How to Throw an Epic Party

Every year for the last 9 years, I’ve thrown a Festivus party in December (we’re coming up on #9). And every year I try to do something to top the previous year’s party.

Last year was probably the biggest jump over any previous year because I not only added a VIP room to the event, but I also hired a bartender for the evening. I highly recommend the bartender idea for your next house party–it worked out even better than I expected, and I plan on doing the same this year (I’m currently searching for said bartender, so if you want to make some money on December 1 and you’re in St. Louis, contact me for consideration).

Last year, more than ever before, I became aware of the cost of throwing a big party. It’s expensive, hence why I only throw one a year. I remember pulling out my credit card to pay for all the alcohol at the grocery store cash register last year, and the kid being the register said, “That’s the most I’ve ever seen anyone spend here.”

I don’t charge anyone to attend Festivus, and I ask them not to bring anything to the party. Why, you ask? My party philosophy is this: When I throw a party, the best possible thing you can do is attend that party (and bring friends!). And then if at some point during the year you throw a party, don’t charge me or expect me to bring anything (even though I probably will unless you explicitly say otherwise). It’s a party exchange.

That said, I sometimes wonder if guests to parties would pay to upgrade the event from a good party to an EPIC party. For example, you might upgrade from iPod music to live music. Or cheap beer to imported beer. Or to fill a room with those plastic balls they have in the McDonald’s play pin (or kittens!)

I’m not saying that guests want these things, but rather that it might be nice to give them the option, especially if you have a specific budget you can’t exceed. So I think it would be cool for there to be a website that is essentially Kickstarter meets Evite. I call it Epic Party.

Just like Evite, you invite guests to attend a party. You tell them what you’re providing–basic drinks, basic snacks, background music, etc.

Then, just like with Kickstarter, you offer a number of potential upgrades for the party that people can contribute to. For example, guests could choose to contribute to the funding of a $120 ice luges for alcohol (I don’t know why it’s appealing to pour alcohol through a luge into your mouth, but it just is. It’s in our DNA–people have been doing this since the beginning of time). Guest can contribute any amount to that upgrade, and if you reach the funding goal with a week to go before the event (or however long you need to order the luge), you have a friggin’ ice luge at your party!

Who wouldn’t want a room full of puppies at a party?

Unlike Kickstarter, guests would be able to contribute to different types of upgrades. Or they contribute to nothing at all because they’re fine with the basics. But at least they have the option to help you take the party to the next level.

The site would be easy to monetize–like Kickstarter, there would be a small fee. And like Evite, the site could offer advertising to various companies that offer the specific upgrades you’re looking for (they could even propose additional upgrades for you to consider at special discounts).

Now, when I had this idea, I Googled it to see if it already existed. And it kind of does. It’s called Zokos. One neat thing that Zokos does is that it lets you set a minimum number of people and the amount of money needed for the event to happen at all. Thus it seems very cool for small, niche gatherings that cost money–like, you have a zany idea for a dinner party serving Japanese blowfish, but you need to get insurance in case anyone dies from improper preparation. You don’t know if people are going to sign up for it or chip in a few dollars for the fish, so you send out an invitation and see what happens. Cool idea, well executed…but it’s no Epic Party.

What do you think? Would you use this? Do you know of parties that could benefit from something like this? In a way it democratizes parties so that people can experience things with each other that they wouldn’t be able to afford by themselves.