It’s a question that has troubled mankind since the dawn of time: what is the secret to throwing a great party?

Now that the festive party season is in full swing, English crisp company Tyrrells has surveyed the nation to discover the magic ingredients that, according to the British public, are key to hosting the ultimate party.

The most desired element in a party was revealed to be a heavy dose of retro cheese. ABBA’s 70’s super smash Dancing Queen was voted the nation’s favourite party song, while cheesy dance routine YMCA, popularised by the Village People, is our favourite move to bust out.

Our top party peeves are guests not respecting their host’s house (59%), attending uninvited (57%), self-appointing themselves DJ and taking over the music (43%) and bringing cheap plonk then drinking the host’s expensive wine instead (33%). 

Prince Harry topped the polls of dream celebrity invites, with over a fifth choosing the cheeky royal as the celebrity they feel would guarantee a rip-roaring party. Julie Walters came a close second with 1 in 8 (13%) electing for the former calendar girl. Julie was particularly popular with the over 55s, with 1 in 6 choosing the bubbly Brum to join them as their dream celebrity guest.

Playlists are crucial for setting the mood, and can be a tricky matter to get right. Despite its age, ABBA’s Dancing Queen is still a must-have on party playlists, taking the top spot as the nation’s favourite song to get a party going. Over a third (37%) voted for the classic 70s pop hit, with the Village People’s YMCA coming in a close second (34%), showing that cheesy classics are still the best way to get a party going. Top of the list to avoid are REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ and wartime favourite Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’, which were voted the  songs most likely to kill a party, both with 20% of the vote.

When it comes to dancing the British public is equally fond of cheesy retro favourites when throwing some shapes on the dance floor.  70’s classic the YMCA emerged as the nation’s favourite party dance, with 26% of people choosing it as the move that signals the party is in full swing. John Travolta’s disco moves from Saturday Night Fever a close second attracting nearly 1 in 6 of the votes.

Food can often be a delicate balance to strike, but the survey shows that when it comes to party nibbles there’s no need for fancy fare – just 1 in 10 think smoked salmon blinis are a must-have for a great party, compared to almost a third (31%) who opted for posh crisps and dip. The party food must-haves however, were good old fashioned sausage rolls (45%) and cocktail sausages (38%) – again proving the nation’s love for a retro classic.

Finally, a good rule of thumb for when to wrap the party up is to keep it short and sweet. Nearly a quarter of Brits selected 12am-1am as the perfect time for a party to finish, and a further 17% prefer parties to end before 2am. However the Irish lived up to their lively reputation as Northern Ireland proved to be the most hedonistic region, where 32% choose to end the perfect party between 2am and 4am, compared to only 19% of Londoners and 9% of the wider South East!

 TOP 10 Songs to get a party going


1.    ABBA – Dancing Queen

2.    Village People – YMCA

3.    Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want to Have Fun

4.    Lionel Richie – Dancing on the Ceiling

5.    Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

6.    Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk

7.    Top Loader – Dancing in the Moonlight

8.    Rolling Stones – Satisfaction

9.    Soft Cell – Tainted Love

10. Lionel Richie – All Night Long