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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

03.20.2003

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get swanky how to throw a 
swingin' cocktail party
by Yee-Fan Sun |
1 2 3
continued from page 1

Hereís the wording I used on a recent party invite:

Creative fancy dress encouraged -- get yourself decked out in the traditional tux/suit/little black dress, resurrect that tacky bridesmaid gown you though you'd never wear again and embrace your inner prom queen, swathe yourself in head-to-toe velvet, or get stylin' in some sweet disco duds. Just about anything goes, so scour your closets or hit the thrift stores, and have fun getting dolled up and swanked out ... or take a chance by arriving in your normal old everyday street clothes, and getting spiffed up on site!

That last bit, by the way, is key. Unless you happen to hang out with a particularly flamboyant, costume-obsessed crowd, there WILL be people who feel like they canít come up with anything fun to wear. Provide costumes bits for any of the shy folks/lame-oís who donít show up suitably swanked to the max. Feather boas are always popular (with both the boys and the girls, interestingly enough); other fun tidbits include cheap plastic tiaras, mardi gras beads/costume jewelry, hats, garish ties and bowties.  Thrift stores, yard sales, party supply stores, craft and fabric stores (if you happen to have a discount fabric store like SAS Fabrics in your town, RUN there Ö youíll find plenty of great frou-frou accessories for cheap) are all good places to look for goodies. Spread out your offerings on a table by the door, and let the guests go wild.

music for the masses
In the traditional cocktail party, music is pretty much there just to set the tone for mingling and conversation. Personally, though, Iím of the opinion that a party is always more fun if you can get a little dancing going.  Start off the first couple of hours of your party like a traditional cocktail party Ė keep the music kind of low-key groovy and largely ambient, loud enough to set the mood, but not so booming so as to make it impossible to hold a good conversation. Slowly up the volume and segue to something with more of a danceable beat as the evening progresses.

deck the halls
Forget about streamers and balloons and other pre-fabricated party decor: a cocktail party is all about elegance and ambience, so keep it simple. Start off by assessing your space situation.  The key to a good cocktail soiree is to keep people moving and mingling Ė which by and large means keeping them on their feet. A couple of cozy seating areas are good, but for the most part you donít want to have too many giant sofas lying around to tempt folks into settling into one spot for the entire evening. Hide any extraneous furniture wherever you can manage to stash it Ė in your bedroom, in the garage, wherever.

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