Party Girl Juliet Lawrence Wilson shares her tips on throwing a fun bash and being the host with the most. Simplicity is the key.
The most important thing is to invite people you really like and you might be surprised just how much Aunty Muriel enjoys getting down with the young ‘uns. Everyone has one dangerous friend who’s guaranteed to drink too much and make a scene. Perfect! Your guests will be delighted to leave the party knowing they’re not the ones to have made an ass of themselves.
While nothing beats an elegant, embossed stiffie atop a mantelpiece it’s the 21st century and there’s nothing wrong with inviting people by email. It is perfectly acceptable to state not only the time of arrival but also what time you’d like your guests to leave. If you put something like, “Jeremy and Georgina invite you for drinks on Thursday 17th December from 6-9pm” most will leave on time but you can guarantee you’ll have some hangers on. Once you hand a dishcloth to the strays they’ll soon find a reason to go. Thursday is a good party choice because although people still have work the next day the weekend is in sight and they will be up for some merriment.
If your eyes have just lit up at the thought of a themed party and the word ‘toga’ is going through your mind, you’re obviously in the wrong place. Naturally the theme is Christmas so some festive decorations won’t go amiss and if you can get someone to dress up as Santa all the better! I’d seriously advise against fancy dress of any sort, mainly because Halloween is not such a distant memory and Christmas is too busy a time for your guests to rustle up a decent costume. Furthermore, do you really want lots of women turning up in polyester-fabulous Santa outfits?
Is everything! Get all the shopping done in advance and make sure you give your home a good going over at least a few days before the event. The bathroom is a particular case in point. No one wants to know your medical history so make sure all ‘personal’ stuff is well hidden. Another irk about bathrooms is the current middle class trend for not having a lock on the door. What’s that all about? Isn’t reading the Guardian enough to show people you’re open minded? Is it considered bourgeois to mind people seeing you on the lavatory? Just have a sodding lock fitted, ok?
Food and Drink
The first thing you need to do is find your nearest catering hire company and hire glasses. Yes, many wine merchants and off licences will give you them for free but they want them returned spick and span. Hiring glasses isn’t expensive and if you request a ‘dirty pickup’ (yes, I know…) you don’t have to wash them before they’re returned. Make sure you have plenty of ice buckets. Prepare as much in advance as possible, so you are only doing the finishing touches at the end. If you are the domestic type then be sure to rustle up a few different kinds of foods. A cup of wholesome winter soup would be lovely. If not then buy it all in. Lots of nice ladies do cupcakes for parties. Head to your local delicatessen for dips, pates and cheeses for the savoury food. Be sure to have plenty of napkins and, if you want to melt the ice caps and kill lots of Polar Bears, paper plates.
On the night
Be sure to have a space to store your guests’ coats. It’s also a good idea to enrol a couple of over 18 year olds to serve drinks and food. Goodness knows what the going rate for these services are. £40 quid towards their gap-year fund should cover it. You have two jobs to do: to make sure your guests’ glasses are charged and to enjoy yourself! It really is as simple as that.
Oh the joy of clearing up! Pour yourself another cocktail and put on some music to make it more bearable. Now’s the time to take stock: did everyone have a good time, catching up with old friends and making new ones? Is your cocktail cabinet a sight that would make Oliver Reed cry? Did Aunty Muriel polish off three quarters of a bottle of Bristol Cream after saying, “Just a small one for me”? If so, congratulations! You may not feel like having another party ever again, but remember that parties are a bit like babies: you forget the pain of having the first one by the time you plan the next.