With a little planning ahead of time, hosting a party can be simple and easy. Here are a few tips to make the planning, and party, fun and enjoyable for you and your guests.
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Who to Invite?
Creating a guest list is a fine art that simply takes a little effort. Start with your core group of friends and then consider other people you know through work or outside activities that you would like to include. Choose guests that will be comfortable mingling or find people that have similar interests as other people attending the party. Once you have created your list and invited your guests two weeks in advance, be sure to make good introductions at the party. By introducing guests to each other in a thoughtful way by pointing out things they have in common, you can put your guests at ease and get conversations started.
Planning a party means making lists and making a preparation schedule. After choosing a menu, make your shopping list and hit the market as far in advance as possible. Ideally, most of your food can be prepared in advance then just reheated and set out right before guests arrive. Don't be bashful about buying prepared food, either. Grocery stores and specialty markets offer great appetizer options that will save you time and, sometimes, money as well. Pick one or two things that you will need to prepare and other items that you can just plate like an assorted cheese tray, bowls of nuts and olives, and a plate of cured meats with bread.
Clean your house the weekend before and just tidy up prior to guest arrival. Be sure plenty of wine and cava are chilled and open some red wine prior to guest arrival. Set your bar with plenty of glassware, cocktail napkins and beverages and encourage your guests to serve themselves.
Décor, Lighting and Music
Decorating is always easiest when you pick a theme whether it is elaborate or as simple as choosing a color to use throughout the party. The theme can be carried through in floral arrangements, napkins and food choice. For example, a party with a yellow theme could include mason jars filled with inexpensive yellow daisies, boiled shrimp served with a lemon aioli on a platter decorated with lemon slices, and served with Segura Setentas garnished with a lemon peel ribbon.
Be sure your guests are comfortable by rearranging your furniture to create conversation areas. You can have some large decorative pillows available for guests to sit on the floor.
People look best in candlelight so remember to keep the lighting low and warm. Lamps and overhead lighting on dimmers are perfect in conjunction with unscented candles placed throughout the space. If open flames make you nervous, purchase some battery operated candles — these great gadgets look like real candles but without the fire hazard. White twinkle lights placed throughout the house and on the patio can also add a festive feel.
Music is a must have at any party. From CDs to MP3 players or streaming radio, there are so many options to choose from. If using CDs, load a multiple disc changer and set to random. It is also a good idea to create a playlist for your MP3 player that will run at least an hour longer than you expect the party to last. Another option is satellite or internet radio set to a jazz or lounge-style station. Try picking music that will not be overbearing and will not drown out conversation.
Have an antique vase you don't want broken? Put it away along with anything else you do not want damaged. Stains and possible broken glasses are to be expected during parties, so store anything you cannot live without in a safe place for the evening.
Keep Your Guests Safe
Be sure your guests are not too intoxicated to drive. If you suspect a guest needs a ride home, discreetly pull them aside and offer to call them a cab or see if another guest can take them home. It is always a good idea to plan for unexpected overnight guests as well.