Don't be afraid to invite a circus
Be brave with your guest list, and mix as many generations, job disciplines, neighborhoods and incomes as you can rope in. Consider the idea that as a host, you're suddenly in the business of serving people to one another.
Upend the party formula
Make something surprising happen. Play games, like a ping-pong tournament before dinner, or create a fun theme, like a paper party with no china or glass and use pages from a novel as placemats.
Give your guests something to do
Most people like to play an active role at a party. You can harness this impulse to your advantage. Assign guests to tasks like pouring drinks or clearing plates.
The music matters
This is your party's backbeat, so if your collection is less than stellar, why not ask your invitees to bring a CD they think you ought to have? Hire a DJ or just play five classic CDs over and over.
Embrace wretched excess
Lots of food, lots of drink and lots of ice and garnishes are key; it's a bore to run out of anything. More is more fun.
Enjoy a small crowd
If your party is small enough, try giving guests absolutely no options whatsoever. Create a new, unusual appetizer and serve just that.
Plan your bar
Think about your drinks. Maybe create three self-serve bars: a wine bar, vodka bar and martini bar. Or gussy up a novelty cocktail bar by setting a little table with a pitcher of, say, Green Tea Collins mix, vintage glasses, garnishes and instructions on how to put the drink together properly.
Know your guests and seat them properly
Give everyone the best seat for them. Avoid putting couples together or best friends so guests mingle. Or think about switching everyone's seats for each course of a dinner party to get people moving and socializing.
Set your stage properly
Lighting is key to making everyone look good and sexy. No overhead lighting. Votives on each table are best. As for the table, you don't have to have flowers. Celebrity party planner Colin Cowie suggests using big bowls of eggplants and oranges—or coconuts, limes and kiwis—as centerpieces instead of flowers, too.
Don't worry about being a little disorganized, disappearing into the kitchen to prepare food, or even serving dinner a bit late. This forces your guests to get to know one another.
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