What makes a perfect host and what kind of music can create the right mood according to author and entertaining expert – and our L.A.-based lifestyle editor Lara Shriftman? Here she shares an excerpt from her book Party Confidential; New Etiquette for Fabulous Entertaining and we think these tips will make you the toast of the town when you host your next affair…
By Lara Shriftman
Photos Courtesy of Wire Image
1. Relax and Enjoy
If you don’t have a good time at your own party no one will.
2. Don’t Do It Alone
Enlist a co-host (or two, three, or as many as you need), be it your husband, boyfriend, best friend, co-worker, mother or anyone with whom you team up well. If your best bud, love her dearly, is flaky and disorganized, then don’t ask her to be your co-host. If you ask her anyway, just be aware of her strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. Look for someone who can manage details and will happily step in during the messiest of moments.
3. Be Ready at Least Forty-Five Minutes Before the Scheduled Start of the Party
This gives you time to relax and wind down before guests arrive. There’s nothing worse than being the first person to arrive only to find the host in the bathroom applying makeup or running around the house fretting over unlit candles and chair arrangements.
4. Know Your Guests
The best way to be prepared is to know about those attending. The better you know your guests, the better you can anticipate what will make the night more enjoyable for them. Do they drink? Does everyone like each other? Will they want to bring a guest? For example, if you know that since the invites went out, Paris and Nicole are, once again, on the outs, then you’ll be able to avoid conflict by rearranging the table seating to put as much distance between the two as possible. And, if you are having a dinner party, you should always be aware of any dietary restrictions guests may have, kosher, vegan, diabetic, and make those arrangements ahead of time.
5. Even Stevens
One of the most important parts of being a host is crafting the perfect guest list. The right mix of people is what makes a party great. There’s nothing worse than being a single girl in a sea of couples., is there? Where’s the fun and flirting in that? So keep it equal and balance the number of men and women, singles and couples, gay and straight. Play your invites right and you just might become known for making matches.
6. Think of the Little Things That Will Make Guests Feel Welcome and Comfortable
For example, if the weather turns chilly during your backyard barbecue, offer warm socks for those in sandals, a sweater or cover-up to someone with bare shoulders, or if you have heat lamps on hand, crank up the temperature.
7. Cocktails = Welcome
The minute guests arrive offer to get them a drink or better yet, have a tray of drinks at the door so they immediately feel like they are a part of the party. Then they won’t have to dash to the bar straight away.
8. Make Introductions
Personally take guests by the hand and introduce them to as many people as you can. Getting guests to mingle is your responsibility as a host, especially at the outset. I always suggest giving “introduces” seeds of conversation before leaving them alone to fend for themselves. Find their common ground to get the conversation flowing. “Fred, this is Mindy, she’s the head of HSN. You should tell her all about your new line!”
9. Mix ‘N’ Mingle
Don’t spend your night in the kitchen or handing out instructions to the help. Tell your wait staff everything ahead of time, or better yet, write it all out and post it so they won’t interrupt you with questions. Now you have time to circulate through the room, to talk to each and every guest, and make new introductions! The more you move from conversation to conversation, the more your guests will, too.
10. Break the Ice!
Find creative ways to get your guests to interact: have a bunch of Polaroid cameras on hand, make people move around for each course at a seated meal, at least before the arrival of dessert, or you can put questions on their place cards. Inducing repartee isn’t as tricky as it sounds. Invest in cool conversation starters like Table Topics. These cards feature fun, topic-inducing questions and they really work. They produce more interesting conversation than you’d dare try to create and creating a great event with superb conversation is always your goal.
Musicology 101: Etiquette
Music is an essential element for any event. After all, no one wants to show up to a party to find themselves in an awkwardly silent room. Your soundtrack should always compliment the theme of your party. Remember that music is not only a great way to get your party started but also a great way to end one. Turning the music off is a polite signal to your guests that the party is over. Here’s what I suggest to get your guests on the dance floor.
Courtney Love’s Party Playlist
Courtney Love is an American singer-songwriter, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and actress who just played in Moscow, Russia at the Afisha Picnic Festival in Kolomenskoye Park this summer.
- Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve
- Something in the Way by Nirvana
- You Said Something by PJ Harvey
- Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division
- Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones
Kelly Rowland’s Party Playlist
Kelly Rowland is a singer, actress, dancer, song writer and model whose highlyanticipated album, “Here I Am” debuted on July 26, 2011.
- Man Down by Rihanna
- Show Must Go On by Lupe Fiasco
- Beautiful People by Chris Brown
- I’m On One by DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne
- Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
Paulina Rubio’s Party Playlist
Paulina Rubio, currently working on a new album, is a Mexican singer and actress who has sold over 20 million albums internationally.
- Give Me Everything (Tonight) by Pitbull/Ne-Yo
- Take Over Control by Afrojack
- Just Can’t Get Enough by The Black Eyed Peas
- Till the World Ends by Britney Spears
- On the Floor by Jennifer Lopez/Pitbull