Don't Have These Party Essentials? No Worries, Just Improvise It

You don't need lots of serving dishes or fancy glassware to have a party — just a little creativity. Here's how to use what you already have at your next bash. 

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March 28, 2016

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

©Cheyenne Mojica Photography

Photo By: ALX Creatives

Photo By: Savour Imagery LLC

Photo By: Hortus Ltd.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Cheyenne Mojica Photography

Photo By: Brklyn View Photography LLC

Instead of a Chip Bowl, Use a Colander

Upgrade a bag of chips without upgrading your party arsenal by filling your colander with snacks, instead. Bonus: The handles make it easy to transport to your party space. Just add a plate or piece of newspaper underneath to catch crumbs. 

Instead of Plates, Use a DIY Paper Snack Server

Instead of serving your guests out of standard plastic bowls, use our free printable to turn inexpensive card stock into decorative paper cones. To create them, enlarge this template by 50 percent, then print onto legal-size copier paper. Transfer the template to 12x12 card stock and cut out. Use a craft knife to cut a slit opposite the tab. Once assembled, further secure them with tape. 

Instead of Bowls, Use Fruit Baskets

Here's a reason to feel good about hoarding those berry baskets from farmers' market purchases: They can stand in as cute serving dishes for your party when bowls aren't an option. 

Instead of an Ice Bucket, Try a Planter

Dump out the plant you tried to keep alive last summer and turn it into something you'll really tend to: A bucket to keep drinks cold at your next outdoor party. If the planter has drainage holes, be sure to place it on the ground to avoid a mess. 

Instead of a Vase, Use a Tin Can

Tin cans have seemingly endless party uses: They can be transformed into lanterns, used to hold utensils, transformed into games, and more. One of the easiest uses is also one of the prettiest: Save a can with a pretty label (try tomatoes from the international section of your grocery) and fill it with flowers. It's an almost-instant centerpiece! 

Instead of a Dessert Dish, Use a Mug

It's the perfect server for your late-night cake fix, so why not use it mugs to create easy-to-serve desserts, too? Guests can grab their own, meaning you don't need a large baking dish, serving utensils or dessert plates — just a great recipe.

Make This: Individual Berry Cobbers

Instead of Bowls, Use Shot Glasses

Serve soup as an appetizer (yes, those boxes of pre-made soup totally count) by breaking out your shot glass collection and adding in a shooter-size serving. Bonus points if you add some chopped herbs or sour cream to garnish. 

(They're Great For Salads, Too.)

Glassware can stand in for plates when serving bite-sized salads and desserts, too. 

Instead of a Dessert Dish, Use an Edible Bowl

Adorable, right? These are also smart: Serving ice cream or fruit salad in hollowed-out citrus fruits adds citrusy flavor and doesn't dirty any dishes. 

Make This: Frozen Clementine Sorbet

Instead of Ramekins, Use a Muffin Tin

You don't need fancy baking ramekins to make individual-sized foods — just turn to your trusty muffin tin to do the pre-portioning. 

Make This: 8 Muffin Tin Brunch Recipes (Muffins Not Included!) 

Instead of...Pretty Much Anything, Use a Mason Jar

Ah, the trusty mason jar. It can stand in for almost anything at a party, from drinking glass to utensil holder to salad dressing server. Here, pumpkin s'mores are stacked in pint-sized jars to create individual desserts. Yeah, you're going to want to keep a bunch of these around. 

Make This: Pumpkin S'mores in a Jar

Instead of a Dessert Stand, Use Upcycled Stacked Plates

No cake stand? No problem! Create a makeshift cake server by updating a six- to eight-inch-wide can with non-toxic paint. Place the can on top of an upside-down plate, then stack another plate on top. This can be made permanent by adding industrial-strength adhesive along the top and bottom rims of the can. Or, make the arrangement temporary by connecting the pieces with poster putty. 

Instead of Chairs, Use Pillows + a Low Table

Don't shy away from inviting guests over just because you have a studio apartment, small back yard or dining room that isn't as large as you’d like. Here, pillows and a low coffee table stand in for the usual tables and chairs. 

Instead of a Party-Sized Table, Add Plywood to Your Everyday Table

How to you turn a small dining table into a table that will fit all of your friends? Add a piece of plywood or an unhinged hollow-core door on top of a smaller table. Cover it with a tablecloth or a piece of fabric. 

Instead of a Bar Cart, Clear Off a Bookshelf

Bar carts are fun and trendy, but if you don't have one, you can still create a dedicated bar just for the party. Clear off a bookcase, side table or coffee table and add the essentials and some fun extras. 

DIY This: Create a Bar, the Lazy Way

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