While a lot of people focus on dating sites when they’re opening up, my greatest success in polyamory has come from finding or making poly communities and being generally social in them. This has resulted in making a ton of cool friends, some of whom I’ve dated. Even if it had resulted in zero dating prospects, it was worth it for the friends alone. I love to play hostess and have grown particularly fond of poly entertaining.
What exactly does successful poly entertaining entail? I’m glad you asked.
It’s not about matching linens and using the right fork — although I’m down for any excuse to use my gravy boat.
Poly entertaining is primarily people-centric.
It’s not about you, the host. It’s about the guest experience.
First and foremost, you want your guests to have FUN. Fun is what separates a good party from a bad one.
Introduce people to one another.
I consider this the most important duty of a host.
I hate it when I go to a party, and I don’t know anybody. Sure, I can walk up to people I don’t know and introduce myself, but that can get awkward.
I’ve also been to parties where the hosts have a couple of groups of friends (say, Coworkers, D&D Group, and Poly Friends), and we just huddle in clusters without mingling. What fun is that?
As the host, you should make it a point to introduce people who haven’t met to each other. It’s good to also reveal how you know them. Then you can relay a fact or two about them, especially relating to an interest your two friends share in common.
Manage the poly elephant in the room.
In a crowd that’s mixed poly and mono, you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) mention polyamory. Whatever you do, don’t out anyone without their consent. My parties used to have a higher proportion of monogamous people, but as I’ve made more poly friends over the years, my friends group is made up almost entirely of folks who are either poly or poly-friendly mono people.
If you’re working a more mixed party crowd, DO touch base with your guests ahead of time and discuss any privacy concerns. If they’re your romantic partners, ask them how they’d prefer to be introduced to others who aren’t hip to the poly.
As a host, it’s best to understand that your chance of being outed is even higher than any of your guests.
While there are valid reasons to stay closeted (custody concerns, etc), I’m a big proponent on being out if you can manage it without screwing up your basic survival needs, even if it means that there are people who aren’t in your life anymore as a result. Being out has simplified my life a lot, in a good way. People in general cared far less than I expected them to.
Have enough food and enough to drink.
It’s customary for guests to bring some kind of food or drink with them, but don’t rely on this. Have enough food and drink on hand so that if everyone you invite shows up that there’s plenty. Make sure the food is something you’d like to eat as leftovers as it’s likely you’ll have extra. Luckily, booze doesn’t go bad, and you can roll over the surplus into your next shindig.
Have fun coming up with a theme for food and drink. We once had a grilled cheese party where everyone brought a loaf of bread, some kind of cheese, and a random ingredient and swapped (although poor Skyspook was chained to the griddle half the the night).
Plan fun activities.
We’ve had success with a wide variety of activities. Some favorites have been playing Rock Band, renting a hot tub, and critiquing bad movies as a group.
I’m a big fan of just plopping down somewhere and having an interesting conversation. Spin the Bottle and Never Have I Ever are also crowd pleasers.
If your guests have cool ideas or the party starts to take on a different shape than you had planned in your head, don’t sweat it. The party belongs to everyone, not just the host. As long as it’s fun, roll with it. Poly entertaining is first and foremost about throwing an entertaining party.