Inviting friends over for a barbeque, home poker game or cocktail party can be the perfect way to catch-up and reconnect in a relaxed, hassle-free atmosphere. But how do you arrange your home to make sure it feels welcoming and comfortable? I don’t know about you, but my living room is arranged according to how I spend my time; there’s space to sit and watch the TV, a cosy corner for curling up with a book and a desk in the corner for craft projects. None of this set-up is very conducive to entertaining. Let’s a take a look at the simple, reversible changes you can make to your living space to ensure that your party is one to be remembered for all the right reasons.
First off, let’s talk about furniture. If you’re hosting a dinner party, then it’s obvious that you need a large dining table and enough chairs to seat everybody around it. But what about a more casual affair? Guests tend to stagger their arrival times to a party according to other commitments, and this means that you want to create an environment that they can seamlessly blend into whenever they arrive. The best way to achieve this is to divide the party areas up into cosy nooks, with two or three seats in each and a side table or other surface for drinks and plates. People tend to feel more comfortable in small groups, and this arrangement will engender intimate conversation and let people feel at ease.
Another key point is the food. Keeping your guests well-fed is the key to keeping them happy. An un-catered event is a sure-fire way to guarantee that your guests leave early—and hungry! It doesn’t matter if you’re not serving a sit-down meal, you can still make sure that there’s plenty of substantial grub available throughout the night for people to snack on. Sandwiches, tortilla chips, breadsticks and mini pastries may feel clichéd, but they are classic party food because they’re easy to eat and are customisable according to requirements. The humble sandwich was actually invented during a game at White’s in London, so it’s the perfect mess-free snack to serve to your guests on game night!
However, don’t be tempted to shove everything onto a groaning, overloaded buffet table and let people fend for themselves. Serving food buffet-style is great for the party atmosphere, but distribute it around the room so that people aren’t all congregating in one place. You don’t want your guests to have to queue for a bite to eat; you want it to feel easy and natural for them to pick up something from a handy side table or counter.
The same goes for drinks. It can be a good idea to keep bottles of spirits or drink-mixing equipment in a casual bar area, but, in addition to this, you can have pitchers of drinks available throughout the space. Otherwise, a ‘gathering around the water cooler’ effect will take place, meaning that all your visitors will be forced into one cramped corner whilst they wait for their turn to pour a drink. Providing other options maintains the flow of the party and gives people a chance to breathe.
One final point to keep in mind is that clutter equals chaos. Streamlining the spaces in your home where guests will be congregating not only reduces the risk of damage and breakages, but also provides more space for the party to actually happen in. Nobody can be properly relaxed if they feel hemmed in by somebody else’s worldly possessions, so make the most of the off-limits areas of your house as storage. Hosting a party at home means that you do want to invite friends into your inner sanctum, but you also want the event to be about human connection rather than belongings. So take some time to declutter before the big day arrives.