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The WHERE of Party Planning
by Bob Blumer
Magazine Issue: Internet Only

When I was twelve, I remember trout fishing in a rowboat with my older, more "experienced" cousin. The subject inevitably came around to girls, and he bragged that he and his girlfriend "did it" frequently in his unfurnished apartment. "How can you 'do it' if you don't have a bed?" I asked in naivete. "All it takes is a floor," he responded, with a wise and lascivious grin.

the setting

There is no such thing as an inadequate space for a dinner party. Some of the best dinners I have attended have taken place in cramped apartments, on apartment roofs, on tour buses and yes, even on floors.

Overcoming the shortcomings of your surroundings will add to the pleasure and spontaneity of the party. Turning an unaccommodating setting into a workable one requires the process of "unlocking" oneself from conventional thinking.. If the dining room is too small, move the dining room table into the living room. If you only have two chairs, get rid of them altogether, seat your guests on the floor, and serve Japanese food and sake. Too hot? Eat outside. Too buggy? Make it a safari party and build a tent on the patio from mosquito netting. If all else fails, borrow someone else's place. Some people are happy to lend out their home or apartment as a way to meet people from outside their immediate circle of friends (with the proviso that they are invited, and the cleanup is taken care of).

To avoid the party-in-the-kitchen phenomenon, make each room as inviting as possible. Keep the lighting flattering, the temperature comfortable and the stereo volume below the level of conversation. If your guests still don't take the bait, use finger foods and booze to lure them into the desired areas. When all else fails, do as I do and section off the kitchen with yellow police-line tape.

the table

When planning a sit-down dinner, create a table configuration that facilitates conversation and interaction. Round tables are ideal for up to ten people, after which megaphones are usually required to hear the person sitting opposite you. Long tables also work well -- as long as you seat talkative types at the ends. If you do not have a table large enough to accommodate everyone, assemble a patchwork table fashioned out of several smaller tables (your dinner table, card tables, plywood planks, etc.), then mask your handiwork with one or more cloth or papercloths of the same color.

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