I recently attended a wedding celebration for my cousin and his new wife. Being back together with my huge (huge as in 40+ cousins) family has only reminded me more of how loud, entertaining, and FUN they are. When we get together, we all instigate each other to do or say ridiculous things to make each other laugh. And when we laugh [a hearty laugh to say the least] watch out, it’s contagious. Being together again reminded me of growing up with this wild laughter, huge support, and many, many occasions to celebrate. With that much family, there were a lot of birthdays, graduations, reunions, weddings, anniversaries … basically a lot of excuses to throw huge family parties.
With that being said, you must know that I don’t really excel in throwing a sweet, fancy, quiet dinner party. What I do naturally understand however, is the flow of a party. Official party planners reading this may commence throwing hate darts at me now, but to me, a good party is judged on the amount of fun and laughter you get from it, maybe not at how perfect everything is detailed. What makes a party fun in my book? Four things — Food, Booze, Music, Arrangement. Well five I suppose — The guests! Briefly on 1-3:
1. Food: If you have yummy food at your party, your guests will stay full. Full = Happy. Keep it simple. Small food. Ya know, take-a-couple-and-keep-walking-style food. Dip. Mini-things. Meat. Whatever you like, just have it cut smaller and all ready to snack on. Like Lunchables. Didn’t they have whole lunches in bite-sized portions? In fact, any child-friendly food works. That’s it! Adults love kid snacks at adult parties!
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2. Booze: That’s easy. Everyone likes alcohol at parties, just make sure there’s enough and offer it to guests right away. Making a signature drink may sometimes get people in party-mode who otherwise wouldn’t partake. I’ve even gone as far as breaking out a signature shot when the timing is right!
3. Music: Totally depends on your crowd, but your music controls the mood of your party. I’ll usually make a mix that starts off slower so people can talk. That is important. Then at that magic hour of the party, everyone starts to just want to dance! That’s when your mix needs to pump it up a notch, or 10. And finally end the mix with slow, let’s-leave-this-apartment type music as the closer.
Here’s the area that is not as obvious, and yet so clutch to a good party, 4:
4. Arrangement: Now we’ve already touched on some of these, but what do people want at a party? To catch up with friends and talk, to eat delicious food and drink delicious drinks, and possibly even show off their sweet dance moves. This all needs to be taken into account when arranging your apartment for a party. The setup for the party is thoughtful so that the atmosphere for your party is welcoming. Sometimes when you walk into a party it just feels stuffy, right? You don’t want that. Your party is fun! People will see that right away with a space plan that invites mingling.
People gravitate towards certain areas at any party, and you need to allow this movement to happen with ease. I move around my furniture before a party. On a day to day basis my living situation accommodates only two people. Sometimes three to five more people or so with small get-togethers. In order to accommodate a lot more people, the floor plan needs to be open. You can get rid of coffee tables temporarily, and other small accent tables. (In smaller apartments it’s a good idea to move them to bedrooms for an extra place to put coats, or along the perimeter of the living room and use them for game areas, or even snacks and drinks.)
And seating. Now this may sound strange, but in my opinion, less is more. The more sitting that people do at your party, the less people move, the less mingling, the less getting up for more drinks, the less dancing, the less meeting new people, less liveliness, less opportunities for fun! Sometimes people will want to take a breather, or catch up with friends without interruption, or play a game, so a couple of seating circles are nice and purposeful. But otherwise, standing tables, counters, and places to rest your drink are more important than places to rest your butt. That’s why everyone always ends up in the kitchen!
Drinks and food will be high traffic spots. They should be placed centrally, in or by the kitchen. That’s where people go to talk. The food table is like the party safe-zone. There’s always something to talk about (the food) and someone to talk to (the hungry people) at the food table. If it’s near the kitchen, not only is it convenient functionally, but also socially. People aren’t usually in the kitchen to dance. They’re talking there too (or getting more drinks, which is also socially beneficial). That leaves your open area for those brave souls who bust serious moves. (That reminds me. When rearranging before the party, also move all of your breakable decorations to the bedrooms!)
Last but not least is lighting. Always have your lights on dim. It’s crucial. Your kitchen and food areas can stay lit, but no one at a party ever in the history of parties has requested for the lights to be brighter. Start with dim, and preferably get dimmer as the night progresses.
5. Guests: Then go have fun with your friends and family. Meet new people too even! Be brave and dance, laugh hard, and just let loose. The planning is done beforehand, then everything else works itself out naturally if you arrange for it!
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