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Paddle Parties: A Networking Opportunity for Home-Based Direct Sales Businesses

Debbie is an independent consultant for Thirty-One Gifts, selling purses, totes, and organizational storage at in-home parties.

Here is my display at the Sunflower Paddle Party in January 2012—an opportunity to network and showcase products make paddle parties a great way to get new customers!

Here is my display at the Sunflower Paddle Party in January 2012—an opportunity to network and showcase products make paddle parties a great way to get new customers!

Paddle parties are a fun and exciting way to network for the home-based direct sales business consultant. Made up of a group of 10 or more independent small business owners, paddle parties allow each consultant the opportunity to meet and introduce their product to a large group of new potential customers. It is rarely a money-making opportunity, but it is a great way to expand the exposure of your product in a short time in an otherwise difficult market.

What Is a Paddle Party?

So, you might be asking, what is a paddle party? Ideally, it is a group of 10 vendors who each invite 10 of their customers or friends to attend a Ladies' Night Out event which showcases the vendors' products.

It gives the ladies the opportunity to learn about the products of the vendors without having to attend a home party and no pressure to purchase anything! It is a win-win situation! Guests who are interested in a product have the opportunity to book a home party or purchase items from catalogs, but there is no pressure or requirement to do so.

Dalaina's display includes both purse and candle products.  She is introducing new products to the market with a paddle party!

Dalaina's display includes both purse and candle products. She is introducing new products to the market with a paddle party!

How Does a Paddle Party Work?

Guests arrive and fill out a registration form listing their name, address, phone, and email address. In addition, they list which vendor invited them to the paddle party. They are given the option to purchase between one and four numbered auction paddles. Each paddle is matched with a marker which is placed into the drawing bucket. They are also given the opportunity to purchase tickets toward winning a fundraiser item.

The money from the items is donated to a charity chosen by the vendors. Guests then find a seat and get ready for the fun! Door prize drawings begin 15 minutes before the auction begins. This helps to get the guests in their seats and paying attention. Door prize items range from promo items to novelties like ornaments.

Vendors introduce themselves and their overall product line then the actual auction begins! Each guest is allowed to bid one quarter per paddle for each item offered. Auction items are valued at a $20 minimum (preset by vendors). Let's walk you through it:

  • Vendor introduces the product, such as Dalaina. This vendor is offering a new print cover for a classic purse sold by her company. She shows the item, tells about it, and gives its retail value. She then asks, "Who wants to win it? Paddles up!"
  • Guests hold up the number of paddles they wish to bid on. Remember they are allowed a maximum of four. For each paddle they wish to bid on, they will put a quarter in the vendor's container.
  • Vendors walk through the crowd and gather the quarters using small containers, mugs, or baskets. The quarters are then placed into Dalaina's collection container.
  • Dalaina draws a marker out of the drawing bucket. Markers are numbered to match the numbered paddles. When Dalaina calls out the number on the marker, the guest with the matching paddle wins the item . . . if she has bid using that paddle! If not, the crowd moans, "Ohhhh," sadly, then, "Yay," because Dalaina will be drawing another marker!!
  • Once the winning guest is given her prize, the next vendor moves to the center front and begins the drawing for the next item.
  • When all 10 vendors have had their turn twice, it is intermission time! Guests can gather up some refreshments, purchase cash and carry items available from vendors, ask questions about products and companies, or book a party! Drawing for more door prizes brings the crowd back to their seats, and the auction begins again!
  • The fourth round finishes up the party and leads to the drawing for the fundraiser bag. It is a bag filled with $10 gift certificates from each vendor. It's a $100 value that helps to raise funds for the chosen charity. Following the drawing for the winning ticket, guests are treated to thank you gifts as they leave. This way, everyone leaves with something!
Thank you gifts of a sample of the product gives the guests a temptation to take home!  Everyone has something this way and it is one last opportunity to make that networking connection for vendors!

Thank you gifts of a sample of the product gives the guests a temptation to take home! Everyone has something this way and it is one last opportunity to make that networking connection for vendors!

Where's the Network?

Sounds like fun, but the networking opportunity is there too!! If each vendor invites and gets 10 guests to arrive, then each vendor has 90 new contacts in the room. If those guests bring a friend or family member, then there is MORE! Each contact is a potential party which is the potential for sales and even more parties!

The possibility is expanded by the exposure of hosting the paddle parties in various towns. That is 90 new contacts each month for three months and then touching back in on a regular basis to keep those contacts fresh. We rotate our locations, and therefore, we revisit communities each season and introduce new products and specials to the guests. This gives us the possibility to renew the potential contact with each guest. Here's the math:

  • 10 guests who become returning customers.
  • 90 new contacts. Let's say 10 book a party. We are up to 100 network opportunities now.
  • 10 parties each with 10 guests = 90 new contacts (already counted the hostesses) puts us up to 190 now.
  • 2 parties booked from each of those parties (20 each with 10 new guests) = 180 more people who see your product making our total now 370.

Let's say it stops there. It probably doesn't, as the extra parties will inevitably breed new parties, but for the sake of it all, let's say it stops there.

The 25% commission on the purchases of an average of $50 x 370 contacts = $4625 . . . not bad . . . not bad at all. Remember . . . that is from one paddle party's connections. Now . . . 12 months is 12 paddle parties. That is the potential of $55,000 dollars or more. Let's remember we have expenses here though, so let's deduct that at four products at $20 = $80 each month plus location fee and advertising fees. Roughly each month costs about $100 but if you as a vendor get 10 people to attend who purchase four paddles at $3 each, you will recoup that at each party. Therefore there is no deduction and I can handle that!

Realistically, that doesn't happen in month one and maybe not in year one, but that is the rough potential of bringing in those 10 contacts to a new experience of food, fun and prizes! They will return and bring a friend, so be prepared to expand that each month! It's all good!

An Additional Twist!

Several vendors in our area have added an additional twist to the paddle party idea. We have begun to use this forum as charity fundraisers for local families, teams, and churches. It is a great way for vendors to pick up some extra contacts while the charity often pulls in at least $600 in donations.

Vendors are able to write off the product offered for bid as a charity donation, and all the quarters bid, paddle money, and sometimes even commission on booked parties are all donated to the charity. It's a great way to get people to donate AND have fun while they take home some great products!

Networking Is Opportunity Expanded!

Keep in mind that every networking opportunity is an opportunity to expand your business. Taking the time to introduce the company and the opportunity to earn money with a group of a hundred people each month gives you the potential for sponsoring people to join your team and expanding your earnings at the same time.

Many people only see what they can earn themselves as their only earning potential. Looking beyond your own ability and expanding your team by sponsoring helps you to increase your earnings and build your network even bigger, faster! Take the time to share the opportunity with others. It pays!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Debbie Carey

Share Your Thoughts And Comments Here

Alicia on December 03, 2018:

How do I become a part of this event as a vendor?

Debbie Carey (author) from Riverton, KS, USA on August 31, 2015:

I'm glad you have found the up side of Paddle Parties. Thanks for commenting! P.S. Please remove the reverence to FB! This is not an appropriate format for advertising

your business!

Debbie Carey (author) from Riverton, KS, USA on October 30, 2012:


You ROCK! Thank you for sharing! It has been a great combination and I am please with the weight loss as well! Thanks for reading!

Millicent Perry from Columbus, Ga on October 21, 2012:

Wow! This is a great idea! I had a similar idea at one time. But this really brings it all together. I will have to share this with my friends who are in direct sales and network marketing.

Debbie Carey (author) from Riverton, KS, USA on October 02, 2012:


(love your ID) I too LOVED attending Paddle Parties and actually decided to start my own to feed my "addiction" and make money! They are super fun and if you ever get a chance to attend one, be sure to go! Thanks for reading and sharing! God Bless!

Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on September 27, 2012:

Excellent hub, a paddle party sounds incredibly fun I am a sucker for anything that involves door prizes. Ever since I won one prize years ago my brain gets super happy when my eyes glance the word "Door Prize". Voted up, awesome and shared.

Debbie Carey (author) from Riverton, KS, USA on May 06, 2012:

It has been not only hugely successful, but great fun! Thanks for reading!

MYWIKISTEP on May 06, 2012:

It is one of the oldest marketing/promotion methods I know.

But as I remember it has been always been very successful too.

It is still a great way to promote.

Debbie Carey (author) from Riverton, KS, USA on February 27, 2012:

It really is! If you add in the fun factor, it is really an awesome opportunity! Thanks for reading!

sonnynoregon from Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035 on February 26, 2012:

What a great idea, sounds like win win party