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Here’s the scoop on getting out in front of your New Year’s Eve celebration

Partypro.com worker PamelCulbaran fills mylar New Year's balloons Friday afternoon. |  JIM NEWTON/SUN-TIMES MEDIA

Partypro.com worker Pamela Culbaran fills mylar New Year's balloons on Friday afternoon. | JIM NEWTON/SUN-TIMES MEDIA

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Updated: February 28, 2014 4:20AM



Avoiding procrastination may be a good 2014 resolution for New Year’s Eve revelers and party hosts.

While people generally start preparing for Christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey is cold, last-minute shopping is the name of the game when it comes to New Year’s Eve party planning.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” said Mike LeBaron, owner of the Partypro.com outlet store and warehouse in Grayslake. “They wait until the last minute. Christmas is just over, and people want to wait a few days before getting ready for something else.”

As a result, LeBaron said, he expected to see his busiest days selling party decorations and gear to customers to be during this past weekend and on Monday.

And when it comes to laying in liquor for New Year’s Eve parties, people push the envelope even further, said Peter Papel, owner of Cardinal Wine and Spirits in Gurnee.

“New Year’s Eve is the day,” Papel said.

LeBaron, whose store sells party favors, tablewares, decorative signs, novelty hats, helium and mylar balloons and aisles and aisles of other party wares, said most at-home party planners are buying supplies for about 20 guests, while retail customers such as restaurants and bars buy for 50 guests and up.

Eric LoCasha, a manager at Kristof’s Entertainment Center in Round Lake, was in Partypro.com last Friday afternoon buying decorations for the Kristof’s New Year’s Eve party that is expected to draw a large crowd of adults.

“We usually get 200-plus in the lounge,” he said. Kristof’s also has a smaller bowling party for families earlier in the evening, he said.

The No. 1 New Year’s Eve party seller at the Partypro.com outlet is party poppers, the small plastic bottles that pop and send streamers flying when a string is pulled. Plastic black top hats, plastic champagne cups, streamers, and confetti are also big items.

“We have one customer who comes in every year and buys 90 pounds of confetti,” LeBaron said. “When midnight strikes, her kids and guests get buckets of confetti and throw them at each other. I’ve seen pictures and it’s hilarious. I wouldn’t want to be cleaning it up.”

Recreating that scene will cost you more than $300, but most of the party novelties are cheap, with hats going for less than a dollar each.

LeBaron said New Year’s Eve is the second-largest event for his business, beaten only by graduation season.

For those looking for last-minute supplies, Partypro.com, located on Route 83 south of Rollins Road, will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday this week.

On the liquor front, champagne is still the king of New Year’s Eve, although hard liquor such as high-end vodkas is also very popular, Papel said.

Top sellers are Korbel, for about $12 a bottle; and Barefoot Bubbley, which is cheaper.

There are always those looking for the best, however, and Papel said he sells five or six bottles of Dom Perignon champagne, currently going for $139 a bottle, each New Year’s.

Classy vodkas such as Grey Goose and Absolut also have been in high demand in recent years.

Papel said Christmas Eve was his busiest day of the year so far, and he is unsure whether New Year’s will eclipse that number of customers on Tuesday.

“Christmas Eve was bigger (than usual) this year so we’ll see,” he said.



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