Recipe for a Good House Party
Fairy lights and/or candles are best. Mix them up with some dim, coloured lamps if you have them too for a nice chilled effect.
The most important thing is not to have the music loud. It needs to fill the background without dominating so that people can still talk. I like more chilled sounds of Late Night Mix CDs and Cafe Del Mar, but anything works as long as it's not to loud. Also try to mix in less popular but still great tracks with well-known music for that perfect cool blend and so that people can pick out favourites even in the background.
A balance of sweet and savoury, hot and room temperature, vego and not is the best way to make sure everyone has something they can munch on. I like having bowls of lollies scattered around the place, plus chips & dips and cheese & biscuits for general munching. Then I do the oven-baked party pies, cheese triangles, wedges and other assorted warm goodness which are really popular and are very much appreciated by all in attendence. Of course, if you want low effort, just go with the lollies and room temp stuff. Oh, and fairy bread is also really popular and yummy if you have the time to prep it.
Invite all your friends! I do not hold with all this "different groups" crap. Just invite everyone - they're all your friends, so they'll have at least one thing in common - they'll meet new people and sort themselves out. Hell, I had two completely different "sets" of people exchanging phone numbers by the end of one party.
Have fun and enjoy!