Sometimes, you don’t want to be the hostess with the most-ess. Going to all the trouble of organising a big party can be so frustrating – all that organisation and planning, sending out invites, waiting for the inevitable last-minute cancellations… Often, it ends up being the case that you’re too tired by the time the party comes around to actually enjoy it!
But that said, hosting a gathering or party is a wonderful way to catch up with friends and to be sociable – particularly if there’s an occasion worth celebrating! Sometimes, the nicest way to socialise and enjoy the company of the people we love best is by hosting a low-key gathering on a much smaller scale than the usual house party. You don’t want to planning big occasions when it’s dark and cold outside at this time of year – instead, it’s the perfect time to be thinking about inviting around a few of your favourite people, stocking up on chips ‘n’ dip and spending the evening enjoying yourself, rather than being stressed about where your caterer has got to!
Of course, even the smallest parties will still require some planning. But don’t worry! We’re here to offer you our 5 key tips and tricks to hosting a small-scale, low-key and super casual evening party with your favourite friends.
1. Say goodbye to invitations.
No matter how “casual” you attempt to make your invitations, simply inviting people makes it seem like a bigger deal than it is. So don’t worry about sending out an email or creating a Facebook event, just put the word out! Pick up the phone and invite people using your actual voice, and let them know it’s just going to be you and a few friends having a casual evening together.
2. Don’t bother cooking.
Slaving at a hot stove for hours before a party leaves you stressed, sweaty and inevitably a bit frustrated! So – just don’t even bother. Obviously you’ll need to feed people, but you’ve got a few options. You could just stock up on all the classic party favorites – chips ‘n’ dip, mini hot dogs, cupcakes – and let people help themselves, kind of like you would at a kids party, or you could make it a Pot Luck situation. Let people bring a dish of some kind and you all just dive in and eat together! You can contribute something low-key like a salad, and let other people worry about hot food. Sure, you might end up with a completely random smorgasbord of dishes – but who cares! That’s what casual gatherings are all about.
3. Pick an activity.
The best low-key parties are when you’ve all gathered together for a reason. It might be an event like the Superbowl (or maybe the return of Game of Thrones?), or you could be celebrating something like an engagement, or perhaps you’re just dying to give that new board game a go with your most competitive friends. Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to centre the evening around one key thing, lest everybody ends up chatting awkwardly with no focal point. So, when you’re inviting people (casually, remember) make sure they know it’s for a specific occasion.
4. Make sure you’ve got enough places to sit.
The best little gatherings are causal and cozy, which means sitting down with a bottle of beer rather than standing up with a glass of wine. Because it’s casual you can use your imagination with this – harvesting the kid’s bedrooms for bean bags, for example – but it’s still nice to have actual seats, no matter how casual the occasion! We’re not expecting you to go out and buy a brand new couch, but if you’ve been short of dining furniture for a while, now might be a good time to invest in some new chairs. Whatever you decide, arrange your seating furniture so that it’s all facing into the centre of the room, letting people communicate in one large group rather than exclusive little pockets.
5. Themed décor.
Okay, this might sound a bit ‘high-key’ for a low-key party, but if you’ve got the time and are feeling excited, why not create some themed décor? This can be particularly fun if it’s a light-hearted occasion you’re marking, like Oscars Night! If you’ve invited your best girlfriends around for the evening, why not hang some of your fanciest dressiest on coat hangers from picture hooks? Or be inspired by the red carpet and use some beautiful red fabric as a tablecloth? You could even craft a makeshift Oscars statue to award to the best-dressed guest, or create a DIY ‘Hollywood’ sign for your mantelpiece. TODAY has some great ideas for hosting an Academy Awards themed bash over here.
The key to any low-key party is to have fun with it, and not take the evening too seriously. Think about your college days, or even when you were back at high school, and the best thing in the world was just hanging out with your friends – even if there was no particular reason! Try to channel a bit of that spirit and get rid of the enforced formality that often comes hand-in-hand with a social occasion. We promise – if you’re a casual, happy and chilled out host, your guests will follow suit.
So, what will you be inviting your friends over for this year? Will it be the return of House of Cards? What about the Grammy’s? Or perhaps you’ll all be tuning in and sitting down this weekend to celebrate the Superbowl? Whatever it may be, we’d love to hear about it!