House Party – Hows and Whys
Q. I’m sorry, what?
A. Yes, a house party. You being the hostess!!
Q. And why should I throw one?
A. It can be great to throw a nice house party. They feel cozier than clubs for just having a night of great conversation with your gal pals, and they can be brilliant opportunities for meeting new people too. They can also act as a fun way to dress up to a unique theme and have some nice homemade exotic food, or doing a fun group activity like watching a movie, cooking or wine tasting. They work for anything – housewarming to bacholerette parties.
Q. Sounds like an awesome idea. Is this just for a Girl’s Night In?
A. Doesn’t just have to be a ladies night. It could be with all your friends, or even strangers, if you’re up for meeting one.
Q. Can I host a house party if I don’t have a nice big house?
A. Of course, a great night doesn’t have to be showy. Your friends should be able to enjoy each other’s company and have a great time nonetheless. But if you have a small place, choose the number of invitees accordingly.
Q. How many people should I invite?
A. Anywhere from 3 to 50, depending on the size of your living room/ patio. It should not feel too crowded for the guests, and there should be enough room for spillover.
Q. Who should I invite?
A. It depends on whether you want a quiet night catching up with your pals, or you want to meet new people. If you want to just hang out and have a quiet time with your friends, invite the closest so that there is no awkwardness and it’s easier to catch up. If you want to have a louder night where everyone can meet new people, ask your friends to bring their friends and significant others too.
Q. So how should I invite everyone?
A. Word of mouth works best for when you want to invite people who you don’t know personally. For your friends, it’s best to invite them personally face-to-face or with a phone call if you can’t meet them. The facebook event evites are too impersonal.
Q. Should I invite my frenemy?
A. Yes, if she’s your bestie who you sometimes fight with, but not if she’s someone you hate. And why are you friends with her, again?
Q. Err… So tell me more about meeting that stranger!
A. If you want to meet someone new, ask your friends to bring some of their friends you haven’t met yet. You can also ask your friends to invite their boyfriends’ or girlfriends’ friends, anyone outside your immediate circle.
Q. What day should I host the party on?
A. Any day from Thursday to Sunday, depending on your friends’ availability. If it’s a Sunday, it can be in the afternoon for a luncheon. It would be a good idea to have a con-call with your closest friends to see when they are available. Make sure you inform them well in advance, because people usually plan their weekends early and there are bound to be conflicts.
Q. What prep do I need to do for the house?
A. It should be clean, obviously. Make sure you set a good ambience, depending on what mood or theme you want for the party. If you have a roommate, make sure her room is locked so that the guests don’t accidentally stain her sheets with red wine (ouch!) when they are drunk and about. Food and drinks will also need advance planning. Plus, make sure you have enough seating for everyone if it’s a small party, at at least 50% of them if it’s a larger one. If you are expecting a lot of guests, you’ll want to inform your neighbours in advance that you’ll try your best to not cause any disturbance, and if it gets uncomfortably loud, they can reach you at your number at any time.
Q. You mentioned themes. What theme should I choose?
A. Themes are always fun, whether or not that involves a dress code. It could be anything you think the guests may find interesting, ranging from Victorian to Arabic, jungle to tropical, hip-hop to masks.
Q. How can I make sure the ambience goes with the theme?
A. Just be creative, and show off your hostess skills. Choose your food accordingly, too. For example, a spa-themed party should have mani-pedi stations, towels, nice soap selections and masseuses. And you do remember that Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme party for Blair’s bridal shower thrown by Serena in Gossip Girl. That had Tiffany’s themed dress code, food, drinks and even a Tiffany’s ring.
Q. What about music?
A. Great music should allow for conversations, not too loud, but not boring or dead either. It can match your theme. If you don’t have a theme, you can have more than one playlists, so that guests can request the genre. Assign one guest as the DJ, who can be in charge of the music selection and make sure it doesn’t get too loud in case of a complaint from the neighbours. They can also look over the iPod, making sure it doesn’t get lost in the crowd.
Food and Drinks
Q. What drinks should I stock?
A. First, know your friends’ preferences. If there is going to be a non-drinker, make sure you stock up on soda or juice. It can be just wine or champagne, or an assortment of wine, beer, gin and tonic, depending on what you or your friends prefer. You can also introduce your guests to new wines, or cocktails. If it is a wine-tasting party, it’ll be a wine-only menu. Be sure to stock at least 4-5 different types so that it can be fun to taste them. Also: quantity is also important, it’s never good to run out of drinks at a party.
Q. Should it be BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze)?
A. BYOB is more of a college trend, so if you want to throw a classier party, the guests should not have to feel obligated to bring a bottle. They may bring a bottle of wine, or not! But the idea is for everyone to come and relax, have a good time, without obligations.
Q. What tid-bits should accompany the drinks?
A. I always love to have a larger selection of appetizers and tid-bits than the dinner itself. People love to chat over drinks, so it’s always good to have something munchy, like crackers, nachos or nuts. Select the appetizers according to your drink selection, making sure they make good accompaniments. Such as assorted olives, and cheese and cracker platters for flat wines, or smoked salmon or stuffed mushroom with sparkling ones and champagnes.
At the Party
Q. How can I be a charming hostess?
A. Plan carefully. The party should not feel offensive to anyone, for example keep the guests’ dietary and drinking preferences in mind while selecting the menu. Conversation matters the most. It’s a good idea to start a topic if there is an awkward silence in the room, but that topic shouldn’t be something that is only interesting to you. Also, don’t try to be the center of attention just because you are the hostess, or birthday girl. Let everyone mingle with each other and have fun. In fact, encourage it, let them laugh and eat and take selfies and everything. If you are going to have a mix of people who don’t know each other, you should introduce them to each other to avoid awkwardness.
Q. I’m saving the most important one for last. What should I wear?
A. I thought you’d never ask!! Wear something comfortable if you are going to be baking or prepping food so that it’s easy to make those many trips to the kitchen. It can be a dress or a skirt. You can even show off that new dress or statement jewelry, and because you’re not going out, you can even wear those fancy white suede shoes that you’re afraid to take out on the muddy city streets.
There’s no reason why you can’t look as fabulous as you want to be. Remember how (we are at it again) Holly Golightly dressed in that gorgeous white Grecian knee-length dress in her house-party in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? So, yes, you can wear white (but don’t spill on it)!
Shilpa Ahuja the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion. Other than defining the direction of the magazine, she also writes about fashion & beauty trend forecasts, industry analysis, and opinions.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]