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A relaxed host is a great host, so how do we stay calm and deliver an excellent fête? Take some cues from a discussion with our own master entertainer, Jill Donnelly, on what makes a party sing (hint: it has to do with rhythm and imbibing the five senses).

Baby & Company: What is the art of forming a great bash? 

Jill Donnelly: The recipe is simple; however, the ingredients must be considered. Start with a theme, curate the crowd and humor the five senses. 

Choose a theme: Even if it's never mentioned out loud, having a solid theme in mind as you begin to plan your party sets the scene for the story to write itself. A good keynote must be considered interesting and thought provoking as it will guide your choice of music, décor, menu and, of course, attire. Dedicating to calling it a themed party gives guests something to talk about and break the ice--how often do you see your acquaintances in disco attire, for example?

Curate your guest list: A curated mix of guests adds dimension and silhouette to a gathering, just like a good perfume that gets better as it warms and blends with the skin. The recipe is a good one if it unfolds to reveal more depth, intimacy and fun. It’s never a bad idea to add a taste of eccentricity with great dancers and a handful of known extroverts. Give your introspective cousin a job to do, such as playing bar tender, and conversations will open up nicely. 

Indulge the senses: Studies prove that peripheral vision is stronger and more instinctual than focused site; apply that logic to hosting and the haptic experience rules when it comes to exceeding the usual party din. Adopt some of these subtle practices to bolster experiences: Place a bough of pine needles near to where the guests don and doff their coats, offering a slight, memorable scent as they come and go. Embrace low-key lighting so guests see each other in their most flattering glow. Offer food and libations that compliment each other and make sure to mingle, offering an embrace to guests changes the chemistry between releasing endorphins that change our brains’ perceptions. Keep the music soft with a steady pulse and pay attention to understand when to raise the volume and unleash the lyrical.


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