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Article Index
The Ultimate Party Planner
The Casual Dinner Party
The Formal Dinner Party
The Afternoon Visit
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The Ultimate Party Planner Staying in is the new going out. Our parents called it cocooning; we just call it inviting the gang over. That said, hosting a party is a fine art that requires careful preparation, keen strategy and buckets of sweat. 2 is here to help with our handy guide to home entertaining.


Photograph of empty wine bottles, beer bottles, glasses and cheese tray.

The House Party
The Scenario: Your Animal House days are over. Which means: no togas (unless it’s Halloween), no kegs (unless they’re microbrews or imports) and no crushing beer cans on your forehead (unless they’re microbrews or imports). Instead, think Breakfast at Tiffany’s: louche and out of control, yes. But Holly Golightly carries off the most legendary apartment bash in cinematic history with an easy panache that Bluto Blutarsky can only belch at. The key (as I’m sure Ms. Golightly would tell you): getting your peeps to mingle while making the whole affair look utterly effortless. The challenge: breezy ain’t easy.
The Guests: A mishmash of co-workers, old university friends, buddies from his running club, teammates from your Ultimate league, your brother and that hottie friend of a friend you’ve been meaning to set him up with.
The Objective: Mix and match.

Food
Serving plates are out, two-bite finger foods are in. Mix retro favourites like mini pigs in a blanket, baby egg rolls, and onion dip and chips with modern wonders such as blanched snow peas topped with wasabi cream cheese, and vegetable quesadilla wedges sided by salsa. An exotic cheese platter is always a good gathering spot, ripe for winning party lines like, “Hey! Who cut the cheese?” Heh heh.

Drink
Hell, it’s a house party, right? So no beer, no party. Be smart and stock up: a cool lager or pilsner. Stella is good; Pilsner Urquell a little less obvious. But mix in something with bite in a nice ale. Bass is best, a good British ale with royal pretensions.

And since you’re all grown up now, flaunt your sophistication with a little bubbly. You don’t need to splurge on real champagne, but make it something good: a Crémant de Bourgogne or Blan­quette de Limoux, which both clock in around $30 a bottle. Finally, you’ll want a little Jack Daniel’s to go with the Made in the Shade crowd. Start with whisky sour—a hit of old Ten­nessee puts a nice manly spin on a drink that, with other whiskies as base, can verge on girl-drink-drunk territory. As the night progresses, forget the sour and just go whisky and rocks into the deep, dark night and straight on till morning.

Etiquette
• Getting big groups to mingle requires lots of space (or the feeling of space). So forget seating areas, and empty the room. Take out as much of the furniture as possible.
• Try a centre table from which to serve trays of munchies or finger foods. (Cocktail napkins only, no plates or forks needed!) And place a small-but-obvious trash can under the table. The table acts as an “island” and the people become the “cur­rent” that moves around it.
• Atmosphere: Display votives (no drippy candles) and a big bunch of flowers in a central vase on the table. Keep lights medium to low.
• Consider having name-tags so your guests are spared the name introduction/memory game.
• Keep the music selections upbeat and fairly loud. Music needs to motivate and energize your guests. Neighbours, however, will appreciate if you turn it down as you get into the wee hours.
• Do have several self-serve beverage areas. You don’t want a pile-up in one area. Opposite corners might work well.
• Think about hiring a nice kid to take and check coats at the door.

Music
Remember: We already know that you’ve got every Detroit techno white label pressing from ’87 to ’92. Forget street cred and please the damn crowd. The difference between dead-before-11 and all-night rager could be three-and-a-half minutes of Nelly.

Like, Omigod! The ’80s Pop Culture Box (Totally) (Rhino)
• Beastie Boys Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science (Capitol)
• Prince The Hits/The B-Sides (Warner)
• Michael Jackson Off the Wall (Sony)
• Mix CD with a bare minimum of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” Usher’s “Yeah!, ”AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” and Boney M’s “Rasputin”

Fashion
Comfortable clothing will make you feel more re­laxed. So…
For him: Dress as if you were in a beer commercial. The kind where the awkward guy gets the hot girl through some kind of ingenuity, but the kind where they “find meat.” This means something along the lines of clean jeans, untucked T-shirt and shirt, and Chuck Taylors, of course.
For her: Dress as if you were in a commercial for a sporty-yet-economically-priced car. You know, skinny jeans, loafers and a couple of layered tanks and Ts. Plus some dangly earrings.