Sometimes being a guest is just as hard as being the host. If you're throwing a party this year, imagine you're on the other side of the guest list and you'll be sure to make the bash as comfortable and cheery as possible. Not sure how to do that? Here's how to make sure your partygoers have a good time.
1. Don't let stress get to you.
If you look miserable or exhausted, people won't feel comfortable. No matter what happens the day of or how many dips you drop on the floor, by the time the first guest arrives, you've gotta put it behind you.
2. Don't skimp on the food.
Two dozen deviled eggs is probably not going to cut it for a party of 24. Exact portioning always makes people feel awkward! What if someone wants more than one? You also don't want to be too light in terms of general snacks either. You don't have to serve a giant meal — just tell people what to expect before they arrive, so they know if they should eat dinner ahead of time. If people are hungry, they'll start leaving early because they need to hit a diner on their way home.
Read more: How Much to Serve at a Cocktail Party
3. Have plenty of booze.
Parties tend to end when the booze runs out. If you need people to bring beer, let them know (there's nothing wrong with that as long as you ask ahead of time!). If you want to serve cocktails, mix up pitchers ahead of time. This way, people can pour their own without having to individually mix a drink for themselves. Set out garnishes, so people can personalize their own drinks too.
4. Serve appetizers that taste good at room temp.
There are few things worse than an ice-cold mini quiche or warm crudité. Consider serving things that will taste good no matter when guests get to them. If you really want to serve hot foods, figure out how to serve them fresh out of the oven or use a slow cooker to keep things (like meatballs, dips, and drinks) warm.
5. Let guests help!
Obviously you're not going to task them with the big stuff, but if people volunteer to bring something or ask to help you out while they are there, just let them. It makes people feel good. Suggested tasks include (but are not limited to) taking coats, bringing a cheese board from the kitchen to the living room, and introducing people who might not know each other.
6. Keep an eye on the temperature.
Are guests removing layers? Or do they look freezing? Just by paying attention to their behavior, you can tell if you need to close or crack a window. And it might change throughout the party, so stay on your game and be prepared to play with the thermostat.
7. Put out a trashcan and recycling bin.
No one wants to walk around holding an empty plastic cup and a cocktail napkin wadded up with toothpicks inside of it. And you don't want to have to hunt down stray paper plates on your bookshelf. Place these two bins out in an obvious place and people will actually clean up after themselves.
8. Make sure you've got enough seating.
Most of us don't have a ton of chairs in our living rooms, but you don't want guests to feel like they have to compete for a seat. Just make sure you provide enough places for everyone to take a load off. (And make sure those spots are in convenient places; don't make someone sit alone in a corner during a party!) Ottomans and large pillows or cushions are fair game for seating, so don't discount those.
9. Check your playlist.
While it's tempting to just put your music library on shuffle, keep in mind that you might have downloaded some random stuff. (Remember that version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by the Glee cast?) If you don't feel like curating a special playlist, consider Pandora or Spotify or asking Alexa to spin some tunes if you have an Echo.
Try this: The Perfect Cocktail Party Playlist at Apartment Therapy
10. Make the house look cozy.
Here's some permission to not clean your house: If your place is too clean and museum-like, people will be worried about messing things up. Make it look cozy; muss up the pillows a little and put some throw blankets around. And if you do have anything you're worried about guests knocking over or spilling on, tuck it away.
Really, the biggest trick to being a good hostess is to have fun, so enjoy the time with the people you want to have over and forget about it being perfect.