Home > Articles

Party Basics

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Napkin-Folding 101

Although you don't have to display napkins of which the Ritz-Carlton would approve, some basic skill with napkin folding will add an elegant touch to your table.

  • Triangle—Fold napkin in half diagonally. Fold corners up to meet the top point. Turn napkin over and fold in half diagonally. Pick up at center and stand on base of triangle (see Figure 3.1).

  • Figure 3.1Figure 3.1 The triangle.

  • Glass fan—Fold napkin in half lengthwise. Accordion pleat napkin from top to bottom. Fold bottom third of napkin back under. Place bottom in wine glass and spread out top pleats of napkin so that it resembles a fan (see Figure 3.2).

  • Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 The glass fan.

  • Standing fan—Fold napkin in half lengthwise. Fold into 1/2" accordion pleats, beginning at the bottom of the napkin and only pleating half the napkin. Fold the whole napkin in half, so that pleat meets pleat, with the accordion fold on the outside. Fold upper-right corner of unpleated sides diagonally down to folded base of pleats, and turn under edge, adjusting the fan until it feels stable. Place on table and spread pleats to form fan (see Figure 3.3).

  • Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 The standing fan.

  • Tower—Fold napkin in half diagonally. Fold corners to meet at top point. Turn napkin over and fold bottom two thirds way up. Turn napkin around and bring corners together, tucking one corner into the other. Turn napkin around and stand on base (see Figure 3.4).

  • Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 The tower.

  • No-brainer—Fold napkin in half diagonally. Holding the top point of the triangle, pull it through a round napkin holder. Attractively arrange bottom portion of napkin.

Although napkin-folding isn't for everyone, some people really enjoy the added touch of class. If you find yourself adept at linen origami, consider investing in one of the many handy books on napkin folding, which you will find in the "entertaining" section of your bookstore.

Putting Your Party to Music

Music is perhaps the single-most important ingredient to the paella that is your party. Without music, you run the risk of long, uncomfortable silences, during which your party can nose dive. A prominently displayed CD collection will also give nervous guests and wallflower types something with which to occupy themselves until the party has moved into full swing.

Music sets the atmosphere; consider carefully the soundtrack for your party. If you can, coordinate your music with your party's theme: country/western for barbecues, disco for disco parties, and swing for martini parties. Also think about the types of activities you'll feature, and coordinate your soundtrack to reflect the mood you'll want to set. For example

  • For a seated dinner, plan a few lively CDs for pre-dinner festivities. When the guests move to the dining table, switch to mellow music—classical, vocals, or ambient house music—so you can hear conversation without shouting. Also remember to adjust the volume accordingly.

  • A casual mixer will fare well with classic or contemporary rock, country, bluegrass, or R&B—just make sure to keep the volume loud enough to hear, but quiet enough to encourage chatter.

  • If you're having a cocktail party, opt for smooth jazz, swingy '60s vocals (Peggy Lee or Frank Sinatra) or low-key house music. Again, watch the volume.


Whatever your soundtrack, select your CDs ahead of time. You don't want to waste valuable party time fumbling with CD cases or rifling through your collection. Stack up about 10 CDs next to the player, in the order you'd like to play them. Toward the end of the party, as things wind down (or get nuts!), take requests.

You'll want to experiment with different sounds and styles before the party. Try to achieve a mix of the standard and the unexpected. For interesting ideas, visit your local independent music store and chat up the clerks.

After you select your party soundtrack, check each CD to ensure there aren't any scratches. Also, make sure you keep the remote in your pocket at all times, just to make certain the volume fluctuates with the party.

If you're on a budget and your CD collection reflects it, visit used CD stores, where you can find great albums at rock-bottom prices. Also considering visiting your local public library, where you will find many great CDs—free!

A CD Collection That Knows How to Party

Although your musical tastes might run to speed metal, British punk, or Broadway show tunes, your guests might prefer something a little more diverse. You can't please all your guests at once, but you can acquire a CD collection that will get the party grooving.

Recommended in no particular order, the following CDs can enliven even the most staid party, serving as everything from a background for conversation to a shake-your-booty enticer.

  • Pink Martini, Sympathique—Fabulous standards, classical, and world music interpreted by an acid-cool jazz band and vocalist, this album's variety and scope make this CD a perfect party opener.

  • ABBA, ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits—Disco, disco, and more disco! You might be tired of hearing Dancing Queen, but isn't there certain value in knowing all the words?

  • Massive Attack, Blue Lines—The definitive trip-hop album, Blue Lines lends perfect atmosphere to almost any kind of party.

  • Kruder & Dorfmeister, The K&D Sessions—Cool, low-key, trippy music characterizes this brilliant album by German remixers Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister. Your hip guests will love this CD.

  • Seal, Seal (1994)—The production value alone makes this CD a keeper, but the songs are great, too! Perfect for the first two hours of the party.

  • Sade, Love Deluxe—When you've finished listening to Seal, slip on Sade, whose cool, "dancey" vocals will keep the party warm.

  • Annie Lennox, Bare—Former Eurythmics chanteuse Annie Lennox has an amazing voice, showcased nicely by this collection of original songs, perfect for ambient moments.

  • Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook—Nothing says "class" like the First Lady of Jazz. Ella is at her best when singing Cole Porter, whose clever lyrics will be familiar to any guests born before the year 1980.

  • Peggy Lee, The Best of Miss Peggy Lee—An upbeat complement to Ella and Annie, Peggy Lee will inspire your guests to sing along as they sip martinis.

  • Various Artists, Bossa Nova Brasil—What's a party without a little Bossa Nova? The cool, Latin rhythms will enhance any party, seated or standing.

  • Ry Cooder, Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club—Cuban rhythms have become popular in the last decade; check out the album that started it all.

  • Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II—Your collection would be incomplete without at least one solid rock album. This is the album.

  • Steely Dan, A Decade Of Steely Dan—The definitive party band of the 1970s, Steely Dan will leave guests nostalgic for the days when uninhibited drug use and casual sex were socially and medically acceptable.

  • Various Artists, Rock Instrumental Classics, Vol. 4—You might think "Instrumental versions of my favorite rock music? No way!" Way. Perfect for quiet parties and seated dinners, where the original recordings might be far too disruptive and loud, this album really rocks.

  • Sly & the Family Stone, Anthology—Sly gives disco a little soul, as evidenced by this classic collection that contains some of the best dancing songs you will ever hear.

  • Sugarhill Gang, The Best Of Sugarhill Gang: Rapper's Delight—Old-school rap is perfect when your guests are likely to know every single word. Slap on this CD and watch your guests sing as they groove.

  • Yo-Yo Ma, Bach: The Cello Suites—When understated occasions demand classic music, Yo-Yo Ma's take on Bach can lend a poignant air of beauty to any gathering.

Although you will certainly want to amass a larger, more extensive collection of albums that reflects your personal taste—save the speed metal for after the guests leave—these CDs will give you a great start.

Incorporating Activities

Party games and other activities might seem passé, but really, they aren't. When presented with the proper attitude—mirth, optimism, and a tongue-in-cheek attitude—games and activities can add an element of fun to even the stuffiest gathering. You might be surprised by how many guests will demand games and activities at your next party.

Although you'll do best wandering through a game store or consulting a party activities book (yes, these do exist), keep in mind a few options that have worked well for me:

  • Adult party games—Allowing guests to showcase their particular talents, knowledge, and skills, adult party games can bring disparate guests together into a cohesive group. Although you probably don't want to pull out the Trivial Pursuit game for a party of 40 people, smaller gatherings are perfectly suited for an hour or two of challenging mind games. See the sidebar for specific ideas about which games work well.

  • Scavenger hunts—This childhood favorite can become a favorite with adults when given a mature spin. At the beginning of a destination party, hand the guests a list of items (perhaps a few naughty items?) they should be able to locate throughout the evening. You also can host a video or musical scavenger hunt, or plan an entire party around a city-wide scavenger hunt.

  • Shower games—Although some guests will claim to abhor the silly little games played at wedding and baby showers, I adore them. Keep it simple, no more than two or three games per party, and offer fun prizes. If you adopt a festive spirit, your guests will, too.

Although some gatherings, such as a Games Night, demand certain activities, games should never be forced on anyone. Take your party's temperature before pulling out the Pictionary game: If everyone is having a great time already, leave well enough alone. If your guests seem to be looking for something to do, suggest an activity or game.


Please offer prizes for winners! Although selecting and wrapping these small gifts might seem like one extra chore, prizes make the games even more fun, giving guests something to vie for. The prizes don't have to be expensive—scented candles, a CD or DVD, or a funky coffee mug—but they should reflect some thought. Don't forget to remove the price tags!

Before your party, make sure all your boxed games contain all the pieces and that any tools you'll need are on hand.

If you can't afford a bunch of adult games—most cost around $25—don't despair. Hit the kids section of your local Target or Wal-Mart and select a few lower-priced options, such as Uno, Yahtzee, or Operation. Look for games that allow several players, and don't forget to hype up the kitsch value!

Party Games

If you and your guests love charades, have at it. Otherwise, you might want to check out one of these other games, all suitable for adults:

  • Pictionary—Whether you make your own set or buy the game, Pictionary is a great group game just about anyone can play.

  • Twister—Yes, it's kitschy, but isn't that the point?

  • Taboo—This cheeky game is a great ice- breaker for adults who think they know one another. Don't take the game too seriously, and you'll have a great time.

  • Hide-and-seek—Best played outdoors, in a park or while camping, hide-and-seek, when played with adults (especially those who have been drinking just a little bit), can be just as fun as it was when you were a kid.

  • Trivial Pursuit—It's a classic, with good reason. Playing in teams allows to you match skills and knowledge, and players can have a great time arguing about their final answers.

  • "I Never"—This sorority-days holdover is actually quite fun in the right company. A drinking game, one person states something they profess never to have done, such as making out in public, and whoever has actually performed this feat takes a drink. Yes, this isn't a very mature game, but if begun at the right time, with the right group of people, you'll have a fabulous time.

  • Cranium—Another game marketed for adults, Cranium contains a little bit for everyone: trivia, acting skills, drawing, and modeling with clay. Best suited for smaller gatherings, Cranium is one of the more fun games to emerge in recent years.

Keep a variety of games on hand, perhaps a book on party games, and you'll be able to enliven a party that is dying prematurely.

Hiring Entertainment

If you have the inclination, consider hiring professional entertainment for your party. Although not every gathering—or budget!—is suited to this type of activity, a little creativity and effort on your part can make your evening's entertainment spectacular.

Instead of hiring your brother's garage band, why not explore one of these ideas?

  • Music—Quality performers are always welcome at any party, especially when they function more as ambience, rather than the central focus. Consider a string quartet, jazz trio, or even a harpist, all of whom can add wonderful atmosphere to your gathering without overpowering it.

  • If you're working with a limited budget, but are dying for professional musicians at your party, contact a local university or music school, where you can often find talented students who are more than happy to play for the exposure and a small fee.

  • Live entertainment—A hypnotist, comedian, or balloon artist can add a lively, silly element to the right party, such as a barbecue, retirement or reunion party, children's party, or picnic. Before you dismiss this idea as childish, think about it: What could be more entertaining than a group of adults laughing their heads off at a professional clown?

  • Services—A really creative hostess will have fun planning special services for the right party: a psychic, a tarot card reader, or a palm-reader for a Halloween party; an esthetician for a Beauty Night; a 5-minute masseuse for a Happy Hour; or even a babysitter for a party at which several children will be present. Think about the theme of your party and your guests' needs and preferences, and then look through your local community paper to discover what kinds of services are available near you.

Although not every party will require or benefit from hired entertainment—a dinner party for six might be an odd place for a babysitter—many parties can be enhanced by such offerings. Be creative and ask your friends for feedback. You might be surprised by what you hear!


Always keep your guests' happiness in mind. Not everyone will appreciate a comedian who tells off-color jokes or a performance by a psychic or fortuneteller, which many people negatively associate with the occult. If your guests are on the conservative side, plan accordingly.

If you have the budget for a professional entertainer or service provider, don't skimp on quality. Ask for references, attend an event at which the person will be performing, and make sure you are getting your money's worth.

Give yourself plenty of time to research, evaluate, and select your entertainment. Because this is one task you can definitely perform far ahead of your party date, don't leave it to the last minute, or else you might find yourself settling for second-rate talent.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020