The house party, done correctly, is potentially one of the most beautiful collective experiences on the planet. It’s a lawless zone that even the most hedonistic of clubs can’t compete with. Not only do you avoid dealing with a bouncer in severe need of a warm hug and nine months of intensive therapy, but the humble tinny can replace an £8.50 watered-down vodka and coke. It’s the land of the thrifty, the wild, the free! Why do paranoid bumps next to an overflowing toilet you queued 20 mins to get into when you can do them from the plush luxury of your friend’s knackered sofa?
Saying this, hosting a house party is an entirely different ball game. As much as you want to be the guy who threw the party which everybody still talks about five years later, you equally don’t want to be the person whose grandmother’s ashes got added to the King's Cup and who had to clean someone's sick out of your sock drawer.
But fear not! There is a way to tread the delicate line between legend status and imminent eviction. Here's how to throw a house party that doesn't suck.
Lie about the start time of the house party
“Yes. The large party I am throwing which will inevitably go on until five in the morning starts at 8.30PM sharp” – Rehearse this lie until you can say it with total confidence and repeat it to all guests. This is crucial if you don’t want to spiral into an anxious meltdown at 10:30PM because nobody’s arrived. Because guess what? You didn’t invent arriving late to a party to appear desirable and aloof – everyone does it. So if you say it’s earlier, people will show up at a more normal time.
Bonus tip: Provide a certain amount of alcohol on a first come, first serve basis and let the race begin.
The energy of the pre-drinks is VITAL
Your pre-drinks will set the tone for your own enjoyment of the night, and therefore the enjoyment of others. To avoid being the distressed host who got nervous and took far too much cocaine, spending the entire night asking everyone if they’re “actually having a good time???”, simply have a good pre-drinking session and the rest will work itself out.
As a host, the pres aren't simply about getting to the right level of drunk before the party (although the perfect level is probably one drink after “tipsy”), it’s the beginning of the party itself. So get ready with at least three of your favourite people, play some good music loudly and see who can polish off a bottle of Echo Falls the quickest. It’s your party, you may as well enjoy it.
If you’re going to have a house party theme, make it specific
I’m all for a theme – it forces people to get excited about their planned fits and allows for a vast range of opening lines to speak to the person you think is hot. But if you’re theme is simply “fancy dress”, you’ve fucked it.
“Fancy dress” will not encourage the kind of crazy and hilarious dressing up you think it will. It will, however, result in dull, half-arsed attempts with cat ears, cowboy hats and guys in shirts claiming to be Men In Black making a frequent appearance.
Alternatives to “fancy dress”: The 2010s, cult movies, “dress as your type”, old memes, Shrek, £5 thrift shop finds, “slutty”... The niche-r, the better basically.
Craft the perfect house party playlist and stick to it
If you have a mate who wants to DJ and will bring their own decks, great. If not, then the playlist is fundamental to everyone’s enjoyment of the night. Sit down with your housemates at least 24 hours before and create an endless fucking masterpiece. You don’t want any skips or queuing. Using the “queue song” feature on Spotify too frequently at a party will create an agitated hunger for dopamine which can never be fully satisfied. Trust in the playlist and just let it do its thing.
And whatever you do, DO NOT let a strange little music nerd hijack the aux and torment everyone with his Soundcloud “finds”.
Suss out the neighbours
Unless you’re mega rich and own a big house on some land, chances are you have neighbours and you will need to deal with them. How you deal with them will depend on who they are, but one thing for sure is that they should not be ignored. Even if you throw the best house party in the world, the police showing up at 11PM is guaranteed to kill the buzz.
One idea is to bake some cookies and send them over with a note about how you’re “having a few people over on Saturday for a little get together.” Or play the long game. Be so sickeningly helpful and perfect for the weeks running up to the party that when their Saturday Strictly Come Dancing session gets interrupted by deafening bass, they practically glow at the thought of you having fun.
Also, even if they’re 85 years old, it’s a good idea to invite them to the party. You can’t get mad at a party you were invited to, and you can’t complain about the noise if you are the noise.
Invite the person you fancy
The work crush, the friend of a friend, the barista who always flirts with you a bit… Having a house party is the perfect excuse for inviting someone over without it being weird. Plus, kissing the person you fancy in the midst of a chaotic house party is probably the most euphoric event that will happen in your 20s. If it goes well, prepare to run around your increasingly sticky-floored house like Bonnie and Clyde causing mischief at every turn.
And if it doesn’t work out? Who gives a fuck. You’re throwing an amazing house party and are surrounded by people you love.
Don’t let people take the piss
Maybe your landlord is the kind of arsehole who would take your entire deposit away because of a single tiny scratch on the banister, meaning that you’ve fully given up on being careful at this point. That said, you also don’t want to live in a cesspit for the remainder of your lease.
Ahead of the party, buy enough toilet roll for a small army, hide and cover anything you wouldn’t want broken and try and host on a night that isn’t pissing it down (not easy to predict in the UK, I know, but try) – hundreds of muddy footprints on carpeted stairs will not be fun the next day.
Don’t be afraid to kick out weirdos
It’s your house. You do NOT have to be polite to the creep in the corner who appears to know nobody and keeps trying to chat up whichever girl seems the drunkest. In fact, assign a trusted (and hard) friend with the job of helping you get rid of creeps and gate-crashers. All you have to do is be like, “Can you leave, mate”. Your guests will massively thank you for it.
And finally: Have fun!!
But not, like, too much fun. Wrap it up while it’s still morning. Nobody ever does or says anything good after 11AM the next day. You want to be asleep by then, or eating a fat, greasy group breakfast.