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Retro Time Machine – Home Shopping Parties

Day 228

Before Amazon, we gathered in other people’s home for ‘parties’ where you could be lured into buying a product that you may or may not need or want.

The hostess was often rewarded with points toward a purchase, or with a free gift from the catalogue — both contingent on the sales from the party. I was never a good hostess. I was not crazy about trying to sell anything, and getting your close friends to attend and buy was always a slippery slope. At the end of the party, the hook was to try and get one of your friends to host a party of their own. Gotta get those sales numbers up!

All the parties I ever attended were all women which most likely equaled a night off from whatever was in their normal routine. Of course your friends were always encouraged to invite another friend — the more the merrier. I was never fond of having people I did not know well milling around my house.

The only party I ever really hosted was a Tupperware party. This was in 2000 when Tupperware was introducing their microwave blue and white steamer (which I recently donated to a thrift store). The Tupperware Lady demo’d the steamer in my microwave. I am not sure it was a big hit. Unfortunately, the sales tactics at this party were high pressure and a friend of a friend became very vocal about refusing to purchase anything. I was so glad when it was over. Eventually the products came in and were left to me to sort and deliver to the attendees.

I feel about hosting home parties the same as I do about yard sales — Never Again. I did go as a guest to quite a few though.

Sarah Coventry – Sarah Coventry sold jewelry through catalogue sales and home parties. They had a broad range of jewelry to choose from, but most of what I had was limited by my budget, so they were small. I had a stick pin with a heart on it, a couple of scarf clips, a pendant watch, and a slider necklace. Remember those? There is a collectors book with photos of all their jewelry you can purchase if you are a collector.

PartyLite Candles – I only went to a couple of these parties, but I loved them. I bought a set of three goblet-shaped tea light holders, a glass centerpiece (which I never used) and a beautiful spring loaded candlestick holder. Their candles burned clean and I used those candlesticks for years. Now I only use LED candles.

Avon – I never sold Avon, but I went to a number of parties. I think Avon was originally door-to-door, but I went to several parties throughout the years. My sister was a huge collector. She had a lot of perfume bottles and some red Cape Cod glass and some white hobnail glass. I was more interested in their jewelry. I had several rings and a little cuckoo clock pin. I never cared for their cosmetics.

Mary Kay – Mary Kay was a big deal where I lived around the mid 70’s. Again, not a salesman at all, but I went to a number of parties. There were often tables lined with mirrors for each attendee to use. You could experiment with their makeup which I remember liking at the time. I also remember a few parties where the sales person was upset because the wine poured a little too freely. My friend got the highly-prized pink Cadillac for a month because she sold so much!

Bra Fitting Parties – These were a hoot, designed to show every woman she was wearing the wrong sized bra. I remember the bras being very industrial looking and very pricey.

Lingerie Parties – This was a big thing in the early 80’s. Always held in someone’s home, racks of lingerie you could try on in the privacy of your friend’s home. I only went to one and found the idea of trying on lingerie that other people also tried on a little disturbing.

There were others…

The three I never got interested in were Longaberger Baskets, Amway, and Princess House. My older sister loved Princess House. She had many pieces of their glassware and home decor, but nothing that ever intrigued me. The same with the baskets. They were so expensive, I just do not know how people could justify the expense. I was ever suspicious of the Amway pyramid scheme so I never got sucked into that one.

Today some home parties still exist, but I am nor sure it is as prevalent as it once was. My granddaughter had a Jamberry birthday party where all the attendees got their nails done free. Not your normal party because her parents paid for all the kids and nothing was sold. (Jamberry sells vinyl heat-activated nail wraps to decorate your nails.)

That’s the end of your time-travel journey today. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Before you go, have you had home parties or been a sales consultant? Anything recent?

14 thoughts on “Retro Time Machine – Home Shopping Parties”

  1. My Mum used to host Tupperware parties in the 1960s, a long time before microwaves! Our kitchen was full of Tupperware containers that she took as commission.
    My wife used to be a part-time agent for Ann Summers in the UK. (When she was a single Mum, and before we met) They sell erotic ‘lingerie’, sex toys, and such. (Only female guests)
    She tells me that the parties were often hilarious. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was not familiar with Ann Summers, so I had to look it up. Oh, that must have been hilarious. Women can be quite bawdy for sure.

      Our family also had tons of Tupperware growing up. I suppose it is a testament to their products although I am sure the disposable plastics industry has impacted them. And seriously — ‘disposable plastic’ is such a misnomer, isn’t it?

      Feel better, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, groan, I do remember those parties. I never had a whole lot of disposable income and certainly didn’t want to buy non-essentials with it. I was invited to many such parties over the years. Tupperware (still have it), Pampered Chef (good spatulas and pizza stones), but lingerie, jewelry and candles, no thanks. My friend introduced me to Nikken products and I jumped in with both feet, spent a fortune, sending it straight into the pockets of my upline leaders. That lasted 3 years, before I got tired of the constant search for folks to ‘help’ who weren’t interested in being ‘helped.’ That’s a long time to be out of one’s comfort zone. 😉 Still use and love their products, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot about Pampered Chef, probably because I was never invited to one of their parties. I also never heard about Nikken — had to look them up. I understand getting tired of the constant hustle. That takes a special wiring of the DNA which I do not possess.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My mother attended many Tupperware parties and hosted a few. I held one tag sale. It was in 1982 and it was a disaster and I’ve never had another.


  4. We got a ton of Tupperware when we got married, all in the popular colors of the day (brown, yellow and orange). I doubt we have any of it left.

    Mary got talked into hosting a Coppercraft party in the early ’80’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another product that never crossed my path. I researched and the products were lovely. Not something I would have ever bought for myself though.


  5. Ah memories! Tupperware up the ying yang for sure!
    We have CAbi parties in our neighborhood. Stands for Carol Anderson by invitation! Fancy title for a line of women’s clothing. Actually REALLY nice well made outfits, but pricey. When you host, and sales are good, the hostess receives half price off as many items based on total sales. Its worth ut under those circumstances, but who needs nicer clothes when you no longer work??!!
    As for other parties, about 10 years ago my neighbor had one of those “sex toy” demonstration parties! I’ll just say…..OMG! The “saleswoman” had very colorful language and watching several ladies in the 70ish age group reacting and buying was quite entertaining and a revelation for me at the time!! Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not heard of CAbi parties either. I must live a secluded life.

      We will definitely need to discuss your forays the next time we are together with the girls!


  6. I attended Tupperware parties in my earlier days. I purchased Avon products from non-parties where catalogs were just put out in the staff room. I sold Creative Memories scrapbooking supplies for many years to support my habit. I ended up buying more than I sold which is not a good formula for making money,

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, the mind was triggered by your post. In the early 70 I was a TriChem liquid embroidery salesperson. I had home parties to sell the tubes of permanent ink. It was a passion for quite awhile. To this day my kids have some of the things I made for them. Good memories were triggered.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember going to a Mary Kay party where everyone had to stand in a circle, hold hands and sing a silly song beforehand. I was eyeing the door and wondering when I could politely leave right from the start.


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