Effortlessly chic and undoubtedly cool, the French know a thing or two about throwing a great party. Conviviality, community and the pursuit of life’s finer things are essential concepts in French culture, which means that a party is more than just a utilitarian “networking event” – it’s a way of life.
Arguably, you only need three things to pull off a successful party in France: good friends, good food and good drinks. In this article, let’s take a deeper dive into throwing a party with those three elements.
If you want to throw a party like the French, consider these four tips.
Time Is Flexible
In France, a start time is more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule. And an end time? Virtually unheard of!
Try to be fluid and flexible when you set your times. Give people a rough window for when to show up (including what time the food will arrive, so they don’t miss dinner). And consider removing an end time altogether. Telling people when a party ends can cut the night short; it’s better to let the conversation and drinks run their natural course.
Know Your Culinary Limits and Get Outside Help
French people excel at several things: architecture, cycling, auto manufacturing and mid-century Avante Garde filmmaking. But their biggest contribution to global culture is undoubtedly gastronomy.
In certain circles, the word “French” is synonymous with “quality.” So if you’re going to throw a party like the French, you had better make sure the food is terrific.
Hire a caterer to cater your next party and alleviate some of the same-day stress. Not only will you be able to relax when guests arrive, but – if you’ve chosen a quality caterer who offers chef-inspired French dishes – the food is sure to be good.
Aperitifs, Vin and Digestifs
There are three stages to drinking at a party in France: the aperitif, the wine and the digestif.
The aperitif comes first and is meant to stimulate one’s appetite. These drinks include the anise-forward pastis, velvety vermouth or crisp Lillet blanc.
Next comes the wine. The best advice is to serve wine according to the meal, choosing more robust reds to pair with big flavors like beef and lamb, or whites to pair with delicate dishes like white fish or endive salad.
At the end of a meal, it’s customary to serve a digestif, which helps with digestion. This can be a non-alcoholic drink like espresso or a bold liquor like brandy.
Don’t let the little things bother you. If you have great food from a caterer on the way and a few bottles of quality French wine, people will have a good time. A French host usually wants to enjoy their party just as much as the guests, so they tend to take a laissez-faire attitude to the party-planning process.
For French people, a party is an excuse for joy – whether it’s the joy of food, the joy of wine or the joy of laughing with friends. Add a little joie to your next party with the four tips above.