Hosting a cocktail party for the first time? Follow our tips and tricks for a successful and flawless gathering.
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Ditch the DJ
Nervous about playing DJ all night (and subjecting yourself to the silent judgment of that opinionated rock-geek coworker you invited)? Ask guests to bring along their iPhones and take turns choosing the tunes. Plenty of people love to play mixmaster, and your best friend's ABBA-infused workout mix might be just the thing to bring out the dancing queen in guests better known for warming the bench.
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Do Double Duty
Line your main trash can with at least two extra bags: They'll catch any drips, and you won't have to hunt for spares before hauling away that first bag of garbage. (If you bag your recyclables, do the same for those bins.)
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Feed Your Helpers
Have extra nibbles on hand in the kitchen so friends who are helping out -- or just hovering -- don't go hungry.
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Stash Your Supplies
Make sure you have more than enough club soda and paper towels on hand to take care of spills, and stash your mop and broom in an accessible (but out-of-sight) area.
Photography: Johnny Miller5 of 6
Need a Napkin?
Don't skimp on cocktail napkins: Put a stack near each hors d'oeuvre station so guests don't have to hunt for them.
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There are many upsides to throwing a really great party -- the rush of self-satisfaction, the guaranteed invites to your guests' future bashes, the matchmaking/networking/stand-up-routine-honing that you facilitate. The downside? It's 2 a.m. and your college roommate and your husband's golf buddy are still rooted to the couch. How are you supposed to get rid of stragglers without hurting anyone's feelings? (You did invite them, after all.) Try turning up the lights in the main areas to get the move-along message across. (Go ahead and turn off all the lights in unoccupied rooms, too.) Then turn the music way down -- or completely off.