or mayo. Whatever you need, the dollar store has it, and often from familiar brands including Kraft, Heinz, and Hellmann's. Just be sure to crunch the numbers before you stock up: Depending on quantities, Walmart may have what you need for less.
Lays potato chips
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SNACK FOODS

Yes, the dollar store has plenty of questionable off-brand snack foods, but there are familiar, reliable names on the shelves too, including Bugles and Lay's. Whether you need potato chips, pretzels, veggie straws, candy, or some other kind of munchie for a casual party, you'll find lots of options. Of course, if you're buying for a really large crowd, consider heading to Sam's or Costco to stock up on bigger bags and boxes of your favorite brands for less.
Betty Crocker cake mix
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BAKING SUPPLIES

Sure, you could pay a bakery, but you can whip up your own party treats for a lot less, especially if you snag your supplies at the dollar store. If you're the from-scratch type, you'll find pantry staples like flour, sugar, and vegetable oil. And if you're the cake-mix type (we won't tell), there are favorite brands like Betty Crocker and Pillsbury. Also available: Tubs of premade icing and sprinkles galore.
Birthday cake with a glitter cake topper
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CANDLES AND CAKE TOPPERS

Top that cake off for less with candles and other cake accoutrements from the dollar store. Wow guests with a glitzy, blinking cake topper from Dollar General, or stock up on the age-specific candles that can be laughably expensive at the grocery. Need a lighter? They've got you covered there, too.
Donkey pinata
Photo credit: Courtesy of dollargeneral.com

PARTY ACTIVITIES

So, you've invited over a crowd -- now what? For your next barbecue, try this inexpensive cornhole imposter from Five Below, or maybe an old-fashioned sack race. Hosting a smaller get-together? You'll also find board games and traditional favorites like playing cards or checkers. And don't forget the piñata, of course.
Pool noodles
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POOL TOYS AND FLOATS

Planning a warm-weather poolside soiree? You'll find plenty of accessories at the dollar store, especially as the weather continues to heat up. For example, Five Below has a wide assortment of zany floats (French-fry raft, anyone?). You'll also find water balloons, water pistols, kick boards, pool noodles, diving games, goggles, and plastic water slides for the lawn.
Photobooth props
Photo credit: Courtesy of dollargeneral.com

PARTY PROPS

Whether you're searching for noisemakers, novelty jewelry, or other fun accessories and wearables to amp up the party fun, the dollar store is worth a look. One especially trendy category: silly props for photo booths, like these from Dollar General. Don't forget the fun party hats, whether you want a fun, blingy style for grownups or a traditional favorite for kids.
Kids' toys
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KIDS' GIFTS

Another weekend, another kid's birthday party. Instead of running to the big-box store yet again, consider stocking up at the dollar store. They stock a surprising number of toys, including stuffed animals, toy cars, craft kits, outdoor activities, and board games. And you might be pleasantly surprised that there are name brands in the mix, including Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, Disney, and more.
Spa gift basket
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GROWN-UP GIFTS

The dollar store might not spring to mind as a gift-shopping destination, but if you can get creative, the possibilities are endless. Pair a mug with someone's favorite brand of coffee, pull together a small basket of bath products, surprise a beauty lover with lip gloss and nail polish, or give the ultimate gift for the practical, no-nonsense souls in your life: socks.

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