Bringing the Romance Home
or Hey, So, Want to Get Out of Here and Go Down the Hall?
by Laura Tucker
Do you want to win friends, influence people, and meet the honey of
your dreams? Well, you can... without even leaving the house!
Simply open your home and submit your entertaining style to the scrutiny and
potential mockery of strangers, and the riches of the universe will unfold unto
about the benefits that will automatically accrue when you throw a party. You
don't even have to get off the couch if you don't want to. What could be better?
It's a slam dunk, a home run, like shooting fish in a barrel. At your own party,
you're the rock star for the evening. You're surrounded by people who already
like you, and you can go up to anyone you want and talk to them with the natural
confidence of someone who knows everyone in the room. For one night at least,
you're the person responsible for the magic.
(You may also see your two most unlikely friends slinking off into the night
together, which can lead to terrific gossip and godchildren, if you're not careful.)
Like everything else, the first one is the hardest. But put yourself in our
capable hands, and it's just a matter of time before you become the Noel Coward
of your social circle.
What's the occasion?
If your party doesn't have some kind of centralizing theme, it will devolve
into the ubiquitous house party and your ashtrays will just get stolen and you
will be sad.
Think of an occasion, even if you have to manufacture one. If none of the greeting
card holidays are in ascendance, make up your own. Frank Sinatra's birthday
(December 12th, for those who are interested) is a good excuse for a party if
yours is in June. Celebrate a saint's day. Throw a party for someone else's
birthday, you self-centered horror. You'll have an excuse to call and invite
all their cute friends.
The point of this exercise is to infuse a little new blood into the corpse
of your social life. You say you've invited fifty of your nearest and dearest
just so you'll have an excuse to call that one special someone? A time-honored
tradition, darling. Just don't put it on the invitation.
Your friends, presumably. Sherman Billingsley, the founder and owner of New
York's infamous speakeasy The Stork Club,
advised party-throwers to invite attractive women, and to invite more women
than men. This rule holds even now, in these halcyon days of legalized alcohol.
women don't mind meeting and talking to other women, but men just aren't that
interested in meeting and talking to each other. There are complex sociological
and psychological explanations for this. I don't know what any of them are, I
just know that parties where the women outnumber the men are better parties. You'll
note that Billingsley specifically suggests attractive women, and frankly, we
think a little eye candy of either sex can't hurt.
If you're having a big party, when you invite your friends, make it very clear
that they're expected to bring friends, both boys and girls, and in some quantity.
For a more intimate party, the single should be encouraged to bring a small
gift (flowers or a bottle; always appreciated), and an attractive and available
date that they are not themselves interested in, but think might look good against
the backdrop of the host(ess)'s new sheets.
Just A Few Friends
The smaller the group, the more attention you should pay to your guest list.
Keep your eye on the social skill level of your invitees, and do not make the
amateur mistake of mixing by interesting occupations or any such drivel. You
may think that a particular combination of people will lead to much scintillating
conversation, but you've got about a 50% chance of people hating each other
at first sight for no reason at all. Your party will suck if you use it as a
mixer for people's resumes.
In other words, you're allowed one inarticulate novelist and/or boring professional
skateboarder for every two incredibly funny butchers or socially gifted tax
attorneys. In an ideal world, it would be possible for interesting people to
get along swimmingly. In this one, choose conversational flow over a feisty
It is also sensible to avoid internecine interpersonal politics at a small
party. A general rule of thumb: people who are no longer sleeping together may
be invited only if they are both happily ensconced in new relationships, and
have socialized together harmlessly -- in their new couple formations -- before
your event. Life is too short to get caught in that particular crossfire.
Mr. Billingsley, in all his wisdom, also had this to say about the art of giving
a party: "Don't give a party just to pay off obligations. You're liable to gather
together a lot of droops... Hostesses whose social life is on a chop for chop
basis give dull parties."
With this we must disagree. Droops are an unfortunate and unavoidable fact
of life. If you've committed yourself to an enormous party filled with people
you barely know anyway, you should unhesitatingly use it to dispatch every social
obligation you've ever incurred.
That guy that you run into every single time you leave your house, but simply
do not like enough to hang out with on a one-on-one basis? Give him a ring.
Tell him to bring some friends. The more the merrier. You don't actually have
to talk to him, and if he shows up late enough, you may never even know he's
there. But his adorable roommate will show up loud and clear on your radar,
and that's the point, isn't it?
More: Where to Party, Why It Matters,
and What To Do with Fido