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Throwing A Party


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Throwing A Party


nobody said it was easy...

Hosting a party of any kind can be an overwhelming endeavor.  We know, we do it every day!  

Between tethering together a guest list, juggling +1 personality swamps, thumbing through the old records for that blow-minds 80's anthem, getting an outfit that's carefully set to stun instead of kill my feet:

  • the food
  • the drinks
  • the mood
  • the lighting
  • the cleanup
  • the babysitter
  • the paparazzi
  • the in-law management

Quickly, it can all collapse upon you; crushing any hopes you had of actually ENJOYING YOURSELF.

the challenges are clear and they're real... 

Which is why we've put together this simple guide to help ensure that you get through this like a pro and with a genuine smile on your face.

 

nobody said it was easy, but we're here to make sure that it IS.

 

 

 

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Hosting


Hosting


Being a great host is probably easier than it seems...

As the host,  it really hinges on a just a few simple factors that make or break your experience. Master these few tips, and you can't stop yourself from throwing an incredible party.

be gracious.

You've invited them. You're such a sweetie for doing it, too. You've spent the last two nights tunneling through your wife's iTunes to ensure a well rounded, Britney friendly playlist.  

You've finally fixed the guest's bathroom door - planed and sanded the swollen thing yourself - so that it'd fully close in preparation for your guests.

Your mother drove in from Connecticut to take the kids to Kinky Boots with a roll of quarters for Dave & Busters afterwards.

You've worked hard and have done a lot to prepare and when your guests turn up, they're not always sympathetic to your struggle... 

Be gracious in the face of indifference.  Be gracious in the face of inconsideration and tardiness and impoliteness and poor grooming habits. Be gracious, because your guests (whether they're thrilling you or not) are why you've thrown a party in the first place.

Enjoy them.

Camille from college has started a new diet and scoffs at the food?  It's funny. Let her scavenge through your cabinets for a rice cake and some almond flour.  

Teddy tripped over the threshold and split his lip all over the crudité? Toss the veggies and toss Teddy a towel, get some new snacks and log the story for one to tell at your next party!

Glenn wants to watch Game of Thrones on your bedroom desktop? "Mmm... ok, Glenn... Password's hawkeyespy2020."

It can hurt if you're looking for reciprocation during your party. Chances are, you won't be getting it in droves. The gratitude will most likely take the night to sink in for your guests and looking for the recognition in the moment can be hugely disappointing. So relax, stay calm, get in there, be open and...

enjoy yourself.

This part is crucial. It's both selfish and incredibly self-less. Stop the work, stop the worry, and stop the stress. You are your guests beacon in the dark.  Give them a glow and they'll safely come ashore. Your energy gives the allowance for everyone to feel comfortable and welcome; your smile and ease will open people up for conversation and dancing and play. All of that is a formula for fun.  

Lead by example. Don't just point to the bar, go to the bar. Get yourself a drink. Eat the food. Party at your own party. A problem is just an opportunity to say "no problem."  

Nothing - and this we can assure you - nothing sets a party off like a host enjoying themselves. Not just presenting as having a good time but deeply and truly, having a good time. You've put in the effort and now it's time to reap the reward.

How do you get there?

plan ahead.

Be good to yourself. Don't leave everything until the day of and don't leave everything up to you alone. Hire a great caterer to take care of the food (we know a good one), order florals to be delivered, ask a friend to help with the seating chart...

Choose the things that you enjoy doing and make those your responsibility - delegate the rest. Throwing a party can and should be fun.  

Be good to yourself.  Don't let the little things be giant sources of stress. It's just a party, after all. Visualize the night as a guest, like a virtual tour in your head, and take notes as to where you go:

  • You enter the building. Do I need a coat-rack?  Hmm... maybe we'll just have them toss coats on the bed.
  • You're greeted with a cocktail.  Is this a Manhattan kind of crowd, or can I see them with a champagne to start.
  • You notice the music.  Ooh...  I should drag that 'Tears for Fears' track behind the 'Tijuana Brass' interlude.
  • You notice the lighting.  This votive garden kind of feels like a Kenny G concert.
  • You hit the bar. The radiator really wasn't enough space for all of these glasses.

Being able to visualize how guests will behave and enjoy themselves at a party is a great skill and a wonderful exercise in making smart decisions that'll help to make your party an easy and painless success. This is how we approach every event at b i t e, whether it be an 8 person tasting menu or a 1,200 seat gala: visualization. 

Everything's easier when it doesn't feel like it's your first time.

Here are some pro tips:

  • The Bar  The only other place in your house people will line up for is the bathroom.  Put the bar somewhere that's open enough to handle a crowd and far enough from the entrance that it forces them to enter your home (or space). Putting the bar near the entrance creates an impenetrable force for nervous guests just arriving and sabotages any attempt to maximize what you have. Don't put it in a narrow area, either. You'll create an impossible bottleneck where guests won't be able to flow through the space, get close enough to order a drink or be able to leave the bar once they've gotten what they've ordered. 
  • Drink Passing  It looks so great in the movies. Ready made drinks  - that well-coiffed Mr. Ripley-type bowing with a sterling tray of frosty stirred martinis. It can also be incredibly effective in quickly getting a cocktail in your guests hands. But our advice? If it's a small party and the arrivals are relatively staggered; don't do it. Passing drinks in a home or small space can feel incredibly impersonal and (like a nervous host) can really tighten up the mood quickly. A better alternative is to cocktail. Have your servers (or yourself, if you're unstaffed) take a few orders from guests just after they've entered and have had a chance to say hello. It's a friendlier and less formal approach to getting the job done while still being an incredibly gracious host.
  • The Kitchen  People love a kitchen. Drunk people like them even more.  If your kitchen is small, our advice would be to make it off limits. Screen it, mention it like a joke, turn the leading hallway's lights off, post a sign that says "beware all ye who enter"... Do what you have to do. The consequence: a crowded kitchen chokes off your parties only bloodline for food. Your guests will want to be in there, getting the VH1 behind the music treatment, but it's killing your catering teams ability to get food to the rest of the party.  We love you, really, and that's why we want to make sure the canapés make it through. You've worked too hard and spent too much to let Uncle Vesko pack a napkin for his landscaper tomorrow morning. Do you have a big kitchen with an island or another area for hosting? Set up something stationary for guest to nosh on. This way, they've got the best of both worlds; they get the VIP pass behind the scenes and they're not interfering with your KiKi.   
  • Music + Food + Entertainment  Do it all for you.  Seriously.  You can't please everyone, and we don't mean that like the poster that hung in your 3rd grade classroom.  You really cannot accommodate every want and need that you anticipate walking through your door.  But, it's your door, and the party should reflect you. Pick music you love - if you love it, they'll find a way to love it too. Same goes for the food. If you were to travel to India, you'd probably check out some curry. They're traveling to you, so don't be afraid to show them your own unique blend of spice. You're also the one stuck with the leftovers and this sections all about PLANNING AHEAD.

 

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Drinks


Drinks


the bar.

Oooh, aaah... the mysterious B-A-R (put your Streisand accent on and that rhymes).

Without a doubt, the bar is the most mystical and confusing part of planning a party.

Preparing your bar with the right and appropriate amount of libations can be tricky. We've created the charts, formulas and descriptions below to help simplify your planning and demystify this enigmatic bar thing.

First...

 

How Much?

The best place to start with is to consider how many drinks your guests will consume while they're partying at your place. Then we'll decide how much of what will be what. We have a simple formula that we go by and it's shockingly accurate.


2 drinks per hour (up to two hours) per guest + 1 drink per hour per guest (for hours 3 & beyond)


So...  

A cocktail party that last for 2 hours with a guest count of 50 will serve 200 drinks. That's (2 drinks x 50) for the first hour + (2 drinks x 50) for the second hour = (200 drinks).

Here's a bar chart, because it's a bar chart (see what we did, there?):

 

drinks served | cocktails for 50 guests

The chart represents a cocktail party for 50.  You'll notice the numbers taper off as the party time extends. That satisfies our formula, as the consumption of alcohol naturally slows at a party after 2 hours.

This formula can easily be tweaked to accommodate your crowd and their habits. If you know you and your friends to be light drinkers, you could start tapering off the numbers after 1.5 hours or even after the initial hour of if your group has strict bedtimes. If y'all are notorious for stoking the party flames over multiple calendar dates (and court dates, probably, too) you can extend the tapered period to after 3 hours or beyond. This is where you, as a host, will know best.

 

Now that we know how many drinks will be served, how do we determine WHAT drinks we'll be serving?

We're going to level with you; this is about to get pretty convoluted. But before we go there - before we take it to the depths of catering mathematics where we need to wear a Veuve Clicquot sponsored diving suit - let us breakdown some of the basics.

 

quantities.

A list of approximated servings / bottle.

  • wine each (750mL) bottle will pour 5 glasses of wine. 
  • champagne each (750mL) bottle will pour 6 glasses of champagne.
  • liquor each (750mL) bottle will pour 20 cocktails. (2oz pour)
  • mixer each liter bottle of soda, tonic, coke, diet, etc. will pour 10 cocktails. (4oz pour)

These are mere approximations.  If you know of the cocktail you're intending to serve and have a recipe for it, you can do the appropriate math to get the exact amount of product that you'll need.  Here's a list for citrus juice:

  • limes each lime produces approximately 1oz of juice.
  • lemons each lemon produces approximately 1.25 - 1.5oz of juice.
  • oranges each orange produces approximately 2 - 3oz of juice.
  • grapefruit each grapefruit produces approximately 3 - 4oz of juice.

Fruit is incredibly fickle and an inexact calculation.  We find that the above approximations are accurate enough to help us get within the appropriate ballpark.  

 

formulas... let's go deep.

Ok.  So you want to know more? You just NEED that gold star, huh? Here are some formulas that you can use to get this thing laser focused:

If there is a specialty cocktail (this number will play with another formula later):


(guest count) x (75%) = specialty cocktail served


Let me clarify what I mean by a specialty cocktail. If it's Cinco de Mayo and your making Margaritas; that's not a specialty cocktail, that's the menu!  

A specialty cocktail would be an offering that's unique, delicious and special, but isn't known by your buddies local barkeep as their "go-to."  

Again, knowing your guests intimately helps anticipate what they're going to be drinking.

Here's a formula for those classics:


(total drinks to be served) - (specialty cocktails to be served) x 50% = classic cocktails


By classic cocktails we mean: Manhattans, Martinis, Collins, G+T, Cosmos, Old Fashioned, Mojitos, Margaritas, Sours, Moscow Mules, Southsides, etc.

The rest of what you'll end up serving will be wine and beer. 

So, for a party of 50 guests for 2 hours:

  • (2 drinks per hour) x (2 hour party) x (50 guests) = 200 drinks total.
  • (50 guests) x 75% = 38 specialty cocktails.
  • (200 drinks total) - (38 specialty cocktails) x 50% = 81 classic cocktails.
  • (200 drinks total) - (38 specialty cocktails + 81 classic cocktails) = 81 wine & beer.
 

In conclusion.

These numbers will never be exact. People are enigmas - that's why a party is interesting to begin with, right? If you go strictly by these numbers without taking the characters of your guest list into account, we feel confident that you'll be within a respectable margin of error. Knowing your guests and some of their tendencies will help you to adjust your numbers further.  

Remember, it's perfectly acceptable to run out of something, just so long as that something isn't EVERYTHING.  


When you know what and how much you want to get head over to:

bottlerocket.com or minibar.com and place an order.

It's fast and easy and they give great customer service. Get it out of the way first and you'll have little to nothing left to worry about.