I don’t know a lot about astrology, but I’d put a solid $10 down that something in my rising, moon, Venus, or Mercury makes it just impossible for me to try to understand it. Or plan. But as much as I hate trying and planning, I do very much love having beloved pals transported into my own home for my convenience, and, therefore, I find myself throwing a lot of parties. This past calendar year, I’ve thrown a Beta Fish Christening Party, an Indoor Easter Egg Hunt and an Everyone Pretend It’s Fall Already party in the middle of August. And through all of these experiences, I’ve figured out how to plan a party while still being the laziest I can possibly be—I’m here to pass this wisdom on to you.
(Disclaimer: I’d like to add that, even for this piece, my laziness forced me to spend several minutes Googling “party planning hacks” online, and I’m not kidding when I say the results gave me rabies. Apparently there are real people out there using muffin tins as serving trays and suggest you put cloves in lemons to scare away bugs. Right, let me just make my way over to the lemon and cloves store real quick—I love how much time this hack is saving me. Clearly these articles are written by people who already have it together enough to bother with being extra. And fellas, that’s not me. So tragically I was forced to rely on only my own experience and cunning to write this and I’d like to be appreciated as such.)
Now, where to begin? Ah, yes, the most important part:
Pretty much any gathering is a party if there are beverages to drink—this is universal. For party purposes, I would almost always recommend the Wine Cube. Available at any grocery store (if you live in a cool state) and usually advertising a capacity of about four bottles of wine for under $20, the Wine Cube is always a slam dunk.
Now, say you’re a person with any level of decorum. I’m not sure why you’re still reading this instead of shopping for whole cloves somewhere, but I have something for you, too: Put the contents of The Cube (that would be wine) in a pitcher with apples, oranges and some orange juice. Voila! It’s a party concoction, and nobody can force you to reveal your dark cube secret. If pressed, simply insist it’s your secret sangria recipe that you can never ever reveal. This has the added bonus of lending an air of mystery to the proceedings.
If you’re more in the mood for a mixed drink, margaritas are the way to go. I’m not sure you’ve ever been in my usual Saturday night position of frantically Googling margarita recipes while wandering up and down the aisles of the supermarket, but let me save you some time, just in case. Most of those recipes are going to advertise themselves as “Simple Margarita Recipe IV” or whatever and then spring it on you that they require orange liqueur. Wow, thanks, very simple.
Turns out, all you really need for a passable margarita concoction is lemonade, tequila, agave (or if nobody’s looking, whatever sugar you have) and, if you happen to pass it in the mixers aisle, a bottle of sweet lime concentrate. If you can scrum up a friend’s blender (or have one yourself—you fancy man, you) all the better. But keeping the pitcher in the fridge or adding ice liberally does the trick, as well.
If you forget to buy disposable cups (or if you never intended to buy any, like myself), make sure everyone knows it’s because you’re extremely environmentally conscious. Be sure to repeat this loudly anytime you catch wind that someone’s sullen about drinking from a mug. An added benefit to this is that these cups tend to have a smaller capacity than Solo cups, so your guests will feel like they’re drinking more, have more refills, or just take up less of your valuable booze!
I would strongly recommend you use social-planning website Evite first and foremost because of all the opportunities it gives you to wreck your pals’ inboxes with colorful fake cards and reminders and double reminders of your function. One of the vastly underrated advantages of having a free Evite account is all its social networking features. If you need people to bring food, you can draw up a list for your guests to see—or you can do what I do, which is use the poll function to browbeat your beloved pals into doing your bidding.
Guess who has two thumbs and ended up with a cookie cake at that party that she didn’t have to shop for? THIS GUY.
As an introvert, I always feel that if I’m going to go through the trouble of inviting people over, I can have a little bit of fun in how it all goes down. I would recommend looking around for an approaching event as an excuse to build a theme, like a cat’s birthday or the 27th anniversary of the theatrical release of FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Heck, I’d even recommend you look through your wardrobe and build a theme around an outfit you haven’t gotten the chance to wear in a while. Like, say, for random example, if last year you’d already assembled three-fourths of a Marty McFly costume before realizing you’d be at a cherished friends’ wedding over HalloWeekend, wellll, welcome everybody to your fresh-to-death 1985/time travel/Back To The Future party! (Completely unrelated, but quick reminder to all my friends reading this to get your RSVPs in now for my 1985/time travel/Back To The Future party, because it’s coming up.) Themes with temporal dissonance are also appreciated, like Christmas Cookies in July, a benchmark in my household now three years running.
Two of my main tenets for party theming are to decorate flamboyantly yet cheaply and to always give out prizes—and these two can really go hand in hand. When you’re shopping at the Dollar Store (I’d always recommend this) make sure the bulk of your decorations are things that can be easily fobbed off onto guests for winning Best Flannel at the fall party or Most Eggs Recovered at the Easter egg hunt (as you’ve almost certainly guessed the prize for that one was that they got to take all of the eggs away with them!).
I’d advise you to figure out the party things you can contribute to while you’re at work (and hopefully with a color printer). Any party games, prizes or decorations you can draw up on company time with company paper, the better. If you’ve got access to your friends’ Facebook and a color printer, you have all the ironic decorations you need for a party honoring them.
When working on a party you can either, spend a lot of money or be aggressively ironic—and I’d always advise to do the latter. All it takes is a few dramatic flairs to turn a party into something everyone wants to participate in, whether it’s forcing everyone to search through a 500 square foot apartment for 30 cent easter eggs filled with ~*intangible prizes*~ like “30 seconds of continuous praise” or “everyone has to call you Ace all night,” or “drafting your boyfriend to make an officially sanctioned appearance as The Fall Witch, fall’s sexy new mascot.” (See below.)
Okay, party people. Now comes the time when I unleash you into the cold, partying world and hope that you take everything you’ve learned today and party hard.