– Rukmini Iyer, Director, Exult! Solutions
(Published at Rediff.com)
The season screams ‘PARTY!’ and we obey. Whether you are a party animal or not, it’s difficult to resist the mood of the month. While it’s definitely convenient to chill out at a do someone else has organised, you don’t need to be a pro to organise a party yourself.
With most resorts and retreats being overbooked in the festive season, it is a good idea to cosy up at your own pad with a group of close pals. All it takes is a little preparation for you and your guests to have a gala time.
Here’s the lowdown on the things you need to keep in mind.
Pick your guests carefully
“As a host, you definitely do not want to be caught in the ravages of a cold war or heated arguments,” warns Sai Jadhav, a media professional. “Choose your guests in a way that there are no clashes, expressed or otherwise, at your party.”
If your guests are to leave with pleasant memories, you need to invite people who will get along reasonably well. Keep a check on the number of guests as well; your party has to be manageable and within your budget.
Choose your theme
With a group of close friends or family, a theme may not be necessary. But, if you have invited a diverse group of people, you might want to have a theme party. A theme usually requires people to dress in a certain manner and serves as a good icebreaker among strangers. However, you will need to back it with suitable ambience.
“Wacky themes can be fun, but do not go over the top. Be considerate about your guests’ profile as well as the ambience and weather. For example, if you fancy a Hawaiian theme, remember people may not be comfortable wearing bermudas and sarongs in the middle of the winter,” cautions Binu David, a senior executive with a top Mumbai hotel.
Stock your bar
“Alcohol should cater to the tastes of the guests, not that of the host,” says Binu. “You may be a whisky lover, but your guests might prefer other drinks. Buy a good mix. Also stock soft drinks and juices for people who do not wish to have alcohol.”
You may not have the time or inclination to mix and serve the drinks during a party, so arrange for someone to handle the bar. If it is a small gathering, you could request one of your friends in advance to help you. For a bigger party, professional bartenders are available for a fee.
Decide on the menu
“My worst memories are of parties where I’ve danced to my heart’s content, chatted a lot with friends, then come back home hungry to hunt for food in the refrigerator. Why? Because the food available was only Chinese, which I shy away from,” recalls Sai. “When you organise a party, have at least two types of cuisines, preferably one Indian, so that everyone has something to eat.”
Gone are the days when a party at home would mean that the guests would expect the hostess to display her culinary skills. If you are not a good cook, simply order food from a good restaurant or caterer. As a host, you ought to spend quality time with your guests rather than supervise the kitchen. Of course, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian preferences should be taken into account.
Whether you want to have a dance party or not, it is always a good idea to have some music playing. If it is simply a huddle of friends, you could have some soft instrumental music playing in the background to create a warm, relaxing atmosphere.
If you need to arrange for dance numbers, make sure you know the preferences of most, if not all, of your guests. Have enough space cleared to be used as the dance floor.
Arrange for your guests’ comfort
“Simple gestures, such as ample, comfortable seating arrangement, regular supply of water, drinks and nibbles go a long way in telling your guests you care,” says Binu.
Hygiene is important. The restrooms should be cleaned and replenished with toilet rolls, soaps and paper towels before the party begins. Have a first-aid box and simple medicines such as paracetamol handy, in case any of your guests need it.
No matter how well you know your guests, when you are the host, you have certain responsibilities. “The worst thing a host can do is to get drunk,” remarks Binu. It is indeed a faux pas for a host to get high when s/he is expected to take care of the others.
It also creates a bad impression if you are not ready in time. It can be embarrassing if your guests start arriving while you are still laying the table cloth with your hair still in curlers. Start preparing well in advance so that you can enjoy the party along with your guests.
Greet each guest personally and introduce people who do not know each other. Think up some fun games you could have if the party gets a little dull.
At the end of the day, having a party is all about having fun, and letting your guests know you care. A little effort is all it takes to make sure both your guests and you have a wonderful time.