Have you ever been to a party that was simply amazing? The guests mingled nicely, the conversation flowed, the food was perfect, and the mood was just right? You walk away thinking that every party should be that way, and trying to figure out what the secret was so that your own parties would be just as good.
Unfortunately, even the best of us don’t always throw perfect parties. We’ve got tips and tricks to make them go as well as they can, but so much is out of our control that, to some degree, it is a gamble. I’ve thrown a lot of parties in my day, and many of them were good. The guests were happy, the company enjoyed, the food eaten. Other times, I’ve had untouched food, long awkward silences, and people didn’t linger over coffee or dessert. So what made some of the fetes I’ve thrown go over well and others that went down like a lead balloon? Without a post-party autopsy, one can’t be entirely sure, but there are a few things I’ve noticed:
- You don’t necessarily need to have a theme for every party, but some commonality is good. For example, if you have a dinner party and invite your old college friends and your new work friends, there is a chance they might not talk and things potentially might not work out well. However, if you invite the same crowd over for the Superbowl, there will be something for everyone to talk about. If you’re getting together a gang that hasn’t seen each other in a long time, a quiet dinner might be just the thing so that everyone can see and chat with everyone else. If you have a theme, you make your own life easier. You know exactly what kinds of food to prepare, what decorations to get, and it will be fun finding the big and little ways to incorporate your theme.
- Planning ahead is critical. I can’t stress this one enough. When I say plan ahead, I mean, everything – from the supplies you’ll need to the ingredients required. If it’s a big event or there’s a lot to do, make a timeline or write it on a calendar so that you know what to do when. Also, now is not the time to make your 17 step dessert or homemade crepes. While they might be killer crowd pleasers, nobody likes a frazzled host or a host that has to spend the entire time in the kitchen slaving away and missing the fun. That brings me to my next point.
- Prep as much as possible beforehand. The whole point of hosting is because you want to spend time with your guests and to celebrate something, whether it be a good meal or a special occasion. If there is food you can make prior to the day of, do it. Measure out the ingredients of the stuff you can’t and have them ready so you can just mix and cook whenever possible. If you want music playing, assemble the playlist before the event so you can just set it to play and forget about it. If there is a big game or other televised event, you can even set your tv to turn on at a specific time or assign the job to one of your guests so that you don’t have to drop any other duties to do it. Also keep in mind that if you’re in the kitchen, guests will likely gather there too. Be prepared for this and have jobs for those who ask readily available. Maybe they can pour wine in the glasses you’ve set aside and distribute them. Or maybe they can carry out the snacks you assembled the night before. Your guests will feel like they’re helping and it will take some of the pressure off you.
Start with these three things and your next bash is bound to be a success!