A keg of watery beer and an endless supply of red plastic cups used to be all you needed to create a perfect get together with friends. Well, those days have passed, and people are looking for a little more out of a get-together. They’re less worried about doing keg stands and more worried about being forced to stand around with nothing to say or do. You don’t need to spend a fortune to host the perfect party, and you don’t need weeks of militaristic planning. You just need to keep a few guidelines in mind. Yes, we know, parties and rules don’t usually go together — but you’ll need to follow these rules before the party if you want your guests to have the most fun possible breaking them during the party.
1. Get The Word Out
It’s easy for an evite to get lost in the clutter of an inbox. And your friends may not check Facebook as often as you do. (Enough with the cat photos already!) So however you initially spread the word, it’s a good idea to follow up with a no-pressure text or email to make sure everyone is aware of the invite. About a week before the party, extend an invite to your neighbors as well. This is essential if you live in an apartment building, where parties can be annoying even when the noise level isn’t over the top. The neighbors may not show, but giving them the heads up and inviting them to be part of the fun will make it far less likely that they’ll get annoyed and alert the fuzz.
2. Have a Reason For The Party
“Themes don’t always have to be lame or cumbersome, and they can really take a party from random to cohesive,” says Yelena Johnson, creative director of The Stylish Soiree, an event-planning service. “A theme can actually make planning easier by narrowing down your options.” Plus, people enjoy having a reason to celebrate. That reason can be something obvious, like the Super Bowl or July 4. But it can also be something relatively silly, like Frankenstein Day (August 30) or a celebration of the fact that you just finished paying off your car.
3. Secure Your Favorite Guests First
Before you lock down a date, ask your closest friends about their schedule to make sure that whatever day you pick will allow most of them to be there. Also, invite them to come over before the “official” party starts. Not only does having a core group of guaranteed guests ensure it won’t be you, the dog, and some party streamers, but having people already there when the first guests get there bypasses the awkward stage of three people standing around waiting for more people to arrive.
4. Go Beyond Chips and Beer
Not that there’s anything nothing wrong with chips and beer. But you can expand the options. “A plate of cheese is always great,” Edgemont says. “The best way to make a cheese plate is to choose a hard one, like Parmesan, a soft one, like Brie, and one that’s pungent, like a blue cheese.” Always buy more food than you think you’ll need, and remember that presentation counts — instead of leaving hummus or salsa in the container it came in, scoop it into a bowl before you set it out. Guests may bring beer or wine, but you should make sure you have plenty of liquor and mixers on hand yourself. And while you can probably offer up any old vodka, you’ll want to take more care with other spirits. If guests walk over to the drinks table and see a bottle of, say, Chivas Regal 12 Year, they’ll be endlessly impressed — even the ones who don’t drink Scotch. Weirdos.
5. Pay Attention to Details
“Guests need to have somewhere to put their drinks,” says Michelle Edgemont, a Brooklyn based event planner. “Clear off more surfaces than you think you need, including shelves, and make sure you have plenty of napkins and coasters in easy reach.” Also, make sure the bathroom is in shape: Scrub the toilet, sink, and floor — with separate cleaning utensils. Stash your toothbrush and any other personal products, hang fresh towels, and put extra toilet paper in an easy-to-spot place. Finally, having a movie on mute playing in the background adds ambiance that can help cement your theme. For instance, if you’re having a Halloween party, pop in The Evil Dead (the 1981 version, obviously).