How to Run a Party
In the 60s Lesley Gore sang ‘It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.’
Not true. If it’s your party, you should be in control of everything.
(By the way, she died recently of cancer, aged 68.)
Here are some tips to help your party succeed – well, as much as it’s possible when dealing with a room full of a variety of humans who are probably drinking alcohol!
- If you’re hiring a venue, inspect it several days beforehand and liaise with the owner/manager. Make sure you make arrangements for tables to lay out the food on. Check the contents of the kitchen, eg plates, knives, etc. It’s also a good idea to check where the plugs and light switches are. You may like the room fairly dark, but make sure that there’s lighting above the food so that people can tell the difference between a sausage and a gherkin! If there’s a plug nearby, you could bring a lamp along.
- In the UK, you can usually bring your own food along if you buy the drinks from their bar. But don’t be afraid to ask about their variety of drinks. We must be the worst country in the world when it comes to buying a glass of wine. I’d say that 75% of people can’t read a wine bottle. Last night I was given a glass of rose wine which tasted as though it had been watered down. I took it back and checked the bottle. It was 10% alcohol, but they were charging the usual price for a glass of wine. The bar staff had no idea and I finally settled for a white wine at 11% alcohol. It’s not the alcohol that matters; it’s the taste. So do check their wines, and also the selection of beer and soft drinks.
- If you’re just hiring the hall and people are bringing along bottles of wine, make sure that you have enough soft drinks, mixers, and ice. If you’re at home, it’s a good idea to make up a bowl of punch (not too alcoholic!)
- If several of you are arranging the food, make a list and do contact them well before the party date. The last thing you want is 20 packs of shop-bought sausage rolls and not enough of anything else! Don’t forget the serviettes, and some paper plates. Nowadays at least one person will be a vegetarian. Do include colour. There’s nothing worse than a Brown Buffet! It’s also a good idea to just have finger food that everyone can pick at. Cover the food to stop it drying up. A light covering of clingfilm is the best. Have some substantial food like sandwiches, slices of quiche, chicken legs, etc. It soaks up the alcohol, and people will get hungry. You really don’t need to bother with hot food. Just let them nibble all evening.
- Make sure you have rubbish bags under the buffet table and in the kitchen.
- Music can make or break a party. A good DJ will start off low-key and build up the atmosphere. There’s nothing worse than walking into a party that has the volume up full-blast right at the start. People want to talk, whatever their age group. Keep your eyes open. If you see hands going up to ears, do something about it! People will leave early if they can’t relax and talk.
- Yes it’s your party, but you’re also the host/ess. Don’t just bop around the dance floor while swigging alcohol all night. Meet and greet all your guests. Make sure they have somewhere to leave their coats. Thank them for any contributions/ presents.
- Keep the atmosphere humming. Circulate. Talk to everyone. Take them round and introduce them to each other. Tell them to help themselves to food.
- Don’t throw a strop if anyone comes up to you with queries and suggestions. Listen to what they say. And if more than one person says the same thing, you must do something about it. It they say the music’s too loud, get it turned down a bit. Yes, old ladies will want it turned down so it’s practically inaudible and Frank Sinatra played all night, but smile, don’t tut. Whisk them away and find someone to talk to them.
- Keep an eye on the buffet. Make it look attractive and fresh. Top up crisps, etc. Move food onto half-empty plates to fill them up. Arrange the table at regular intervals. Clear away any rubbish.
- Say goodbye to people when they leave. Help them to find their coats. Escort them to the door. Thank them for coming.
- Clear up at the end. Load leftover food, any of your plates, and the rubbish into the car. And remember, don’t drink and drive, even if you just live down the road! You’ve given a wonderful party, and the last thing that your family and friends want is to hear bad news about you.
Parties are great fun as long as you stay in control all the time.