Blue Notes

Party time

During this season of parties, it is useful to look at what makes a great party, and what can make one go flat.

Although all parties require planning, it is important to know that a great party can never be completely controlled. There has to be room left for spontaneity. For the unexpected. Because it is those moments that people remember.

And even though you may think you are bringing together people who all have so much in common and, therefore, enjoy being with each other, how they will react together is never completely known. You might think they will get along because they are so alike but being with others like themselves might be exactly what will bore them to tears.

The worse thing is boredom. You don’t want the dip to be the life of the party.

So it is best to pick diversity in your guests, in their interests and occupations. It has been my experience that people enjoy meeting other people who are NOT like themselves.

Remember also to always invite the neighbours. This will go a long way to making them more tolerant of any inconveniences they experience because of your party. Like cars parked on their sidewalk or loud music and shouted conversations long into the night.

And don’t try to make your guests feel completely at home. They never will. And if they wanted that they would have stayed there.

Food is very important. You always need to buy too much. Because nothing throws a blanket on a party which is just beginning to burn brightly than running out of supplies. And remember that if you don’t use it all you will have to eat the leftovers for days afterwards. So buy what YOU like.

I find that most people these days drink wine. But there are those who prefer beer so you have to have a well stocked fridge. I like to get premium beers to make the evening special. Imports are good. And I don’t mean American.

To most alcohol is an aid to sociability. To others it is a potion that turns a Dr. Jeckle into a Mr. Hyde. So do not invite the latter.

There are certain people who flower in social situations and like to attract all the attention. That’s okay. They add life. Even if they are loud and pompous.

But beware of boors. These are people who constantly repeat themselves. People who are too predictable. People who constantly repeat themselves. Be prepared to be called upon to rescue your guests who are trapped in conversations they do not want to hear.

Raconteurs and joke tellers are good. Although they will be interrupted many times before getting to the point or the punch line. And I find that a certain level of inappropriateness can add zest to an otherwise dull gathering. Most subjects are acceptable. It’s really only swearing that puts people off.

Gossip and scandal are always good topics for discussion. But the old adage of never talking politics or religion still applies. These days those two topics can be especially toxic. And unless you want to gamble that the sight of a full blown fist fight is the very thing to make your party memorable it is wise to defuse any signs of these subjects emerging as soon as possible.

And beware of people who constantly repeat themselves.

Live music is always a plus. A group of people playing instruments in the corner sets a festive mood. Even if people are standing around talking through most of it, they do appreciate it, so much more than recorded music.

But be careful about inviting too many guitar players. And there are too many guitar players in the world so this is difficult. What I do is set up a bass and make one of the guitar players play that. It usually keeps him quiet.

Dancing is good. But it is very difficult to get people over 40 to dance. I can remember when I used to have parties in our apartments downtown clearing out a room in the middle of the flat, between the living room bar area and the bathroom, and using it as a dance floor. That way everyone had to pass through it at one time or another. But those were parties of mainly singles.

Parties for married couples have a whole other dynamic. An interesting conversation starter is to play a game in which each spouse has to dance with the spouse of another. The couples can be decided by picking names out of a hat. It is always fun to watch the flirting begin.

Above all try to be gracious. They say you can always tell the host at a party. He is the one watching the clock.

 

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