You’re an adult. Stop throwing college parties. I’ve thrown together some super basics to make sure your guests don’t feel like they’ve arrived to a campus house smelling like last week’s beer pong tournament (although, I’m not against hosting an adult beer pong tournament. For real. Can we do that soon?)
Include all of the needed details on the invite.
It’s 2016, so make a Facebook invite. If you’re worried people aren’t seeing it, you can send an email linking to the Facebook event. It’s instant, you can continually update people, and it’s a forum for everyone to ask questions. Include your address, what you’re planning on serving (ask for dietary restrictions so there is something for everyone), whether you’re providing booze or not, if there is some sort of dress code, and a link to a collaborative playlist (see below).
Ensure your house is party ready.
As an adult, it goes without saying but I will anyway—make sure your house is clean. Do it the day before so you’re not scrambling and doing a half-ass job. This means vacuuming, mopping, dusting, straightening up, cleaning your baseboards, etc. Light candles that aren’t too pungent (my favorite is this one). Adjust furniture so that there are communal places to sit and have conversation as well as some open space for people to stand around and chat (let’s be real, they’ll all be in the kitchen). This goes for indoors and outdoors. In the food area, make sure there are cups, plates, and utensils in an easily visible and accessible place.
Prep and cook everything possible ahead of time.
I find that last minute things always come up the day of the party. So, I focus on prepping, cooking, and baking everything I can ahead of time, just in case. It’s saved my ass so many times I can’t even count. Serving cheese? Cut it and bag it up. Making a dip? Mix that shit up the night before.
Create a playlist a week before and make it collaborative so your guests can add to it.
I can’t recommend Spotify enough. Get a good start for the mood you want to set then post the link to the invite. Everyone has slightly different tastes and it’s really nice to let them hear their jam in your house. Plus, who doesn’t want new suggestions for tune-age? Make sure the music can be heard throughout the house (I suggest the Sonos Play:1), but not so loud that people can’t hear each other. I often will leave an iPad or computer out so that guests can change the music if they want. I also opt to have some visuals on my TVs—classic horror movies for Halloween or funny, 90s music videos for general parties.
Provide a signature drink and some classic favorites.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate. For fall parties, I mull some cider and give guests a choice of two different liquors (cinnamon sugar vodka or spiced rum) to mix in. The easier, the better. If you’re going to make an elaborate cocktail, make sure a large amount is mixed ahead of time so you don’t need to play bartender all night. Most people will bring their own, favorite beer or drink, but providing a backup is always nice. So, stock the fridge with some light beer for those that aren’t into cocktails or didn’t have time to bring their own.
Make sure there are snacks in each room.
Although I’m not a sweets person, I always have jars of different candy available in each room. People are able to have some tasty treats no matter where they are. Encourage everyone to take some on their way out.
Set up activities or games on tables around the house.
Leaving a deck of cards or Cards Against Humanity will encourage people to mix and mingle while playing games.
Speaking of mixing and mingling, intro people until you can’t no mo’.
At the beginning of the party, you should introduce everyone that arrives to one another. Being the first guests at a party can be awkward and intimidating. As the party fills up, there’s no way to keep it up. However, if you know two people that have similar interests or could use each other as business connections, you should go out of your way to introduce them.
After the party, clean that shit up.
For real, do as much cleanup as you can the night of. There is nothing worse than waking up the morning after a party and coming downstairs to a total disaster. You’re hungover, exhausted from all the conversation, and just feeling totally off. The last thing you want to do is scrub the crusties off of plates or collect empty cans from every nook and cranny.