By Jenny Lee, REDBOOK
Guests mingling.Party Tip #1 "Mood lighting is a key ingredient in every affair, so string up your Christmas lights to everything that's not moving!"
Party Tip #2
"Fill a punch bowl with a jug of inexpensive red wine, toss in a small jar of maraschino cherries including the juice, and add a half dozen each of lime, lemon, and orange wedges. Steep the mixture in the fridge for eight hours for an easy, festive punch to serve."
HINT: More simple drinks that are perfect for a punch bowl: Pomegranate-Wine Punch, Greek White Sangria, or Sangria Blanca With Summer Fruit
Party Tip #3
"It is absolutely worth it to plan your party music ahead of time. Start things out mellow, but make sure the songs get a little bit faster and more fun through the night. Burn the songs onto a CD - and don't be surprised if your guests want a copy at the end of the night!"
Party Tip #4 "I was pleasantly surprised to walk into a soiree where only desserts were served. The best part: a banana-split bar including ice cream, hot fudge, and lots of homemade whipped cream."
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Party Tip #5
"I rent a karaoke machine - you can find one online or in the yellow pages under 'audiovisual.' My husband and I are always prepared to go 'onstage' (which is just a cleared-out area in the corner of our den) first for a duet in case everyone else is too shy."
Party Tip #6
"I hire a real bartender and set up a bar with the ingredients for two unusual drink options (say, sidecars for old-fashioned glamour and blood-orange martinis for a trendy feel)."
HINT: For more fun sips, check out our gallery of easy drink recipes.
Party Tip #7
"My best theme party was called The Prom From Hell. I had the girls dress up in the worst bridesmaid gowns they've ever worn, and then we danced to the cheesiest music - Peter Cetera, Richard Marx, and Phil Collins."
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Party Tip #8
"Go retro when it comes to hors d'oeuvres: Serve the things your mother used to put out when she had parties back in the day, like sour-cream-and-onion-soup dip and baked pineapple chunks wrapped in bacon."
Party Tip #9
"I placed a bowl of temporary tattoos (tattoofun.com) for our guests to put on next to a mirror. It turned out to be the highlight of the night."
Party Tip #10
"Order pizzas a half hour before your company arrives and cut the pies into smaller, bite-size pieces."
Party Tip #11
"Get guests to stay longer: Hire an on-site babysitter (or maybe two, depending on the number of kids) and let people know it's OK to bring the little ones along for the night - and tip the sitter for a job well done!"
Party Tip #12
"Play hit songs decade by decade: Start with the sixties and work up to now."
Party Tip #13
"Huddling over bubbling cheese or chocolate fondue and digging for lost pieces of food really gets people to let loose."
Related: 10 Best Desserts of All-Time
Party Tip #14
"Once, I hired a dance instructor to give my guests a one-hour group lesson. Everyone had an outrageous time learning dances like the Macarena and the Electric Slide. (I even bargained down the instructor's price by pointing out that he'd probably find some new clients at my bash.)"
Party Tip #15
"Why not throw an updated kegger? Check with your local liquor stores to find out what sorts of imported brands are available in keg size, or order from a little-known local brewery, which can be just as exotic."
Party Tip #16
"Announce that you'll be giving prizes to those who can name everybody in the room. It's an incentive to get everyone trying hard to meet everybody else."
Party Tip #17
"I asked everyone to come as either James Bond or a James Bond babe. I played the album 007 Classics and ran a few 007 movies on the TV - with the volume off - as a background effect."
Party Tip #18
"I ensure an interesting crowd by asking everyone to invite along one person they don't know very well (perhaps a friend from their health club or a new person from work.)"
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