A beginner’s guide to throwing a party

Recently, my housemates and I undertook a big project: throwing our first party. We are not members of a fraternity, none of us are on any teams (Blog is a sport), nor do we have some greater social purpose for living together (like farming or whatever it is that co-ops do). We’re just some humans that wanted to have about 100 people we know and kinda like over to our house to drink and chat and stuff. Ambitious, I know!

I’ve been at Brown for a few years and attended many a party, but there is so much to learn by being the host yourself. After all, you’re at the same event from its commencement to its bitter end. Who even knows what happens at a party in that first techincally-its-started-but-not-actually hour?!

Read on for a gripping portrait of what happens when you invite many college students over to your home for a couple hours, having purchased a copious amount of cheap alcohol.

Before the party 

The first thing you learn when you want to throw a party is that it’s hard to decide when to throw a party. When you first move in to your house, someone will say every few hours, “We could have such a good party here!” As the days and weeks go on, once in a while people will make a comment like “When we have our party, we should have pitchers of fun drinks! Maybe homemade sangria!” or, if you get mad at someone “Well, she’s certainly not going to be invited to the Facebook event for our party.” None of these off-hand comments will prove relevant to your actual party, but they are good for keeping the ‘party concept’ on everyone’s mind.

Weeks will go by, and you will not have your party. There will be other big events on campus, midterms in your classes, and a general insecurity festering that you aren’t good enough to throw a party. But then, one Tuesday or Wednesday, you will realize: Hey! I know of nothing going on this weekend. We should have a party! This is the first step in an uphill battle of getting the attention of everyone you live with, convincing them to have a party, getting frustrated about everyone’s lack of commitment, becoming hesitant about the party, being re-convinced by your housemate who now wants to have the party, and finally, everyone agreeing that you all are going to have a party.

Deciding how to invite people is another difficult step. Are you trying to throw a “casual” party, where you text people a brief, cool invite the  morning of, hoping word of mouth will do the trick? Do you go alt and email people? If so, is everyone cc’ed or bcc’ed? A Facebook event seems most efficient, but then do you make it private or can guests’ friends see? Decisions, decisions. Whatever you decide, it will not go exactly according to plan. You don’t have all that much control over who ends up coming.

Then, it’s time to purchase alcohol, potentially buy decorations, and move some furniture around. Our layout consisted of a “dance floor room” (an empty room), a “hang out room” (the room with the couch), a “bar area” (the kitchen has a fridge), and a “smoking area” (we have a porch).

The actual party

The first hour of your party is much like any old pregame, with everyone you live with and a few key special friends who you have forced told to come extra early. You can’t pregame as much as usual when it’s your party. After all, you have to be aware enough to recognize people, tell them to leave if you don’t recognize them, be able to point out where the bathroom is, where the alcohol is, etc. Anyway, your body is just filled with party-throwing adrenaline.

10:45 p.m: Panic. This is a time that sounds like a time where tons of people would be arriving. After all, whenever you get to a party at 11:12 there are people there! FALSE, parties are not happening at 10:45!! They are not that distinct from the close-friend circle that was present since 9:45. (Or at least our party was not happening at this point.) But then, somehow, by 11:10 p.m. everyone and their cousin-who-is-in-town-for-just-tonight had arrived! The joy of opening your front door to some shuffling, sweet-faced, tipsy underclassmen who timidly ask, “Is this an open party? My friend told me about it…” Well, it really is a power trip. It was our first party. We had no idea how ‘open’ it was. But yeah, okay, open this party!

There is a very real evolution of character for the host of a party. Early on, I could not bring myself to assert any authority. I’d call myself the more timid, polite type. But there’s something about strangers repeatedly climbing the stairs to a clearly blocked off bedroom area that brings out the beast in all of us. My personal proud moment: telling an obnoxious, drunk girl to “Get the FUCK off MY porch!!” when she began saying the phrase “I could jump that far.” (My porch is not on the ground floor.)

This is but one example of weird shit that kids do at a party. Even if you don’t witness it yourself, one of your housemates, or your VIPs will have seen the poor kid throwing up in the bathroom, the even sadder kid who fell asleep, curled up in ball, on the kitchen dish mat, or have dealt with the inquiring adult neighbors. (Our adult neighbors are arty and cool, and they totally understand a big party. Try to have it done by 2, ok? Thanks, have fun kids!). While it could be stressful dealing with these incidents, if you’re efficient about it, it’s really just a matter of finding given drunk kid’s friends to take him/her/phe home, and talking politely with an adult for a couple minutes. And then you have an amusing anecdote, like, remember the sleeping kid?!? Classic freshman.

When it’s your party, people come up to you and compliment you a lot. So many compliments! Great house, great party, great call on the cider, wow great song choice. Even if it’s not true, it’s nice when all your general acquaintances bestow such praise on you. And strangers too! If you hear someone say “Where even are we? Is this the frisbee team? Is this a co-op?” at your party, you get to be like, “Hey, I live here! What’s your name?” This will make whoever it is feel a bit awkward, but also they are likely to, again, compliment you so you don’t kick them out.

Then slowly it’s time for the party to end. People leave in packs, so it goes from busy to emptying quickly. A few stragglers hung around in the dance room. “Can you play “Drunk in Love”?!?” asks a random excited girl. “Yeah… we’re kind of winding down, you know?” says my housemate, and instead puts on “Closing Time.” This is passive aggressive but effective.

After the party

You think the post is over?! Ha, the best is yet to come. The most interesting things you learn about your party come from the clean up. First of all, no one actually drinks beer. This is something I’ve long suspected, having never finished any beer I’ve been handed at party, but certainly seeking it out when I need something to hold and look less awkward. We bought 2 cases of beer, of which every can was gone, and maybe 5 were finished. The rest were half full, maybe more, and thrown into the sink. Meanwhile, every bottle of hard cider was completely empty. Cider is literally so much better than beer and everyone knows it.

Also, drunk people eat from your fridge. We put out chips, in order to be, like, a bit more 90s, but people ate our yogurt. Multiple yogurts missing! One housemate suspects a few pickles from the pickle jar were taken; another found two apple cores hanging around near empty solo cups. A healthy crowd! We had left-over watermelon slices from a too-long ago market share that we put near the chips. People ate that too… and it was gross.

Perhaps most impressively, one particularly intelligent party-goer left us a dirty crossword:

party2

Fascinating. mostly because how did phe possibly do this without anyone noticing, when everyone was constantly trying to get into our fridge? Realistically I just wrote this post to tell the above writer: we’re impressed, if not a little shocked.

Image via.

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