PARTY HOSTING MADE EASY Clever tips to give your social gatherings that extra sparkle
‘Tis the season to be jolly, so follow our easy tips to give your social gatherings that extra bit of sparkle
What could be more fun than a party? Well, if you’re the hostess it’s easy to fall into the trap of filling glasses and showing people where the loo is all night, but if you plan ahead you’ll be able to enjoy the event, too. Here’s how...
Party-proof the house
‘ Before the party, look at your space from a guest’s point of view,’ suggests etiquette coach William Hanson. Where can guests put down drinks? Should you leave out dishes for used cocktail sticks? Do you need to push furniture towards walls to create more room? Is it obvious where the loo is? Some signposting will help, and if you don’t want guests venturing upstairs or into certain parts of the house, string festive bunting across a doorway to indicate that the area is out of bounds.
Prep the drinks
Set out all your glasses before the event, or take it one step further: have trays of drinks ready in advance so you’ll have time to chat when guests arrive. Bubbly always goes down well; serve with a slice of strawberry or a few cranberries for a luxe touch. Not sure how much to cater? Allow at least half a bottle of wine or bubbly per guest, plus a few beers. And don’t forget soft drinks for the drivers.
Bulk out your tableware
Few of us have enough glasses for larger gatherings. If you buy your booze from bottle stores, many of them offer a glass-hire service with a refundable deposit, charging for breakages only. Ask in store, and order in advance at this busy time of year.
Add a scent
Our sense of smell is connected to memory and emotion, so consider adding an ambient scent to your setting. Bring in fragrances that are relaxing like citrus or sandalwood, or welcoming like vanilla. If yours is low on aroma, try the Vintage Vanilla Diffuser, R99,99, MRP Home.
Set up a bar
You don’t have to build or buy anything new to create a home bar. Simply find a nook or surface that isn’t being used or just needs decluttering. Try an existing sideboard, console table or even a mantel to display your drinks selection. Guests will feel more relaxed if they can help themselves to a drink, and a bar trolley is another way to allow for this.
Dim the lights
Low lighting is so flattering – it makes everyone (and, importantly, your home) look much more attractive. Plus, guests will likely be more relaxed if they don’t feel too ‘on display’. So turn down harsh overhead lighting, or light some candles.
Set up your music system close to your bar and keep the tunes coming to maintain the party atmosphere. Go for a streaming service that doesn’t have ads, like Spotify Premium. Choose a playlist to suit the mood; start with relaxed tunes, then bring out the cheesy stuff if people want to dance.
Designate a space where guests can leave their handbags, car keys and jackets – in the spare bedroom, for example – as they won’t want to carry them around all night.
Put up decorations
If the Christmas decorations are still up, you don’t need to go overboard but it’s nice to have something extra for a party. Bunting, paper decorations and giant pompoms in white or metallics are perfect for the season. Hang them in the entrance and over a buffet table.
Assign a theme
Fancy dress isn’t for everyone, but a dress code like ‘ Seasonal sparkle’ or ‘Christmas cheer’ adds to the fun. Guests can do as little – or go as overboard – as they like, and it breaks the ice, too.
The after-dinner slump
Put aside party games like playing cards or 30 Seconds in a stocking, which can be brought out once the plates have been cleared, or while guests are chatting.