10 Elements of an Extraordinary Party

James Walpole/ December 31, 2017

Hosting a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow? Why not make it extraordinary?

Here are some principles I’ve observed about the best parties and party-like events I’ve hosted:

1. Invite a core group of creative people.

Don’t be the sole creative mind behind your party. If your invitees include a core group of people who tend to be creative, fun, and unconventional in other parts of life, you’re way more likely to get engagement from your full party crowd.

Creative people will try more things, tolerate more things, and add more value to your efforts at any event you host. They’ll help you by setting the tone for the rest of your guests and making it acceptable and comfortable to get into the spirit of the party.

2. Connect interesting people.

Make a deliberate point of inviting and then introducing people who should know each other. Tell them why they should be friends. Give them a starting point, then step back and see what happens.

I’ve seen some of my friends become great friends with each other because of a well-placed party invite. Being a good connector of people pays off for you and your fiends.

3. Teach your guests a cool skill.

I hosted a party tonight where I got to show a friend how to shoot a gun (we were shooting skeet/clays). Sometimes when I’m hosting friends at my apartment I’ll break out the fencing foils and we’ll have a duel. Find the cool skill you happen to know, then share it with your guests. They could be cooking, dancing, playing music, making art, sculpting ice, what have you. The weirder and more unusual the better.

Parties should be active experiences, not passive ones. Teaching your guests a cool skill is a way to get them involved and set them up for more fun experiences down the line.

4. Let your guests help.

People really like to do work and create things. They like to help each other. It releases endorphins or something. You should let people help you with your party, even if you feel obligated to handle everything yourself. Accept help washing dishes, moving furniture, making the playlist, or cleaning up.

This also reduces the stress/guilt your guests might feel if they see you slaving away. You want to set them at ease and make them feel at home? Let them help you!

5. Get physical.

Sitting around and eating/drinking gets boring fast. Let people get their bodies moving and their blood flowing. Dancing should be a default option for all parties, period. But you might also want to have Twister, footraces, soccer matches, football games, fencing, or shooting going on.

6. Get exotic.

Create an atmosphere that disorients people from everyday life. If you’re watching the Oscars, set a Hollywood theme in your decor, your music, your dress, and your food.

Make it easy for people to imagine themselves in a different context. People open up and do/say interesting things when they can assume another mindset and another identity for a few hours.

7. Get competitive.

Humans love friendly competition. Find ways to bring in games with stakes and tests of skill. If you’re hosting a potluck-format party, have contests for the best dish. Bring in small prizes or add stakes for that game of charades.

8. Document.

Take plenty of photos and videos so people don’t have to think about doing it themselves. People like to remember extraordinary nights.

9. Give great followup material/action items.

You can measure the success of your party by the number of books, movies, places, products, and ideas are recommended to your guests in the course of an evening.

10. Make your guests better people.

Your party should make your guests better people by the end. Speak a word of encouragement or good advice. Be a good listener. Connect people who should be friends. Make notes of how you can help each other be more awesome in the world. Plan collaborations. Hug it out.

No one should regret your party (#NoRagrets), and no one should feel ashamed of anything that happens at your party. If your party is truly extraordinary, people will look back on it with pride and joy.

Parties are more important than you think. Go make an awesome one.

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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