By Jessica Lee
Hosting a party can seem like a daunting task to many people. Whether you’ve never done it before, you have a small house, or you don’t have money to spend on food and decorations, repeat after me – keep it simple. In fact, the best parties I’ve ever been to have been so simple, hardly costing any time or money to put together. Some of the best parties were cramped into college dorm rooms or studio apartments.
Let’s break down hosting a party into three steps to show how you can throw a simple party no matter where you live or what your style is.
Obviously it’s easier to host a party when you have a lot of space. If you don’t have a large area, you still have a lot of options. Borrow folding chairs if you don’t have much furniture, or buy some cheap throw pillows and blankets so that people can sit comfortably on the floor. If your home is set up in several separated rooms, set up games in one room, a TV in another, and food in the kitchen, to let people wander and mingle as they choose.
The more decorations you have, the more money you are spending, and time you are taking to put them up and tear them down. Try finding things around your house so that you don’t need to spend money. Use fabric or scarves that you already own to add color to your tables and chairs. Hang Christmas lights, or use candles to add lighting to the place. Decorate the walls with prints, flowers, or photos. You can even find balloons, streamers, gift bags, and more at the local dollar store or thrift shop.
Make it known to your guests whether you are serving a full meal or just snacks. Nobody likes surprises when it comes to whether they get to eat enough. Host the party in between meals if you want to just serve chips and drinks, or host well past dinner time if you want to serve cakes and cookies.
If you would like to serve a meal, one good idea is to set it up as a potluck. Have people post in a facebook event page or an e-mail chain what they are bringing so that everyone knows. This way picky eaters or those with allergies know what to expect. Another option is to get everyone’s preferences and order pizza – cheap, easy, and no clean up!
Some other ways to cook a meal that is sure to please everyone include choosing a broad food option. For example, have a taco night, where you lay out taco shells and all of the fillings – meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, and plenty of sauces to choose from. Those who have food restrictions can easily choose what to put on their plate and it saves you the trouble of assembling food – people do it themselves! Another option is to serve breakfast, whether at brunch time or as a breakfast for dinner meal. There is such a wide variety of breakfast foods – eggs, sausage or bacon, muffins, fruit, yogurt, and more. This assures that everyone will find something to eat, and it is relatively easy to prepare.
Don’t worry about keeping your guests entertained. Make sure that there is either music or a movie playing in the background. This helps to avoid any awkward silences even among people who don’t know each other well. You could have games that small groups could choose to play together, like a classic Mario Kart video game or a board game. You could have large group activities such as a game of poker or a cookie decorating contest. If it’s nice weather outside, you could take your friends for a walk around the neighborhood, or set up a game of football in your backyard.
Having a party around a holiday or a major life event (going away party, graduation party, birthday party) is always fun and easy to plan for. If it’s more of a spontaneous party, you can choose to keep it casual or create a theme. A theme could even be a costume party, especially if you and your friends all share a favorite show or pastime. Make it an Audrey Hepburn themed party where all the women come in their pearls and black dresses. Make it a Disney party where everyone comes dressed as their favorite Disney character. Choose a decade or era to base the food, decorations, and dress on. Or just keep it easy and casual with no dress code.
Don’t over think it. You are inviting your loved ones to your house. They will be thankful for you hosting the party, and they will enjoy spending time together. This party can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a simple game night, with no decorations at all, and bowls of chips and pretzels on the table. It can be a Great Gatsby themed party, with everyone dressing up and dancing to jazz music. Don’t stress yourself out as the host. Keep it simple, and I promise, everyone will love it!
Special thanks to Bethany Ballantyne for the photos!