There are two kinds of parties. The ones you want to attend and look forward to, maybe even the ones you plan your entire summer around; and then there are the rest. You know, the ones you attend but double book, so you can skip out early. The ones where you keep checking your watch, wondering when it’ll be safe to vacate the somber premises.
What’s the difference? Is it the food, the location, the guests? It’s hard to put your finger on it, but I bet you can count on one hand, the number of people you know, who really know how to throw a great party.
I really love throwing parties. But secretly, I like attending them even better.
So with summer here, I think its time to talk about how to be a really great host. Who knew there were rules?? Ok, well there really aren’t any rules, but there are definitely responsibilities that you’ll just have to get used to if you truly want to be a hostess with the mostess!
For starters you need to dig out your silk scarf and directors cap because that’s really what your main job will be for the night. If you think about it, you are really just the director of a play and depending on how well you execute, the resulting experience will be the difference between you showing your guests to the door at 2 in the morning or them ducking out at half past 9 to try to make it to another party…don’t you just hate that!
Starting with your guest list, consider trying to invite guests that compliment each other or who have met before. If you are planning on introducing a new friend or couple to your social circle, plan a prior meeting over cocktails or coffee with other friends so that they can meet under much more casual circumstances. If you invite your new friend you met at the gym and the new gal at your office and your neighbor who has never met any of your friends, you’ll find yourself bouncing from newbie to newbie and stressed about whether or not they are having a good time. No one likes to be the new guy!
Be ready before the party is set to start. You never know who is going to show up early, and if it’s that cute guy from your office, you definitely don’t want to answer the door in your ratty bathrobe!
Have candles lit and music playing when your guests start to arrive.
When your guests do arrive, (no matter how frazzled you are) make sure to greet them with a smile. Invite them in, take their coat and show them where they can store their purse or other belongings.
Get them a drink and offer them appetizers.
As other guests arrive, politely excuse yourself and welcome them in the same fashion as before.
As the party continues, mingle among your guest and if you notice certain people that seem isolated or unsure of themselves, try to bring them into another conversation.
Help start conversations by talking about something that you know both guests have an interest in. Once the conversation is started and they are conversing you can quietly excuse yourself to tend to other guests. Try to avoid conversations that lead to debate or argument; remember this is a party.
At some point after all of your guests have arrived, and before they leave or you have had too much to drink, take the time to thank your guests for coming, especially those who may have traveled from out of state. Make it heartfelt, short and to the point.
Your main priority should be that your guests are having a good time, so although it is okay to offer to take an empty plate from a guest or offer to refill or replace a drink, do not spend your time doing dishes. It tends to make guests feel uncomfortable and can send a message that it might be time to leave.
Keep tabs on anyone you feel might be over-indulging. Although you are not a babysitter, it is your responsibility as a host to find a guest a way home, if they have had too much to drink. You may want to have the number handy of a taxicab or driver service, and check ahead for their availability. New Years can be notorious for long cab waits and no-shows. Other options would be to ask someone else to give them a ride home, or ask someone well in advance of the party if they could offer to be a designated driver. In a worst-case scenario, offer to have the guest spend the night.
As the evening comes to a close, and your guests have begun to say their goodbye’s, offer them a token of appreciation such as a take home favor. This is something you will need to plan for in advance, but it is a very nice gesture. It can be something as simple as a small potted plant or picture frame. Your added thoughtfulness will surely bring a smile to all of your guests faces.