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

Essentials (South Africa) - - CONTENTS JANUARY 2019 -

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.

Easy lis­ten­ing

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.

Con­sider stor­age

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.

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