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Articles Home-&-Family Parties

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If you have never hosted a party before, it can be a little intimidating the first few times you do it. You may feel more at ease by hosting small parties until you become more experienced.

The first step is to decide what kind of party it will be.

Will it be formal, or informal? Large or small? Indoors or out? Who will you invite? Will you serve food and liquor? Are you celebrating any special occasion? How much money do you want to spend? How much space do you have?

These are just some of the decisions you need to explore before you start issuing your invitations.

Once you have decided on these matters, pick a date, time, and location, and draw up a list of people you wish to invite.

Depending on the custom in your social circle, you can issue formal written invitations, invite your guests by telephone, or ask them in person.

Whatever method you choose, it's a good idea to issue your party invitations at least two or three weeks in advance.

One of the most important aspects of throwing a party is to make sure that all your guests understand exactly what kind of party it will be, and what is expected of them. Be very clear about the exact time, date, and location of the party.

Here is a checklist to help you make sure your guests know what to expect:

- Is the party formal or informal?
- Is it a costume party?
- Does the party have a theme?
- Are you supplying food? Will you provide a full meal, or just snacks and appetizers?
- At what time will the food be served? Will it be a formal, sit down meal? Or buffet style?
- Are you supplying alcoholic beverages? Do you want people to bring their own beverages?
- Do you want the guests to bring anything, such as food, appetizers, party favors, or liquor?
- If you have any unique requests, make them very explicit. For example you may not want anyone to consume alcohol or smoke on the premises.
- Do you want people to bring their children, or leave them at home?
- Does the party start exactly at a certain time, or is the starting time approximate?
- Is attendance "come and go"?

A few days before the party, telephone everyone on your list to remind them again about your party, and to have them confirm whether or not they will be attending.

Parties can be very simple or they can be quite elaborate affairs.

You can create a memorable splash without spending a lot of money.

Use your imagination to turn your party into a unique event. You can get lots of great creative ideas from magazines, television programs and books to help you plan interesting activities, food, and decor.

Don't get too carried away -- the focus should always be on creating a warm, enjoyable experience for your guests. You are not creating a theme park.

One of the easiest kinds of parties to host is a potluck party. In this type of party, you are not saddled with the overwhelming task of preparing all the food yourself. You simply ask each person or couple you invite to bring some food for all to share.

If you are a very good cook, you may prefer to do all the food preparation yourself. Howevery, you will still benefit by asking a friend to help you get everything ready. You may want to start all your preparations one or two days in advance.

Before the party starts, be sure that the house is reasonably clean and that you have enough chairs, plates, cups and glasses for everyone. Have enough containers available for trash. Pick out some music selections that your guests will enjoy.

You will have much more fun at your own party if you let go of the idea that everything has to be perfect. Parties are not about perfection, they are about fun. Things that go wrong may seem disastrous at the time, but they may seem very funny later.

Try to be at the door to greet each of your guests as they arrive, and thank them for coming. Let them know where to put their coats. Tell them when and where the food will be served and show them the location of the bathroom. Introduce any new arrivals to the people who are already present.

If any of the people at your party seem to be especially shy, be sure to introduce them to others who will talk to them. If you notice someone who seems to be alone a lot throughout the evening, you can ask that person if they have been introduced to everyone at the party.

Sometimes people who are socially awkward will leap at the chance to help you with some party chores. You can ask them politely if they would be willing to take around a tray of appetizers to the guests, or help pick up empty glasses.

Try to get to each guest several times throughout the evening, and don't play favorites, ignoring some, and monopolizing the time of others. If at all possible, try to speak to your guests as they are leaving and thank them for coming.

Who knows, you may enjoy hosting a party so much that you will do it again and again!
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