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the little things 8 tiny touches that'll pep up your party by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2
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5 Tray chic. Get yourself a tray so you can pass drinks and hors-d'oeuvres when people first start showing up. Your friends are sure to be impressed with the extra-attentive service. And in addition to making you look terribly sophisticated, the tray will give you a good excuse to make your way through the crowd and say hello to everyone, without getting stuck into a single deep conversation too early in the evening (you can save that for later, when folks have relaxed and settled into things, and are making good use of the self-serve food and drinks table).

6 Minty fresh. Set out mints or hard candies -- on the coffee table, by the bookcase by the door, on the kitchen counter wherever you can envision folks potentially gathering. Because fresh breath is important.

7 Make introductions. This, I'll admit, is something I'm absolutely terrible at, which is why I always notice how nice it is when other party host/esses make a point to do this. If you see a few folks sitting mutely in a corner, twiddling their thumbs and trying not to look at each other, mosey on over and say hello, then use your intrusion as an excuse to introduce them all to each other and get the conversation started.

8 Break the ice. No, I'm not talking about those dorky games they made you play at your first college dorm hall meeting. (Actually, I'm pretty sure that asking your friends to do trust falls at your fete is a sure-fire way to completely kill the fun.) But it's a good idea to have some things on hand that'll make it easier for folks to keep themselves amused. Set out some fun coffee table books, so shyer folks have something to keep themselves entertained with while they wait to get involved in another conversation, and people who don't already know each other might be able to bond when they find themselves flipping through the same tome. Mindless games are another good way to encourage friends from different circles to interact. Snag a dartboard at a yard sale and put it up out on your patio; darts are a great way to get strangers to mingle, as having a game to concentrate on takes the pressure off of people to come up with constant clever conversation. You might even dig out that old Magic 8 ball from your parents' garage, and set it out on the coffee table, where your friends can get vague answers to silly questions all the night long. Having a few key games, books, and doodads on hand to encourage guests to amuse themselves will make your job as host that much easier -- so you can kick back and have fun too.


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