Let's talk about party hosting first. As you know, I host a weekly link party here, exclusively for furniture projects. As a host here are some things to consider:
1. Wait until you have a substantial readership to start a link party. First of all, it will probably depress you if you have a small readership, and you decide to host a party and no one shows up, right? Secondly, people come to link parties so that they can show off their projects to a vast audience. If you have say 20 readers, then there is not much incentive for people to link up. I waited to start my party until I had 1000 followers. I wanted to make sure that people would show up, because I didn't want to be at my own party, crying by myself in the bathroom, while everyone left and went over to the better party. ;)
2. Set clear rules. Most hosts will state their rules at the bottom of their party post. We don't do this to be mean, but to be fair. For instance, my party is for furniture makeovers only. It really pains me to delete all of the people that link up their wreaths and other crafts, but I do it. I believe that if you create rules for your party, you need to abide by them.
3. Decide if you want your party to have a focus, or if it is just a general link party, and make that clear to your readers. There are several awesome parties out there that are pretty general. One of my absolute favorites is Tatertots and Jello's weekly wrap up. But, wow, there are like 1000 links every weekend! It's insane, in an awesome way! I kept mine specific to furniture to keep it from overwhelming me.
4. Visit all of your links. I try to comment on each and every link to my party, as long as the linker followed my rules. I think as a hostess it is simply common courtesy to be gracious and show appreciate that they came. Now I realize if you have over 500 links that commenting on all of them just isn't going to happen, and that is ok! But try to visit some and leave some comment love!
Now let's move on to some guidelines for the linker.
1. Read the rules of the party host and follow them! I am not going to lie- I made that mistake once and I felt HORRIBLE because I linked something I should not have. Insert red face! I apologized to the host for missing that rule, because I can honestly say I missed it. i felt a pit in my stomach when I realized it! (can you tell I am a general rule follower!) I do read the rules and follow them, but we all make mistakes sometimes!
2. Link back to the host somehow. Often it will be listed as a rule, but even if it is not, it's common courtesy. Some people create pages of where they party; some people put the buttons or text links in their post; some people place buttons in their sidebar. I am not too picky about where you link back to me as a host, BUT I will say that if you did not provide a link back somehow, I will not feature your project, even if I adored it.
4. Visit links at the party you link to. If you expect to link up and have others visit you, then you should likewise visit the other party goers. It's rude to show up to a party and leave without talking to anyone! Mingle! Again, some parties will ask that you visit at least two links. I think it is simply polite and you shouldn't have to be asked, but the point is just do it!