Here's something to celebrate: A little planning can make your next party more fun and less work-there's even a way to make it profitable. here are a few hints on how:
• Have a creative dress code or make the party black-tie formal.
• Think outside the dining room. Try drinks on the patio or dessert in the garden. The unexpectedness of an unlikely location can add flavor to the meal.
• Make interesting place cards by writing each guest's name on a leaf, a cookie or a lottery ticket.
• Make your centerpiece unique. Use potted plants or a goldfish bowl. Cluster candles around it.
• Background music and ambient lighting help create an inviting setting.
• Keep party favors in the same theme as the rest of the party-such as seed packets for a garden party.
• Take advantage of conve-nience items such as pre-chopped vegetables or rotisserie chickens.
• To inspire conversation, give guests cards labeled with topics, such as "Favorite Vacation" or "Best Childhood Memory."
• Make the house smell festive. I always put a few cups of inexpensive red wine in a pot and simmer with cinnamon, ginger, rosemary and black pepper.
• Appoint party photographers. Use a digital camera and download the pictures while the fun is still going on.
• Have a party that's practical and even profitable. Make it a direct-selling soirée. That is, join the long-standing American tradition of the one-on-one sale of a product or service in someone's home, especially as part of a party.
You and your guests can browse through the latest books, cookware, cosmetics, toys, games, financial services, pet items or scrapbooking supplies, just to name a few products and services. Hosts receive plenty of perks, free merchandise and discounts.
Often, the products are hard to find anywhere else-even on the Internet. Many people appreciate the service aspect. They can shop at their leisure and there's no need to seek a salesperson.
If the idea appeals to you, you can learn more from the associations that many sellers belong to. For example, The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is a major trade industry group. Members adhere to rigorous ethical and professional conduct guidelines.
If you like giving parties and meeting new people, you may even want to make it your career.