By Tara Riceberg, Guest Contributor - Party Planning & Entertaining
Now is THE best time to have friends over to your home, as it has just been deep cleaned for spring! What? You don't like to entertain? Worried that you can't afford to host a party? You've never thrown a bash and have no idea how to do it?
NO EXCUSES! Don't let laziness, or fear, stop you from entertaining.
All parties, no matter how large or small, must be fun: fun to plan, fun to give and fun to attend. You must plan well and pay attention to details so that your event becomes uniquely yours. Lots of money isn't a necessity. Originality and intelligent planning plus a flair for enjoyment are all you need!
The most important rule for a successful party is to make sure your guests feel welcomed. The first fifteen minutes will make or break your event so be sure to greet guests with enthusiasm, and a drink. Think about the best fêtes you've attended. To be sure, the ones where you felt you were essential to the night's festivities were the most memorable.
The second rule is plan ahead. If you're well prepared, you won't be overspending or stressing. Don't worry about what is or isn't correct. As long as you're happy, your guests will be too. So when planning, select a theme that you're comfortable with. After all, you, the hostess, are the center of the party so success is dependent on your mood and how you affect your company.
Happily the trend in entertaining is for simpler parties. Fussy and formal is passé. You don't even need a grand reason to celebrate. The best nights are "just because."
Still scared to throw a party? No worries. Rule three: Start small and build up.
Party of One
You can't hope to entertain others well if you can't entertain yourself. Plan a dinner and pay attention to the details. Light girls night outcandles, set the table, add a flower to a vase. Cook your favorite meal and dress up. After dinner, treat yourself to something fun. This means no chores or working on the computer. Take the time to catch up on your reading, listen to music or soak in a hot bath. Or practice with a sumptuous, relaxing tea time.
Party for Two
Instead of using the large, empty dining room, try setting a table on the patio or on a small table in the living room. What better way to make a guest feel important than making him, or her, the center of attention? If you're not the best cook, don't worry. By creating a dynamic, colorful table scape, you'll enliven the table and set off the meal. Fine wine served in a plastic cup is no match for a so-so one decanted into a beautiful stemmed wine goblet. Again, apply to same rules to entertaining for one, to two.
Party for Four or Five
Not all occasions depend on holidays or require inviting friends. Test out your hosting skills on the family! Use events like receiving good report cards or welcome home from college as a reason to celebrate. If you treat this small party as if it were a large one, you would be sure to have favors, candy and a beautiful table scape. Favors aren't expensive. They are thoughtful gestures and we all love to receive gifts!
Party for More
Once you've built up your hosting confidence, try one of these themes for your big event.
Game Night- Invite friends over to play Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and Apples to Apples. Keep it casual by serving pizza and a mixed veggie salad, dressing on the side. With so many friends following restricted diets, it's imperative to have healthy dinner options. Since this is the perfect opportunity to use paper and plastic, go for it! Use festive colored plates, napkins and even use a paper tablecloth to add some punch to the look.
BBQ- Guests should come in jeans and white t-shirts. Advising guests on attire removes pressure on "what to wear." Create centerpieces from galvanized buckets planted with herbs for the kitchen. Grill vegetables, beer can chicken and serve fresh fruit. Instead of napkins, use tea towels. They wash up easily and are oversized to protect laps from messy foods. Embroider some with guests' initials and gift them as favors.
TV Season Premier - Gather friends who share your enthusiasm for your favorite TV show. Start the party at least an hour before show time. This gives guests enough time to interact and eat. Choose a color palette that matches the show's theme and create special snacks and libations to work into the theme. So, at a "True Blood" party you could serve sangria or Bloody Marys. Make sure company is comfortable by having lots of floor pillows for extra seating.
Once you start throwing parties you won't want to stop. The object of entertaining is to create memories by sharing time with friends and family. Remember, no matter the size of the party, it should have an unforgettable element of beauty.
I believe Dorothy Draper said it best; "The recipe for a perfect party: take what you've got; mix well with imagination, courage, a dash of humor and the desire to enjoy life. The result is guaranteed to please."