I once attended a house party that was so fun, so rocking, so friendly that it was a full 30 minutes before I realized I was at the wrong wedding reception. Truth.
Now, this was before phone GPS and—in my defense—it was a very crowded and unfamiliar neighborhood. I was on the right street, just in the wrong house…which I realized when I finally got around to congratulating the bride. We toasted to her happiness and I dashed off to the correct shindig. Good times.
And that’s the kind of party we should all aspire to host, isn’t it? You know what I mean: the vibe, the ambience, the front-door mood that calls out to every guest, “Come on in and stay awhile.”
So how do you achieve that?
I think it starts at your well-lit entrance. Your porch should have a welcoming glow—not searchlight bright, not horror-film dim. Just a nice, pleasant glow…like the inside of a carved pumpkin. That way, when you open the door to your guests you’ll know exactly who’s standing there and—bonus!—they’ll know they’re at the right house.
After that, it’s all about comfort and pleasure. Have a designated place for coats and handbags. Clear some counter space for gifts of wine, desserts or side dishes. Introduce the latest arrival to the earliest, then listen for the next doorbell.
Music should be just loud enough to be recognizable, but not too loud for conversation. Interior lighting should be soft and—hear me on this—NOT overhead. NOT glaring. NOT fluorescent. In fact, get that fireplace going and light every candle in your house…that’s beautifully intimate.
If you’re hosting a dinner party, resist the urge to get everybody seated immediately. Let them chat as guests trickle in. Freshen cocktails. Clear appetizers. Then, when it feels natural, invite them to the beautifully-dressed table—where the evening will undoubtedly linger and end.
Before long, you’ll get really good at these gatherings. People will speak fondly of that cocktail hour, that Super Bowl party, that ladies tea you hosted. They may not even mention the food, but they’ll remember how welcome you made them feel.