Throwing a party can be a wonderful experience. When you do it right, you’ll get to enjoy all of the great things about a perfect party while also enjoying the sense of warmth and satisfaction that comes with being a host or hostess. You’ll get to see friends come together, and you’ll get to revel with a group that is full of people you care about. And when it’s over, you can collapse into bed or onto the couch and bask in the afterglow.
Of course, hosting a party isn’t all roses. If it were that easy and that perfect every time, everyone would be fighting over the rights to host every party — and, let’s face it, that’s not exactly the case. A lot can go wrong and be stressful at a party, and that scares some people off of hosting one.
But not you. Not anymore. Together, we’re going to walk through some of the most common party disasters. We’ll go through how to avoid them, too, so that you can plan things right and avoid these pitfalls. Let’s get to it!
Your guests don’t get along
A party is only as good as its guest list. With the right crowd, a little apartment get-together can feel like an Oscars after-party — and with the wrong crowd, the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton can feel like the least exciting place on Earth. For the perfect party, you need the perfect guest list. But that’s easier said than done. How can you get the right chemistry and avoid isolation (or, worse yet, disagreements) among your guests?
There are a few keys to a good guest list, and virtually all of them come back to one thing: balance.
A good party has a balance of men and women and a diverse array of people (unless, of course, it’s a special party like an all-girls get-together). Each guest or couple should know at least one other guest, so that nobody is forced to strut right up to a stranger to start their first conversation of the night. At the same time, try to avoid a guest list in which any guest knows everyone, unless you’ve got a tried-and-true dynamic. A new person to meet makes a party more exciting even (and perhaps especially) for the most experienced social butterfly.
Think about how your guests will interact. This isn’t a list of people you like or friends you feel like seeing. It’s a guest list, and it exists for your guests as much as it does for you.
You run out of food or booze
If you run out of food, your drinking guests are going to get a bit more intoxicated than they planned. Run out of alcohol, on the other hand, and they’ll get less so. While you shouldn’t necessarily be accomodating super-heavy drinking, and you are certainly free to skip the booze entirely if you and your invitees have personal or religious reasons to do so, you should make sure it’s in proper supply if you do offer it.
Avoiding this isn’t too tough if you just plan ahead. Consider your guests and their drinking habits. Do the math and try to make sure that you have enough food, beer, and soft drinks for everyone. Do the math on the wine and liquor, too, but remember that unopened bottles of that type of stuff doesn’t go bad. An emergency backup supply might be just the thing to take the stress out of your party planning.
And what is true of booze and food is true of everything else, too. From decorations to invitations, you’re going to want to use a party planning checklist to make sure that everything is accounted for.
You let your guests drive drunk
Most common party mistakes just ruin the party. This one is a bigger deal — it ruins lives.
If you’re serving booze at your party, you’ve taken on a responsibility to ensure that folks get home safe. Make it clear that drinkers will be taking cabs home, and be resolute if and when anyone tries to bend the rules. Offer up taxi company phone numbers and, if you are able and willing, space in your home for intoxicated guests to sleep it off. Drunken driving kills, and nothing is more important than the safety of you, your guests, and others who might be out of the road.
You’re too busy hosting to have fun
Picture this: You have the perfect guest list and the right amount of everything, from booze to decorations. Guaranteed great party, right? Well, for the guests, yes. But not for you, unless you’re able to loosen up.
Obviously, you’ll have some responsibilities during the party. This is especially true of certain types of parties, such as a dinner party. But balance is key. You need to know when to take care of those responsibilities and when to cut loose and enjoy yourself.
Planning and preparation are important here. The more of a plan you have, the less need you’ll have for making decisions on the fly. The more you’ve prepared ahead of time, such as food that can be heated up and doesn’t require much further work, the more you’ll have time to have fun at your own party. And having fun is what you should do. You’ve earned it by planning a great party that avoids common pitfalls!