As a person who probably has friends, you may be wondering how to get them over to your house without looking like a total creep. You can't just wander up to someone and bark "Come to my house and I''ll feed you seven-layer dip!" because then you look like a lunatic. You need to be suave. Play it cool. Make it a party!
Ah, but what kind of party?
Having a friend over: The one-on-one hangout is reserved for like, best friends. If you try to force it, you'll end up feeling super awkward and making I Spy-style small talk, where the two of you blather on about whatever happens to be in your line of sight ("Oh man, you use cast-iron cookware? That is awesome!") until you can figure out a way to bolt/eject them from your house. If you are actually friends with this person, however, this is a prime opportunity to talk smack about all your mutual friends and feel only slightly ashamed. (No gift)
Having some buds over: When your boyfriend says he is "having some buds over," what he really means is that he and three dudes are going to watch horror movies and play video games until their brains turn to souffle. You'll come into your living room to find four young men, covered in Dorito dust, in a vegetative state. Make sure to save their progress on the video game machine before you revive them. (No gift)
Having some people over: This is the true swing state of parties. Depending on how many people show up, and how much booze they bring, you can have either an impromptu rager or a sedate get-together. This is also the party most likely to get out of control, since if you invite 10 people, and they all bring 12 beers, someone is bound to suggest a game of yoga-ball soccer or try to jump from the roof of the porch into your neighbour's tree. Likewise, if you invite six people and they each bring two tall cans, you might find yourself mired in a discussion of someone's recent wedding. It's tricky! Also, these hangover tend to be doubly epic since you accidentally get blind drunk. (No gift)
Birthday party: Once you're legally able to drink, nobody is excited about aging any more. Girls will likely cry, while boys will drunkenly try to fight their brothers in the street. If it's your birthday, have a cake; if you're going to a birthday party, bring something as a gift. Don't be an empty-handed jerk. Also, someone is probably going to barf in your sink. Just a heads-up. (Mandatory gift)
Soiree: Referring to your party as a soiree is basically ensuring that some douchebag lights an enormous Cuban cigar in your bedroom. (You will never, ever get the smell out of your mattress.) That guy will also wear his shoes in your house and hit on your friends using tricks he read about in a book. (Optional gift)
Games night: OK, this is important: some people actually mean they play games when they invite you over for games nights, while others play a perfunctory round of Apples To Apples before everyone decamps to the kitchen for a regular party. I've been at games nights that start at 4 p.m. and end at last call, where only a few drinks were had and we powered through, like, six different, set-up-intensive board games. It's important to clarify if you're only there for the inevitable (drunk) Cards Against Humanity, or if you're seriously down for a three-hour game of Settlers of Catan. (No gift)
Gathering: Ugh, nobody likes going to a "gathering."
Holiday party: Holiday parties exist in this weird no-man's-land where you can't get too drunk, so you end up eating your way through the cheese plate. Nobody really enjoys holiday parties, but we do many things (circumcision, for instance) out of tradition. (Optional gift)
Dinner party (potluck): Damn, I'm tired of eating nine different kinds of bean salads at potlucks. Buy a coconut cream pie from the expensive grocery store and be everyone's hero. (Mandatory gift)
Dinner party (grown-up): If you're hosting, don't invite vegetarians because those jerks will make you serve roasted tofu and that's unforgivable. Also, buy twice as much wine as you think you'll drink, because sitting around the table gossiping is thirsty work. If you're attending, bring something to drink after or before dinner -- wine is hella overplayed, but some Campari or port is a nice touch. Also, don't bring your children unless they're still small enough that, if you put them in a laundry basket, they can't escape. (Mandatory gift)
House party: When I was in school, we used to hold house parties that would literally destroy our lives. It would be three days of prep, kegs, 40s in the freezer, dressing up, eyeshadow, someone barfing in the bushes, someone OD'ing, and someone setting off the fire extinguisher in the basement. This was also the time we experimented with our sexuality, including ill-advised encounters with dudes in sweatpants, our girlfriends, and our alcoholic housemates. These were not amazing parties, but we kept having them because it was much cheaper than going to a bar and getting that spine-meltingly hammered. Maybe you did things differently? (Even if you brought a gift, the hostess will lose it sometime during the night)