How To Throw A Party


It wasn’t until I went to a very promising yet unbelievably disappointing party recently that I realized I really do have a social gift. I throw damn good parties. And I never pay a cent (except for my dress). What follows are my general rules for every party. If you haven’t been pleased with your past social events, try these out. The first one is by far the most important. From there, you can come up with your own rules, (and feel free to share them when you do)

1. Be clear and honest about what your intention is for the event. Without fail, it is always accomplished. I wrote earlier about a friend whose intention was for her friends to feel abundant. At her parties, you literally were tripping over gourmet food and drinks. Intention fulfilled. My intention is always to have fun, bring in lots of people and introduce friends to their new best friends, new boy/girl friends or next client. It has never failed. You can want others to share in your joy. To have only your closest 5 friends feel like they are 5 again. Whatever. But if you really want to have a party so people can feel inferior to you, they might – and chances are they will never return to another one of your parties, except under duress. Ooh. Fun.

2. Enroll a co-conspirator. Throw the party with a friend. It ups the number of attendees and lessens the stress. If the party is “all about you”, notify three close friends that you’d like them to invite all of their friends. (I call them my “Paul Reveres”) or to arrive early for dinner/snacks and to keep you company.

3. Have a theme. Its cliche but works. People like guidelines. Networking party means bring business cards & don’t drink the punch. Toga Party means dress Grecian & do drink the punch & don’t schedule any morning meetings. Provide a signature drink (white wine sangria, guava Cosmos etc) Lots of people can’t decide what to drink. Make it easy on them.

4. Remember: Everyone has a currency and it’s not always money. When I was younger, an open bar brought in the numbers. Now my friends could care less about saving a few dollars. They would much rather go home, take a shower and pay $40 for a martini. Their new “currency” is time. The same holds true for bars/restaurants. I always chose hip places that could use more foot traffic or have a slow night. The smart establishments would much rather have my 400 film/art/fashion friends know about and spend money at their place than my deposit of a few hundred dollars.

5. My 50/50 rule. I can be a bit maniacal about this but it works for me: because of my intent above, I write a list of everyone I am going to invite. For starters, I know about 50% of who I invite will attend. And I make sure there is a 50/50 split of men/women, gay/straight, art/commerce, white/non-white. Once I realized that about 50% of who I invited would show, I became less uptight about who arrived or cancelled at the last moment. Oh – and if not that many people attend your events, its because you don’t attend theirs.

6. Just ask. On more than one occasion, I asked a bar if I could have an Open Bar and they said yes. That simple. No hemming or hawing. No deposit. Just “sure”. The same holds true if you’d like a free cake. Pinata. DJ. Return to #4 when negotiating.

7. Make it convenient for guests. My birthday happens around the NBA playoffs and each year I try to schedule my party around it. (Or make a pit stop at a sport bar part of my Birthday plans.) Hire a bus shuttle for out of town parties. Designate drivers in advance. Make the hours wide enough for people wishing to be early or arrive late (no “from 5-7pm). Have a brunch party if more of your friends are parents.

8. Invites should be clear. No one will be irritated if you are clear upfront that they must bring their own burgers, must wear Black Tie or that only white wine will be served or that $10 will be charged at the door. Especially be clear about the need & deadline for RSVPs. Also be clear about all the convenient cool stuff: if they can invite friends, that there will be a shuttle bus, that “Finding Nemo” will be screening if they bring their kids etc.

9. If the party is a house party, hire waitstaff and/or worry about everything in the morning. Just enjoy yourself. I went to another party once where the host was so uptight about the rug, the art etc, that we all decided to leave early. Actually, this rule applies for any party regardless of location. If it rains at a garden party, the DJ doesn’t arrive…keep focused on your original intention. If its to celebrate your birthday, promotion etc – your friends could care less about the DJ. They are really there for you. If something goes awry that is integral to your event (DVD player doesn’t work for a film screening), continue with your event, schedule another or create another way to fulfill that intent. Such as make the film available on line. Give your guests free passes to the premier.

Be creative. Don’t be uptight. Afterall, as I like to quote, “ain’t nothing but a party baby.”

10. Say thank you.

Have a good one.


~ by Cybel Martin on January 7, 2007.

5 Responses to “How To Throw A Party”

  1. […] starters, all things mentioned in “How To Throw A Party” would apply. Intentions. Signature drinks. Invites […]

  2. […] some tidbits to make your speak-easy themed party a success. For starters, everything mentioned in “How to Throw a Party” should be addressed. Here are my other ideas, most of which I have used at my […]

  3. All the old stuff I wore as a child is coming back. Kinda scary and makes you feel old, but it looks great most of the time.

  4. […] of all, of course, follow my basic steps on How to Throw a Party. This is what I would do to be Toga/Antiquities […]

  5. How to Throw a Party:
    1. Buy Beer
    2. Buy Cups & Pong Balls
    3. Text five people
    4. 5$ a Cup
    5. Watch five people turn to forty

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