Once upon a time there was the Tupperware party. Millions of women all around the world have succumbed to its wonders. Plastic never looked so good.
But party-plan selling has started something. Now it seems as though there is nothing you cannot purchase through a party-plan scheme. In the past decade I have attended (and in many cases hosted) not only numerous Tupperware parties, but also direct-selling parties for clothes (Vivienne's -- excellent range and fabulous hostess incentives), jewellery (two different kinds), cosmetics (the famous Nutrimetics) and now, the latest, linen.
Linen. This was tonight. Lorraine Lea linen parties, offering reasonably-priced bedding, bathroom, table linen and Manchester.
I have a theory about party plan selling. It works because you have a captive audience with undivided attention. When in Myer, you might think, "maybe one day I'll buy those towels". When sitting in a friend's living room, you think, "today is just the day to buy those towels -- I've always wanted something like them!".
What changes between Myer and the living room? Do you suddenly have more money? (No!) Do you suddenly have a glaring void in your linen cupboard? (No!) The striped bathmat that was attractive yet completely unnecessary in the department store is suddenly an essential item that you cannot live without. Ditto the doona cover. If one doesn't tend to 'go shopping' for new bedding, why does one suddenly find it necessary to purchase without restraint at a linen party?
I don't have the answers to these questions, other than reiterate what I've already said: captive audience. That, and some element of expectation that one spends money at these things. Is it socially acceptable to not buy anything? (Yes, of course!) Maybe another factor -- which in my case is very valid -- is that party-plan products have the advantage of not being too widely available. Having said that, I remember a certain clothing party at which at least three of us all bought exactly the same coat.
I don't know what it is, but I always spend up big at these party plan events. Tonight I bought a new pillow, pillow protector, bathmat and doona cover set. Could I have lived without all that stuff? Definitely!
I suppose one could always look at it the other way: it's apparently advisable to change pillows every few years, so I'm in fact probably well overdue. And presumably doona covers start wearing out eventually. So this is actually providential. I've been spurred on to buy stuff just in the nick of time!
I should mention that my very own linen party is in two weeks.