Do you love to entertain guests? Help!

I finally feel like I know my neighbors well enough and my housekeeping has improved enough (It only took 13 years!) to have some sort of holiday gathering.

My main problem is lack of space. My house is a pretty standard 60s era split level and the main space for guests is a living/dining L-shaped room that is none too big. It connects to our kitchen, but the 3 rooms don’t make a circle, just a dead end in the kitchen.
There is a lower level TV room that is small because we walled off the lion’s share of it to create an office for my husband/guest room.

When I start trying to create a guest list I come up with about 70 people! I really can’t imagine more than 20 fitting and that’s only if no one is claustrophobic. Because it’s a neighborhood party I hate the idea of inviting some people I know and not others since there is the possibility of noticing a party that you were not invited to. Plus, I’d like to use it as an opportunity to get to know some people I’m only slightly acquainted with.

Options I can see:

1)Invite everybody and let the chips fall where they may
2)Invite my favorites and let the chips fall where they may
3)Have more than one gathering
4)Wait till spring when everyone can spill out into the yard.
What do you experienced hosts and hostesses say?

Seventy people? Isn’t that, like, the whole neighborhood? You must be a very gregarious person.

Anyway, keep in mind that not everyone who gets invited will show up. I would figure on getting no more than half the people you invite.

What’s the climate like?

carlotta you could have an “open house” where people drop by, have a drink and some snacks then leave. Thus people come and go during the course of the party. You could state the hours as being like from seven to nine or whatever. If you want to have a holiday type gathering for the neighbors this could be a good way to do it.

Then again, if you know some of your neighbors better than others, you could just invite the ones you know for a party. Then, in Spring, host a larger neighborhood gathering with all the neighbors if you want. I honestly don’t think people you don’t know very well are going to feel slighted if you don’t invite them to a holiday party. I doubt they’ll even have any idea you’re throwing a party.

Anyway, whatever you do, have fun and relax. I like entertaining people for stuff like dinner and during the summer pool parties.

I second Swampie’s idea of an “open house”.

Do you have an enclosed garage? I’ve used that before as “party space” in the wintertime. Another thing we’ve done is to have a bonfire or chimnea going outside. Of course, it doesn’t get really cold here (so they say) and that probably won’t work up north.

Spring yard party sounds good too.

Hey swampbear, how’d you get so smart?

This is more-or-less what our annual Dope-The-Halls (plus our real-life friends and some neighbours) event is like. We start at 2:00 in the afternoon. Some come for a short time, some come and stay all day, and some even overnight. It works out well. Let people know (if you’re doing that) when the meal will be served (buffet-style) and they can plan accordingly.

I vote for option 1. The open house idea is a great one. If it were me, I’d send out invitations that say something like, “Holiday Open House at Carlotta’s! Bring your favorite cookie or other holiday treat to share.” That way, folks know it’s a drop-in affair and you’re not in sole charge of providing food for all of these folks. If you have hot cider, a few bottles of wine, and a few hors d’oeuvre-y type things, that should get the ball rolling.

WF Tomba is right that not all the invitees will come. Especially during the holiday season, when people get so many invitations that they have to prioritize. Even if I weren’t able to make it, I’d still be pleased as punch to get an invitation to a neighborhood party. Good on you for fostering community spirit!

There is a difference between an “open house” and a “potluck.”

There is also a difference between taking someone up on the offer when they ask “can I bring anything” and demanding that they bring something as the price of admission.

When you throw a party, you are in charge of providing refreshments. There are plenty of exceptions to this, of course, but if this is the first time that you’re throwing a party in 13 years–well, the least you could do is be willing to provide the cider and cookies.

That said–

I agree that the “open house” idea is your best bet. It’s a relatively non-stressful kind of party to throw, only light refreshments will be expected, and you don’t really have to worry about overcrowding, as people are free to come and go as they please.

Good luck, and congratulations on your newfound success on the housekeeping front.

I was coming at it from the opposite direction–if this is the first big party **carlotta **has thrown in 13 years, having a pot luck-ish type of event takes a lot of the stress off her. Providing all of the refreshments for up to 70 guests requires a much more significant outlay in both money and time. Especially with a drop-in event where people are much less likely to RSVP. Of all of the holiday open house events I’ve gone to, at least half are parties where guests are encouraged on the invitation to bring cookies, drinks or something else to share. All of the neighborhood parties I’ve ever gone to have some kind of potluck component. YMMV, I’m sure, depending on your social class and region.

If carlotta wants to cater the whole thing herself, that’s awesome. But I think she’s well within the bounds of good taste to ask folks to bring something to share. I’m sure she won’t turn people away if they happen to show up empty-handed.

Yeah, the “open house” idea is fine. I would add, however, that most people don’t really care about the cramped quarters. That is, if they’re having a good time chatting and such, who cares if it’s crowded? E.g. on those occasions when someone has stayed with me, I’d feel bad if they had to sleep on the couch because I didn’t have enough beds. But when I go home to visit (a very big) family, I often end up on a cot, the couch, even the floor…and it doesn’t matter one bit to me.

Your hosting instinct to make sure every guest is ultracomfy is understandable but ah well: a party is really about sharing good times with friends, innit? :smiley:

I agree with the open house idea, but not for the hours of 7-9 only as that’s too restrictive. Starting at 2:00 like GingerOfTheNorth would probably work better. The invitation would say that it’s an Open House and that guests could arrive anywhere between 2:00 and 8:00 (or whatever you feel comfortable with).

It just so happened that was one of those days all four brain cells bumped into each other.:smiley:

Ditto the open house. Seventy guests is a lot of people. I just had a party for 8 people yesterday and I’m worn out!

If you’re chummy with some of the neighbors, you could suggest a “traveling” holiday celebration. One person does the drinks, one does appetizers, one does soup, one does main course, one does dessert. Figure on an hour at each stop. I’ve never actually participated in one, but a co-worker belonged to a foodie group who did this all the time. It always sounded positively divine. And if you’re all right there in the 'hood, you don’t need to worry about driving. Everyone can walk to each leg of the party.

My parents do this with their neighbours and they always have a great time.

Open house is an excellent idea. You can put out some easy peasy finger food, make some hot cider in a crock pot and have a relatively stress free day.

I wouldn’t serve chips. :smiley: