Years after the kegs and Jell-O shots have disappeared from your living room (and blood vessels), you may find yourself craving the sort of refined and classy party of which Don Draper might approve. Only one thing stands in your way: your apartment. It’s not necessarily dingy or embarrassing, by any means, but it might be a little messy or a little cramped.
Never fear, though: There are some basic and easy things you can quickly do to add class to your not-so-classy apartment for that perfect “grown-up” party — even if you don’t feel quite so grown-up yet.
The easiest way to decorate and class up your otherwise cluttered apartment is to make space. This is a moment to take stock of your home and decide, with a discerning eye, what you really need. In some ways, throwing a party is actually a wonderful way to re-evaluate your living quarters and possessions. Is it time to get rid of that threadbare couch with the stain on the armrest? Do you really need that white plastic statue of an ugly dog? You can always rent a self-storage unit if you have nowhere else to go. And who knows: You might end up using the unit for longer than you think.
Once you’ve rid your apartment of unnecessary furniture and belongings, you’ll find that decorating (and cleaning, for that matter) will be extremely easy. Light touches, such as candles, jars, simple vases and flowers will instantly set the mood. Remember to arrange your furniture to facilitate social interaction and streamline movement, so that people aren’t crowded around the food table or squeezed onto a sofa without any other options for seating.
Pair drinks accordingly
Are you planning an experimental cocktail party or a simple martini affair? Will this be a haven for Scotch lovers or are you sticking to wine? If this is your first time, it will be much easier to stick to a drink theme, rather than opting for a full bar. Familiarize yourself with basic highball drinks and some other classics, so that everyone will have something to enjoy. Be sure to stock up on mixers, and don’t forget the ice.
Once you’ve decided the drink menu, the food menu will come easily. Finger foods and most appetizers will pair wonderfully with cocktails and martinis. Meat is especially tasty with Scotch, and if you’re serving wine, don’t dare forget the cheese.
Basic appetizers such as olives, nuts, crackers, dips and chocolates are always perfect accompaniments to whatever drinks you decide to serve. If you’re leaning more toward a dinner party, plan two or three easy dishes that can be distributed among the masses, without pausing your guests’ enjoyment of the party (pick things that are easy to eat while standing up, for example). Crab cakes, crostinis, cheese plates and pasta dishes are all extremely easy to prepare and can go a long way in pleasing your guests. Always have at least one vegetarian dish, just in case.
If you’re absolutely scant for food ideas, don’t hesitate to look up party food ideas online — Real Simple, Epicurious and The Kitchn are great resources, to just name a few. Don’t shy away from Pinterest either, which offers a ton of great recipes.
Make the theme clear to your guests
The quickest way for your otherwise classy party to get out of hand is to have too many guests to control. There are two ways to prevent this: Make the theme clear to your guests, and be discreet about whom you decide to invite. A party with more than 10 people immediately has the potential to get a little crazy. Therefore, choose wisely and make sure your guests know beforehand the kind of atmosphere you’re trying to create. A very subtle, but effective way to do this is to provide a dress code.
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Jenny Zhang is a writer at SpareFoot, the online marketplace where you can find and reserve a self-storage unit with comparison shopping tools that show real-time availability and exclusive deals.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.