Party anxiety. Are you too anxious to host one?


See the woman in this photo? She’s having a party and she’s waiting for her guests to turn up.

But what if they don’t? WHAT. IF. NOBODY. COMES. TO. HER. PARTY.

This is my worst nightmare.

In my imagination hosting a party seems like a brilliant idea.  Just a few friends (enough to look popular without looking like rent-a-crowd), some drinks and plenty of laughs.  Not so fast.

Somewhere between finding a date and sending out invites, I start to worry about the “what ifs”. Climb aboard, party people, as we ride that bumpy road to party central.

1. No one will turn up

The streamers are strung, the punchbowl is full and the chips and dips are plated.  The invites said 7pm and it’s now exactly five minutes till show time.  I hear a loud knocking sound which I assume is the door.  No, that’s my heart pounding.  Oh, looks like my first guest has arrived.  Her name’s Paranoia and she’s making herself at home.

At least one person should be here by now.  Pete said he’d definitely show up before seven.  Steph was ordering a taxi half an hour ago so where is she?  What if no one comes?  I’m going to look like a freak show.  Just call me Nigel-No-Friends.

2. The mingle jingle

Sing it with me: I don’t have to get everyone to like each other.  I am not responsible for all conversations.  I must resist the temptation to rescue any individual found standing alone for more than 30 seconds.

Just because you throw together a bunch of mixed leaves, you’re not guaranteed a yummy salad.  Clare from work may not like Suzie from up the street.  There’s a fair chance your vegan yoga buddy isn’t going to hit it off with your boozy mate from uni.  In this petri dish of partygoers some folk will attract and others will repel.  So don’t be compelled to go the hard sell.  “Dave, didn’t you go see some comedy last week?  You’ve got to meet Alex, this guy’s hilarious.”  Forget it.  They’ll either attract or repel.  You can’t magically get them to gel.

3. Minimize the damage

Put away the champagne flutes from your 21st.  Nan’s glass fruit bowl needs to be wrapped and packed.  That deco dish is going in the linen cupboard.

Think of your home as a combat zone.  No party is without carnage.  You need to stock up on disposables.  Think cups, plates, napkins and couch protectors.  Heck, if they’re likely to comply, fit your guests with bibs.


4. Play that funky music  

Spend hours and hours meticulously preparing the perfect mix tape for your shindig.  Somewhere between “did you find the place alright” and “I love this guacamole”, conversation will turn to your taste in tunes.

That music that was meant to be in the background will be pushed to the foreground.  “I can’t believe you have Shania Twain.” “What’s with all the Vanilla Ice?” “Where did you get the soundtrack for Dumb and Dumber?”

You know the drill, pre-warned is pre-armed.  Don’t leave yourself open for attack.

Is it over yet?

5. Instagram it, tweet it, facebook it 

The officials who crown the hostess with the most-est will need to see your credentials.  Specifically, they’ll be asking for photographic evidence of your guests having a right old hoot at your soiree.

Social media was designed for you to show off how social you are.  Work it.  Work it.  Line up your party people and snap the daylights out of them.

Remember this three step process.  1. Railroad  2. Upload  3. Download.  Ignore all signs of resistance.  “My hair’s a mess.”  “I hate having my photo taken.”  Tell it to the hand sista ‘cause the lens ain’t listenin’.

Have those shots viral by Monday.  A picture tells a thousand words, right?  If your guests are smiling then the party was obviously a huge hit.

6. So long, farewell (now get the hell out of here)

It’s two in the morning and almost everyone’s gone home.  Yet somehow Jake, Kim and Bec don’t even look tired.  In fact they’re almost embossed on the couch.  This is not the Big Brother house.  There’s no prize for the person who stays the longest.

Start with subtle hints like “is that the time”?  Then begin clearing away plates and stacking glasses.  If they’re still not budging, suggest kicking on at a local bar down the road.  Tell them you’ll just lock up and meet them there.  By the time they’ve walked two blocks and realized there is no local, you’ll be happily in jim jams eating Tim Tams.  There’s nothing quite like a private party for one.

Tonia Zemek has worked as a tv producer on everything from MasterChef to Big Brother.  She’s gradually making the move from broadcast to print.  You’ll find her on Facebook and Twitter.



Have you ever hosted a party and become terrified of one or more of these things happening? Do you have any other social phobias?

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