Everyone loves a good party. Catching up with friends and family, meeting new people, discovering new things, laughter (lots of laughter!), food, drink, music – what’s not to like? We’ve all been to parties, and at some point or other, while watching the beautiful host, full of effortless charm and grace floating from guest to guest, pretty much everyone has had that thought of ‘I’d love to be like that’ only to be faced with the horror-filled reality of ‘Oh my God, now I have to be like that!’.
Well don’t fear, put down that flaming pan of burnt smoked salmon blinis (what were you thinking?!), and take a look at our top tips for being the perfect host for the perfect party.
1. Know thy party
It helps to know what kind of party you want to throw. Is this a quiet gathering of the finest minds of your generation, discussing the existential issues of the day? Or is it a full on 24 hour rave-up for 100+ people? Maybe it’s a birthday party for a family member, or a never-to-be-beaten NYE bash for the ages? Will children be encouraged, tolerated, or excluded entirely? Whatever your event, have a clear picture of how it would go in a perfect world, then bring it down several notches to a just-better-than-worse-case-scenario, and make appropriate preparations. For example, you’ll probably need more chairs for a family-focused event, and fewer chairs and more bottles of water for the full-on rave-up. Know thyself, know thy party.
2. Invite people
This is fundamental, but still needs saying. Not just in a casual ‘yeah you should drop by’ way, but in a ‘hey, it’s a party at mine, arrive anytime between 7&8, just come right on in to the backyard – bring beer and chips’ kind of way. Be specific about what you want/need from your guests, and make sure they know they’re invited. Anyone who was a ‘drop by’ invite will soon become a ‘drop out’ invite by either forgetting or thinking you were only being polite. Be clear with your invites.
3. Let it go
Once the party gets going, learn to give up control and let the party flow. If you’ve got games planned, that’s great, but if everyone is clearly having too much fun chatting or dancing to music, that’s great too. You want everyone to have a good time, and sometimes that means letting them enjoy that good time. And if you hoped everyone would be intelligently debating the latest in high-minded American culture, but instead Jonny’s lighting his own farts to everyone’s amusement, so be it. Though have the extinguisher ready if so. Parties come in all flavors!
Parties are about having a good time, and people generally have a good time when they’re comfortable. More often than not, parties get hot quickly, with many bodies in small areas, so bear this in mind and think about/plan for your environments. Open windows, doors or set the aircon to preempt discomfort. Alternatively, if outside and the temperature is dropping as the sun goes down, have blankets at the ready. Comfortable people relax – and relaxed people have more fun. It’s that easy. Be cool, relax.
5. Food and drink
These are the basic staples of any party, but people will have more fun the less you worry about the catering, despite what you’re thinking. It is always people that make the party, not the food and drink. Yes, drink is pretty much a basic requirement – but on small budgets encouraging guests to bring their own is not a sin. It’s always good to have basic beer, wine and soft options in, but don’t fret about quality, unless you’re trying to host a posh dinner party (see no. 1). The same goes for food. Nibbles are great, and food to soak up any alcohol is wise, but you can always ask people to bring their own, or order takeout midway through the night. If you are catering your party, it’s worth considering allergies and preferences, particularly things like peanuts (which are probably worth avoiding altogether if you’re unsure of exactly who might be coming). At smaller events, you’ll likely know the dos and don’t already for close friends and family. People make the party.
6. Enjoy it!
Along with point 2, this is the most important. You’re the host, it’s your party, you want to make sure everyone is having a good time. But that doesn’t mean you need to run around filling everyone’s plates/glasses every two minutes, or making sure everyone has had at least one memorable encounter with everyone else in the room. These are (presumably) your friends and loved ones. They want you to have a good time as much as you want them to. So take the pressure off. Yes, you want to host the party, but you also want to enjoy the party. So always remember: It’s your party too!