html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Tips for a smaller party.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tips for a smaller party.

The requirements for a big party are lots of people, all involved and slightly dissociated; a mellow gathering will work best with one to three dozen people, all involved, all at ease and fully in themselves. When you are preparing the party, you are working to provide for their comfort. There is work involved in being in different place with lots of people; do as much of that work for them as you can, beforehand, so that all they have to do is enjoy themselves.

I like an activity or theme for any event. Knowing what the evening will be about gives your guests a chance to anticipate and add to the party. It also gives them something to talk about and do the entire time. People are set at ease when they have something in their hands, they are partially carrying that beer bottle so their hands aren’t empty. Lots of people like to create things; an activity can satisfy multiple needs.

Some people will enjoy watching more than doing; they need a space to be. Something close to the periphery of the action will keep them involved. If you can, people like to watch the front door, and they like to perch, and they like nooks. If you can provide any of those spaces, they’ll be occupied for the entire party. Anticipate traffic and keep lanes to the food and drinks clear; give ‘em a couple different angles to approach and leave the food.

Label shit. Don’t make your guests wonder which door is the bathroom, tape up a paper that says bathroom. Put a sign that says “Coats here” on the door to the closet or back bedroom. Label the cooler with the beer and the cooler with the soft drinks. Don’t want people on the dangerous back porch? Put up a sign saying “No”. If you put up silly extra labels, people may do silly extra things.

As always, flattering light, a little dim so that everyone’s pupils dilate and they look interested in the people they are talking to. You probably have lots of thoughts about music; keep it coming smoothly and don’t drown out the conversation. Have lots of food available. Two easy things that worked better than I expected: soup and baked potatoes. I always have a huge pot of soup warm on the stove; it is invariably gone at the end of the evening. It feeds a lot of people; they can eat or drink it out of their cups. I baked a few pounds of new potatoes, put ‘em out with butter and sour cream and they were gone. People also liked tossing them to each other.

Fire helps any get together. People can’t help it, they want to be near fire. I don’t know many smokers, but with or without smokers, a group will want to be outside the whole evening. Make them comfortable around a fire. I like a chimineas, if any other fire would be unsafe.

Good guests will do the work of introducing themselves and making conversation. The activity or theme will make that easier. Watch that your party doesn’t devolve into stable cliques; intervene to mix those up. Bring lone people into circles or ask them to help you or introduce them to each other.

Last thing. Enjoy the party yourself. People will follow the host’s lead; relax and celebrate having your friends together. I know a fantastic host who waits until a few friends arrive, then he quietly goes outside and walks in the front door as a guest, ready to have a great time.

You are invited to my:
7th Annual Pumpkin Carving Party
7pm, Sunday October 29th
My house (email for address and directions)
BYOP and carving equipment, and your friends and sweethearts.
I’ll provide candles and some food.
Hope to see you there!


Anonymous Mitch said...

I totally want Megan to be my adviser for my Party Engineering dissertation. My topic will be "Techniques for not getting invited back: the role of blogs in forming and dissolving cross-coastal relationships".

2:46 PM  
Anonymous M/tch M/lls said...

Great ideas. I bet your parties are (what I would call) fun!

Can't make the pumpkin carving, alas. I've already got a pumpkin-carving event to go to that night, and anyway it's too far a drive from Texas.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

2:46 Mitch:
I got all the expertise you need. You want chapters? Appendices?

3:00 PM  
Anonymous jens said...

I like the bit about labelling, but it leaves me dissatisfied without an example or two of the silly extra labels.

Talking about small gatherings (8-20, for me ... 36 sounds huge!) got me reminiscing about those days, a couple of decades ago, when I loved to instigate them (or thought I did...I think at some deeper level I was just hoping to "hook up").

My favorite event was the reverse volleyball. You just stretch a "net" (a ribbon will do) across a convenient chokepoint at chest level, get some helium balloons (just one is not enough - they invariably get opened up by people practicing their Donald Duck(TM) voices), and play similarily to volleyball...except the "ball"(oon) is dead when it hits the ceiling, not when it hits the ground.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good advice. I never would have thought of soup and baked potatoes as party food, but now that you mention it, I can see how it might work quite well.
If I weren't 3K miles away from Sacramento I'd certainly attend the pumpkin-carving party.

Iron Rails & Iron Weights

6:18 PM  
Blogger capella said...

The best party I ever threw was a Very Early Christmas Party at the beginning of November. The theme provided ideas for decorations and food and music, and everybody was excited rather than worn out by the holidays.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

I'm totally going to a BYOP tomorrow. I'm worried that beer and knives don't mix, but whatever...

7:48 PM  
Anonymous dagger aleph said...

Seriously, I would go to more parties if there were baked potatoes. No more hummus, please!

The most interesting food I've ever had at a party were spicy grasshoppers that the host brought back from Mexico.

10:50 AM  
Blogger matt said...

Sacramento's a bit far, but I appreciate the invite. I'm sure it'll be a splendid evening.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Pandax said...

I'll be pumpkin carving that day at a neighborhood party. Thanks for the invite. Do share some photos of the results!

1:05 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

No digital camera yet. Sorry.

The house will be clean and decorated though, so it would be a good time to show off my house. If I could.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Pandax said...

I'm sure someone in attendance will have a camera and share photos with you. :) No? There always seems to be some photography die-hard present at activities.

6:12 PM  

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