Saturday 13 April 2024

The Saturday List #436 - My top ten ingredients for a great party!

 On this coming Friday, my band, The False Dots, will be releasing our new single. It's called we all love a party and is a humourous take on the family party culture of the 1970's, when I was a  wee nipper. To help launch the single we had a proper 1970's style party at the studio, with a selection of popular snacks and tipples from the era. It got me thinking, what makes a great party at your house? What better thing to put on a list. 

So here is my list of what you need to do.

1. Have a theme and tell guests it is compulsory! A great party transports you away from the drudgery of life, to a place where they will have the best night of the year. Think about what your friends like and enjoy. Think about what they talk about when they are talking about fun. A degree of dressing up always works. When people don disguises, they let their guard down. Looking at others costumes etc can be a great laugh. Of course you can go the other way and go super formal. Whatever you do though, make it different. Always try and have a 'keynote moment'. For a birthday, this is usually the cake. Put some thought into this moment. Have a special tune lined up, big the whole thing up. 

2. The front door/garden/drive. A great party is one where you suspend your inhibitions and be silly. You need to set the mood from the moment people can see your property. Many people make a painfully token effort, a couple of balloons, a sign saying "Aureana's party this way ->" etc. This is a complete waste of time. You need the guests to know that they are entering a world of fun and frolics. A bit of dressing of the entrance will set the mood. It means that people know they are expected to enjoy themselves. I had a friend who had a Dr Who themed party. He borrowed a Dalek and had it in the front garden threatening to exterminate guests who hadn't turned up in theme. You don't have to go to that extreme, but be a bit more imaginative than just a few balloons etc.

3. The party playlist. I am an advocate of vinyl, but I will concede that for parties, a good Spotify playlist works wonders. I've always found that a heavy dollop of Ska music works wonders. It is good fun and gets people dancing. 60's Northern Soul and 70's disco works equally well. Of course if you are having a punk rock party, then the music should be punk. The worst parties I've been to are ones where there is prog rock being played. Then again, I'm biased. Spend time putting the list together. See what people dance to. There is lots of great contemporary music that is good for partys, such as Daft Punk, The Zutons, Amy's Valerie etc. Put some thought into what your friends like, but try and keep it upbeat and danceable. 

4. Alcohol policy. This is something that you need to consider. The best party I ever had was one where we hired a mixologist. We provided the mixers, then told everyone they had to bring a spirit, preferably a weird an wacky one. We said anyone just bring cheap beer or wine would be asked to leave. It worked really well. The non drinkers brought various things for non alcoholic drinks, which were also delicious. We all have friends who bring their worst plonk and drink your best. Keep an eye on these scalliwags and devise a strategy to defeat their selfish ways. If you have teenagers, don't get overly strong lagers and keep an eye on the vodka etc. My Dad once advised me that if ever I had a party with teenage kids, get a couple of bottles of cheapish vodka and water them down. It will save you a lot of cleaning up. They tend to swipe the stuff they know. They don't know any better. Dad would also get Tesco's own brand brandy and put it in a marked Remy Martin bottle for those who brought rough plonk. Make sure there are good options for non drinkers. Not just Tesco own brand lemonade etc. If you make a bit of an effort it will be most appreciated.

5. Party food. This is often what your friends will judge you by. If you are going with a theme, then reflect it in the food. When we did our 70's party, we had mushroom vol-au-vonts, ham sandwiches, pineapple hedgehogs pork pies. Our friends appreciated the efforts. If you can't be bothered with preparing food, do stuff that doesn't require much washing up. Paper plates and pizza's works well. My daughter took this to a ridiculous level and bought a pizza oven, having a pizza party for her birthday. It was great. My tip is to try and avoid food with sauces that stain, as people spill these when they are enjoying themselves. One of the best parties I had, we simply got lots of french bread and a big selection of cheeses. It worked perfectly.

6. The Guests. This is perhaps the most important aspect. Your friends and family are what they are. Not everyone is an extrovert or a party animal, but you may still love them anyway. Go through the list and try and make sure there is something for everyone. You know your guests. If someone is a quiet ontrovert, who hates parties and is uncomfortable in crowds, but is your best mate, put some effort into doing something that makes them feel welcomed.

7. Kids. One of the biggest issues around parties are young children, be it yours or other peoples. Friends with kids often like to bring them, and other friends are riled by this. How do you square this circle? When our kids were little, we'd either have something in the garden for them, such as bouncy castle hires, or a bedroom with an Xbox etc in. If one couple are bringing kids, then get a few to and shunt them off out of the way. If there are just one lot, they get bored and become a pain in the bum. If there are a few, they will entertain themselves, if given the tools and space.

8. Badly behaved relatives. We all have badly behaved relatives, who disgrace themselves at every party. Usually they get drunk them Fight/Throw Up/Flirt inappropriately/Weep *delete as appropriate. If it is someone that you cannot leave off the list, then try and have some sort of strategy. The one's who start fighting are perhaps the most difficult. Sometimes they will do all of the things we don't want. My Dad always said "****** is coming, he always gets in a fight" so he'd try and ensure that he spent the evening with the rellies he didn't like, so that at least if someone got thumped, it was someone he didn't like. Have some sort of strategy. I know of one couple, who the female partner would always say she was feeling sick and needed to leave when her husband was about to thump someone. My mum told me later that this was her way of stopping him making a fool of himself. Everyone thought she was a real party pooper, but my mum was full of admiration for her drunkard management skills. Often it is the bad behaviour that you laugh about when the dust settles, so don't get to uptight. 

9. Neighbours. The biggest problem with noisy parties is complaints from neighbours. I've had loads and I have managed to stay onside with my neighbours. A note through the door a couple of weeks before works wonders. Sometimes they will say "please can you tone it down after 11pm" or something like that. Respect this. It will save you a lot of aggro. I also had one completely obnoxious neighbour, who was most disrespectful to all his neighbours. I had one party where I brought a band PA home and played punk rock until 5am. I'd told all of the other neighbours that I was doing this to annoy him. They all said that they were onside. He called the police at 4am, when they turned up, I said "He does this every week, are you going to come to see him?" They then asked him if it was true. He said "Yes,F**K him". At this point the police, asked the other neighbours, who had come into the street as well, who confirmed this. They laughed and left. 

10. Cleaning up. This is the worst bit. The best hint I can give is leave bins around with black bags in and ask guests to dump empty bottles and cans in them. This will save a few groans in the morning. We usually use paper plates and plastic cups. This avoids breakages. They can go in the bins and so less washing up.


As mentioned above, The False Dots release We All Love A Party on Friday 19th April. The band will be previewing the song tonight at The Bull Theatre in Barnet. We are supporting The Silencerz featuring Lee Thompson of Madness. There are only a few tickets left, the doors open at 7,30pm and we are on at 8pm, so get there early. We are also playing at The Dublin Castle with Skaface on Friday 26th July - tickets available CLICK HERE.

Here is a short trailer for the new single. 

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