Here’s a sample plan for throwing a party for the anal retentive among you.
Three Weeks Ahead.
*Draft a guest list and gather together the email addresses.
*Send out the invitation. Using Evite is an easy way and it will automatically send a reminder a few days before your event.
A Few Days Ahead.
*Plan your menu and make a grocery list.
*Grocery shop for the items that don’t need to be fresh.
*Pick up extra chairs, if needed.
The Day Before.
*Pick up grocery items that need to be fresh (bread, berries, etc.).
*Prep food that can be done beforehand.
*Dress tables and re-arrange furniture if necessary. Not that you’re necessarily the kind of guy that has throw pillows, but if you do (have them), get rid of the pillows for the duration of the party to allow for more seating.
*Set out an extra roll of toilet paper and clean hand towels.
*Stash valuables, prescriptions, firearms.
Half an Hour Before Party Time.
*Turn on the porch light if your party will extend into hours of darkness.
*Put on music. Set the volume so that someone sitting in the chair nearest a speaker won’t be distracted from the conversation.
*Set out food, and put ice in an ice bucket.
*Chill white wine in the fridge. Take out when the first guests arrive.
*Pre-mix a pitcher of martinis or other mixed drink.
*Set out any refrigerated alcoholic mixers or garnishes: grenadine, lime juice, lemons and limes (with a knife and cutting board), etc.
*Set out a book for mixing drinks if there's no bartender.
*Set out “conversation starters”: “The Book of Questions,” runes/tarot cards (you don’t have to believe any of that crap for it to be fun--get the stick out of your ass), board games, photos.
*Light candles, and turn on any indoor lights that are needed.
When Guests Arrive.
*Take their coats, and tell them where their coats will be located.
*Offer to make them a drink, and show them the lay of the land (where the food/bar is).
*Introduce them to the people who are there (when it’s a small group); if the group has gotten larger, tell the new guest about other attendees that she would be interested to know are there, such as a friend of hers or someone you think she would find interesting.
*Talk to everyone. As the host you have a good excuse to talk to everyone. As a shy person myself, I find hosting a party much easier than attending a party. It isn’t weird/rude for a host to join in (interrupt) any conversation (it *is* your house), and you can easily extricate yourself from dull conversations or dull people with your other host-ly duties. So introduce yourself to the people you don’t know. Ask how they know whomever they came with. An easy default is to talk about the food or drinks. And everyone likes flattery. For more advice on mingling see the blog posts called Moi? Boring? earlier this month as well as the blog posts called What to Say in December 2009 and January 2010.
And that’s all there is to it!
Up next week: Woman-to-Geek Dictionary, Part One