Last week, this photo and a tweet with a frantic request from an event planner popped into my into my Tweetstream:
"I need these and every spot in the city is sold out...help me out tweeps!"
Finding candy canes is not difficult but when there is a need for specific brands on short notice, it can be hard to find exactly what you want.
With event lead times shrinking, it's important for event planners to know where to locate hard-to-find props, decorations, ornaments, treats and event supplies. Here are a few ideas.
1. All Year Christmas Stores
I've listed a number of places where it's always Christmas, all over the world. As time goes by, a number of these stores are developing websites and shipping their products. Christmas stores are opening in more locations.
2. Christmas Towns
Small towns with festive names often have Christmas stores, museums or attractions where you can pick up or order holiday decorations and props. We profile some of them from time to time in the Cvent Event Blog and I'll list some at the end of the post.
3. Party Stores
Party stores aren't just for filling loot bag with treats for children's birthday parties. Many have high-quality merchandise suitable for corporate events. Examples include Party City, Party America, Shindigz and iParty.
4. Specialty Supply Stores for Unique Event Themes
If you ever want to do the snow globe theme that we featured a few weeks ago, at Department 56 Corner, you can get figurines and village accessories (including Dickens-style village, North Pole Village, New England Village, and an Alpine Village). Walmart has replica vintage villages.
5. Bulk Food Stores
With names like Bulk Barn and Bulk Food Marketplace, they often have hard to find and vintage candy's and treats at affordable prices. You'll find seasonal items like Gingerbread House kits.
6. Vintage Candy Stores
Vintage candy stores are popping up all over North America. With names like Economy Candy, Old Time Candy, Nostalgic Candy, Candy Junction, and the Penny Candy Store, some have on-line stores.
7. Retro Equipment Stores
8. Classic Toy and Game Stores
Classic toys can make great event decorations, props, and party favors. Think they've disappeared? Think again. The Vermont Country Store, Heartsong, Retroplanet, and vintage-toys.co.uk have traditional toys. Fat Brain Toys has classic toys and games for every decade from the early 20th century until today.
If your budget is tight, don't despair. You never know what you'll find on E-bay or Etsy. I was recently at a church bazaar in Montreal and amazed at the top quality Christmas linen, figurines and accessories that crafters were selling at affordable prices.
Sometimes you have to just keep your eyes open, be creative and proactive. For example, when my son was a lot younger, I took him to see the Wizard of Oz on Ice. They served popcorn in attractive and sturdy Wizard of Oz buckets with lids. I noticed that people were leaving them behind so I spent a few minutes and gathered a bunch of them up, cleaned and stored them in case I ever needed to do a Wizard of Oz inspired event.