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Tips on Throwing a Party

Updated on January 16, 2009

Head Counts. RSVP. Directions. Parking.

Knowing the number of guests you’ll have is a huge help to your party planning. Sending out invitations is one of the best ways to get a head count. Send them by email, deliver them by hand, send them off snail mail. Just make sure you send them. The invitation will set the tone for the party, whether it be semi formal, or completely casual. Include an email or phone number for RSVP’s.

I know – people suck when it comes to RSVP’ing. Having a fairly accurate headcount is important for all your planning. After your RSVP date has passed, if you can, send an email or make a phone call to everyone who didn’t bother to RSVP. Say you’re so sorry they aren’t coming to your party, and how bummed you are about it. Sometimes that encourages the ones that do intend to show, to let you know.

Something else you want to include in the invitations is directions, and where to park. It’s easy to just type up the directions once and include it in all the invites. Letting people know where to park if you live in an area where that can be tricky alleviates your having to direct parking the night of the shindig.

Prep Work. Eliminate Stress. Invite Neighbors.

Do as much as you can prior to the day of the party. If you’re cooking your own food, try to select some dishes that can be prepared in advance and heated the night of the party easily. Pick up the supplies you need like napkins or decorations ahead of time. Doing a little bit each day for the couple of weeks leading up to your festivities will keep your stress level at a minimum.

And speaking of stress levels, that really is probably the most important factor in creating a party atmosphere. If you’re exhausted, or still wound up tight, your guests will pick that up. Do what you need to do to insure you’ll be in a good mood, and relieved of as much pressure as possible.

I like to get a massage and pedicure the day of a party. If you have kids send them away to spend the day at grandmas. Cater at least some of the dishes. Hire a cleaning service to come over the day before and get the house in top shape so you don’t have to.

Accept help if it’s offered. I agree that asking your guests to bring a dish is often too informal and can be tacky. I’m not saying solicit help. But don’t turn away help when it’s graciously offered. If someone offers to bring an appetizer, let them. If someone asks if they can do anything, let them get the ice or help you set out the dishes. Delegate what you can instead of taking on the control and responsibility of everything. Tell your husband to take out the garbage, or pick up the wine, or to take the coats as guests arrive.

Another “before the day of the party” tip is to alert your neighbors. If you have the kind of party that could get loud or go on through the night, or even if you just have the kind of party that could involve lots of cars parked in the neighborhood or other disturbances, a neighbor is much less likely to get upset if they are included in the festivities. Even if you think they will decline, invite them. Send an invitation, or personally knock on doors with a note including the time the party will start. Don’t make it look like an after-thought, make your invitation as sincere as possible.

Eat. Sit. Stay Cool.

Eat something. Yes, I’m still talking about before the party begins. Blood sugar changes will affect your mood. As the evening starts rolling, you may get busy with greeting and serving and cleaning. You may not get a chance to eat. Make sure you eat ahead of time, and try to pick all night. That will also help you gage how the food is, what needs to be heated up, and what’s been sitting out too long. Go ahead and have a drink or a piece of that chocolate cake before the guests arrive.

Set out enough seating. Always move chairs out and away from serving areas where you do not intend for people to sit. If you’re using the dining room table for the buffet, do not leave the dining room chairs pushed into the table so that people have to lean and reach over them to get food. Plus, you run the risk of someone sitting right there at the buffet.

Bodies give off heat. Once your guests start arriving, the temperature of a room goes up. Temperature takes some time to adjust. So before the party, your empty rooms should feel a little cool. Once the guests are there, you can ask people if they are comfortable, and try to adjust the room temperature to suit the majority of your guests.

Tunes. Tidy Up. Do NOT Overfill Drinks

Pick your music before the party. Set up your wireless speakers, make a playlist on your I-tunes, set up a stack of CD’s next to the CD player. Do whatever it is you do, just do it ahead of time. By the way, this is often a task some people enjoy taking on. I love it when a friend asks me to DJ a party. Think about bestowing tunes control on one of your guests.

Once your first guest arrives, your party has begun. Stop planning, stop fussing, stop controlling. Enjoy. Relax. Loosen up and keep smiling.

You can clean up after the party, enjoy your guests while they’re there instead. But do keep the mess under control. Set aside an area of your kitchen for empty glasses and dirty dishes. Make several sweeps through the house to pick up the garbage and the discarded plates. If you can manage to avoid it, don’t walk through the house holding a garbage bag. Carry what you can in your hands, or use a tray.

There used to be a code that a good host never lets their guests’ glasses reach the empty point. That is no longer the code. People have to drive and get home safely. Never just fill your guest’s glass without asking first, especially if you know they drove. Ask, and let them assess if they've had enough. Don't encourage someone who's making a smart decision to indulge. Even if all your guests are walking or taking the subway or cabs to get home, sending anyone out into the world drunk is still dangerous and irresponsible.

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All text is original content by Veronica.

All photos are used with permission.

All videos are used courtesy of Youtube.


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  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 9 years ago from NY

    Goodwitch - I think you're right. People like to be included on an inside level. Usually the people that don't want to help, won't offer.

    Dana - I'm glad you are enjoying hubpages. Yes, invite those whacky neighbors!

  • profile image

    Dana 9 years ago

    I love that you pointed out people SUCK about RSVP!!! Why is that??!! So very true.

    I got your email update through your blog that had the Hubpages links. I am so glad you did that V!!! These are great!!!

    I hate when people don't move chairs away from a serving table and you have to reach over them to get food. These are all great morsals of advice. I never thought to invite my wacky neighbors but I will from now on that is brilliant. Thanks V!!!

  • Goodwitch profile image

    Goodwitch 9 years ago

    Good stuff! I often find that when people ask if they can help, they really enjoy pitching in! It also makes the party more of a group effort and everyone feels like they're playing an important role in pulling it off. Even if I really don't need any help, I always find something to do for someone who asks!