If you want to create the perfect party, the first rule is to pick the right day and date – having a do on a Monday is always a bit of a disaster because it's the first night after the weekend and people aren't really in a party mood. Generally, the beginning of the week isn't a good idea; I think Thursday night is the best because people are gearing up for the end of the week and lots of people go away on a Friday night for the weekend.
Once I've chosen a date for my party, I always ring around key institutions/art galleries, etc, to check that they aren't having a bash on the same day. Then, before I send out invitations, I always text or e-mail guests to say keep the date free while I work out the final list. When I had my birthday party in July I could only really fit about 100 people in my house, so I invited all the key people who had supported me at the Venice Biennale this year – and in that way I managed to keep the numbers down without hurting the feelings of other people who I hadn't been able to invite. We drank Bellinis and the mood at that particular party was very mellow and dainty and sweet.
We cut off around 1am so as not to upset the neighbours, and I always make sure that I invite the neighbours round as well as apologising in advance for the potential noise levels.
Generosity and good food and drink are essential ingredients for a good party. They make people feel like they are being given something lovely, and in turn, they show respect for the party. I'm very lucky because I often get sponsorship with drink and champagne companies who are very generous to me – but I can easily spend around £1,000 on booze for one of my parties. I tend to serve champagne, red and white wine – and sometimes in the summer I serve a light red wine like a pinot with ice, which is very refreshing. Mark Hix often does the food for me, which is fantastic.
The mood of a party is often dependent on location – when I had parties in Margate they were completely wild and lasted all weekend! Because I want my guests to have a great time, I try to keep it all as relaxed as possible – I don't like to dress up too much. And strangely enough I tend to keep myself together at my own parties because I want to introduce people to each other and I want them to have a good time. When I had a party in Venice, Fatboy Slim DJ'd for about 300 of us in this amazing palazzo – it was really chic and fantastic.
We're right in the thick of the party season now, and this week I've already been to five parties and about 15 exhibitions. The way I keep myself going is to drink loads of water and catnap all over the place. I don't care where it is – I can catnap anywhere and at any time and then I wake up and feel absolutely fine. I have catnapped at parties at Scott's, on a banquette at Sketch, once memorably at the Berkeley Square Ball, and once, very late at night in Madrid, under a huge table where everybody was having dinner. The key is not to get embarrassed, pull up a couple of chairs and nap for half an hour or so – and then you can get straight back to the fun.
You don't need to structure a party with a beginning, middle and end because they often take on a life of their own. But I did used to have amazing karaoke parties which I loved, and even though I can't sing a note I love seeing all my guests singing along.
One final bit of advice: on the bottom of my invites, I always write: "If you want to hang out with Charlie, don't come to my party". I don't want all the loos getting filled up and the other guests peeing themselves as result!
Tracey Emin's Bellini
Bellinis should be made with the flesh of white peaches only. The peaches must be perfectly ripe, the stones removed, then the flesh blended in a food processor and pushed through a fine-meshed sieve. Refrigerate the purée. If you can't find white peaches, use a good quality purée such as Funkin (£3.99 for 300g). To serve, mix one part purée with three parts prosecco.