The first thing you need to know about throwing parties is that it is an artform, and not a science. You can get all of the variables right and shit could still go wrong. Even if Dionysus does show up, he might just end up breaking all your corning ware. But there are a few time-tested ways to cut back on the possibility of disaster, or worse, boredom, and here, for the first time in print, I would like to share them with you.
Before you start inviting people over to your house, it is important to decide what kind of party you want to have. Here are a few kinds of parties you could consider:
1. Intimate Gourmet Cocktail Party
Not only should the food at this event be chosen with discernment, so should the guests. This is not the party to invite a random stranger to, unless said random stranger is walking down the street in a Viktor & Rolf tuxedo carrying a plate of Humbolt Fog and a bottle of Cristal. This party is characterized by conversations about art and trips abroad, rich foods, and threesomes . It is usually expensive to throw, but a quick clean-up (except the threesome, which can not only get messy, but emotionally complicated).
2. Raging Stranger Rail Drink Bash
This can be considered the opposite of the previous party, but should only be attempted if you a) live in a frat house or 2) don’t give a shit about your home or belongings. This type of party is characterized by low-quality alcohol and drugs, date rape, frequent vomiting, and ang
ry neighbors. For this type of party, you can invite anyone you want. including people you don’t know or like. If you get enough people together drunk, there will be someone for everyone to know and like.
3. Medium-sized Theme Party
This is the kind of party that I usually throw, because it allows me to invite most, but not all, of the people that I know and like and even some of their friends. It can be messy, depending on your age and socioeconomic status, but is generally less disgusting than the Rail Drink Bash. It is not crucial to have a theme, but in my opinion, it gives a smaller group of people something to rally around. This kind of party is characterized by mid-priced liquor, hydroponic weed, sexual experimentation with members of the same sex, booty dancing in living rooms, and loud conversation.
Great, but how do you decide which kind of party to throw? Well, how much money do you have? An intimate, gourmet gathering will cost you a couple hundred bucks, because even if you request that guests brings something, you still have to have a seed table of lovely wines, cheeses, etc. You will have little left after this party because everything will be amazing and people will gorge themselves. But since people will conduct themselves with dignity, you won’t have much to clean up and you will get to go to bed still drunk.
A rail drink bash is the cheapest, but you could end up paying for it in property damage. You can start with basically a case of beer and an empty space and tell everyone to bring their own shit or go home sober. Other than your own booze, you don’t need to provide anything but music, but you might want to stock up on paper towels. There will be little left after this party, including things you want and need. Be prepared for the loss of appliances, furniture, your integrity, and maybe your girlfriend.
A medium-sized party can cost as much or as little as you’d like, starting at about $150. You can ask people to bring alcohol, but you will need to provide mixers. You should make sure that you have some high-carbohydrate food around to soothe your guests pickled tummies. I usually go with rice and beans (cheap in bulk), bread, and perhaps some sort of cookie. These will be civilized folk, so while you won’t have to break out the white tablecloth, you will have to provide disposable cups and utensils. You will more than break even in the end. You might even have enough, beer, liquor, and captain’s hats for your next shindig.
*A note about theme parties: If you are going to go with a theme, then fucking go with it. Do not half-ass your playlist or your outfit. I usually spend $50-$100 on music for a theme party, $50 on a costume, and maybe $20 to $100 for other theme-related stuff.
If you aren’t into the theme of your party, no one else will be, either. And, this is the hard part, but you must INSIST that guests follow through with the theme. I usually tell people that if they aren’t going to wear a costume then they have to bring an eightball. I can count on one hand all the people who did not dress to impress for my last party, and you better believe that they have a big, fat question mark next to their names on the guestlist for the next throwdown (see HTTAP, part III: Who to Invite). When people tell you that they are tired of listening to bluegrass, just tell them to leave. I accepted a non-theme related request at my last party and it is what I think of as my own personal low- point for the night (even considering the two-day hangover). My self-esteem has recovered, but I will never do it again.