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Dining, Entertaining & Celebrations

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Rules to keep in mind as you create your party playlist

Parties with family and friends are memorable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the soundtrack to the soiree. Many guests remember having a good time on the dance floor or singing along to popular songs as the party unwinds. Although it may be tempting to just turn on the radio, making your own musical selections can set the tone for your event.

Classic dinner party

Complement a formal dinner party with musical selections that will not impede conversation and will blend into the background. Music should not be too loud or chaotic. Studies have shown that low, classical music played while dining helps diners take smaller bites and chew more slowly, which assists with digestion. Conversely, listening to fast-paced music may cause people to eat more quickly and overeat as a result.

If classical music is not to your taste, select instrumental songs or adult contemporary and standards. Such music tends to appeal to people of all ages and is calm enough to make for pleasant background noise.

Theme party

If your party follows a specific theme, choose music that ties into the established theme. For example, steel drum music would accompany a party that has a tropical feel. A party that commemorates a certain time period should include music of that era. Big bands would fit for a 1940s-inspired party, while disco correlates to a 1970s soiree.

Movies, broadway plays and television shows can serve as inspiration for musical selections as well.

Dance party

A party that is designed to get everyone up out of their chairs and enjoying themselves could benefit from some upbeat music and a well-crafted playlist. You can hire a disc jockey to play tunes, but anyone with access to digital music files or even an extensive CD collection can put together an adequate playlist.

Guided dances or those with set footwork also allow a group of people to dance simultaneously without necessarily dancing together.

Song selection guidelines

Once the scope of the party has been established, it is time to build your song catalog. These tips can help you along.

* Choose popular songs people will recognize. Now is not the time to impress others with your extensive knowledge of obscure music. Such music may adversely affect guest participation and enjoyment.

* Create peaks and lulls in the music. There will be times for socializing, dancing, eating, and relaxing. Time musical interludes to coincide with these moments in the party schedule.

* Be aware of the volume of the music. If the music is too low, no one will hear it. If it is too loud, guests will not be able to hear themselves or their fellow invitees speak.

* Encourage musical input from others. Some guests may want to bring their own songs or make requests. Make others feel comfortable by honoring these requests.

* Avoid downloading music illegally. It can be tempting to download music illegally or copy it from unauthorized music sharing sites. To avoid fines and possible prosecution, use legal means to create party playlists.

* Invest in good equipment, such as hidden outdoor speakers if you have a number of backyard events. A decent stereo system or an mp3 player dock also may be enough to get the job done.

* Check with the venue to confirm rules regarding music. Parties that will take place at a restaurant or catering hall will be governed by that facility's rules. Make sure they allow outside music or performers, and check if they are wired for sound.