Party season has arrived. First it’s Halloween and then suddenly Thanksgiving, the holidays and New Year’s. If you’re planning on hosting a party between now and then, I have a few tips to share…
I’ve hosted Halloween parties for five years now. I’m no expert at it, but I love, love, love planning, preparing and decorating for my annual bash. (It’s basically what gets me through the end of summer each year.) Along the way I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and how to put together a fun party that people will remember. Here are four ways to create the most festive environment for your friends… and most importantly, for YOU!
1. Avoid making individual mixed drinks. To me, it’s the coolest thing to have a personally mixed drink at a party. This year, I served bloody martinis as the special spooky cocktail. The drawback was it took up a good chunk of time for each drink, and I would rather spend that time talking to my guests! So, until I can hire a bartender (ha!), I’ll be making drinks by the batch for my next party. Quick, easy, still freshly made, but with more face time with my loves.
2. Planning is more fun with help. If you’ve planned a party then you know the day of is the most stressful time ever. It’s a whirlwind of running around, doing last minute grocery runs, cleaning, making sure everything is set up, decorating, and so on. Make it easier on yourself: Plan to have one of your closest friends, or your significant other, or your brother, or your sister’s super tall boyfriend come by (i.e. someone you trust who wants to help) several hours before the party. Really enlist them to help. Don’t feel badly about it. Order in dinner together. It’s also nice to have someone with you when your friends start to arrive. Your planning buddy will keep things mellow and help break up any first-guest jitters you’re having. (I planned this year’s party with my roomie, on the far left above, and she made it so much friggin fun!)
3. Take a moment to step back and watch everyone interacting. The best part about throwing a party is it basically means you have all of your favorite people from different parts of your life in the same room. I love seeing my college friend chatting with my cousin (she’s above in the mad scientist lab coat, crazy wig and glasses) or seeing my friend from my previous job bond with one of my friends at my new job (that’s them taking a selfie below). It sounds silly, but stepping back, watching them chat, gesture, laugh, debate… well, it’s just magical.
4. Dance. Or whatever your equivalent of dancing is. It’s pretty much my goal whenever I have friends over to turn it into a dance party. (My dancing partners in life are my sister, above, in the blue mermaid costume, and my former roommate, pictured below in the glasses and plaid. We were dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” of course.) If you’d rather get dental surgery than dance in public, try doing something else that you really, really love. Challenge everyone to trivia. Spend lots of time preparing an amazing playlist. Play Twister or beer pong. The point is to have a moment (or many) where you don’t care what anyone thinks, where you’re blindly happy and in the moment.
I hope that you have a fabulous, spooky, wonderful Halloween, whether you’re partying in an amazing costume or chillin’ at home with hot spiced cider and Netflix.
Photographs by Tom Schelling.