How to Host Apartment/House Parties (v. 1.0)

I’m hosting my 13th party next month. My parties have come a long way since the first one I hosted back in April of 2008. This one looks to be the largest one yet. I’m expecting between 25 and 30 guests. The invites went out a little over a week ago and I have received 22 confirmations so far.

Since I have modified how I throw my parties I have decided to make a short guide explaining the steps I take from start to finish in hosting these parties.

Why Host a Party?
Hosting a party has many benefits. Below I will list a few:

1. If you have a large social circle it can be difficult to regularly spend time with many of your friends. By hosting parties, you allow many people in your social circle to come to you at the same time. Thus strengthening your relationships with those people without having to commit to spending time with each one of those people individually.

2. Hosting a party allows you to invite people you may not yet be friends with but you are interested in getting to know better. It is not as intimidating for them as a 1 on 1 interaction and provides a “safer” environment for them to get to know you better, and allows you to more easily incorporate new people into your social circle.

3. You can encourage friends to bring guests. This allows you to meet a variety of new people and if you like those new people you meet you can always invite them to future parties or social events.

4. Hosting parties or events positions you to become a leader of your social group. People will come to you wanting to know what the next party or social event is and when it will be.

5. Hosting parties or events creates immediate social proof.

6. Guests reciprocate. Many guests will invite you to parties or events they may be a part of in the future.

The Art of Hosting

Before we get into the specific steps to hosting a party I am going to briefly discuss the role of the host and the actual art of hosting a party.

Hosting a party is actually a lot of work but can be a blast. Learning to host parties is like learning pick up, you try new things out and learn from your mistakes, discarding what doesn’t work and keeping or improving upon what does work.

As a host, if the party does not go well, or guests are not enjoying themselves, the blame falls squarely on your shoulders. It is your job to make sure that overall the guests are fed well, drinking, socializing, and enjoying themselves. You will always have a few guests who bad seeds, but you cannot make everyone happy.

One major mistake I notice many people that host parties make is when the host becomes a guest at their own party. What I mean by this is that instead of making the rounds, making sure everyone is enjoying themselves, and directing the flow and energy of the party and the party’s activities they take a passive role and behave as though they aren’t hosting the party but rather is just a guest of the party.

Invitations

I create an events page on Facebook. I make sure all the information is filled out and I create a graphic to go with the event.

I then invite my guests.

I then send out a txt message to all those I invited informing them of the date of my next party and that the invites have been sent out on Facebook.

Two weeks before the party I begin calling, txting, or Facebook messaging those that have not yet responded or put selected maybe encouraging them to attend.

A week before the party I send out a message to all guests and those that have not yet responded and selected maybe to choose either Yes or No and a detailed for the party providing directions, parking information, etc. I have found that “Maybe” on Facebook generally means No.

The day of the party I send out a txt message to all those that have confirmed they were coming asking them to call or txt if they are going to be late or cannot make it.

Cleanliness
Make sure your house/apartment is clean. A messy place is a big turn off for many and you do not want to give guests any reason for not attending a future party.

Most importantly, make sure your bathroom is spotless.

An unsanitary bathroom will definitely attract attention, especially the attention of female guests. Make sure there is extra toilet paper and I keep a glass of mints on the bathroom so guests can “Freshen up” if they happen to upchuck or plan on smooching with any other guests.

Encouraging Others to Arrive on Time

Many people do not show up to parties when they begin. People generally trickle in a couple of hours after the party is underway. However, this creates an odd situation for the few guests that arrive early and will dissuade them from arriving on time during the next party.

You need to emphasize that you want to people arrive on time or close to the beginning of the party as possible.

One way to do this is by providing incentives to people to show up on time.

I accomplish this through having a set schedule involving when snacks are out and when pizza is ordered. As discussed below I only have the Fondue, which is very popular, out between 7 p.m. when my parties begin and 9 p.m. when the pizza arrives. If guests arrive later, they lose out.

Should You Have a Cover Charge?

At prior parties I required from each guest a $5 cover charge and a six pack of beer to help offset my costs. However, I have abandoned the $5 cover charge which has led to an increase in guests.

Whether to have a cover charge or not really depends on how well you can afford to host the parties. The parties can get a bit pricey between all the snacks, the pizza, and the liquor.

Snacks and Food

Having well fed guests are very important. Many guests go to parties expecting there to be food. I’ve been to parties where the host neglected this very important aspect. It is hard to enjoy yourself when you are starving and the host comes off as incompetent or cheap if he or she does not provide for the needs of the party goers.

I make sure that there is a fridge stocked with bottled water and Red Bull, plus a limited supply of Sprite and Pepsi. However, note that I do limit the amount of Sprite and Pepsi in the fridge because I prefer my guests to be drinking alcohol and not soda. Why Red Bull? It is a caffeine boost that will make guests more awake.

I use a Cuisinart Electric Fondue Set and put out a spread of Graham Cracker Crumbed Marshmallows, Oreo Crumbed Marshmallows, Regular Marshmallows, Rice Crispy Treats, and Strawberries. I melt chocolate in the fondue device. This has been a real hit with guests. Prior to this point I had out a bowl of party mix and a bowl of Tostitos Scoops and Salsa.

We order Pizza at 8:30 to be delivered. If there are less than 10 guests at the time I order 2 pies. If there are between 10-15 guests I order 3 pies. If there are more than 15 guests I order 4 pies. We order equal number pepperoni and plain.

The Fondue stays out until 9 p.m. and then regardless of how much is left I throw out the rest. I also aim to put out slightly less food than is necessary to create scarcity mentality. The pizza arrives soon after.

After the Pizza is mostly gone I put out a bowl of party mix and a bowl of Tostitos Scoops with salsa.

When guests begin to leave at the end of the night I offer them a Red Bull or coffee. I keep disposable coffee cups and lids in my apartment. This allows myself and others to leave with a cup of coffee and not worry about returning a mug, but can rather dispose of the cup when finished.

Music

You should have music at a party.

For music I tune to one of the music channels provided by my cable provider called “The Hit List” and set it to a reasonable volume and then I put the remotes away in one of my bedroom drawers. I remove the remotes from the room to prevent guests from changing the volume and the channel. I do not want guests to change the volume because by raising the volume other guests will have to raise the volume of their voice to hear one another and I would like to keep complaints from neighbors down to a minimum. I do not allow guests to change the channel because I want guests to interact and not veg out in front of the television. I’ve seen at other parties guests change the station to a movie or to a sports game. If I wanted to have a football party I would organize one.

In addition, if you have a larger space or prefer not to use the television, I suggest you have an IPOD/MP3 compatible system that will allow you to create your own playlist.

Seating
Having more than twenty people at your place requires lots of seating.

I suggest buying folding chairs. I personally keep 14 folding chairs on hand, plus 6 dining room chairs (which I prefer not to be used), and a couch and a loveseat. This provides plenty of seating.

Games

Entertainment is always very important. You do NOT want your guests to become bored or to be stuck playing the same drinking game over and over again.

To address this I have the following set up:

A professional beer pong table. You can also play flip cup on the table. Both of these games are very fun and encourage others guests to drink. You can order one of these tables off of the internet for a little over a hundred dollars. They fold up into a suitcase so you can easily store them in the closet. One important note when dealing with beer pong and flip cup: Buy TONS of plastic party cups. Many guests do not like to reuse cups other people have played with before them. I keep literally hundreds of cups and dispose of them after each one is used during a game so no one has to worry about germs. You do not want your guests to be skeeved out or dissuaded from participating because of a lack of supplies.

In addition to beer pong and flip cup I have Apples to Apples (which I modified to require each round’s winner to take a shot), Poker, Spoons, Lighting Reaction Extreme, I’ve Never…, Naughty Charades, shot class checkers, and all the classics in case guests want to play (Stragego, Risk, Clue, Monopoly, Life, Jenga, Chess, Checkers, Connect Four, and Operation).

What is important is to make these games into drinking games. Attempt to make each games loser or winner have to take a shot. This makes these games much more interesting and keeps the party moving along nicely.

Video Games

I allow no video games to be played.

I have prevented this by not having any out and by removing the remotes for the television. I have found that video games bring attention to the television and not to the guests and actually hinder socializing. The goal is to increase social interaction and fun, not to direct all attention to a box. It doesn’t matter what the game, even games like Guitar Hero are actually detrimental in the long run and I find many people use such games as a crutch.

Alcohol

Alcohol is essential to having a very successful party (not so much for other types of social events).

I require guests to bring a six pack, but they are free to have as much beer as they can drink. I also give full access to my liquor supply to all my guests.

The reason I ask guests to bring their own beer is to cut down on costs, and it gives a greater selection of beer because everyone has different tastes.

I make sure my refrigerator has ample amount of space the day of the party and I put in about 12 bottles of my own beer and a bunch of Pepsi, Sprite, Red Bull, and Bottled Water.

As guests come in I start filling up the fridge with beer and guests self-serve at that point.

As for liquor, I keep a stacked bar and I attempt to make as many games as possible require the loser or winner to take a shot and I call for rounds of shots every 20 minutes or so. This keeps the party moving and the guests inebriated.

Smokers
Left unchecked smokers can be an issue. It depends on the crowd.

I don’t allow smoking in my apartment so smokers take smoke breaks outside the apartment.

During one party I had quite a few smokers and they all decided to smoke at the same time. This resulted in three things: (1) My party was reduced by about half which drains a tremendous amount of energy from the party, (2) After they were finished smoking they hung out outside for about 45 minutes, and (3) By hanging out outside so long while intoxicated and with so many of them we received our first noise complaint.

As a result I inform guests in my Facebook message two weeks before the party that guests should limit smoke breaks to ten minutes due to previous complaints. So far my guests have respected my wishes.

Sick Guests
If a guest is feeling sick I have them rest in my bedroom and take a time out.

I keep paper towels, water, and a “vomit bucket” in the bedroom. For those of you who wonder why I keep a “vomit bucket” and why guests can’t just go to the bathroom to vomit, apparently some just can’t. I’ve had guests vomit in my bedroom and it is way better to be able to just close a garbage bag and dispose of the vomit then have to clean a floor full of it.

Future Updates

After each party I learn something new. As I continue to learn and host better parties and events I will continue to update this guide. Feel free to make any suggestions or comments below.

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