Forget the streamers and party favors, people just want to look good and find soap in your bathroom.
Everyone wants to go to a great party, but we’re not in high school anymore. You can’t just yell down the locker corridor, “Pam’s place 8 o’clock!” and expect twelve seniors with a keg on your doorstep at 8:05pm.
People are busy, people are lazy, people don’t want to go out unless they’re guaranteed to be comfortable. Why do we want these busy, lazy people at our house drinking our beer and wine? Because deep down we know exactly where they’re coming from, and if by some miracle everyone can agree to have fun at the same time, it is truly worth the effort.
Also, if you’re single, throwing a house party is the best way to meet ‘pre-approved’ men. You know what I’m talking about: men you’ve never met before, but who seem nice because they came with your friend Andy….Andy’s a nice guy, ergo Andy wouldn’t bring a douche bag to your party. Commence flirting!
This is your party. You can cry if you want to, or you can be smart and not invite people you don’t like. Even past high school there is a peer pressure of sorts to invite everyone in a particular group to your party. For example, you want to invite a few people at work, but there are a couple of co-workers that drive you nuts, and whom you suspect will corner you for valuable minutes at a time with pontifications on real estate futures if you invite them to your party.
The answer? Don’t invite them! You’re not obligated to like people, and you owe it to yourself to have a good time at your own party. Why should you put yourself in the awkward position of having to introduce your hated cubicle neighbor from work to your soon-to-be boyfriend? If you’re lucky, these people are anti-social anyway, but in the event of a cling-on who confronts you about not being invited, you’ll have to make a judgment call. You can either make up a reason why he or she’s not invited (such as you needed to keep the guest list small), lie and say there is no party, or, cave and invite him or her, justifying your weakness by telling yourself that one person can be easily avoided. Just don’t blame me when her tenth cute cat story of the night is blocking your best chance at talking to the aforementioned future boyfriend.
Okay, now that you’ve weeded out the potential downer quotient, concentrate on the excellent people on the list of invitees. Scan the list and put a star beside each person that you know has eligible bachelor or bachelorette friends. Give them an extra phone call to ask if they know anyone they could bring that would amp up the love connections for the single folks on that special night. This needn’t come off as a nag or a demand, just a polite, fun request, which of course you won’t hold them to if they can’t think of anyone. Some people love a social challenge like this and will end up bringing the perfect match for you or one of your guests. The bottom line is you won’t know unless you ask.
Drinks, Décor & Dining
What do you serve these awesome people and their sexy, interesting single friends? I’ve always found that the most festive option is to create one signature drink for the party – either pitchers of mojitos, margaritas, or just a bowl of punch, and then supplement with red and white wine, beer and one or two soft drink options. This isn’t a catered wedding – you don’t have to have a full bar set up. If someone has their heart set on a gin and tonic, they should bring gin and tonic.
Festive tip: Buy a case of Champagne and pop the corks early on to give everyone a taste – bubbles make people happy!
Food will depend on the weather, the featured drink, and the guests. Look at your guest list and see how many vegetarians are coming, then go online and see what crudité or just plain snack recipes go with your drink of choice. For example, bean dip and guacamole for your margaritas keep it low key and less expensive, but try something more upscale like citrus bruschetta or seafood skewers if you’re serving Champagne. Remember that you don’t owe anyone dinner, but if your party starts at 7pm, you should at least have some starchy carbs and fats (like baguettes with blue cheese or brie) to fill people up if you’re not serving anything else.
The two most important things about décor are cleanliness and lighting. Forget the streamers and party favors, people just want to look good and find soap in your bathroom. Plan your main party space around the standing lamps, table lamps and candles in the room. You want indirect lighting at all costs – it’s a horrible feeling to walk into a party and see an overhead light making everyone look tired. Then take a few hours to clean, if you don’t already hire someone to clean your house. I’m not saying you have to be able to eat off the floor, but it’s courteous to your guests to wipe off the gunge inside your fridge where they go to chill their wine, and to offer soap, towels and maybe even moisturizer and mouthwash in your bathroom.
Whatever your taste in music, the easiest thing to do these days is put your ipod on shuffle and just walk away. Or make party playlists and rotate those throughout the night. The last thing you want to do is be managing the party music song by song and ignoring your guests in the process.
Locate the speakers somewhere where they don’t face a couch or chair so that your guests can chat comfortably, but still feel the good vibes the music is putting out there. You know that experience when you really want to sit down, but the music would be blaring into your ear? That can be easily avoided.
Theme Party? Take It Easy On You Guests
A few weeks ago an acquaintance of mine invited me to a Shakespeare party. I thought it sounded like fun, imagining myself drinking out of a mock silver goblet and being treated to spontaneous sonnets through my mead haze, perhaps a gallant man in nice jeans mooning at me and asking me for my phone number. But then I kept reading the e-vite and saw the dreaded words “Please dress as your favorite Shakespeare character.” Long story short, I pretended I couldn’t get out of a previous commitment. My gallant man would likely be wearing tights.
When it comes to theme parties, don’t make your guests do a lot of work, or they might not come. Except for the understandable Hallowe’en costume mandate, don’t demand that your friends dress up. As much as you have your own vision of how your party should look, isn’t it all about seeing friends? Why alienate people before they’ve even finished reading the invitation?
After all your meticulous planning, parties always take on a life of their own. The best you can do is to make sure everyone’s glasses are full and that they’ve been introduced to the people around them. Then it’s just your job to relax and enjoy!