Mad About ... Parties
Depending on your age, a party can mean many things. In our younger years, parties are often spur-of-the-moment affairs; beer and Jell-O shots. As we move into our twenties we discover the joys of cocktails and develop a more sophisticated palette - hopefully. Somewhere along the line you, or some of your friends, will develop a flair for entertaining and parties become a little more intricate. And that's when things can get a little scary. Planning a party and then executing it can be quite a feat.
The thing to remember, no matter your age, is that parties can be simple - even when they look extravagant. You just need to be prepared and have a firm grasp on reality. Everything isn't going to be perfect, in fact, somethings are going to go down-right wrong. But that's OK. Just have a game plan and relax.
The first thing you want to do is decide the Date and Time of your party. The "when" is very important because it dictates what kind of party you are going to have. And there's nothing wrong with planning the length of your party - in fact, it's highly recommended. This gives you an idea of how much food and drink to buy.
Next, the Location. Even though the party will most likely be at your house, think about what space you want to hold it in. Living room? Den? Backyard? Bedroom? Whatever you like. With this in mind, you can plan around the space available. But don't limit yourself! Have the party in a park or at the beach - the sky is the limit.
And now my personal favorite: Theme! I'm enough of a kitschy nerd that, for me, a Theme is "Tiki Party" or "Tea Party" or "Sex Dungeon Party" - you get the idea. But you don't have to go all out like that; something as simple, and elegant, as "Cocktail Party" is more than enough. Get as creative as you want!
You need to know the Number of Guests for your party. A good ballpark figure is fine, but try to get that number down. The worst thing at a party is when the food and drink run out well before the end of the evening. Invitations (more on those, later) are the best way to confirm who is coming. Just make sure you get a firm answer from everyone invited - it's perfectly acceptable to give a time limit to your guests, asking them to respond by a certain date.
And finally, the Menu. This includes drinks, of course! A good rule of thumb for gatherings is "finger food." Make it easy on everyone and serve easy to handle foods that can be eaten in small bites and don't need utensils. If you are having a sit down "Dinner Party", that's a whole other story. Four featured dishes (two hot, two cold) and a few bits and pieces are usually more than enough. But don't forget dessert! As for drinks, you'll want to chose a few featured drinks and then leave out some selected alcohols and mixers for guests to make something themselves. Beer and wine, along with soda and water, round out the beverages. Never play bartender at your own party - if you must, you can enlist a talented friend to do the mixing for everyone. We will go into this a bit more later on.