Throwing a party is easy – all you really have to do is invite a group of friends over. Entertaining those friends, however, is another story. We’ve all counted down the minutes from arriving to a socially acceptable time to leave. Follow this guide (there are actually no fondue recipes, I’m so sorry), and the only thing your friends will be counting down are the days to your next party!
DO mix up your guest list
William Cowper is famous for his quote, “Variety is the spice of life.” I am not famous for my quote, “People are the spice of parties,” but they’re both equally profound. It can be tempting when creating the guest list to stick to close friends, but the best parties give your guests the opportunity to meet new people. Just don’t call it a “networking event” or everyone will expect free cocktails and awkwardly polite conversation. If you want to have a true mixer, encourage your invitees to bring a +1 that you’ve never met.
DON’T over-think the refreshments
Unless you’re throwing a dinner party, don’t worry about impressing anyone with your hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. My philosophy is that people are coming over to share stories and interact with friends – just make sure no one goes hungry or thirsty. A basic no-fail spread includes light beer and a good box of wine, chips, crackers, cheese and a veggie platter. Most polite guests will bring something for their hosts, but make sure your spread doesn’t hinge on their contributions.
DO use party games wisely
Games can be a great way to break the ice or revive flagging energy – but if it’s clear everyone is having a good time, leave the game on the shelf or risk killing the vibe. If at any point you look around the room and see people staring into their drinks, a good party game could be just what the party needs. Disclaimer: under no circumstances should you suggest a game that takes more than 5 minutes to explain. Some fun and easy party games to consider are: Codenames, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Monikers and Telestrations.
DON’T forget the playlist
The playlist is the soul of your party. In a perfect world you would painstakingly craft your own playlist that precisely reflects your shining personality, but who has time for that? Use a curated playlist to fit the vibe of your party from a platform like Spotify, Google Music or Pandora, where you can choose from options like 90s pop, indie rock and smooth jazz. (One of these options is always the right choice, no matter the party. You know which one it is.) Just make sure you have something on in the background – no one likes it when all other conversations go quiet, and suddenly the whole party can hear your admittedly mediocre office story.
DO be a “people mixologist”
Since you’ve brought everyone together, the least you can do is make an effort to introduce them – but don’t stop there. Before you leave a conversation, give your newly-introduced friends something common to connect on. Maybe you know they like the same show, or are interested in Dungeons & Dragons, or have always wanted to go skydiving. Never, under any circumstances, introduce someone by providing names and then just walking away.
DON’T use Facebook as your only means of invitation
Using Facebook as your only invitation to your party is the social equivalent of having cereal for dinner. It’s easy and it gets the job done, but you shouldn’t really feel good about it. It lacks a personal touch and many won’t feel obligated to respond. Send your guests a text or email invite, and then follow up with the Facebook invite as reinforcement.