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New Year’s Party Supplies and the Palace of Wisdom
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom," wrote William Blake, adding "for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough." And if ever there were a holiday period devoted to testing that principle, New Year's Eve and the day of recovery we call New Year's Day would be it. It doesn't really matter than much whether you're throwing a rowdy and gigantic New Year's shindig, a giant warehouse soiree using thousands of dollars worth of wholesale New Years' party supplies, or if you're simply having a few friends over to enjoy the silly fun of drinking cheap champagne and eating frozen pizza while watching "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," some kind of overkill always enters the picture, even if it's just too much pizza.

Now, while every culture we know of marks the New Year with some kind of event, not all treat it is as a time for riotous celebration. The Jewish New Year, which usually falls in mid-to-late September, for example, is very much the reverse of the Western New Year, in it that it is a somewhat solemn religious holiday and the start of a period of reflection and atonement along the lines of the Christian Lenten period. Still, when January 1st rolls around in North America, celebration is the name of the game, and so it has been since ancient times.

Indeed, anyone trying to plan a small, medium, or gigantic New Year's party still has to deal with question implied by William Blake above ? just how much excess is excessively excessive? Certainly, lest our homes turn host recreations of the kind of unpleasant scenes out of "Mad Men" or "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," we want to attempt to prevent excessive cocktail indulgence and, of course, absolutely forbid anyone driving home until we are certain they are completely sober -- but that's only the most dangerous form of excess with which we need to concern ourselves. When we're buying our non-alcoholic New Year's supplies, we can flirt with safer excesses that may be nearly as enjoyable as an elaborate cocktail mixed by Martha Stewart herself, and are guaranteed to be way more fun than nursing a hangover.

Balloons are a popular party favor for all celebrations. There's something wonderfully silly and playfully useless about them, which is probably why they're such a ubiquitous party favor at shindigs for all age groups. Party hats are very much in the same category and appeal to the child in all of us. It's simply impossible to take life very seriously when you're wearing a pointy hat or even looking at someone wearing one. And confetti party poppers are the most miniature possible version of the fireworks that are used to celebrate New Year's around the world. Somewhere, somehow, loud noises and riots of color have become synonymous with celebrations. The reasons for that are probably beyond rational thought, hidden in the recesses of our minds and go back to the earliest points in human history. All we know is that bright colors and loud noises excite us.

And there is the most noisily excessive New Years party favor, the incredibly loud "blowout" horns that make that joyfully annoying noise that have a way of growing more and more enveloping at New Year's parties as the midnight hour approaches. Until, of course, the big ball drops in Times Square, "Auld Lang Syne" finally gets played, and some measure of peace, if not quiet, is restored.

"Nothing succeeds like excess," wrote Oscar Wilde, and while that certainly does not apply to everything, when it comes to wholesale New Years' party supplies we think that's even more the case. All the more so if you can buy your supplies as cheap close out deals -- in which case you are nicely limiting the financial excesses which can take the fun out of a really great holiday. The morning after should be about watching the Rose Parade and football, not writing out checks.