The trick to hosting a great party? Attending one and realizing what makes it so awesome. From themes to music, here are eight game-changing tips I’ve picked up through the years, presented with the beautiful tableware from SNOWE…
1. Themes are ridiculous, but worth it. Here’s the thing about themes: They make people rally. When friends host a party centered around even the smallest of ideas, EVERYONE shows up and EVERYONE is stoked. I’ve been to a “cereal party,” where guests were only granted entry if they showed up with their favorite box to share; a “lawn party,” where everyone happily stood in an empty front yard for hours; and a “tamale party,” where people trekked from all over a thundering NYC to hang in a cozy kitchen. It’s all in the pitch. No costumes required.
2. There’s an end time on the invitation. Why? People will arrive on time. There’s an unspoken phenomenon that guests arrive more than an hour later than the start time listed, but with an end time, you confuse everyone into showing up when you say. Even the notoriously late! Plus, early parties rock. You can have all of the fun AND get a glorious night’s sleep. P.S. You don’t have to actually end things when you said you would.
3. The mood is set beforehand. In the fictional land of parties, what’s more magical than a soirée in a Nancy Meyers movie? The lights are dimmed, the candles are twinkling and music is bumping (and carefully considered). She’s taught me that a playlist of The Shirelles, The Beach Boys and Elton John can put any crowd at ease.
4. Drinks are outsourced. Ask guests to bring a bottle of wine, citrus seltzer or whatever else they want to sip. That way, as my friend says, “Everyone is in charge of their own happiness.” Plus, party costs are cut in half. Set out a drink station with wine glasses, tumblers and an ice bucket for guests to serve themselves. If you’re in the mood to be a little *extra*, a house cocktail is always a hit, too. The trick for keeping it easy (and not playing bartender all night) is pre-made pitchers. Before guests arrive, I fix up a carafe of Aperol (a low-key Italian apéritif), sparkling water and orange wedges.
5. Snacks are the real heroes of night. There are few things more devastating than showing up hungry to a dinner party, only to realize a) food won’t be served for a couple more hours and b) the last little smokie has been nabbed. Keep appetizers as plentiful as possible. People love chips! People love dips! (This one has only two-ingredients.) Plus, everything looks impressive on a pretty platter or cheese board.
6. The menu isn’t fancy and no one cares. Do you have go-to weeknight pasta? Multiply the recipe and make that! Is roast chicken your speciality? Time to show off your skills. Great at ordering pizza? Now’s your time! Go big with your tried-and-true favorite dishes, and add bulk to the meal with sides you can throw together at the last minute, like a giant salad. When it’s time to eat, this starter eat bundle makes any meal look beautiful. The matching dishes and silverware are super durable as everyday essentials, while the additions of serving bowls and platters make the table look like you’re the ultimate host. It’s a set I look forward to using for years.
7. Dessert is store-bought. A handful of broken-up chocolate bars, a pile of Tate’s chocolate chip cookies and a bowl of berries are enough to blow friends’ minds.
8. Keep it casual. What really makes a party is when the place feels like home. People are just happy to be there with you! We love SNOWE for making our spaces feel extra special with their thoughtfully-designed essentials for eating, drinking, sleeping and bathing. The company, founded by a couple setting up their first NYC apartment together, understands the value of everyday items you’re proud to share with friends.
Thank you so much, SNOWE!
Thoughts? Any entertaining tips you swear by?
(This post is sponsored by SNOWE, a business that makes luxury essentials for your home at non-luxury prices. Since SNOWE is obsessed with quality, you have 90 days to make sure you’re obsessed with your order, or you can get it replaced or refunded. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo. Photography by Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo and styling by Yossy Arefi. Thanks to my friends Natasha, Meghal and Eileen for modeling.)