Hey guys! It’s getting to be prime party season (I mean, when is it not?!) and today I wanted to put together my little guide to having an amazing get together! Here’s all the must-haves that I stick to when we’re throwing a hoe-down at our place.
First thing’s first, you’ve gotta invite the neighbors.
Inviting the neighbors is always the polite thing to do, and if you’re friendly with your neighbors, having there will just make your party even cooler! If you’re not super close, don’t worry. That just means you’ll have a couple less mouths to feed when they inevitably don’t show up, but it’s also good to cover your ground by inviting them so they know to expect that there might be some noise and activity that night, which they should maybe avoid if they don’t want to join. It’s also always better to invite them and have them not show up than to not invite them and have to answer awkward questions! So, invite nearby folks to either get the great ones around, or give the not so great ones a heads-up that you’ll be enjoying yourselves in spite of them.
Next up, a careful guest list!
Putting together a party is always a balancing act, to try to make sure there’s maximum fun and minimum frantic factor. So, I never do the FB route unless it’s a private invite. You want to know who’s coming! I also think it’s better if you don’t invite people who won’t have anyone else to talk to, unless you’re going to set them up with someone romantically, or a friend you’re sure they’ll love. If you invite a bunch of people you’re close to who aren’t necessarily close to each other, that can be super awk.
One of my rules I always follow when I’m putting together a guest list is to always make sure you have a balance between organized people and fun, crazy party people. You want enough put-together people to keep the crazy ones just under the out of control mark! Basically, bring a few reasonable adults to make sure things don’t get out of hand, and your stuff doesn’t end up damaged. That’s also good because you don’t want to end up cleaning up after everyone, so I always make sure there are a couple people I can count on to corral everybody into picking things up before the party’s over.
If you don’t want to foot the bill for everything, make sure you send out invitations that invite contributions!
If you’re gonna want people to bring food, drinks, or anything else, you should always let them know in advance rather than just hoping they’ll remember to. I also have found that in my experience, it’s always better to give people a specific request rather than just saying “bring food”, because that’s the difference between having a variety of things and having like 8 different sets of chips and salsa with nothing else to eat.
It’s also a super good party tip to invite people at different times, because you know your friends can run on different clocks a lot of the time. Tell the notoriously late people to get there an hour earlier, and tell your time stickler friends to get there at the proper start time!
Ok, next up, you need a great menu for whatever you’re gonna be serving, and make sure all your guests bring things that fit the theme.
You want to have a few different options for eats and drinks, so maybe plan 3 cocktails you can make easily, and have two beer options and two wine options. Of course, if you want to take things to the next level, we’ve found that it’s so, so satisfying to blow people away with a pint from a mini kegerator right on the counter. That just shows you have your shit together to the nth degree! I generally have an ale, a lager, a white wine, a red wine, and whatever cocktails are in my head. Then I always have a non-alcoholic thing around (like some nice root beer or ginger ale) if someone’s sick and not drinking, or if you have a friend that just doesn’t drink period.
For the food, you can do really whatever you want, but don’t cheap out on a crappy platter from the supermarket with celery and dip. You want real food that fills people up at least halfway, like some nice wings, little baked things like spinach squares or quiche pieces, and then the nibbles like crackers, cheese, sausages and all that kind of stuff. If you’re going to jut have really light things, make sure people know that so they’re not planning on getting food and end up hungry.
Last but definitely not least, you should come up with an amazing playlist! Your playlist totally sets the mood for the party, and the right soundtrack for a barbecue is totally different from what you want for a classy wine evening. So spend some time playing around with ideas and figure out a nice arc that builds up and then calms down later at night. Oh, and I know this one can be kinda hard, but you should really try to include things that your guests like as well as what you want to hear!
Alright, those are all my ingredients for a prime party! Happy socializing, peeps!