Leigh - posted on 06/12/2009 ( 2 moms have responded )
4 Elements of a Fabulous Party
by Leigh Clements
I am often asked what makes a great party great and a horrible party - well, a "Hindenburg". People tend to ask me this with the expectation of one simple, brilliant answer that will guarantee party success.
Unfortunately, it's not as simple as cutting the crusts off your little sandwiches to ensure everyone has fun, but there are four very distinct elements each great party - elements the bombs have lacked.
While defining these oh-so-important elements of a fabulous party, I focused on two events I recently facilitated. Both took place in similar venues, and both included a custom murder mystery game. One was a raging success and the other was a downright "Hindenburg". The following four elements stood out as the defining factors between the successful party and the bomb. Take these suggestions into consideration and you'll be sure to host a party your guests will enjoy - and won't want to leave!
1. Limit the "No-Fun" to "Fun" Guest Ratio
Of course, no one wants Joe-I-Hate-Fun at their party, but sometimes it's unavoidable. One Joe-I-Hate-Fun is one thing, but if Joe brings Dennis-Doom-And-Gloom, things can turn grey. And no, two negatives don't make a positive! Chances are, at your party two negatives will make five negatives.
When we bring a group together, everyone shares the energy in the room. With enough Joes and Dennises, even the most positive, fun, upbeat person would have trouble having a good time.
Successful Party: At the successful party, out of 17 people there was one Joe-I-Hate-Fun who sat in the corner with his arms crossed and his chin so low it looked like he was wearing a turtleneck. The other 16 were fun, upbeat people who wanted to have fun and were excited to try something new.
"Hindenburg" Party: At the "Hindenburg" party, out of 28 people at least ¾ of the guests were clearly just making an appearance. A better positive to negative ratio would have ensured most people would have had a good time, as at least 1/2 of those ¾ could have been turned around had the atmosphere been more positive.
2. Choose the Correct Theme
A theme can make or break a party - whether you think your party has a theme or not, it does. A theme can be determined simply by what the guests wear - think of a formal dinner party vs. a kegger. Although there will most likely be drinking at both, chances are you will not find someone passed out in your deep freeze at your dinner party. That may seem like an extreme example, but imagine inviting your friends from bowling to a black and white cocktail party, or friends you met at a cocktail party at a backyard pig roast.
Make your theme appropriate for all of your guests, and more will enjoy themselves.
Successful Party: A bunch of fun-loving Occupational Health employees from all over the world breaking out of a conference for an entertaining evening. The custom murder mystery game went down like a barn on fire! They loved it!
"Hindenburg" Party: A group of interior designers gathered for a formal Christmas party, who were surprised with a custom murder mystery party. Getting them up from their seats in their tuxes and high heels was like pulling teeth with this high-brow group, who were only there for the free food and the open bar.
3. Chill out, dude and be a relaxed host!
Nothing sets the tone of a party more than its host or hosts. Holding a gathering can be stressful, but if your guests feel your stress when they arrive, rest assured they will become uneasy. Two uneasy people quickly turn into four, then six and the next thing you know you have a venue full of anxious people! Regardless of how you feel before your guests arrive, take five minutes to relax and banish any stressful or uneasy feelings.
Fabulous Party: The hostess was excited and ready to have fun. She dressed up and got fully-immersed in the mystery - and was completely stress-free. Everyone else looked to her and followed suit.
"Hindenburg" Party: The hostess put the party on for her employees, not herself. She planned to be an observer at the party, and left half of her mind back in her office, where all hell was breaking loose. She could not relax, and her employees couldn't wait to slip out the door.
4. Create A Great Ambiance!
Ambiance is so important when you host any sort of gathering. To illustrate, humour me for a moment and picture a large, cool room with all-white furniture. Now picture a country cottage with deep wood and a fire burning in the fireplace. Which place would you rather visit for a party? Most of us would say the country cottage - it's cosier, more inviting and far more welcoming. Chances are you won't be entertaining in a warm country cabin, but you still have control over the ambiance where you entertain; the music, scents and lighting all contribute to the ambiance. Create the correct ambiance and your guests will be more comfortable, stay longer, relax and have a great time!
Fabulous Party: The successful party was held in a smaller room at a classy private club. The room was decorated with Christmas lights (t'was the season) and a Christmas Tree in the corner, soft linens and comfortable chairs. Elevator music played softly in the background - unnoticeable until you listened for it, but so important.
"Hindenburg" Party: This party took place in a large, cold-feeling, utterly silent room with hard chairs and pretentious carpet. No wonder the guests were as stiff as their napkins!
Take these four easy elements and implement them into your next gathering, and watch the difference as people relax, follow suit and rave about your party for months to come!