So you want to throw a house party. We’re talking a post grad, pre wine-and-dine kind of crowd. You’ve “grown up” but aren’t looking to completely dissolve the kind of fun that beer pong has to offer.
Besides avoiding large fires and police raids, all that separates you from the generic frat party is your preparation. A month before the festivities, assess the components of your event (guest list, decor, music, food, booze, games, rentals). Prioritize your list and cross off a few things that you can do each week to reach your party goal.
Hosting is fun, but it’s also a job. The best way to stay in the moment and enjoy your party is to stay on top of the planning.
Though they are classy, you might have a hard time getting RSVPs out of old school mail invitations and Evites.
Reasons this would be difficult for me:
- Reason number one, I do not possess the maturity level required to acquire the personal emails of everyone I know.
- Reason number two, I haven’t reached that phase of life where I have all my friends’ physical mailing addresses. Even if I wanted to send out a nice Chrismakkah card, no one’s going to adorn their fridge with a picture of me clutching a bottle of vodka, Santa’s cookies, and an overabundance of menorahs to fill that space where my nonexistent family should be. Hence, why even ask for it?
- Reason number three, Facebook. Just use Facebook.
Send out the general invite 3-4 weeks before the party. Personally reach out to people as well. It shows that you have a vested interest in them attending. Also, it’s less likely that they will flake. A couple of days before the party, follow-up with everyone. If anyone is supposed to bring any food or drink items, confirm that with them.
NON-Drinkers – Consider that there are people who do not consume alcohol (yes, they exist). Have non-alcoholic beverages on hand and activities other than drinking games
Vegetarians/Vegans – Check your menu to make sure there are some things that they can eat.
Neighbors – Be courteous to the people who live around you. You’re not an asshole, and if you are an asshole, we should totally go out sometime.
Let your neighbors know you’re going to have a party. You can give them your number and tell them to call you if there is a problem. Knowing me, I never pay attention to my phone, so I tell them to shout over the wall for someone to get me and I’ll corral everyone inside and turn the music down a bit.
Start with the essentials – alcohol, food, people, music – and work your way into building the atmosphere and tone of the party. Create an environment where people can enjoy themselves without having to do anything – you’ve got it covered.
Choose a Theme – You don’t have to get kitschy. Personally, I’m not into dress-up theme parties, but depending on your crowd of friends, it could be fun. I introduce the concept of a theme because you need to pick an element to tie the party together. This plays into the decor, the games/activities, even the primary alcohol you choose to serve.
Activities take the awkwardness out of introductions. They give people who know each other and people who have never met a built-in way to interact. Use things like beer pong, flip cup, bag toss, lawn games, and karaoke to break the ice.
This is not freshman homeroom. No one is going to ask you to memorize 30 new names using alliteration or utilize rote memorization to learn fun facts about the stranger standing next to you. No one is forced to participate. Set up areas for specific things (spread throughout the space) and let people choose where they want to be.
Give your party a wow factor.
Beer pong, flip cup, drinking games – these are all implied party activities. Elevating is about throwing in something they aren’t expecting. You’re going to need two things – space and money. If you’re all like “I’m an underemployed 20-something straddling the poverty line”, don’t throw in the towel yet. If you don’t have a ton of money to burn, consider throwing a joint party so you can buy and rent some really cool elements. Otherwise, learn to budget and set aside some cash. This requires being an adult…yes, it’s ‘hard’. What did you expect?
Interactive Games you may not have thought about (rentals)- Adult Bounce Houses, Water games, Sumo Suit Wrestling, Jumbo Boxing, Basketball Shootouts, Velcro Wall, Inflatable Sports Games including Jousting, Rock Climbing walls, Zip Lines, Petting Zoos, Carnival Games, Arcade machines
Taking in space consideration, the smallest of these things might need a 15 by 15 patch of grass, while the larger would require a large backyard.
Photo booths – You can do a cheap DIY photobooth or even hire a photobooth company complete with printouts (Groupon and LivingSocial have deals sometimes). Honestly, both are fine. If you make a really cool background (take some PVC pipes to make a stand and some fabric as the backdrop), people will use their cell phones or you can even hire an amateur photographer for the night.
- Get a freaking fan if it’s hot. Nothing is worse than an overcrowded hot hell. Have a solution for this problem. If you have AC, make it too cold. When the bodies filter in, it evens out. I’ve been to so many parties where they won’t open the windows because it lets sound out, but yet everyone is dying in a smoldering nightmare… otherwise the party is totes cool.
- ICE, don’t run out of the goddamn ice.
- If you have to hire anyone, a DJ, a photobooth person, or a handler for the petting zoo, coordinate well in advance and ask at what stage they need to be paid.
- Encourage people who would otherwise drive to use a service like Uber or Lyft. There is no reason drink and drive.
You may say that you don’t need all this hoopla for people to enjoy themselves, that all it takes is gathering your close ones and enjoying the peace and love of each other’s company with some hash and maybe a few beers. Okay you dirty hippie, I don’t entirely disagree, but we’re not talking about a hang out, we’re talking about creating an experience. It’s one you’re going to remember.