Tales From The Main

Snapshots of small town life - zany characters and our neverending poker game.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I am a party animal. At least I can be when the mood strikes me.

Carol and I found ourselves at a swishy party recently and I had to be dragged out the door sometime just before the sun came up. I have a vague impression of smiles still on the host and hostess’ face though so I think we’re good to go for a return invitation.

Having been both a host and a guest at numerous get social events I have come to consider myself a bit of an authority on how to throw a good party. If you are considering having your own shindig here are some tips to save your event from becoming the type of party where you have three people left at 11pm, all looking uncomfortably at each other wondering who can leave next.

First off – people make the party. Invite lots of them. Make them from different backgrounds and don’t worry if they don’t know each other. Nothing is worse than going to a party and seeing the same crowd that you saw all day at work! The same goes for showing up at a party where the hosts have slaved away making food for the twenty guests they invited only to have 8 show up. My rule of thumb is for every 10 invitees you get 6 attendees – if you’re Tom Cruise or Oprah then this number changes somewhat but even for that strata of society people are out of town or get sick at the last second.

Second. It’s a party for you too. Do all the work before hand. If necessary hire people (older kids and their friends are good servants if you are on a tight budget – they are dying to be there anyway and you can always kick them out when the heavy lifting portion of the evening is over which is generally long before cousin Sally’s husband starts hitting on your wife anyway). If you have to serve food and drinks, clean, take coats, take care of kids etc. etc. then when are you going to mingle and have fun?

Third. If you have done your job and invited a great mix of people then you need to mix them well. Have a theme that forces people to interact. Some parties go all out – asking guests to dress to themes, organizing teams and formal games, even having prizes and speeches – we had great success with a simple idea – when a guest arrived we put a “Hi My name is . . . .” sticker on their back. We had prefilled in the labels with a variety of celebrity names and the idea was you had to guess who you were by asking questions of the other guests at the party. Simple and absolutely hilarious – especially for the one guy who went the whole evening unable to figure out that he was Superman. “OK. I can leap tall buildings in a single bound! I’m faster than a speeding bullet! I know it! I’m BATMAN!”

His wife, “You baby – You’re an idiot!”

Fourth. The food. I have been to many parties where there is a buffet of food laid out right from the start. By the third hour of the party the shrimp bowl is looking pretty grungy and the impact of the food is lost. Stagger your food service by having your helpers circulate with platters around the rooms of your house. This serves two purposes. One – it gives you a lot more bang for your food budget, and if you plan properly is not any more work, and two, keeps the party from staying concentrated in the kitchen/dining area. Serving food throughout the entire evening also keeps your guest a little more sober in my experience.

Five. Music. Loud music is great if people want to dance otherwise it is a conversation killer. I like to create a dance floor in a separate room and in the age of iPods there is no excuse not to have a great soundtrack for dancing going all night. Keep the music in the rest of the party to background volume.

Six. Don’t forget your legal responsibilities. Have cab numbers handy for those who had too much fun.

Seven. Enjoy yourself. A stressed out host is the biggest party killer around.




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