Forget champagne toned nails and whispering hair tinsel. It takes more than self-sprucing to throw a memorable party ever. Hosting a great gathering is a work of tremendous skill. Here’s more than a tip.

The new trail mix

Start with an eclectic guest list. A fun and intriguing gathering of people can rev up your party by several notches. “I have a gregarious mix of CEOs, consul generals, industrialists, young artists… coming home for my parties,” says artist and product designer Krsna Mehta, known to host some of the best parties on the circuit. “I look at creating a refreshing vibe through conversations as people come from all walks of life. So I mentally map out interesting individuals to include in my guest list. I try and bring new people and newly made friends. Of course, there is an equal mix of men and women. I freeze the list based on the intelligence and verve the person brings to the party.” Connect with your guests through a personal call two weeks in advance for tentative confirmations. Move the conversations beyond simple pleasantries to hover on the interesting, says Mehta.

“I feel a smaller group of 10-12 individuals works well for home parties. I like to keep my gatherings small. If there are 30 people, the decibel level goes up and some are forced to stand all evening for lack of space. It is better to sit and converse,” says writer Anil Dharker, famed for his literary gatherings. “People belonging to different disciplines like a writer, scientist, diplomat… bring their own charm to conversations. I avoid inviting reactionary people. For instance, an ardent Trump supporter or someone with anti-minority views. When views of the guests are diametrically opposite, people tend to get charged up and angry during conversations, whereas all you want is for everyone to have a pleasant evening.

Get spirited

“I always subscribe to this: ‘Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker’,” laughs Dharker. “So I have a nice collection of single malts to get the party going.” A well-stocked bar and quirky cocktails play a pivotal role in adding to the buzz at your party. “People lighten up and chill out more, once the drinks begin to flow,” says entrepreneur Pooja Hiremath, a pro at throwing superb dinner dos at home.

Icebreakers work at curious levels. Etiquette expert Sabira Merchant, who has been hosting legendary parties at her residence for years, says, “Sometimes to create pools of conversation, you suggest a round of a new drink be conjured at the bar, simply for trial. This really gets your party going. Of course, it helps when you have as guests a couple of dependable friends (someone who can perhaps sing or play a piece of music), some folks new on the social scene, perhaps a diplomat, a foreigner passing through town… A sprinkling of old, familiar and new.”

Add zing to the decor

“Nothing works better than a spot of clever mood lighting to liven up a space. Carefully created amber pools bring in glowing alcoves at home perfectly in sync with the party mood,” says entrepreneur Gargi Munjal, who loves to host at her residence. “Pendant lights over the dining table cast a warm glow and make the soirees more intimate. As do opaque lamp shades on the side tables or consoles. Even a low hung crystal chandelier next to the sofa can look drop dead gorgeous,” says interior stylist Jasmine Jhaveri.

Play up the ambiance with freshly cut, long-stemmed flowers or low arrangements along the consoles. “My home is lined with blooms and artworks, so a spot of skilful lighting sets the mood,” says mural artist Rouble Nagi. “I have Frazer candles dotting the space and an aroma diffuser for a fragrant welcome.”

Shilpi Madan for DNA

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