I love hosting parties at my house. In fact, as we look for our new house, one of my criteria was that it had to be conducive to parties. Particularly the backyard. Because there really is nothing better than having your friends and family over for a summer barbecue. Except maybe Thanksgiving.
Anyway, as someone who enjoys hosting parties, I pay careful attention to what others do. And, for whatever reason, I have been attending supremely horrible parties lately. Like truly, truly awful. The kind of party that makes you wish you were home doing laundry or dusting. And I've been thinking about the steps that the party throwers could have taken to make their fetes infinitely better. And I've decided to assemble them in one place so if you want to throw a party, you know exactly how not to suck as a host:
- Clean your house. It doesn't need to be immaculate. But sweeping the floors, emptying the trash cans, and putting away dirty dishes make a huge difference. Also, if your furniture is covered in dog hair, run a vacuum over it. Your guests don't need to look like a hamster is grasping at their legs when they stand up. This also goes for pools. If you are having a pool party, clean your pool. Seriously. No one wants to swim in your swamp water.
- Decorate. Like cleaning, it doesn't have to be perfect. But a few things like a table centerpiece, coordinated plates and silverware, and a few balloons go a long, long way. Particularly for a birthday party. The small touches are inexpensive and give the party a festive atmosphere. And also, that open pantry you have? Cover that shit up with streamers or a banner or something. Anything. I implore you.
- Open the windows for light. Unless the theme is “cave dwellers” or the party is at night, open the windows. Let the sunshine in. Or, at the very least, turn on some lamps or overhead lighting. Guests like to see where they're going and also each other. If it's an evening party, just turn on the lights. I don't know the layout of your house and bumping into walls kind of kills my party buzz.
- Climate control. If it's the summertime, turn on the air conditioner. If you don't want to do that because of people going in and out, have fans available. You want your guests to be comfortable and not sweating profusely. Because smelly guests are not happy guests. And if your party happens to occur in cooler weather, have a central location for coats and make appropriate adjustments for the warmth in your home. Attendees don't want to freeze or go on an epic scavenger hunt for their jackets.
- Talk to your guests. It pains me that I actually have to add this to the list. When you invite people to your home for a party, nothing says “I'd rather all you fuckers leave” than ignoring the invitees. The conversations don't have to be long, in-depth discussion of religion and politics but a little “hey, how about the weather” type small talk won't kill you and it'll also make your friends and family feel welcomed rather than like an inconvenience.
- Be aware of dietary restrictions. With the abundance of food allergies and dietary restrictions going on these days, you have make accommodations for everyone (and you should know this because you have a kid with food allergies, lady whose house I went to for a party the other day). If you're not sure, ask. People are more than happy to share dietary preferences with whomever will listen. And if you can't or won't cook for them, let them know ahead of time. It's a pain in the ass to be invited to a dinner party only to find out you can't eat anything.
- Make arrangements for your pets. As a dog owner, I feel that if people are coming to visit my house, they need to accept that my dogs live there. If they can't, then don't visit. However. In the event of a party, you're not only dealing with pet dander allergies, children who are afraid of dogs, and the general inconvenience of having your pets under foot. It's just for a few hours; crate them, send them to doggy daycare, put them in a room. Have cats, not dogs? Then do whatever it is that people do with cats. I've done it and it's not a big deal.
- Have a plan B. Like talking to your guests, I can't believe I have to write this. If you are planning an outdoor summer party, check them weather forecasts obsessively for the week leading up to the event. Make alternative arrangements, whether it's indoor activities, a rain date, or something else, so that your guests are a) not inconvenienced and b) bored. Even if you don't need it, have it on hand. Because Mother Nature can be a crazy bitch.
Please be advised: following these steps will not ensure that your party is great. That's a whole different topic. No, these can only help you be a good party host.
Or, at the very least, prevent your friends from writing a blog post about you.