It’s the season to be jolly and this time the party is at your place. You’ve taken care of the music, lighting and décor, so now you can focus on your guests. Sometimes, there is no accounting for chemistry at a party, but there are things you can do to help it along.
Set Up for Mixing
The food and drinks should be set up, but think about separating them to encourage movement and trafficking of your guests. Keep both away from the patio or fresh air locations as that is usually another bottleneck when more guests arrive, drink, and heat up the place.
Be Gracious and Welcoming
Inevitably friends or family are going to bring dates or additional friends that you didn’t expect and don’t know anything about. Smile and welcome them, they might become the doctor who saves your cat, a lawyer who gets you out of a bad situation or your new best friend (preferably none of these by the end of the party—see warning below.)
If it’s a dinner party, make room at the table, and don’t worry about food – there is always enough to go around. I’ve found in these instances that people restrain themselves to make sure all are served and it always works out.
I was very impressed at a recent wedding shower, when the bride-to-be managed to bring a diverse array of women together through her elegant and interesting introductions. Naturally, she did have the benefit of knowing everyone, but still she created an opening for conversation. “This is Jeannie, we became best friends in grammar school after she hit me with a baseball. Jeannie, this is Matilda, she saved my life in grad school.” Already Jeannie and Matilda have two stories to share with each other that they will likely share at some point with others at the party. Hopefully they will also find common ground beyond that. It also works when you know two people have something in common. “Kate, this is John, he just won the fantasy football this year! John, Kate is a three-time winner. She knows her players.”
As a rule of thumb, I don’t use the “in common” technique if there’s an opportunity it could go south. “Liz and Sue you both dated Jason at the same time, did you know that?” Not so good. Just sayin’.
For the difficult guest who is painfully shy, or not mingling well, the best thing to do is to give them something to do. Some people are not great at small talk, but can come to life if they have a purpose. Hand them a tray and send them forth with the goal that you need to get rid of every last bite.
Watch Out for Your Guests
The most likely scenario, after all your fabulous efforts, will be that everyone has so much fun, time will fly by and they won’t remember that handy rule about having a glass of water in between each drink. No problem, start handing it out. Or as the bartender, start making their drinks progressively less strong, or better, special looking without the alcohol. My favorite thing is a little club soda or mineral water with a cherry or slice of lime and a splash of juice. It looks fun and allows even the non-drinkers in the crowd to be festive while hydrating.
Things to look out for? Anyone excessively hugging or putting their arm around someone’s neck and pulling them in tightly while declaring statements repetitively such as: You’re my new best friend. I love you so much. You’re the only one who gets me. You’re so beautiful.
Get said guests water, orange juice, food and aspirin. If they are female, I always like to find them a spot to sit or rest in public. Sadly, it is just not safe for a young woman to crash in the bedroom of any party, not even your own. As noted, you might not know everyone that well. Keep an eye on the girls.
It’s always sad to see a good thing end—but better to leave everyone wanting more. Usually things will wind down when the lights get brighter and the coffee is brewing, but there are always a handful to a dozen diehards who want to hold onto that feeling. Likely playing “So long, farewell” from The Sound of Music is a little harsh, so instead suggest an early breakfast at the local diner, a drink at a nearby bar, or dancing to burn off all the evening’s indulgences. Basically, move everyone to a new location that allows you the power to leave at will. If you can’t walk there, call Uber and send your guests off with kisses and reminders that they are your bestest friends ever—because they are!
Join me Wednesday for part three of holiday party tips…the clean up.
Cheers! Until next time,