I like to give parties, I like to give a great many different sorts of party. I am not always the best or most collected or organised hostess but I have worked out a few key ideas behind parties over the years. They do not always work out the way I planned but if I did manage to keep them in mind I reckon my parties would be totally frigging legendary! First you have to work out the sort of event planned, I really like open invite house parties but I have been used to giving meals in the past which are not open invite (so I know who to cook for) and on some occaisions with gatherings that aren’t so standard party I do invites.
With Mother-In-Law the other day I helped organise an invitation only party, this plays into my first rule for parties: know what sort of event you want. That way you can plan for the pitfalls and upsides of each thing. Open-house parties you are obviously going to need to clear the house of precious items etc. etc. (and it helps to have two bathrooms). I am quite glad that I’m past the age of having birthday parties which my parents organised though. Not that they organised badly at all but rather for bits of social ettiquette. When I was a kid the one thing that used to bother me about birthdays and that was who to invite, because someone would always feel left out because they weren’t quite enough in the right social circle or whatever. I like that as we aren’t at school anymore thats not a consideration. People know theres only so much space, and that they really wouldn’t like the sort of event your planning or what have you, whereas at school – dear gods faux pas of the century.
Once you know what you want then you get to plan your timetable. Everything you need to have done for the party should be done the day before (this is the bit I haven’t had right all year!) and ideally everything that you need to have sorted for the party should be done an hour before, that way you’ve got an hour to make yourself gorgeous (again I so fall down on this bit).
I read somewhere as a kid that the perfect hostess should be gorgeous and relaxed and the perfect gentlewoman (and anyone who has read any Agatha Christie will know that the perfect gentlewoman is never surprised!) and I think that fades into my third bit of party-lore, someone will always be early, someone will always be late and something will always go wrong – just go with it and let the day/evening take care of itself. Of course the cardinal rule that I often break is the don’t get drunk rule… oh well! I’m claiming relaxation!
I guess my philosophy of parties is roughly this; if you do the prep and relax and you have a good time then everyone else will too so relax and go with the flow of it.