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Party Hard: How to throw a party that’s worth throwing

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Monday, March 3rd, 2008 in Alcohol Culture, Culture

A crowd at a teenage party.One question fairly prevalent on the forums and in e-mails I’ve been receiving is a rather simple, but very complex question: how to throw a good party. While I obviously can’t magic up answers on how to make an ideal party to suit everyone, I can tell you some general planning tips if you do intend to throw a bash- some of them that may save your rear in the long run.

Know what you want and make it clear beforehand.

This is the number one thing about parties: Know what you want to do and prepare for it. Want to do an 80s party? Then prepare for everything in advance. Try to sit down and get a general idea of who you want to show up, how many people (in general), how much you can spend, and the like. This sounds excessively formal for something fairly simple, but the reason you want to do this is to ensure that you don’t go overboard in any respect. If you live in a house that can only happily accommodate 20 people, then don’t invite 30. If you overcrowd/underfeed/underprepare in any fashion, people will be uncomfortable.

Naturally, this depends on your age and status level. If you’re a teenager, more than likely you’ll be able to get away with cramming a basement. Those around the 20+ range tend to get sick of that and want a little bit more personal space. Once you hit about 21 or so, that childish thrill of “hur hur gotta get together with my buds and drink some beer holy crap we’re hardcore” dies away fairly quickly.

Watch alcohol/noise laws, and make sure you don’t violate them.

Touching on the youth thing noted above, you aren’t 16, your parties do not need to end when the police arrive, so don’t piss ’em off. Most cops won’t get angry or show up unless someone specifically calls them, so make sure that you don’t piss off neighbors/flatmates too much. For example, if you want to blast music, try to doing it relatively earlier (6p-9p) and then quieting it down when the initial energy dies down- that way, you won’t be pissing off too many neighbors too much. Depending on where you live, you could even tip them off and ask permission- but in general, try not to be a dick in this respect.

So far as Alcohol goes, watch your rear. Here in the great state of North Carolina, you will be essentially martyred if you give underage kids alcohol (or otherwise have them drunk on their own accord or some similar situation), so avoid it it all costs. If a buddy gets wasted at your party, keep him at your place and let him sleep it off- it will be infinitely better than sending him off to an inevitable DUI/DWI. If your group may have underage kids in it, have someone (your unofficial “bartender”) keeping tabs on the alcohol at all times, and try to avoid purchasing kegs or other forms of alcohol that are relatively easy to “steal a sip” from. As gay as this sounds, it’s much better than being hit with a fine or being arrested.

Keep it in your age group/maturity level as much as possible.

Like I mentioned above, know your age group and maturity level, even beyond the alcohol issue. People in their later 20s will typically enjoy alcohol and messing around, but also are going to not want the traditional “cram people in and blast music” junk that teenagers like. Even more so, 30somethings tend to be even more relaxed- to the point where some just enjoy quiet music and wine. You should know your friends and your target audience, and use this to determine your party in general.

For example? If you have some 20somethings, there’s nothing wrong with having video games out- it lightens people up, and it’s an age group old enough that isn’t going to take it too seriously. In general, no matter the age group, you should never presume that people are going to want to show up for the sake of booze and talk- so always have something on-hand. Depending on the group, this means you could do anything from costumes to Twister.

As much as I promote these ideas, don’t ever plan obsessively too much for the “activities” or it will feel like a 6 year old’s birthday party. Have stuff available, and go with the flow, never schedule.

A little bit of good alcohol is always better than lots of bad alcohol, if any at all.

This should have been the title for this article. I don’t care how many kegs you can afford- a little bit of good beer is going to go a hell of a lot better than a whole lot of junk. You are (probably) not 16 years old, you do not need to get excited over alcoholic sludge. As referenced in a current topic on the forums, don’t try to throw a Corona party with Pabst. Don’t buy cheap Margarita mix and expect everyone to think you’re  cultured. Try to buy as best you can for your budget- in general, if it’s a small group, feel free to get good stuff, they will love you.

Oh, and a quick note- if you throw a classy party, boxed wine is not classy. Boxed Wine is like walking into a formal ball with a tuxedo t-shirt on. Actual bottles of wine are cheap now, do not skimp, ever.

Secure your stuff.

This is an easy one: if you have people coming you don’t know/trust, secure your stuff, lock away your valuables, and most importantly, try to keep your bedroom door locked. Nothing is more disgusting than having people doing things in your bed without your knowledge- and trust me, some idiot partygoers will do this at first opportunity. Sure, make couches and the like available, but I would sincerely recommend against providing available rooms. Your choice.

Know your guests.

This is exactly what I’ve said above, but I’ll reiterate: know your people. If you can, try to know everyone at the party in some fashion, even if it’s just as “____’s friend”. For one thing, it will allow you to be sociable- but more importantly, you’ll be able to know people if something goes wrong, or just to ensure people are happy. If a really introverted friend decides to come, you’ll know to make an effort to let them enjoy themselves- and if a really extroverted pervert shows up, you’ll know to keep an eye on them. As silly as it sounds to consider yourself a “host”, some of the best parties are where the “host” knows how to get rid of problems quickly and let people enjoy themselves.

Have something to do (PLEASE).

Talk and booze do not equate to a good party. Even if you make it a “theme party” like a 70s party or some random crap (you could always go geeky and call it a “video game party”), have something available. Like I said above, overplanning feels childish, but don’t underplan: have something to do and everyone will be entertained. For smaller groups, consider watching a movie or playing a stupid game like Twister- for bigger groups, you’re very limited, but can always do preplanned stuff (for example, a contest of some sort, or the like- though typically, for bigger groups, you have to have readied this ahead of time).

It’s hard to tell you what to do, but you know your friends best. Some of the best parties I’ve ever had were 100% alcohol free lan parties, as gay as that sounds- geek is getting more chic nowadays, and most guys (even those of us who consider our lives/work SERIOUS BUSINESS) enjoy screwing around on oldschool video games now and again.

Know when to end (if ever)

This is sometimes the number one rule: know when to end. Too many parties go on until they naturally die out, which absolutely blows. One of the best things you can do is set a natural time limit (say, three hours) and keep it within that range- and maybe whittle it down to a group of friends after that to just hang out. By all means, you don’t want to end it prematurely, but it’s a hell of a lot better than wearing your guests out and watching them get bored. From a mental perspective, they’ll unfortunately consider your party a bore (as people typically only remember the last hour of a party, unless they get wasted)- which absolutely blows.

On that same note, if you’re worried about guys who attempt to hit on girls, don’t- typically, time limits allow opportunities for your aspiring partygoers to invite the girls elsewhere.

Well, there you have it. Feel free to comment with more ideas, or post on the forums if you have any other questions, comments, or concerns.

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2 Responses to Party Hard: How to throw a party that’s worth throwing

  1. Tyciol says:

    I’ve never hosted a party, but I know from running a movie viewing thing that it does get pretty boring staying around until no time limit. It’s almost like you feel guilty ending it early if people have nothing else to do, and especially if they have nowhere else to go (like maybe they can’t get home and want to sleep the night at your place, but don’t actually want to feel like they are imposing). So drawing a line can be a pretty tough thing to do.

  2. Sonny says:

    This goes along with knowing your guests, but I’d say an important point is to monitor a notorious drunkass’s alcohol intake. Sure, if he’s a “happy” drunk it’s fun, but more often than not when people get out of the “buzzed” zone it’s all downhill. If he’s just an acquaintance, don’t even invite him. If he’s a close friend, let him know that you want him to take it easy beforehand(A real friend will understand this). If he goes against this and powers up to super emo/asshole/general fuckwit status, it could kill the mood at a smaller scale fiesta and before you know it, everyone left because they got way too uncomfortable. Also, be a good friend and make sure to isolate him/make sure he’s taken care of properly after taking numerous photos as negative reinforcement.

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