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Planning a party that pops

Summer is the ultimate season for impromptu get-togethers among friends. Before you summon the troops over for your next big to-do, check out these tips for making your home as mingle-friendly as possible.

Bodies in motion

Party people

The best parties take on a life of their own. If you’ve ever been to a social gathering that fell flat, the culprit was probably the flow. Guests generate the most energy with they’re moving around, so avoid too much cozy seating--especially if you have plush sofas and chairs that face each other, as this will encourage your guests to hole up in one spot. You want people moving around and mingling! Try a sleek sofa or accent chairs spread around the space. Close doors to adjoining rooms to keep the party energy all in one room.

Raise the bar

Wishbone bar stool

The exception to the no-seating rule is bar-height stools. Bistro-style tables and chairs like the y-barstool encourage mingling, so add a set or two to the party area to create natural points for your guests to have conversations without running the risk of splitting up the energy. Even if you don’t have a regular bar in your space, a stylish barstool goes with any decor style.

Cover up

Assume that every horizontal surface in the party zone will have a drink set (or spilled) on it.

Instead of running after guests with a coaster--or a rag and a scolding tone--put down a protective covering in advance on any furniture that needs to be shielded from liquid or food. You might want to show off your midcentury-inspired desk, but opting for a crisp, catered look with stark, white tablecloths might be the better option--if you’re stressing about drink placement all night, nobody’s having fun.

See the light

Lighting

Make sure the lighting in your space is appropriate for the vibe you are trying to create. Children’s birthday party? Bright lights are probably the way to go. Cocktail hour? Not so much. Transform your living room into a chill atmosphere with mood lighting. If you have lamps with dimmers, it’s easy to lower the light that way. If not, try light bulbs with lower wattage and/or dark-colored lampshades. If you’re in the market for new lamps, think about how guests will move around them and avoid easily knocked-over table lamps--consider hanging fixtures or floor lamps that fit neatly into corners instead.

The outsiders

Garden party bunting

If you have a backyard or large patio, take the party outside--but only if there’s space for all guests (otherwise you’ll break up the energy we talked about above). Spruce up a drab yard with stylish outdoor lighting and stick to plastic cups for beverages to avoid broken glass in the grass--you can get surprisingly attractive options these days.

Arrivals and departures

Party

Whenever possible, set up your main mingling area away from the door that guests will be using to enter and exit the party. That way, guests can come in or out quietly without affecting the energy of the group or becoming the centre of attention (which your introverted pals will appreciate). And while summer weather means you won’t have to contend with a giant pile of coats, it’s best to keep shoes and handbags out of the way.

Have fun

Does it seem strange to have to mention this part? If you’ve hosted a party recently, you know that stress levels can run high. Take a moment to enjoy the company of your nearest and dearest, and revel in the successful event that you’ve planned.