A lot of people are intimidated at the idea of having a bunch of people over to their house and having the responsibility of making sure they all have a good time for a few hours. I get it. That used to be me. It’s kind of a big deal because these people are usually family and friends, and you don’t want to let them down. I’ve hosted every kind of party now, for almost every possible event with anywhere from 10 to 200 guests, and I don’t get nervous any more. I really enjoy the process of planning and executing parties without all of the anxiety that can come with that. I want to share six of my best tips for making your party a success!
Two days ago, we just had the Halloween party that I’ve been writing about over the past several weeks. It all turned out the way I had hoped, and our guests all seemed to have a lot of fun, which is really the number one goal. I’m going to put everything together that I’ve been trying to teach you.
#1 Guest List
Have you ever been to a party where you didn’t know anyone other than the host, and you spent the evening trying to not look awkward or like a wall-flower, all the while watching the time until it was reasonable for you to make your exit? If your answer is no, it’s because you haven’t been invited to many parties, you are the MOST extroverted person on earth OR you are, indeed, a unicorn. I’ve been to the party I just described, more than once, and it’s painful. You want all of your guests to have fun, and this means that nobody is sitting alone, trying to either look busy on their phone or they are actually playing some version of a Candy Crush game, and wishing they weren’t at that party.
One thing that I feel is necessary to avoid the above blunder is to make sure you are inviting more than one guest (or couple) from each part of your life. For example, maybe you are having a party with all of your neighbors, and you have one friend from work to the party. Consider at least inviting two friends from work, so that they know that they will have someone else there that they know. Or if you are inviting all parents from your daughter’s class at school and you want to invite one person from your book club, but you absolutely do NOT want to invite the rest of the book club people, then you need to watch for that book club friend to show up. She and her husband don’t want to walk into a sea of people and not recognize one person, and you are MIA. As soon as she and her husband walk through the door, immediately greet them, get them something to drink and then start introducing them to a few people that you are certain will be able to include them in a conversation and make them feel welcome. In fact, the ideal situation is to speak to one of your parent friends ahead of time to let her know that your book club friend and husband are coming, and ask if she would please take them under their wing until they seem to be feeling comfortable.
You gotta feed people. And I’m not talking about a bunch of veggies sitting around a little bowl of Ranch Dip and a few bags of chips. For one thing, if you will be serving alcohol, you absolutely don’t want your guests drinking on an empty stomach. The biggest reason, obviously, is that people love to eat. You have a lot of options here, and I’ve talked about them in previous blog posts, but let’s review. You can make food yourself, ask people to help you by bringing food with them, buy a bunch of premade platters from Costco or your local grocery store deli or you can cater. You can also use any combination of these suggestions.
This one is obvious, right? Unless you have a religious or some other kind of belief that prohibits you from drinking or serving alcohol, or if, perhaps, you or someone very close to you is a recovering alcoholic, people are going to expect alcoholic beverages to be served. Neither we, nor any of our friends and family are big drinkers in our every day lives; maybe a beer or glass of wine occasionally or a mixed drink when we go to a restaurant. But when we have a party, we want our guests to be able to let loose and have some drinks. We always keep a close eye on who is drinking a bit heavier and make sure that they are either riding home with another driver or we have them stay overnight with us. No matter how big or small your house is, there’s always some room on a couch or on the floor with a sleeping bag and some blankets and a pillow. The thing that makes us feel the safest, though, is the fact that we own a little breathalyzer that we put out next to our front door with lots of brand new mouth pieces. And our guests usually try to guess what they think their own reading will be. But no matter what, we have never had one of our guests drive away intoxicated.
At our Halloween party, we served the Black Martini that I showed in a previous blog post. It was delicious. In fact, it was so delicious, that before our party had even been going for one hour, one pitcher of the drink was gone and the second was about half-way gone. I had also bought fake syringes at The Dollar Tree (24 of them) and then I had little plastic lidded cups and I made raspberry jello shots, using raspberry jello powdered mix and raspberry vodka. I made them the day before and let them set in the refrigerator. They were strong, but delicious. I took a plastic cauldron, filled it with ice cubes and laid all of the filled the syringes and the extra little plastic cups on top of the ice, inside the cauldron. Those were very popular, too.
We also had some drink bins, right outside in our backyard, filled with ice, sodas, beer and bottles of water. Make sure you have plenty of water. And inside the house, I made a coffee station, so that guests could make a cup of coffee and serve themselves.
We got out our speakers and hooked up my phone to them via Bluetooth. I went on Spotify and searched Halloween Playlist. It definitely did not let me down. There were fun songs spanning many decades with different genres, all with a Halloween theme in them. I had it loud enough to hear it, but tried to make sure it wasn’t so loud that people had to yell to carry on a conversation.
The fun game we played was “The Potion Game”. I took the little glass bottles that I had purchased from Amazon and filled them all with different kinds of drinks. Midori and Blue Curacao are two of the best alcohols, because they have very vibrant colors. I used both of those, sometimes mixing with a little bit of Sprite, to cut the color vibrancy a bit. I used Sprite, with a drop of either blue or green food coloring to mimic the Midori and Curacao. I used cranberry juice, Chambord, Dr. Pepper, clear vodka, rum, lemonade and many different combinations of any of the above. The point is that you want some of the bottles to have alcohol in them and some of them to be alcohol free. On every bottle, I put a little tag, attached with a piece of twine. The tag had some type of “truth or dare” written on it.
Here are the rules: At the beginning of the game, put all of the bottles on some kind of tray and let the guests know that they will each get one, but they should not open it to taste or smell it and they should not look at the tag. Take the tray around and let everyone choose the bottle they want. Choose someone to go first (Person A) and have them say whether they think the liquid (potion) in their bottle contains alcohol or not. After they give their guess, they open the bottle and drink the potion. If they guessed incorrectly, they have to do the truth or dare on their own bottle themselves. If they guessed correctly, they get to choose someone else (Person B) to do the truth or dare that’s on that’s on Person A’s bottle. Then Person B chooses another person to guess and the process is repeated.
Some examples of things we put on the tags were:
· For the rest of the game, you must talk with an accent
· For the next 5 minutes, act like a cat
· If I had to give an award for “Most Annoying Person” in my family, the award would go to: __________
· For the rest of the game, anytime someone asks a question, you must yell “Giddy Up!”
· For one minute, dance in front of the group with no music playing
· Sing the alphabet song without moving your mouth
You can get creative. We had so much fun with this and everyone was such a great sport!
#6 Awards or some type of prizes
At the end of the evening, we gave out a few costume awards. Best Couples Costumes, Funniest Costume, Cutest Costume, Most Original Costume. I used costume trophies that we bought from Amazon. I’ll post the link.
I was not able to post the pictures that I wanted to include, due to some technical difficulties, however, I fully plan to add pictures to this blog post within the next week, so check back. I hope these tips help give you some inspiration to try a party of your own. This party was a perfect example of why I started this blog. I love being creative, and I really enjoy trying to make celebrations more special for my family and friends by adding as many fun little details as I can. I hope you find something to celebrate this week, and I hope you will share it with the people you love!