I’ve often wondered what makes a party unique, memorable, and magical. A party to me is a celebration of friendship. It is the people that make a party special, and of course the ambiance comes in at a close second.
• Working on a guest list is like concocting a cocktail; it must have the right mix of every ingredient. I start a list with close friends that warm the heart and make it all worth the effort, because what could be more motivating than doing things that bring happiness to those you love and care about.
• The second essential mix is that of exciting glamorous friends who add chutzpah to a party and make the evening enjoyable.
• Then of course the friends who are easy conversationalists. These are people who are sociable, warm and make an evening fun through a series of engaging topics.
• I also include work people whom I must entertain, and then there are obviously those reciprocal invites to people who’ve extended their hospitality my way.
• I go through a few tastings to ensure the menu is unique.
• An input I’d give all Indians is not to serve dinner post 10 pm. Most parties in Bombay serve post-12 and the reason given is ‘everyone will leave after dinner’, which is incorrect. Why would you capture people and be insecure? People must stay because they wish to. It is also so unhealthy to make people wait until midnight. I think to invite a person is a compliment to them, because it indicates that they are special to you.
• The food needs to be hot but not overheated or bubbling. Garnishing food interestingly is a yes, but taking up the heat by way of spices is risky.
• A mix of dry and gravy items should be selected, ensuring the gravy items aren’t messy and unmanageable.
Token of Remembrance
I sometimes have presents that I give my special friends at my parties or dinners. It works as a little keepsake that will make your Diwali, Christmas or New Year Party etched in their memory. It’s the season for giving isn’t it?
Decor & Seating
• I like the dining table to be like an installation.
• If it is a sit down then place cards seating people who might strike an interesting conversation with each other is thoughtful.
• At a formal sit-down dinner, the host sits at the head of the table while the guest of honour sits at the far end on the other side. The hostess sits next to the guest on his or her left. The guest’s wife could be seated at the host’s right.
• Try to break all women or all men groups to encourage a healthy mix. This is done by ensuring you introduce your guests to each other, and always remembering to add a tiny vignette about the person through the introduction.
• If it is a buffet style dinner, ensure that you name the dishes appropriately. Not only does it help the staff place the food accurately, but more importantly it tells your guest exactly what they are eating.
• Candles, diyas and candelabras with multiple candles give a festive air to a space.
• Serve in artistic dishes.
• Decorate your indoors with trees, plants and fairy light installations.
Chic, but casual and comfortable shoes will help you manoeuvre through the party with ease. Wear an outfit that is not high maintenance. It is important to look good, but not go overboard, especially at your own home.
• Excellent music and valet parking, even at home
• Whetted, educated waiters over those that glance at ceilings while serving. Also ensure you demand an acceptable use of deodorant, so that they’re not expending wafts of smelling salts when they lift their hands to hold a tray!
• Food that is unique and fun.
• Introduce all your friends so people do not feel uncomfortable or left out.
• I consider it poor etiquette to RSVP in the affirmative and then not show up, especially for house parties. If you’re iffy, mention you’re undecided unless you want the host to think twice before including you on their next guest list. Bombay is infamous for its insensitive guests that do not follow party etiquette.
• Never bring someone without checking with a host as they might have excluded people in the interest of keeping the numbers curtailed.
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