Dining, Entertaining & Celebrations

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Party planning for an adults-only event

Parties come in many forms, from intimate dinners with professional colleagues to boisterous backyard gatherings with family and friends. Although celebrations can be especially lively with kids in tow, certain occasions call for an adults-only affair. Coordinating a child-free party is not difficult, but it may require a certain measure of finesse and a little extra planning.

* Provide ample advanced notice. In addition to accounting for jam-packed calendars, giving advanced notice enables parents and other caregivers to arrange for babysitters on the day of the party. Keep in mind that sitters may charge $10 and up per hour, so plan the event accordingly so that it can be an affordable party for those guests who require the services of a sitter.

* Hire a bartender or delegate the work to one person. Alcohol is a part of many adults-only affairs. A spirited drink or two can loosen up nerves and make it easier for guests to mingle. But excessive alcohol consumption can lead to unruly behavior and land hosts in legal hot water if guests get out of hand. Bartenders may stretch your budget, but bartenders can monitor guests' alcohol consumption and halt service if necessary. Be sure to have other beverages available for guests who do not want to partake.

* Plan for designated drivers or other transportation. As a host, you are responsible for your guests, and that includes ensuring they make it home safely. In addition to monitoring behavior and alcohol consumption, you will need to arrange for a ride home if a guest is too impaired to drive. Keep the phone numbers of various cab services on hand and make advanced arrangements with guests who agree to carpool and act as designated drivers.

* Arrange for entertainment. Although many adult parties can be successful with just music and mingling, plan for games or other entertaining activities to guarantee guests have a good time. Activities can be tied into the theme of the party. If your's is a particularly musical crowd, a karaoke or sing-along may make the night more memorable or hire a band or disk jockey to keep guests on their feet throughout the night. If the crowd is unlikely to cut a rug, hire another type of entertainer, such as a magician or palm reader, to amuse guests as the evening wears on. Popular yard games, like volleyball, bean bag toss or horseshoes, also may be fun when hosting an outdoor party.

* Be specific on invitations. Unless clearly worded, guests may assume the party is open to children, particularly if you've thrown parties with both kids and adults in the past. When addressing invitations, include only the names of the adults invited on the envelope. If you are sending electronic invites, you may want to specifically state that this is an adults-only party. Be polite and state, "Adults only, please" or "Please arrange for a sitter."

* Cater to adult tastes. When only adults are in attendance, you can experiment with foods and flavors that are more mature. Seafood or more expensive items are often acceptable for adults-only parties. Quiche and exotic cheese can replace the chips and nuggets of children's parties.

Certain occasions call for adults-only parties. Make the most of time spent with friends and family and plan an event that is seamless and enjoyable.