We’re less than three weeks away from NATPE 2014, where plenty of parties are expected. In an effort to be of service, we at VideoAge decided to take advantage of our thirty- plus years of experience, and offer these recommendations for throwing your party:

Make sure the drink-to-food ratio is balanced.

Entertainment industry parties tend to include a lot of Champagne. While we’re not complaining (how could we?), we have noticed that often times the number of drinks greatly outnumbers the hors d’oeuvres. This could be a recipe for disaster, especially when any kind of snack is held until the later part of the party, just before the host’s welcoming speech. How are guests supposed to listen to an executive’s speech when they’re about to keel over? This is also considering the fact that, most likely, many guests are coming from other parties where more drinks than food was served.

Our suggestion is that for every tray of Champagne glasses, a tray of canapés is sent out, too. Everyone needs something to soak up the alcohol every once in a while.

No more mystery canapés, please.

Speaking of canapés, we’ve had several not-so-great experiences (particularly in France), when we bit into what we thought was a creamy looking dessert that turned out to be a fish mousse — not ideal, by any means. If it’s not immediately clear what a certain canapé is, please make sure that the waiters can explain.

Stick with finger foods, and nothing too greasy or saucy.

At trade shows, people go to parties mostly to mingle, greet friends, socialize and network. Food comes last and only to soak up the alcohol, as indicated above. All these aforementioned activities require shaking hands, hugging and kissing. How can anyone perform any of those actions when people’s fingers are positively covered in oil/tomato sauce? Party food should be easy to eat in one or two bites and never too saucy or greasy. Cause, honestly, those tiny cocktail napkins just aren’t going to cut it. Plus, those cute paper squares are never around when you need one urgently and, in France, at times one has to beg to get some. Indeed, they’re dispensed as if they were made of gold.

Somewhere to stash dirty plates/skewers, etc.

There’s always that awkward moment after you’ve eaten your chicken satay, or vegetable crudité, and you have no idea where to put the plate/skewer that it was on. You don’t want to walk around the whole party with these pointed menacing-looking things, but you also cannot find a tray to save your life. That’s where tall, bar tables come in. Dotting a party with a lot of these makes for an easy way to dispose of unwanted plates. But hosts should be sure that there are enough stools and they’re cleaned often. You don’t want your party to look like the New York City sidewalk after a snowstorm (read: piled high in trash).

In an ideal world, we’d love to have one hand free.

As anyone who’s been to a party will tell you, it’s hard to hold a wine glass in one hand, a plate in the other, and walk around and shake a colleague/client/potential client’s hand. It takes some serious balancing, and honestly, after three glasses of Champagne and far too few canapés, we’re not usually up to it. This is not what multitasking was meant to be.

We have been to several parties where the hosts have offered a lanyard (which is worn around your neck) with a built-in wineglass holder. We’re not saying we looked cool, but at least it freed up one of our hands. We’ve even been to a party where the plates had cup holders, which achieved the same thing — a free hand. Pretty ingenious, we say.

Find a way not to get guest linger at the wine-bar.

At times one doesn’t know if there is a line at the wine-bar or just people lingering around and/or talking. The worst part, though, is to be trapped holding (for your friends) three glasses of wine between the bar and the lingering people. An idea is to make the area around the bar very dark, so after getting a drink people move to a more welcoming area… and quickly.

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