Tag Archives: party

How to throw a great party

– 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.

Manners matter

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.

Planning to party? Brush up your manners

– Rukmini Iyer, Director, Exult! Solutions
(Published at Rediff.com)

“Where’s the party tonight?”

It’s a good question, particularly since the party season is now in full swing.

Some of us may be absolute party animals, while others prefer to be occasional guests. Irrespective of what our party quotient is, however, our etiquette quotient needs to be up to the mark.

Even the most innocuous slip-ups on the party circuit tend to be talked about, and laughed about. Here are a few tips you need to keep in mind if you plan to let your hair down.

The do’s


Always know what the party is all about. If you are not very close to the host(ess), (s)he may avoid telling you it is a birthday or an anniversary, simply to save you the bother of getting a gift. However, it can be embarrassing to enter a hall with a huge birthday cake and a pile of gifts brought by more well-informed guests.


Do carry some gift to any party – be it a formal sit-down dinner, a buffet or a luncheon. It could be some flowers or chocolates, or wine for more formal occasions. If you travel often, you could buy trinkets from various places that could be presented as thoughtful gifts. Remember, a gift is not meant to proclaim your status or identity – it is simply a gesture to say ‘Thanks, I had a lovely time!’

Food preferences

If you have certain preferences for food due to medical or other reasons, please inform the hosts in advance when you accept the invitation.


If you are talking to a group of friends or acquaintances, make sure everyone in the group knows each other. If not, go ahead and give an interesting introduction. For example, “Hey Mark, meet Neena. Neena was my classmate in college and she’s a fabulous painter! Neena, Mark’s my colleague and he’s an avid trekker.” Always introduce the junior (in terms of age/ status/ fame) to the senior.

If you do not understand how to pronounce a person’s name, it is perfectly fine to ask them. Saying “I’m not sure if I got your name right. Is it …?” is better than mispronouncing someone’s name all evening.

On the other hand, if you have a name that is slightly long and could be difficult for others to pronounce, you could save them from awkwardness by offering alternatives.

Party enthusiast PN Thailambal, an academic specialist with a reputed educational institution in Mumbai, says, “People often fumble with my name since it is rather unusual. So, during introductions, I tell them they can call me Thai. It makes conversations a lot easier.”

Dress code

If it’s a theme party, do stick to the dress code. You could ask the host for help in understanding the theme better, if need be.


At a sit down dinner, wait for the hostess to indicate where you should sit. It is likely she has arranged the seating so that there is a good mix of people at each table.

Talking of seating, Thailambal recalls, “Once, at a party, there was this middle-aged lady in a saree trying to park on a bar stool. It was quite a sight – it was too high for her to comfortably climb onto. While the onlookers tried hard to turn away with bemused smiles, I must say it was rather embarrassing for the lady.”

Do not venture onto an uncomfortable seat that does not go with your physique and dress.


If you are getting up for another helping of dessert, coffee or wine, do ask the people around you if you could get something for them as well.

It would be wise to stick to few glasses/ pegs of alcohol, instead of going overboard and getting sick. Not only do you make the situation uncomfortable for your hosts, you also risk being talked for a long time because of behaviour you probably don’t even remember.


Accept compliments graciously with a simple ‘Thank you!’. You can return the compliment if you find a genuine reason for it.


If you need to leave early for some reason, inform the hosts and leave as unobtrusively as possible so that you do not disturb the mood of the party.

Do call/ SMS/ email the hosts later to tell them you had a wonderful time. Thank them for their hospitality.

The don’ts


While little gifts are always appreciated, make sure they are not personal in nature. Avoid items of clothing, deodorants, etc, especially if you do not know the hosts well.

Of course, this rule does not apply for birthday parties.

For a house-warming party, you could ask the hostess (if you know her well) casually while you accept the invitation, “I’d love to get something for you that you really need. Would you prefer something for the kitchen or the hall?” The hostess would appreciate your gesture rather than end up with five table lamps and seven wall clocks.


Never heap your plate at a buffet. You can always go in for a second helping if need be. Take small bites of food; do not stuff your mouth with it.

You would do well to have some fruit or a light sandwich before a party so that you are not ravenous before the meal.

Also, if you are not comfortable with a fork, chopsticks or tongs, ask the servers for alternatives.

Anita D’souza, assistant manager – training, with a leading company, says, “I can recall quite a few instances where pieces of food have flown off plates and landed on someone else. If one is not used to the given cutlery, it is perfectly fine to ask for a spoon or even eat neatly with your fingers rather than embarrass yourself and those around you.”


Conversations at a party should be light and casual. Avoid personal questions about relationships, money, salary, etc. Questions about handicaps and injuries are a big no-no. Even if the scars are from a much talked about accident, the person may not want to stir unpleasant memories by telling you an oft-repeated tale.

Never ask about the price or designer label of a dress or accessory. At the same time, do not brag about your own labels even if you are complimented about it.


Never leave a party without informing the hosts. They may have certain plans for which your presence may be important.

If you are the host/ hostess…

  • Ensure you are at the door to greet and welcome everyone. It lends a personal touch to the party and you can make a mental note of who’s arrived and who has not.
  • Right from the time the first guest walks in, make sure there is some food to nibble on and some drinks to sip. Some people may be walking in after a long working day and would really appreciate something to snack on as they wait for your elaborate main course.
  • Provide for enough serviettes, paper napkins and toothpicks. They should be kept at an accessible place, visible to everyone.
  • If it is a buffet or a cocktail party, clear the used plates and glasses regularly so that you always have ample supply of cutlery. It’ll avoid clutter at the tables and ensure you have less washing to do at the end of the day.
  • The entrance area and the restrooms should be lighted well. If any of your guests require special seating or other arrangements, do arrange for it beforehand. The guests would appreciate your sensitivity.
  • Any children’s party should have ample lighting, clear, open space and toys. Keep a first aid box handy.


So there, all set to party?