Monday, 10 September 2012

Three small tips to improve a party

Recently I was at my cousin's wedding, easily the most stylish wedding I've ever been to. The venue was the 6th floor of an old department store in downtown Toronto that had been renovated as an events hall.  The contrasts of textures and colours made it feel like a ritzy art gallery in New York.

They had a lot of little touches that contributed to the evening. Small gourmet foods being served on trays instead of a sit-down meal.  An email address where people could send photos throughout the evening and they would appear in a continuous photo slideshow.  Glowing light cubes that pulsed in time to the music on the dance floor.  And of course, being able to share in the joy of the happy couple.
My favourite photo of the day

A group of us got to talking that evening about how to throw a good party, and what contributes to a party's success. Although it's the details that give a party it's style and feel, the structure and layout actually matter a great deal to how people interact and enjoy the event.  Here are 3 simple structural elements that will really change the feel of your next social gathering. Both promote circulation and encourage meeting new people, simply due to the layout.

1. Food and Drinks in separate locations

By putting the drinks on one side of the room and the food on the other, you ensure that people move around.  Circulation is important to a party because it increases the number of opportunities for conversation especially for newcomers.  It makes people feel like they are experiencing the whole room rather than standing in one corner.

People will spend less time waiting in any one line, because the lines will be shorter.  If the food line is long, a person will likely get a drink first, or vice versa.  This also avoids congestion at one end of a room. Nobody likes elbowing their way through a crowd or standing in line.  The simple adjustment of food and drinks in separate locations helps keep the party enjoyable.

2. Seating for half your guests

You don't want people to have to stand all night, but if you have too much seating, people will find a spot and stay.  Having seating for half of the guests encourages guest circulation around the room.  Groups will be less likely to dominate a set of seats if they feel there is interesting conversation going on elsewhere in the room that they want to be part of.  People will have to get up to get food or drink, and this will leave the seats free for the next people who are ready to sit, so long as people haven't claimed the seats with a coat.

3. Designated Coat Area

Most parties have something to this effect, but it's important.  People don't want to carry a coat or umbrella all evening, and will look for a place to set them down.  Setting down personal items claims territory, and restricts the circulation of people at the party.  Moreover, the guests who don't stay with their belongings will be wondering if they are safe rather than enjoying the party.  Keeping an area free for coats and bags, be it a bed, a coat check, or hall closet solves these issues.

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