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The happy host

Throwing a resentment-free party for someone you love

Flowers by Ever Something Event Styling; pie by Antoinette Baking Co.; location, Foolish Things Coffee Company // Photo by Ashley Heider Daly

I scout and sell furniture for a living. Let’s boil that down. I move large, heavy furniture every day from point A to point B. We have a rule in our business: don’t buy any furniture for the shop that you aren’t thrilled to go pick up, load in a van, and schlep into the store. You gotta want to heft that giant sofa real bad. Otherwise, it’s a sign you shouldn’t be buying it.

Same rules go for party hosting. Do you love that friend enough to spend time, money, and energy on them?

Think long and hard because the alternative is being a bitter person in a party hat. Not pretty.

Love is a great motivator for amateur event planning, but man cannot party on love alone. Here are some rules I live by when hosting an event:

The best thing you can do to avoid hard work but still make an incredible party atmosphere and attract tons of praise and fame? Choose an already-lovely location. Restaurants, gorgeously landscaped backyards, and well-styled homes are all good options. Parties in parking lots can be great, too, but you have to make the parking lot not-a-parking-lot first.

Pick no more than three handmade projects. Pinterest will crush your soul if you let it. There are a zillion creative and thoughtful touches you can add to an event, but honestly, I’ve found guests have a details threshold. Think bang for your buck and for your time. My last party was a surprise gathering for my business partner’s birthday. I made paper flowers and hats with her face on them, and I sewed a banner of fluttery paper for the pergola covering the dining area. Note: I made sure each element was in a prominent place. Don’t work hard on stuff people won’t see.

Delegate. If you throw parties only for people who are already loved by others, you will never throw a party alone. Determine the things that have to be perfect (like the main course or the dishware), then delegate the other parts. Need chips and salsa? Beer? Plastic forks? Those are no-fail offerings a party guest can bring. Don’t be selfish; why would you deny someone the joy of feeling like they contributed?

Spreadsheets are your friend. This party tip may be getting too real for readers, but all my best parties started by hitting the ol’sheets and checking off tasks. Important headers include food, music, guests, and decorations/special details. I am aware this is drifting into the control-freak zone. It’s best not to send this spreadsheet to anyone or even let them know it exists. People like to party uninhibited by the knowledge of your prep work.

You can have a memorable party with just two things: good food and good people. Remember that. Roll with the punches at go-time. Sadly, if you cry when the wind destroys the banner that took you four hours to make, it’s a buzz kill. Your final gift to the guest of honor is to let it go and enjoy yourself. A happy host makes for a quality party.