9 Essentials for a House Party

Here are 9 essential details I’ve learned about hosting a house party. And by a house party I mean that the primary function of the party is to drink with your friends and anyone else who shows up.

  1. Provide All the Alcohol: If you’re hosting parties every weekend, this rule should be disregarded. But if you host a big bash once a year, those people are coming to you, for you. Your part of the social contract is to provide the drinks. If guest want to bring something special, they certainly can.
  2. Provide Food: I don’t really eat at house parties, so for the longest time I didn’t provide food. Then I learned that drunk people really love food. So I’ve started providing food. I went with Seinfeld themed foods at Festivus 2010, a theme that worked really well.
  3. Clean your floors and vacuum after the party, not before: Your guests are just going to dirty the floors, and once the place gets crowded, they won’t even be able to see the floor anyway. Clean the countertops and bathrooms, but leave the rest until after the party.
  4. Invite a few close friends over for a preparty: The worst thing about hosting a party is waiting for a critical mass of people to show up so you’re not standing around awkwardly with three people you don’t even know all that well. Instead, give a few friends a good reason to come over early (cat tricks, home videos, line dancing) so you have people with you when random guests start to arrive.
  5. Turn Off the TV: If you’re at a bar or restaurant and there’s a TV on, your attention will continuously shift from your friends over to the TV. You can’t help it. It’s in your DNA to look at the shiniest object in the room. Prevent a distraction like that from getting in the way of good old fashioned conversation.
  6. Open your house as much as possible: I used to think that a party would seem more successful if people were forced to stand really close to one another. So I’d close off all the bedrooms and force people into the living room. This worked–the place felt packed–but people were uncomfortable. So now I open up all rooms and even take apart my bed so there’s as much standing room as possible.
  7. Put away the chairs:You want to make someone uncomfortable? Put a chair between them and the wall and stand really close to them. They’ll have no choice to back into the chair, buckling their knees. That’s wasted space at a crowded house party–people are much more comfortable if they can lean against the wall. I’d suggest putting all your chairs in a designated room where people have no choice but to sit down so that you don’t have people backing into furniture.
  8. Don’t stop the party: Other than to thank people for coming–which you can do individually, never stop the party for an official announcement. It interrupts conversation, and it’s so impersonal. Take the time to say hi to everyone who shows up, face to face.
  9. Anticipate logjams: I always look for trouble spots in my condo where people could clog up the space and prevent others from walking by. People tend to drift to some of the smallest contained areas (like the kitchen), so eliminate those areas as much as possible.

Any suggestions for missing essentials? You might notice that music is missing from this list. I put conversation above all else at a house party, so if people are having to shout over music, you’re getting in the way of good conversation. You can have music on at a medium level, but people probably aren’t going to hear it if you have a room full of people talking.

8 thoughts on “9 Essentials for a House Party”

  1. I actually really liked the way your last Festivus party was organized. You segmented the areas for different purposes. The living room area was standing room only (aside from your couch), which allowed you to see/talk to lots of people. The second bedroom had chairs positioned around your coffee table for people who wanted a quieter place to sit and chat. Your bedroom was essentially the game room/feats of strength room. People could go to different areas based on what they were interested in doing, and I thought this helped make the party more enjoyable.

  2. The Festivus parties are also widely known for squezing the maximum occupancy for the building, into a single unit. I think you should take a head count of how many people are in the unit at various points in time, and then divide that by the number of applicable rooms to discover that population density during Festivus rivals that of Shanghai. Other interesting stats would be how many people total came, and how long did they stay (Check In/Check Out)

    I’m afraid that these limited (highly successful) parties may slant your perception, and thus the creation of some of these rules, including the Vacuuming, Chairs, and Logjams.

    • True…but why would you have an unsuccessful party? Like, if you’re just having a few friends over for a drink, of course you put out chairs and it still doesn’t matter if you do your floors, because your friends won’t judge you.

      • I’m saying that these rules have been applied to your Festivus parties with positive outcome. But that given other resources or scenarios, the application of these rules may not euqate to the “success” that you have seen. The goal is obviously not to have an unsuccessful party.

  3. I always have music. Always. I have it low, not like college party level, just so there’s noise in the background in case there’s a lull in conversation. Then there’s always that song that makes people laugh or cringe that starts a conversation on its own. I also have the “Leeroy Jenkins” yell in there for a laugh.

    My birthday parties are always during the NFL post-season (one of the things I love so much about my early January birthday) so I always have the game on, though usually on mute. There’s no way my friends and I would want to miss that but I turn it off after the game (inconspicuously of course) for the reasons you stated. I also keep playing cards and dice available at all times.

    Do you really take apart your bed?!

    My best friend got me a FANTASTIC present that is great for parties (or any time someone comes to your house). You wouldn’t believe the awesome entries people came up with, especially after a night of drinking:

    • That list book looks awesome!

      Honestly, I did have music at this year’s Festivus, but no one could hear it at all. I’ll do it again, but it doesn’t seem to have much of an impact (although I like your reasoning of having something to fill the void or incite conversation).

      Yep, I really did take apart my bed. The beer four square table in that photo is where my bed usually is.


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