You receive dozens of text messages every week inviting you to house parties. Some of them sound promising, but inevitably descend into housing greasy chips, engaging in meaningless banter with people you don’t know, and getting kicked out within an hour of arrival because the police shut it down. You could do better.
A house party should be the ultimate social gathering. Unlike a club or lounge, you are in control. The music, guest list, hours of indulgent fun—and the details are all in your hands. But with great power comes great responsibility, and if you don’t handle things the right way, your next invitations will get deleted before it’s even read.
Despite the failures of the house parties of yore, pulling together a group of people to enjoy one another’s company isn’t a difficult task. Turn up, show out, and become known as the guy who can draw a crowd: 10 Easy Techniques for Throwing an Awesome House Party
1. Invite your neighbors
Whether you live across the hall from beautiful women or your apartment is upstairs from the old lady with five too many pets, extend invitations to your party to your neighbors. Don’t just warn them that things could get loud; that won’t do much to appease them. Warn your Scandal addicted neighbor that you’re going to interrupt her time with Olivia Pope and Fitz if you want, and see if she doesn’t file a noise complaint on your ass.
Instead, tell your neighbors that you’d love for them to join your little shindig. Hopefully they understand that this means, “please make arrangements to be out of your place at this time or don’t call the police when it gets loud because I’ve given you fair warning.” They probably won’t show up, but it’s still important to make them feel special by telling them you’d love to have them. Chances are you’ll get one salty neighbor who anonymously calls the cops anyway, but hey, at least you did your part as a respectful neighbor.
2. Be selective with your guest list
A major factor in the success or failure of your house party depends on who you choose to invite. While inviting the friends you know like to have a good time is helpful, your guest list also needs to include a set of key players that will guarantee things run smoothly. Do you have a friend that’s a complete neat freak? Make sure you send him an invite as things are bound to get messy and you need someone there to make sure folks are using coasters. Your homey that works as a bouncer needs to be on the list, too, just in case people get too crazy and you need reinforcements. Also plan on inviting your friend that doesn’t drink, as you’ll need someone sober to handle the knocks on your door from arriving guests, annoyed neighbors, and possibly, the police. List all of the jobs that you don’t want to do at your party and then invite guests to fill those positions. Put some of your friends to work and your primary responsibility will be to act as the best damn host around.
3. Lie about the start time
House parties should be “word-of-mouth” type of situations. Creating a Facebook event or making a flyer and sending it out to everyone in your Google Groups isn’t the best way to go about getting people to show up. You have friends that will be punctual and show up at exactly the time you say, while others will stroll through after they’ve hit up 3 other parties and stay until the sun comes up. You don’t need your guests and their randos in your apartment while you’re in the shower getting ready for work the next morning.
To keep a steady flow of people at your party and have most of your guests there at a particular time, you have to give people different start and end times. Tell your time conscious friends to show up at 10 p.m. if that’s the time you know you’ll be ready. Tell your friends who are prone to tardiness to show up at 8 p.m. if you want the party to start at 10 p.m.
4. Lock roommates’ doors
If you don’t want to be responsible for laundering and/or replacing your roommates’ sheets, make sure their bedroom doors are locked. With all of the fun you’ll be having (and booze you’ll be chugging), there’s no way you can give every guest your undivided attention. If you don’t lock the doors to the rooms you need people to stay out of, there’s no way to guarantee that your friends won’t turn your roommate’s bedroom into a ramping shop. You need to keep your guests contained to one area to ensure that no one is popping a Molly and sweating on your sheets, or having a threesome where your roommate sleeps. Unless that’s the type of party you want, in which case, rules won’t apply.
5. Make sure your food and drink selection is on point
People go to parties expecting to be fed and fed well. Put out some celery if you’d like, but expect your next gathering to have a lame turnout. Be mindful of the folks you’ve invited and the guests they may bring with them. Don’t offend the vegans by having nothing but hot wings and a cold cut platter on the table, but make sure you have hot wings. People love hot wings.
When it comes to the booze, if you opted out of BYOB format and are providing the alcohol for your guests, introduce us to your liquor sponsors. You can’t just have beer and think that your eclectic mix of friends are going to be okay with that. You need to have beer, wine (both red and white), vodka, rum, and a myriad of chasers. Equal opportunity drunkenness should be your goal for the guests.
There is always a picky eater and a poser wine connoisseur in the group. You won’t have the time, energy, or patience to listen to them whine, so do your best to keep food and drink in their mouths, so you won’t hear any of their bullshit.
6. Have a good playlist
If the music is whack, your party will be whack. There are no exceptions to this rule. Find out if one of your homies has DJ-ing skills, throw him a few bucks, and have him hold things down in the corner of your living room. If you don’t have a buddy well-versed in the art of manning turn tables, you’ll have to take control of the music situation. No one is asking you to become DJ Kool Herc, but your struggle beats shouldn’t show up on your “House Party” playlist.
So if you can’t drop your new mixtape at your party, what are you supposed to play? How about the classics? Give the people songs they are familiar with, so that even if they are bored out of their minds, they can occupy their time by reciting the songs that they loved but forgot about. If you’re trying to get things turnt up at your gathering, you need to keep the vibe of the party upbeat at all times. Search for twerk anthems in Spotify and you’ll find that others have already curated the perfect playlists for you.
7. Make introductions
Unless you were very strategic when planning your guest list, chances are your guests will be strangers to each other. Be a good host and make introductions so that you don’t find yourself babysitting your socially awkward friends for the entire duration of your party. Start conversations between the guests you know share common interests, then slowly pull away from the conversation and let them fend for themselves.
8. Keep playing cards on deck
One can only take a small amount of standing around and having disingenuous conversation before they find an excuse to bail. It’s a house party, not a cocktail reception; give your guests something to do besides smiling, nodding, and kicking themselves for not going to the club.
You won’t have to do much to keep your friends entertained. Throw a deck of cards on a table and you’ll have Spades games going for hours. Beer pong will never fail you, and for the ultra-competitive and cerebral, Taboo will keep guests occupied until a fight ensues—because that will inevitably happen. People take that game way too seriously.
If guests appear to be having a grand ol’ time without the impromptu game night strategy, let them enjoy themselves. But if you see a lull at any point in the night, bring out your bag of tricks. We mean the games, not bags of anything illegal.
9. Devise an exit strategy for guests
Make sure your guests don’t get things twisted. You told them you were having a house party and not a slumber party, right? You don’t have to physically shove them out of the door; be subtle about it. But when it’s time to say goodnight, grab a big black garbage bag and start cleaning up. Turn down the volume and switch to a playlist that has nothing but slow songs on it. Try something instrumental. After about 10 minutes, your place should start to clear out as your guests begin to take the hint. If this doesn’t work, tell everyone that the cops called and although they don’t have to go home, they have to get the hell up out of your place.
10. Stay sober
We know, it’s your party and you can get drunk if you want to, but if you want to actually remember how awesome your party was, stay sober. More than a few missteps can occur when you’re lit and lucidity escapes you. Once all of your guests are gone, you’ll have to deal with the consequences of your drunken stupor.
Say you get a knock from that neighbor you forgot to invite at 2 am. You’re piss drunk and you exchange some not so nice words. You’ve just waltzed your way into a very uncomfortable living situation from now until the foreseeable future. Alternatively, if you’re drunk you may unintentionally do something to offend one of your guests or just lose total control over the party altogether. Enjoy the liquor, but ration out small portions throughout the night and save getting ratchet for when the party is at someone else’s spot. You want to be able to tell people about how awesome your party was without having to scroll through Twitter statuses and Instagram pictures to see what went down; trust.