This website is not really designed to be a product review site, but I’m going to make an exception this once (well, maybe more than once if I find something else I really like). As a party planner, there are certain tools of the trade that make life considerably easier, especially when you’re planning a pretty big party. The following list of essential party planning tools is certainly not exhaustive, but these are most definitely my favorite “toys” when I’m prepping an awesome get-together!

By the way, you may notice affiliate links scattered throughout this post. This is not something I intend to do frequently, but since I’m providing you with a list of super cool tools you should be using to make your party planning life easier, I figured, “Hey, why not!” If you choose to purchase something through one of these links, Details Party Designs will receive a small commission. I thank you in advance for your support!

Cricut Explore Air 2

This machine is a must-have if you want to save your fingers/hands from the pain of cutting out all of those little decoration parts or invitation pieces. I’ve researched these little miracles quite a bit, and the Explore Air 2 is by far the most versatile of all the Cricut cutting machines.

Not only do you have the option of utilizing Cricut’s own templates and letting the machine do the cutting (or scoring) work for you, but the Explore Air 2 will also allow you to upload your own designs. This is huge for me since I like designing my own invitations and decorations. Plus, using this feature means you don’t have to pay for Cricut’s designs.

But that’s not all, folks. The Explore Air 2 will also print. Hello, game changer! This means you can upload detailed drawings or even pictures (try the royalty-free images at Pixabay.com) of frogs you’re planning to laminate and hide around your backyard for the toddlers at your son’s birthday party to find during his pollywog birthday party…and have the Cricut cut them out for you! Oh, the pure joy!

Laminator

Speaking of laminating, you should go out and buy one of these bad boys right now if you’re serious about your parties (ok, not right now…but definitely after you read this post). My laminator is an Apache, and it was fairly inexpensive. Even the laminating sheets, which can be pretty pricey, weren’t too bad on Amazon.

I use this little machine for everything. As an example, I laminated the kids’ house crests during our Harry Potter Halloween party last year. Then I added a stick-on pin backing and voila…an easy way to remind the kids of which house they belong to. Most of the kids at that party still have their house crest badges, primarily because they were laminated.

If you want it to last, laminate it! If it’s going to be outside, laminate it! If it will be near water, laminate it! Given how inexpensive these devices are, it’s a no-brainer to have one in your arsenal of party planning tools.

Projector

You can see examples of some of my work with my trusty projector on our Party Theme pages, most notably on the Lord of the Rings page. I consider myself to be pretty crafty and certainly creative, but I am not an artist. I couldn’t draw a good circle freehand to save my life. Really.

So, when a friend showed me her projector, I knew I had to have one of my own (“My own…my Precious!”). I found mine at Michael’s. I’ve used it for so many things, from the door leading down into Moria to my current project…a life-size Crazy Dave from Plants vs. Zombies. These handy tools are super-easy to use. Just print the image you want to copy and blow up (I usually print mine as a 3X5 image), find yourself a dark room, turn it on and focus the image, and off you go!

It helps if you purchase a roll of white butcher paper too, especially if you’re going for life-size images. Thicker paper allows for paint rather than markers if you want to add some color, which I typically do. I really hate those annoying marker lines, so I use acrylic paint instead. I outline the image with permanent markers, which helps cover up any instances of “coloring outside the lines” (as my daughter describes it).

Glue Gun

Ok, seriously…if you don’t already have, like, 3 of these, I’ll be really concerned! I have 3…and they all work exactly the same. There’s not much difference between brands. The only real difference is whether you have a low temp or high temp gun. For most of my projects, I can get by with a low temp gun. In fact, I prefer it simply because it hurts less when you glue yourself instead of your project.

For some decorations, using a low temp gun is a necessity. For instance, I recently started working on my daughter’s art party decorations. Pinterest gave me the idea to cover a green bean can with crayons and ribbon. The plan is to use these to hold forks and spoons on the snack table. Had I assembled this project with a high temp gun, I’m afraid I would have melted or warped the crayons. That would not have turned out quite as pretty.

Cutting Board

Ok, I won’t lie…I actually have 4 of these. I keep extra glue guns on hand in case one dies on me halfway through a project, but I can’t say the same thing about my cutting boards. I have extras simply because I was on a mission to find one that worked consistently. This is the one.

I mentioned earlier that I’m not good at drawing circles. Well, I’m not good at cutting straight lines, either. Like the Cricut, manual cutting boards are wonderful time-savers. They make creating custom-designed invitations much easier in the long run. This particular brand, Fiskars, has proven easy to use, easy to replace (meaning the blade), and consistent in its cuts (i.e. straight every time).

Gotta Have 'Em All!

I wouldn’t be the party planner I am today without these 5 essential party planning tools. If you have a tool you absolutely can’t live without, tell me about it below! Happy party planning, everyone!