Incredibly useful entertaining tips for first-timers.
Credit: Meredith Jenks

Do you love the idea of inviting your friends and family over for a party in your new home but have no clue how to put one together? Luckily, we do. The key, according to event planners and longtime party throwers, is organization. While a house party is more casual than a dinner party, it still needs to be thought through in terms of planning, shopping, preparing, and the party itself. Make a list for each category and take note of our top tips, below.

Figure out the logistics.

First things first: Decide on a date, guest list, and budget. Once you get these basic things nailed down, other decisions will be easy to make. To make a party come alive, invite a variety of folks from different backgrounds, who work in various professions, and come from different generations.

Come up with a budget.

Parties are more expensive than they look. The budget will mostly come down to food and drink. Be realistic about what you allot for alcohol-it'll be a major expense. If you can't afford a fully stocked bar, serve beer, wine, and a specialty cocktail, much like you would at a wedding.

Send an invitation.

Evite, Punchbowl, and Paperless Post are among the many websites that let you invite guests to your party in just a few clicks. Contact anyone who doesn't RSVP by the designated deadline-you need a head count to figure out how much food and drink to buy.

Get him to help.

You may already be approaching throwing the party as a twosome. If not, figure out how to divvy up the chores before, during, and after. You shouldn't have to do everything, from vacuuming to opening up the pinot grigio.

Work with your space.

Figure out how many people can comfortably fit in your home. It shouldn't be so crowded that it resembles a subway car at rush hour. Since music can make or break a party, put together a lively playlist of songs that will get the crowd energized and keep everyone in one place.

Keep food simple.

Choose food that's not complicated, both for cost considerations and so you're not stuck in the kitchen all night. Make a schedule of what foods need to be made and when, and do as much prep work as you can in advance.

Get ready the day of.

Set up the bar (in another room, if possible) with alcoholic and nonalcoholic choices, ice, napkins, precut garnishes, bottle openers, and glasses so that guests can help themselves. Prepare a music playlist, tidy up the kitchen and living room (or wherever is the bulk of the party will take place), and prepare your bathroom. You don't have to offer mints and hairspray-all you need to spruce up the restroom is an aromatic candle and your nicest hand towels. And don't forget to give yourself an hour to get ready.

Welcome guests personally.

Make them feel comfortable from the moment they arrive by offering them a drink and introducing them to another guest. Then plan on relaxing and enjoying your party!


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