Everyone likes a party. Just think of all the excuses we use to have them: housewarming, a new baby, a new marriage, a solar eclipse, the playoffs, or even just because it’s the first Friday night of autumn. If you work hard all week, the idea of going to a friend’s house to unwind is even more appealing. In this case, the friend is you and the house is yours. Before you wonder if this was all a terrible idea, remember that the people you invited are coming because they want to hang out with friends. That includes you. Don’t put so much on your plate that you don’t have any time left over to socialize. Remember that your friends probably aren’t expecting you to put on a party worthy of being featured in Martha Stewart Living (unless you’re good friends Martha Stewart. In that case, you really should have let her host).
Utilize the Deli
One of the only things you have to have at a party is something for guests to eat. It’s up to if you want to go with snacks and appetizers or serve a full meal, but don’t plan on cooking a five-course gourmet meal the day of the party. Even if you’re a great cook, that’s a lot of pressure and work. Think about the dishes that you do really well. If you make a mean buffalo chicken dip, then cook that up and set out some chips and veggies alongside it. If your in-laws just got you a fondue set for Christmas, then now’s a good time to try it out. People love free food, so they’ll naturally be inclined to look favorably upon whatever you serve.
Once you know what you’re cooking, think about what pre-prepared foods you’ll need. Head to your local supermarket deli and ask about group servings and party plates. Most delis make their items fresh in the store, meaning you can get great-tasting food without as much personal labor. Once you place an order and pay for it, all you have to do is pick up the food before the first guest arrives.
But what about your friend with a wheat allergy, or your other friend who went vegan a couple of years ago? It’s nice to think about your friends and plan a dish or two around specific dietary restrictions, but remember that they’re used to eating this particular diet day in and day out. It’s safe to assume they’ve been to parties before and haven’t starved. Be prepared to answer any questions about ingredients, but you shouldn’t have to make every single item you serve gluten-free or dairy-free or meat-free. If someone on a special diet asks to bring food cooked to their specifications, tell them to go right ahead. You want your guests to feel comfortable.
Getting Into the Spirits
You’re probably planning on serving a few adult beverages at the party. That’s fine in most cases, but think about the occasion first. If you’re hosting a baby shower for your best friend, you’ll probably want to avoid hauling in a gigantic keg full of beer. But a little wine might be nice, at least as long as you check with the mother-to-be first and make sure she’s OK with other people drinking. She’ll probably be glad you asked and have no problem giving you the go-ahead.
It’s up to you how much you want to spend on alcohol, but it’s a good idea to let people know you’ll have beer, wine, and maybe a couple of mixers, but the rest is up to them. It’s nice of you to ask if any guests have special requests, but you’re by no means obligated to do so before you head to the liquor store and stock up. Alcohol is expensive, and if someone really wants to have dry vermouth to make martinis, they can buy it themselves.
Since you are hosting this party, it’s a good idea to make sure no one is drinking so much they’re at risk of hurting themselves or getting sick. No one should feel like they have to blackout to really have a good time, at least at your house. If you’re concerned that someone is going to drink and drive, call a cab for them. You’re all adults, and they should be responsible for knowing their own limits, but it can’t hurt to keep an eye out anyway.