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What to do with old party decor

A good friend sent me a question last week:

What do you do with left over party decorations? After spending hours and hours and hours and months and months creating things, I just cannot bear to throw them out. I still have Owen's gumball party stuff in boxes in the garage. I know you have the same thing going on, so I'm counting on you to share your solution so that I don't inadvertently become a hoarder.

I told her that was an excellent question and an even better blog post topic! 

As I wrap up birthday season around these parts (until my birthday in July of course!), I face the same dillema my friend describes. What to do with all my discarded decor? I am very honest about the fact that I watch Hoarders to keep my own hoarding instincts in check. (I can practically hear Dr. Chabaud. "Sarah, do you find value in this bubble wrap?") It is very difficult for me to throw out something I see as useful in the best circumstance, much less when I've spent hours creating it for those I love. 

So, I have a couple of strategies I use to keep my parties pretty but my hoarding tamed!

First, I create decor I can use again and again. Case in point: My photo booth. I had my stepdad Ron build our little photo booth for Griffin's first birthday. (Yes, I have a pinboard entitled "Projects for Ron".) I suspected (correctly) that it would be a huge hit and that we could recycle it for other parties. I even decided to paint the frame orange (instead of blue or green, my other theme colors) because I knew I wanted to have a Halloween party later that year. I've used it so much I'm sure my friends have probably started to dread it but I don't care! Added bonus: I use the photo booth pics as thank you notes!

Even if I can't use decor for another party, I at least use it for small celebrations. I pull out the happy birthday banner I made for Griffin's first birthday and recycle the happy birthday sections for other parties. I've even loaned it out to a couple of friends. Actually, that's another tip! Ask around - maybe one of your friends could recycle the decor at their own party.

Second, I use decor it won't hurt (too much) to throw away. In case, y'all haven't noticed from my incessant praise for it, I use my Silhouette a lot for parties. For Amos's first birthday, I bought a $5 pack of red cardstock and went to town cutting banners, thank you signs (which I left generic for use at other parties!), and table decor. At the end of the day, most of it does get thrown in the recycling bin (or in the the kindling pile for summer fires) and I'm ok with that. 

Third, when all else fails, hoard. Griffin's second birthday was a Little Man theme. I created a lot of themed decor for that party beyond my usual paper banners and cupcake toppers. I made a tie garland, tie napkins, and mustache crayons. The crayons went in the pile for future crayon projects but the tie garland and napkins I just couldn't bear to throw away. I tried to sell them (and would still be willing to if any of you are interested!) but they are currently sitting in a box in my garage. 

After all, sometimes hoarding pays. I kept extra CD labels from my wedding. I moved them from state to state for years until I used them for Griffin's first birthday party favors. It might have been one of my proudest moments...wait, I'm supposed to be discouraging hoarding aren't I?

What are your tips for re-using or recycling party decor?

~ Sarah Stewart Holland


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