The best parties aren’t necessarily the most perfect ones. Fortunately, your guests won’t care if dinner was a little late or notice that all of the glasses didn’t match. What they’ll remember are the experiences they had while spending time in your home. Whether you’re planning a small party for your immediate family or a fundraiser for a local charity, these tips will help you create a memorable event.
Appoint a Greeter
It may not be possible to personally greet every guest at the door with a warm smile and a few minutes of conversation if you’re hosting a large gathering. If you know you’ll be too busy, ask a family member or friend to act as the official greeter.
While you’re supervising the final preparations for the meal or catching up with an old friend, your greeter will make sure that every guest is enthusiastically welcomed, knows where his or her coat will be stored, and most importantly, is given the location of the food and drinks.
Announce the Agenda
Have you ever left a party early only to discover later that you missed out on the highlight of the evening? Make sure your guests don’t have the same experience by informing them of the schedule when they arrive or displaying a small printed card with the information on a food or drink table. Your card might read:
- 6:30 – 7:30: Drinks and hors d’oeuvres
- 7:30 – 8:30: Dinner
- 8:30 – 9:00 Dessert
- 9:00: Special performance, activity, etc.
- 11:00: Chocolate extravaganza and ice cream bar
Provide Multiple Food and Drink Locations
Spread food and drink locations throughout your home to discourage guests from congregating in just one area of your home. When there’s more than one place to refill a drink or get another serving of your famous crab salad, your guests will be able to move easily from one room to the next.
Keep the Conversation Flowing
Good conversation is essential to a successful party, but it’s not always easy to avoid uncomfortable silences. If attendees don’t know each other well, make it your mission to introduce each guest to at least two other people and note something that they both have in common.
Do you have a few friends who are introverted or struggle to make conversation? Ask them to help out by passing appetizers or pouring drinks. They may feel more confident about interacting with other people if they have jobs to do.
Choose a Theme
A theme offers a simple way to enliven any party and makes choosing a menu and decorations much easier. Themes you may want to consider include:
- Academy Awards: Ask guests to dress as if they were attending the Academy Awards (or any other awards ceremony) during this watch party. Place a red carpet in your foyer and take keepsake photos of guests as they arrive. Vote on the nominees before the ceremony starts, then give mini-Oscars to guests who guess the winners.
- Simulator Competition: Invite guests to your very own U.S. Open, World Series or other competition. Set up simulators or virtual reality devices and encourage guests to compete in golf, baseball or other sports. Offer prizes to those who score the highest/lowest (depending on the game).
- Novels: Choose a favorite author or novel and serve foods mentioned in the books. Hold a trivia contest and award the winner a copy of the author’s latest book or a gift certificate for a book.
- Tropical: Artificial palm trees and leis may seem cheesy, but sometimes the tackiest parties are the most fun. Turn your home into the ultimate island destination with colorful flowers, palm frond garlands and tasty island drinks. Invite guests to watch a special screening of “Blue Hawaii,” “From Here to Eternity” or other movies set in tropical locations.
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