We live in a world where “new” means “better”. Each generation of TVs is bigger and sharper. Each version of software has more features. Each year’s computers are faster and cheaper than the year before. It’s easy to think that old ideas and old products are inferior simply by virtue of their age.
But sometimes in a rush to discover the “new and improved” we overlook the “old and reliable”. Are you looking for a way to meet interesting relationship candidates that is fun, invigorating, and reliable? Turn back the clock and “entertain” at your place. There’s no better way to put your best foot forward that to use your home as a backdrop for getting to know new people.
That’s right – throw a party. Just make sure that you’re throwing a party that designed to do two important things. 1) Make you appear to be a confident and charming host, and 2) attract single, fun and interesting people.
To make sure things go just right. We talked to celebrity wedding and event planner Mindy Weiss for her best tips on creating a party with maximum fun and minimal headaches. We’ve added a little romantic guidance for good measure.
1. Don’t Just Invite Anybody
If you’re a man, and you have a collection of buddies who love to get drunk and wrestle, they’re not invited. If you’re a woman, and you have a collection of female friends who love to clump together and complain about how many times they’ve been burned by men, they are not invited. This is a party with a purpose.
You need to invite a specific kind of person, and it may feel awkward the first time. That’s okay. Important new steps are sometimes that way. For this party you’re going to want to invite all the smart, fun, and interesting people you know with the phrase, “please come and bring someone single and fun.” And of course, your invite list includes any single candidates you’ve been eyeing from afar. That person at work that you’ve been dying to talk to for 6 months – this party is the perfect reason to swing by his/her desk and say, “Hi. I’m having a party in a couple weeks and you’re invited.”
2. Don’t Wait for the Weekend
Mindy says, “During the week, not just the weekends, people are dying to get out. We’re in a bit of a depressed state right now.” For weekend nights she recommends keeping it very simple – picking up some trays of food from the market, or grilling burgers. “Barbecues are back,” she reveals. “Everybody is barbecuing!”
Make sure you stress to your guests the casual nature of the event. A weeknight party should be about unwinding from the day and relaxing. Make it an early start, and encourage people to come straight from work.
3. Be Charming and Your Guest will Too
“Be a happy host” Mindy explains. “The guests tend to take on the personality of the host, so if she/he opens the door and says, ‘Oh my God, I have been cooking all day,’ the guests will think, ‘Oh great, glad we came.’ If the host opens the door and says, ‘I am so glad you are here! It’s been crazy today and I am so excited!’” That type of positive energy energizes people as they walk through the door.
One of the responsibilities and pleasures of being a host is the free pass to engage any guest with questions about his or her life. Take advantage of the situation, and get to know everyone who comes through your door. This is key because the easiest way to make a date with someone you don’t know well is to discover some activity they enjoy, say hiking, and in passing say, “I know a great place to hike. We should go hiking some time. “This works for almost any activity, and his or her reaction to your statement is a great barometer of just how interested they might be. A quick “Absolutely!” means you should grab their phone number. A curious, “Yes, let’s do that sometime,” means you jot down their email address, and a tepid, “Ah…sure,” means you let the comment go.
4. Make It Interactive
Don’t want the expense of catering? Mindy is a big believer in potlucks. “There’s nothing wrong or cheap with having a potluck!” She is also a big believer in themed events.
Themes or holidays can give you a great excuse for the party and can give attendees something to focus their food choices on. While everyone knows the big non-family oriented holidays (Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day, Cinquo De Mayo and Memorial Day) it’s fun to base parties around lesser known celebrations. Throw a party for April Fool’s Day, The Longest Day of the Year (June 21st), or National Watermelon Day (August 3rd) – the more unusual the better.
In addition, don’t be scared to make the theme of the party relevant to your personality. If you’re a guy who loves barbeque, make the party a BBQ Rib Extravaganza. If you’re a woman who’s a Francophile serve Bordeaux, crepes and celebrate Bastille Day.
5. Don’t Make it Feel Like Work
One of the smartest things you can do is to recruit a couple of friends to help. “Typically, you have been working all day and all week, so grab those that you know are little ‘Martha Stewarts’ and assign tasks to them, like the bringing the salad,” Mindy says.
You want your time with your guests to reflect well on you. We’ve all been to parties where the host was in a constant state of breathless panic – constantly spinning around the room asking if everything is okay. Make sure you have time to sit down, relax and be your best self.
6. Remember the Details
We’ve all been to parties where things just didn’t seem right. We asked Mindy about the most common party mistakes people make.
“If you are inviting people over for dinner, you need to make sure you have enough food. Nothing is worse than to be invited over for dinner and there is a tray of cheese and crackers. You think, “OK, is this dinner?” Then that is all you are thinking about – you are not having fun because you are starving.”
“In some places parking can be a consideration. People who drive around for 20 minutes looking to park aren’t in a very good mood when they finally get to your place.”
“Check the bathroom before your guests come in – and during the party. If you only have one bathroom, and personal items in there, empty it out. There will always be that one guest who will look to see what medications you are taking!”
“I would keep it simple. Flowers are always great in the vases you never use. I wouldn’t overly decorate. If it is a Mexican fare and you have a dining room table, maybe put a piñata on it. The idea is to come, make them feel at home, and meet people.”
7. Build Your Momentum
Finally, remember that this strategy isn’t a one-off. It works best when applied as a regular periodic event. Even if your first party feels small, or is lacking in eligible guests, remember that people are drawn to great hosts, and when they have a good time word gets around. Try to host some kind of event in your home every couple of months at the least.
Each time you have people over and show them a good time, you’re building a reputation as a person who is fun, imaginative and confident playing host – traits that make you more attractive to everyone who meets you.
To get more great entertaining ideas visit Mindy at MindyWeiss.com