House Party!

Does anyone still hold sales parties at home? They used to be all the rage years ago. In the 1970s Tupperware parties were popular. In fact, I became a demonstrator. Off I’d trundle every evening with my suitcase packed full of it; it was certainly an art fitting it all in. Once you’d sold to the value of what was in the case, it and Tupperware were yours to keep – it was the only way back then how I could afford to buy any. I demonstrated for about a year, out one or two evenings a week. What finally made me stop was one client, having invited and expected 20 people to her home, had bought 20 fresh cream cakes to go with coffee. Not one person turned up, to the lady’s utter embarrassment. I felt so disappointed for her, and in those days no one had freezers so she couldn’t even store the cakes. I didn’t even own a refrigerator then! Tupperware is brilliant. I still have and use much of what was in that demonstrator case, so it’s at least 40 years old.

There were lots of jewellery parties too. I particularly remember the Sarah Coventry range and had bought some lovely rings and earrings, only to find out I couldn’t wear them as I had an allergic reaction to the metal and I can only wear gold.

100_5782When I moved from London to the West Country, some one hundred miles away, to a new and what was at the time the largest new housing development in Europe, I knew no one, and at first it was very lonely. Most people were in the same predicament, so house parties soon became popular, selling everything from Tupperware to Ann Summers sexy lingerie. There was a rival cosmetics range to Avon, called Vanda. I still have a glass bottle which held bubble bath, and is perfect for a single-stem flower. One of my favourite ranges was a brand of pottery including mugs and pot scourer holders, butter dishes, canapé dishes, vases and up to full dinner services. I still have one remaining item, a little flat dish that I use to hold rings and things when I’m working in the kitchen.

The parties were a great way to get to know neighbours and make friends but they ended up becoming more a competition of who could serve up the best and most innovative buffet, when really just a cup of coffee and a biscuit would have been suffice. It was the “in” thing at the time to make dips for crudities from dried soup mixes, and instead of tea or coffee, wine was the norm.


My “Vanda” vase

The last sales party I went to was in the early 1980s, for cubic zirconia jewellery, then fairly new on the market. I treated myself to a solitaire ring which I still wear on occasion. I remember at the time kidding my father it was a real diamond. “Let’s see,” he said, “only diamonds can cut glass.” And he promptly dragged it across their glass coffee table – to leave an enormous, deep scratch right down the middle of it. Mum was furious with him!

I suppose much of the demise of the sales party has been caused by the Internet, where it’s so easy to buy anything you want now. Either that, or I’m a Billy No Mates and no one bothers to invite me any more!


19 responses to “House Party!

  1. debutnovelist

    Hi Kit- what a great nostalgia trip. I never quite ‘got’ tupperware but as a beleaguered Mum in the 80s and 90s I bought clothes (Pippa Dee) jewellery, china and even the work of a local potter through house parties. Then of course there was Anne Summers …! Eventually I joined the fray becoming a rep for Discovery Toys and even briefly became a manager – heady stuff! I like to think it was fun – (and the kids were never short of toys) but there were some pretty dire moments too. And ofcourse it was a kind of alternative economy in which women supported eachother (you buy mine I’ll buy yours). Above all it taught me that I was capable of standing up and selling something and I lost my life-long fear of doing sums. Yes, killed perhaps by the internet but also by the trend for women to go back to their jobs instead of staying home with the children…. don’t let me start on that one! Lovely post. Ali B

    • Pippa Dee – of course, I was trying to remember the name! Didn’t know Discovery Toys – bet they were fun parties to do. Demonstrating helped me with my shyness too, as did working in Woolworths on a Saturday. Lovely seeing you here . Drop in any time for a chat. 🙂

  2. Valerie J. Patterson

    They still do home sales. The rage right now seems to be purses and bags by “31”, “Pampered Chef” parties, and candle parties. I think there may even be a line of spices that hostesses are having parties for now, too. I don’t go to home parties. I’m not much of a shopper, so those parties are not my thing. The hubby’s aunt made a very good living for more than a decade selling “Home Interiors”, which is a line of decorations. I can’t even recall when I last went to one of those parties. Very popular here in the States are “book parties” where the hostess doesn’t even have a party in her home, she simply passes the catalog around to family, friends, and co-workers and gets her orders that way. I will purchase items from a book party if something strikes my fancy. Good topic, Kit! Like the bud vase, too! 😛

    • Yes, there used to be candle parties here too. A lot of people in the UK used to be agents for catalogues like your “book parties”, Valerie, and take orders and payments for people – the “club” money. Avon was usually sold that way too. I never bought much at these parties, I could never afford to but they were always fun.

  3. I think I stopped going to home parties because, well, there’s nothing I need to buy. I DID just go to a Pampered Chef party, though. Those are always fun because they make food right there for us to eat. But I agree that home parties aren’t as prevalent or popular as they used to be. And they aren’t a social stepping stone anymore, either.
    Life changes things around in interesting ways, doesn’t it? A while back, I was at a scrap book night (where a group meets at the scrap store to work on albums or projects for 4-5 hours). I realized this was the new quilting bee, as I watched all the young mothers talk about raising children, etc.
    Things change, don’t they? And yet, they remain the same in some respects.

  4. Back in the seventies there was a range of cookware on sale called Rena, very expensive. The demonstrators, usually two of them, would come to your house and cook a complete meal for you and four guests, and hopefully make a few sales. My mother and an aunt demonstrated Rena for a few years. Mum still uses the saucepans. I suppose the knitting clubs we had here were like your quilting bees, though never my scene. Perhaps it is a good thing, Laurie, that some things do not really change at all. 🙂

  5. There are still parties out there, candle and now the Sensa seem the most popular. I remember the Tupperware ones, I never could afford much so didn’t like to go. The house parties don’t seem to be out there as much now and I agree that it might be because most women work out of the home now. They were more a part of the ‘homemakers’ career.

    I’d never heard the term Billy No Mates – Love it. My grand-daughter sells Sensa, wax room deodorizers and I’m thinking I might be too old as if I remember right most of the people that sold or went to parties were young wives and mothers.

  6. I used to love these, too and you’re right, they did become a competition for who could have the most elaborate eats. I haven’t been to one in ages either so I’m going to steal your saying of being a Billy No Mates (love that) and say I’m not being invited either. I love the pottery bowl and the bottle you turned into a vase. Some good stuff there.

  7. Used to love Tupperware, but never bought that much because it was too expensive for me. Pippa Dee, remember those too. A couple of years back, one of the girls at work gave an Ann Summers party – that was certainly a revelation and no, I’m not saying if I bought anything 🙂

  8. Hey, Kit. After I posted my comment from work, I got home to an invite to a home party on march 23. Lol.

  9. Oh yes, we still have house parties. I’m a current Tupperware consultant for 3 years. We still have so much fun at the parties. I just love meeting new people.

  10. I love Tupperware. That is what my blog on wp is about. You should pop in sometime and check it out. I blog information and recipes for the Tupperware products.

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