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Party CPR

It’s a sad fact of the hostess’ life that even the best-planned parties sometimes tank. Especially when you’re mixing friend groups, it can be tough to avoid holes in the conversation, unexpected clashes, and early exits.  Before you bring out the Bop It, try a few of these subtle emergency measures to bring your party back to life.

Divide and Conquer

Many times, it just takes one or two awkward people to throw a party off balance, and dealing with those guests on the sly will set things right again.  First, identify people who are steering things in the wrong direction with awkward topics or rude behavior.  Then, ask them to help you in the kitchen.  Removing them from the group temporarily will bring relief to everyone else, plus it will corral the blunderers with others who may share similar interests or personalities, giving everyone a chance to connect in a more comfortable way.

Don’t Rely On Media

It can be easy to freak when you feel your party spiraling, but be careful about your methods of reanimation; measures attempted in panic can actually increase the awkwardness.  For example, you’re asking for trouble if you take out your cell phone or computer at your own party.  Even if you think what you’re doing doesn’t exclude people (it does), it shows your guests that you’re reaching outside of the group for stimulus, giving them the impression that you’re bored or unhappy.  Expect them to follow suit soon after, and watch your party implode.

Except at a very casual or small gathering, suggesting that you watch a movie is also risky. The shift will signal exit time for people who don’t want to commit another two hours, so only go there if you’re ready to end the official festivities.

Ask for Help

A successful party is as much about prevention as it is about resuscitation, so plan ahead and always invite a few friends who have mad social skillz and know how to navigate a group of new people.  You know the ones – everywhere they go they seem to know someone, they make friends in their sleep, and you never have to worry about whether they’re going to say something weird.  You’re not the only who likes them – your other friends will, too.

If you’re really concerned about a major event you’re throwing, ask a couple of your favorite social butterflies to be there at the beginning of the party and some to come later in the night.  The constant arrival of energetic people will keep the party standing, force people to move around and start new conversations, and heighten guests’ sense of expectation.  It’s like pressing the “reset” button every 108 minutes.


If all else fails, have some cookie dough on hand, and throw it in the oven when things are on the verge of disaster.  That’s a good eight minutes of heavenly smells for people to talk about, followed by cheers, crumbs, and contented smiles.

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2 Responses to “Party CPR”

  1. these suggestions are great! i never know what to do if things get awkward at my parties, and now I’m prepared!

  2. Jennifer says:
    July 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    smart stuff – had a smaller gathering earlier this year and cookies would have been perfect at that lully time. Thanks for the tips!

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