Most Successful Parties?

madorleyNovember 20, 2005

What were the elements of your most successful parties? Themes? Non-themed? Adults only? Special configuration of guests? Games? Karaoke? dancing? movies? tv?

We've had some difficulty lately, with 10 people showing out of an expected forty, poor conversational flow, Adults attention on children, etc. I find our most successful parties had themes: costume, pumpkin carving, fireworks, etc. How have you all made the mix work?

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My most successful parties have nad NO theme....just a gathering of friends, both old and new....lots of drink, lots of food and ambiance!
I find that people seem to like to be crowded.....and while I have a huge family room ( I once counted 75 people in there!), it seems that peoplke like to jam in there so tight that you can't even pass a tray of food!....Then at some point, they just spill out into the rest of the house.
When a party is outside, people seem to hang on the deck ( it's a samll deck) until they are literally falling off.....then spill into the yard.
For a lot of years we threw a huge 75 to 80 poeple, party after midnight on New Year's. There were no electric lights on....only candles.....and the Christmas trees......about 4 dozen candles....even in the bathroom, candles. I found that the lower the lights the more animated the conversation.....go figure!
If you include kids with the adults, it's best to have something for them to, sledding, football in the yard....something to keep them from occupying parent's attention.
My most successful parties did not include kids.....well just family parties....and I gurss we can get 10 kids easily there!
I think parents welcome a night out.....and a chance to get a sitter and go play grown up is welcomed.....sometimes it's just too much to drag the kids along.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 5:36PM
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The sardine factor is so interesting!

I find our friends , even those without kids, don't like to be out late anymore. What's going on? I'd like to start parties at 8, but they've already wound down from the day and don't want to leave the house at that hour.

Thanks for the thoughtful response!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 8:46PM
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Interesting comment about the time factor. We were just at a party Saturday and it started at 3:30 in the afternoon! We were all on our way home by 8:00 p.m. At first, I thought it was a weird time and it did goof up our normal dinner hour since we ate at the party but, actually, we were glad to be home early. Maybe, we're just getting old...oh, banish the thought!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 9:48PM
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Tricia, I find that I'm getting that way too; don't like to be out late.
I get up so early and I can't seem to break that cycle. I try to nap in the afternoon if I know I'm going to be out late. I don't drink much so I find that by the time everyone is all jolly and festive from their wine, I'm still so sober I'm not finding them very funny.....hence, I want to leave. Party animal I'm not.
If there is dancing, I get a second wind from the activity.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 7:37AM
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We usually have no children at our parties. The best one we gave was a JOKE party. Invitations went out in the form of a theater ticket and price of admission was a joke.
Each person was required to stand up and tell a joke and we had a team of judges and awarded prizes for the different categories...Funniest joke, Shortest joke, Longest joke.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 12:29PM
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One of my best parties in my other life when kids were in teens. Had a Christmas night decompression party. Light munchies, drinks. No pressure. No kids. Huge success.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 6:27PM
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Thanks for all your replies. What about the best parties you've GONE to? I think weddings are some of the best parties. How do you feel about tv's at parties? I mean when they are on for adults-- not keeping kids occupied.
I'm starting to think heavy food makes people go home early. Maybe just light h'ors douvres and a good selection of caffeinated drinks.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 6:51PM
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We started years ago at our Baja home having a "High Seas Poker Party". First year there were 25 people and 7 boats and by the 3rd year there were 25 boats, 100 people. It started at sun rise with a big breakfast, I cooked. My husband was the Pirate(we had the fastest boat in the bay which helped) and would select 2 or 3 lady assistant pirates for his boat. Everyone would pay to play and recieve a colored string braclet with a sample of the color his/her card would be. When the cards were found - he/she could only take the card that matched the one on his braclet. They also paid for cannon balls (tennis balls) in case found by the Pirate. The money paid the winner and runner up a percentage of the pot and the rest went to charity - school supplies for children, etc. The object of the game was to find where the Pirate hid the cards and collect enough cards for a poker hand. In the meantime, the pirate would try to capture your boat by throwing a tennis ball inside. IF he succeeded - he took a card but if the boat being attacked was able to get a tennis ball into the pirates boat first then they got a bottle of Cold Duck and did not loose a card.

The game would end around noon and we would have a huge pot of beans, corn bread, French bread and assortment of desserts. My husband spent HOURS making up maps, puzzels, cartoons, riddles, etc. to give the people "hints" as to where to find the hidden treasure "poker cards". We lived on Conception Bay with 7 little islands to use for hidding clues and cards. It was great fun.

Our home burnt to the ground with 8 others from a propane leak at a neighbors house so we have re built a home on a remote bay and can no longer play the same game. Instead, we have moved the game to our U.S. home and just call it "Poker Scavenger Hunt" Same idea, but on land and now there is a sheriff that tries to catch you and take a card from you. It is hillarious what people will do to prevent a card from being taken. We use the whole property to hide the cards and each year Ken thinks up wild ways to get clues to the cards placement. We start around 3pm with a sit down dinner on the patio around 6pm (when the game has ended) and one year the electrical transformer went out - ending the game early but was the NEATEST party ever. Most everyone stayed till the wee hours and chit-chatted by candle light and had a great time. They came back to the buffet tables for left overs/seconds around 11 or midnight. This party has grown each year also but we have been traveling this last couple summers so have not given it for two years.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 10:13PM
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The best parties I have given/been to have some common themes.

First, there is a good selection of music playing in the background. Peppy, upbeat, and keeping with the theme of the party; e.g. funky Christmas music, Aaron Copeland for July 4th, Beach Boys at a Memorial Day picnic, light jazz at a Friday cocktail hour. Pair your music as carefully as the food.

Second, make sure the food is good, but simple. Nothing that guests have to ask each other, "what is that? how do you eat it? is it finger food?" Even if you try some new gourmet things, have some standard party food on hand, crudite, peanuts, cheese & crackers.

Third, plenty, and I mean plenty, of beverages, both hard and soft. Long ago, I discovered a tip from a friend who always had fabulous bashes. Make guests a drink upon their arrival and then let them know where the bar is and to help themselves. Loads of guests who don't know each other meet up at the bar and get to chatting. It's brilliant and simple. And provides the hostess with a bit of a break. But, you can only do this if you don't have guests who will over-do, or teenagers looking for an opportunity to score some liquor.

Fourth, no TV on at parties. Very bad idea. Not condusive to conversation at all. If there is a big game on at the same time, don't have a party then (unless, of course, it is a game-party).

Fifth, if it is a dinner party, keep it to scale. Don't try to do a dinner for 20 if your dining room only seats six and your living room only seats eight. if you have 20 people you want to invite for dinner and have limited seating, have two parties.

Sixth, try unusual times. Sunday brunch is a time I love to both go to and give parties. But if the party is at an unusual time, have an "ends at" time on the invite, so you don't get guests who expect to stay until dinnertime.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 2:16PM
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Our best parties are the ones thats are the most relaxed and laid back. Food is a huge deal with me at parties.....doesn't have to be a full dinner but there has to be lots. I rarely have a themed party but always have a theme to the food.

To me the most important thing is to think about your guests. I would rather have three small Christmas parties with like minded people than 1 big one with a non cohesive group. So I may have one for the neighbours, one for friends, one for my husbands co-workers.... and another for family...which I don't call a party!

Good music, good food, like minded people and a casual ambience are what I think works best.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 4:13PM
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I like themes for parties. One of my best parties was for my Italian class in college (when I was 37 and getting my second degree). On the invitation, I told everyone to come dressed as their favorite Italian actor/actress and that they had to wear sunglasses. I had extra sunglasses in case they didn't. A paparazzo (singular of paparazzi?) took everyone's picture at the door (and inside the party); I had a guest book for people to sign in with their fake name, and I gave everyone a number for a door prize drawing. I played the part of Pasolini and had written a few lines of a screenplay, which I intended to use to have people read as if they were auditioning for a movie part, but the party was too out of control for that, and I just had two drawings for the two door prizes.

I planned the party to be a dinner party and had help that was supposed to arrive to help me, and so I put on the invitation that the party was to start at 5:00 p.m. (This was when I lived in Austin and was going to UT.) I expected people to start showing up at 6:00, but guests actually did arrive at 5:00 p.m., and the people who were supposed to help me set up did not arrive until 6:00! The Italians did not show up until 7:00 p.m. because that's what they thought 5:00 meant, and so the party lasted a lot longer than I had expected. Fortunately, I was able to keep things coming from the kitchen, and there were new dishes being prepared constantly. There were only about 40 people in all, but the Italian faculty was very impressed that I was able to get that large of a crowd together. My Italian teacher's daughter won first prize, and she was the one drawing the numbers!


    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 6:17PM
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