Some people like to party. Other people like to throw parties. For some of us, hosting the party is the only way to go. And if you haven’t tried it yet, you should: it’s a role that offers its own special rewards.
It’s not always an easy role, of course, and there are plenty of things that can go wrong with even a well-planned party. But smart planning and effective hosting strategies can go a long way toward ensuring that you have the most low-stress experience possible, and hosting gives you a sense of accomplishment and spares you the commute home from the action.
Convinced yet? Then you’ll want to take a look at these four key party-planning tips. They’ll help even the most novice party planner put together a memorable bash.
Get more (non-perishable) stuff than you need
Getting the right amount of food and booze can be a chore. You have to do some math, thinking about both the size of your guest list and the drinking habits of each of your guests. You have to get a range of drink options and a range of food options, so that the folks who only drink wine or the ones who don’t eat meat each have enough to choose from.
Here’s a tip: get a bit more than you think you’ll need, especially when that stuff won’t go bad. Extra bottles of wine or liquor can be saved for the next party — in fact, even liquor bottles that are opened take a long time to go bad, if they do at all.
But keep things simple
If you have a huge menu at your party, you’re going to lose your mind. You’re going to lose time with your guests too, because you’ll always be preparing food, cooking things, or heating up pre-made dishes. Keep your menu as simple as possible. Yes, you should accommodate the vegetarians and others with specific dietary requirements, but don’t go crazy doing so. If necessary, ask for help and have friends bring certain dishes.
It’s a bit easier to get a range of liquors, but again, don’t go crazy with specifics. Basic liquors and mixers will enable guests to create tons of permutations on their own. Keeping the menu simple will reduce planning time and food prep time, lowering your stress levels and giving your more time to enjoy your own party.
Lay out all of this great food so that guests can help themselves, but don’t expect them to do so without your explicit go-ahead. Make an announcement, according to pros at the party supply company Premier Glow.
Don’t forget the atmosphere
Decor, party favors, lighting, seating arrangements — they’re not just the background of your party, they’re its lifeblood.
Let’s face it: your party is the setting for the social interactions of the night, but it doesn’t create them. People bring their own personalities and social habits to your space, and then they bounce off of each other and interact to create the bubbling party atmosphere you’re craving. The role of your party is to encourage the right kind of socializing.
You can try icebreaker games and name tags until the cows come home, but trust us on this: the best way to ensure that your guests interact and have fun is to make them feel at ease. And that’s all about the way you dress up your space.
Arrange furniture into conversation zones, dim the lights (or swap in colored bulbs), hang decorations or light candles, hand out party favors, or ask guests to come dressed up. The choices are yours, but you need to make your space feel different to your guests than it would if they stopped by for tea on a weekday afternoon. That’s what will take your party to the next level.