Guests dining outside

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Upend the Party Formula
"People get hung up on trying to do things right, and they lose the point of a party, which is to have fun," says Ilene Rosenzweig, coauthor with the fashion designer Cynthia Rowley of the witty decorating guide Home Swell Home (Atria). "Make something surprising happen. For a birthday party for my boyfriend, Rick, who loves macaroni and cheese, I ordered ten mac and cheeses from local restaurants. We voted on the best one." Rosenzweig has other ideas on the subject: Play games. You might have a Ping-Pong tournament before dinner, or a round of Two Truths and a Lie afterward (make three statements, and everyone votes on which is the lie). Have a paper party—no china or glasses—and for placemats, use pages torn from a steamy novel.