Sometimes throwing a party for a group of friends or family can feel like more than we bargained for. What was supposed to be a simple gathering with a few laughs, good conversation, and tantalizing food can quickly become a game of sifting through endless rules. Between deciding what time to have the party and what to serve and which conversation topics are considered "safe," it can be overwhelming to say the least.
I remember the first party I ever hosted. I was in ninth grade and had decided to throw a holiday gathering inspired by some of my mom’s Southern Living books. Let’s just say that homemade chocolate truffles are totally wasted on ninth-grade kids. Also, I invited about 10 friends. Only four showed up. And I had leftovers for what seemed like forever. It was awkward. But, as with all mistakes, I learned a valuable lesson. Since then, with every gathering I host, I try my best to simplify the rules that I have to stick to in order to ensure the best time for my friends and myself.
To help you entertain more effortlessly (or at least without the awkwardness of a ninth-grader), here’s a look at some old-school rules that you can toss along with the party leftovers. No offense to traditionalists out there, but some of these rules have got to go!
Rule #1: (Don’t) Use Cloth Napkins
When you were growing up, did your mom take out the cloth napkins on special occasions? And then promptly panic when they got dirty? Yes, cloth napkins make us all feel a little fancier. However, what good is a napkin that your guests are afraid to use? It used to be true that cloth napkins were the most appealing way to set a table, but today there are many paper napkins that are not only beautiful, but are also made of eco-friendly materials so you don’t have to feel guilty about using them. Save time on laundering and sidestep your guests’ stress by purchasing some fun, earth-friendly napkins that are made to get down and dirty!
Party tip: Don’t forget to recycle the napkins or compost them (if they’re soiled with food).
Rule #2: (Don’t) Set the Table
It used to be crucial that every person had a full place setting at a dinner party. Multiple plates, glasses, and a full set of silverware were required in order to have a successful gathering. As most of us know, these days it’s less likely that that formality is expected. Instead, we flock to parties based on small bites that can be enjoyed standing or sitting as well as those featuring meals served family- or buffet-style. If you’ll be having a sit-down dinner party, tables can be minimally set with only what is absolutely needed for the main course. Dessert may require a new place setting, but that can be simple as well. This will save you prep work as well as cleanup time. As with the cloth napkins, you can relax this rule by choosing eco-friendly dishware made from bamboo or another green material that won’t sit in a landfill forever.
Party tip: If your local party store doesn’t carry planet-friendly party wares, simply do a Web search for “eco party supplies” and you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of options
— Rachael White, Menuism
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