You've got a party coming up and want to take decent photos. The only problem is, you're new to photography and although you've seen good results from flash, not really sure about how to control your flash properly. The situation may not be hopeless as you may think.
Here are more-or-less safe settings you can use for an indoor party with white or neutral ceilings:
1. Buy the most powerful external flash you can buy that has bounce and swivel capability.
2. Attach your external flash to the camera (make sure both the camera and flash are off first).
3. Turn on the camera, then the flash. Make sure you're in TTL mode (which is the default option anyway).
4. Switch the camera to Program exposure mode. If you want to get fancy ;) , switch to shutter priority and select 1/60 shutter speed.
5. Switch the ISO to the highest ISO that has tolerable noise. If your camera has Auto ISO, turn it on. If you need to specify minimum shutter speed, select 1/60.
6. Turn the flash head as needed to bounce. Or turn the head to the rear and left (7 o'clock) and upward.
I did almost exactly that at our toddler's 1st birthday, and got these results without fiddling with any settings (even handing the camera to non-photographer friends from time to time):
(ironically, the shots look better exposed than the ones I took at our toddler's 3rd birthday).
After the party, check out the TTL Flash Tutorial :)