I should have looked into best practices for hosting a party BEFORE we had one…but I was consumed by the office renovation and worried about all the construction mess. We might have been cutting it a bit short by finishing that up 2 hours before the party.
Also, I was irrationally obsessed with getting a light for over the dining room table. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a mandatory task for hosting a party. But, I drove all over the place looking, finally found something, and Kevin wired it. Now, I’m happy it’s here but I’m not so certain this was a good use of time:
Some people are natural hosts. Me, I need to work on it. This was the second party we’ve had in this house. The first, an end-of-season soccer party, was a lot easier – mainly because I already knew everyone. So, with this one behind us, these were helpful tips I found on the Internets that I should have read earlier.
1) “Someone who doesn’t entertain a lot doesn’t start until 2:00 p.m. and then answers the door in her bathrobe,” says Chicago event planner Debi Lilly.
While I didn’t quite do that, I was still underdressed, in flip-flops, and not really wearing makeup. Don’t do that. Get as much done beforehand as possible and get yourself ready early.
2) “Have drinks ready to go – glasses out, bottles open, etc. Only serve one dish that needs to be hot, any sides or hors’d’oevres should be good at room temp.”
This was strongly seconded by party-throwing-goddess Becky Calvert.
3) “You will eliminate a “bottle-neck” of people by having the beverages, glasses and ice on a different table than the food. Allow ample space between the two self-serving centers.”
I had food and drinks all in the kitchen. Beer was in the fridge when it was supposed to go into the empty tubs that were waiting on the counter. A small fail. A big lesson.
4) “Set up your bar/cocktail area/keg/what-have-you at the furthest possible point from the door. If you’re putting out food, set that up along a square, where the door is north, the bar is south, and food is at east and west. Basically, you want to spread out the stuff that people want so they’ll have to move around and talk to each other.”
Make people move. Think about flow. Don’t get stuck in the kitchen.
5) “Make it easy for your guests to make it easy on you. Have clearly marked, accessible receptacles for trash and recycling; have soap available at every sink; leave extra toilet paper in the bathroom (and make sure there’s a toilet plunger and some air freshener in there, should your guests need them); indicate where they can put coats; have the corkscrew or fondue forks or whatever implements people need handy; don’t forget to put out a pitcher of water in addition to more interesting beverages.”
Practical. Useful. All good reminders.
6) “There’s no shame in asking somebody to stir the sauce or open the wine or get the rabbits out of the sink and back in the moon-bounce where they belong.”
I want to party with the person who left this tip. Note to self: add moon-bounce and rabbits to next party list.
7) “Pace yourself. DO NOT try to do the shopping, food prep, clean the house and have everyone over the same day. You will be too tired to enjoy your party and you run a much larger risk of being way behind schedule.”
This requires planning and preparation. I have some room for improvement here…
8) “Lighting is everything! No one likes a party that is too light or too dark.”
Got it. No ugly lights. But, this doesn’t mean I should spend a whole day looking for a new fixture, right?
9) “I ensure an interesting crowd by asking everyone to invite along one person they don’t know very well (perhaps a friend from their health club or a new person from work).”
Isn’t this how you end up with squatters?
10) “Hire a helper.”
This popped up several times and seems like it skews toward the pretentious side. But, if I have 20 people coming over again, I will totally do this. It takes a lot of energy to be UP and ON and SMILING and TALKING when your natural non-drunken state is wall-holding-up at crowd’s edge. Drunk? That’s a totally different story. And not fit for sharing.
Oh, and mine:
11) Don’t start and hope to finish a major project using the deadline of the party as impetus to get it done.