Do you know people? Acquaintances? Neighbours? Cats that roam your street without proper identification tags? GOOD FOR YOU! You’re throwing a party!
Step One: It’s not a party
I cannot stress Step One enough. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype, with the outside world people and the invites and the booze and the festive cacti purchased for the occasion, but for god’s sake don’t forget that you don’t really have any friends. You certainly don’t have half as many friends as everyone else does.
Remember Dave’s party, where there were so many guests that you couldn’t tell if you were in the bathroom or the kitchen (and you really really hoped it was the bathroom), and there were kegs with six different kinds of beer, and that slutty chick brought her own stripper pole? Yeah. That was awesome. That’s what people think of when you say “party”. Googly-eyed Captain Cactus doesn’t look so impressive now does he, not even with his tiny party blower.
What you have to do is lower people’s expectations right off the bat. You’re not throwing a party, no matter how you might think of it in your head. You’re having a Gathering. Not the premiere episode of 1992 television series Highlander, though you should download that anyway just in case the night needs a bit of an energy boost, but a soiree. A modest meeting of close chums. A casual get-together.
If three people come to a Gathering, that’s perfectly acceptable. Cosy, but acceptable. If three people come to a Party, you are the biggest loser in the history of all things and no one loves you and everyone here wishes they were somewhere else but there aren’t enough people to make their exits inconspicuous so they have to stay for at least an hour and OH GOD there’s so much snack food on the table it’s really obvious that you wanted more people to be here and why did you ever think this was a good idea even the music you’re playing seems forced because you made that upbeat playlist that doesn’t fit the vibe of four people sitting around a kitchen table awkwardly wishing to die.
Step Two: Invitations
Let’s skip the fauxtests (see what I did there? It’s PROTESTS and FAUX squished together like ‘Brangelina’!!!) about not being a Gen-Y wanker and admit that nearly all invites you get these days are sent through Facebook. My flatmate Robby likes to pretend that Facebook doesn’t exist, and that’s why he only hears about social events three weeks after they’ve happened – including ones hosted at our own house. I don’t think I’ve seen him at a party since the main topic of conversation was what the hell was in the hatch on Lost.
So you’re going to be sending a Facebook invite. The most important thing here is to pick a good event photo. Trust me, you can never go wrong with animals in funny party hats. It says, “Look out, wackiness coming through!” but also, “Aww, look at this pug, I’m sensitive and sweet. Maybe someone I’ve invited might like to bang me. I’ll make it tender.”
As an example, here’s the latest event photo I’ve used:
LOLWUT? Dogs don’t wear hats! What kind of hat is that, anyway? What a ridiculous picture! Anyway, do me.
Step Three: Attendees
Remember that thing I said about how you don’t have friends? It’s very important for you remember that fact now. If you only invite people that you actually want to attend your party, no one will come because those people are much more popular than you and have way better things to do on a Friday night than play Scattergories in your lounge room. (That is not a slight against Scattergories because Scattergories is radballs.)
You can’t afford to be picky with the invites, Jim-or-Joan Von Awkwardstein. In this case, more is less. Cast the widest net you possibly can and hope you reel in at least a couple of guppies. Invite the co-workers you don’t hate, even the ones from that job you only worked at for two weeks in ’06 because you misread the ad and didn’t realise you’d be selling prophylactics door-to-door. Invite the neighbours who have the quietest car and the least-obnoxious domestics on the front lawn at 5am. Invite that guy you met at Dave’s killer party; you know the guy, he was sitting on the stairs because he thought he was going to throw up and you ended up talking about which Ace Ventura movie was better. He seemed cool.
Invite everyone you’ve ever met that you don’t actively wish specific harm upon and encourage them to bring their own friends, because I guarantee that only 3% of the people you invite will even read the email and less than 5% of those will say they’re “maybe” attending.
Step Four: Food and Drink
No party is complete without a tableful of awesome food. Extra bonus points if it’s handmade – and I’m not talking about putting pre-grated cheese over some Doritos and calling it nachos, either. Homemade sushi is always killer, same with dolmades or bruschetta from scratch. Anything the guests can pick at while they drink and socialise and have the best time ever.
You, however, are not throwing a party. You are having a Gathering. If you make a big plate of mini vegetarian pierogis and only two people show up, how embarrassed will you be? Super-mega-happy-space-time embarrassed, that’s how.
My personal pre-Gathering procedure is to plan ahead and add a few extra “snack” items to my weekly grocery list, like nice cheeses and prosciutto from the butcher. Then, I decide I can’t be bothered going all the way to the deli section of Coles while I’m doing my shopping and end up going to the IGA down the road an hour before the guests are meant to arrive and paying $82.50 for some water crackers, hummus and a triangle of nearly-expired brie. At least people won’t think I’ve tried too hard.
Just make sure you have some toilet paper. Half a roll should be fine.
Step Five: Enjoy Yourself!
Now that you’ve set the scene for the mediocre “couple of people around for drinks” that your personality and social status merit, you can kick back and have a kind-of-okay time! You deserve it!
- Take magazines out of the bathroom so no one knows you poop.
- Delete embarrassing Evanescence and Hole songs from your i-pod before putting on background music.
- Make sure you have enough pens so everyone can play Scattergories.
- Steel yourself into a zen-like state of emotional resilience so that if anything gets broken, you hold in your tears until everyone’s left.
I think that’s it! Happy hosting!