How to throw a house party that doesn't suck
University junior and local party sensei Jeff Fadness met with the Emerald to discuss some key points to throwing a house party that is safe, enjoyable and — most importantly — free of police interruption. This Q&A was edited for clarity and brevity.
What’s the difference between a house party and a bar or dance club?
The atmosphere at a house party is more social. You’re not there with your small group of friends — you’re kind of meeting everyone at the party, so it’s a little more social. It’s better for meeting new people, definitely.
What’s the most important thing to know about having a good house party?
A good party is just having the right people there. Make a Facebook page for your party. If you want to have a good amount of people there and get the word out, nowadays everything has a Facebook page, so make a page. A good suggestion is not to make it a public event so everyone can see it. Keep it invite-only, and maybe friends can invite their friends. Make those calls to your friends that you want to be there.
Why would you make the party invite-only as opposed to a public event?
If you have a public party, and people know about it, you’re going to get a lot of people there — fast. People just going to random parties, maybe you get some sketchy people you don’t want in your house. It’s just for your safety and liability. So just keep it chill. Keep it with your friends.
What’s the best time and day of the week to throw a house party?
Thursdays are usually good because a lot of other things are going on Friday and Saturday, so people aren’t going to come those days. For time, people usually don’t show up to a party until 10 p.m., so tell people to get there at 9 p.m., and they’ll show up at 10 or 10:30 p.m.
Two a.m. is about the latest you can have a party. After that people are going to be leaving. Parties usually go until 1-2 a.m around here. If it’s really good it might go later. Two is probably when you start telling people to go home.
In terms of actual supplies and equipment, what kind of things do you think need to be on a checklist for a party?
It depends on what kind of party you’re having. If you’re having a chill, small get-together, supply cups, maybe supply some snacks, some mixers, have some soda, maybe get some Red Bulls … maybe supply a little bit of alcohol for people. Just for your friends, not for the whole party. It’s nice to treat your friends to drinks when they come over.
What about music? What should be on someone’s playlist?
Just something upbeat. It could be really anything. Usually people at a party just want to have something good in the background, but, you know, some hip-hop or classic rock. Something to make you feel good.
If you know anybody who DJs, it’s pretty easy to get a DJ to your house party. A lot of them are looking for stuff to do. Look around and see if there are any kids who want to spin at your party.
One of the biggest things I hear about all the time, is people using their iPod to DJ, then leaving it unattended — causing it to be stolen. Nowadays, it seems like every party involves a stolen iPod. What sort of precautionary measures can you take to make sure that doesn’t happen?
If you’re having a party, designate someone as DJ. Whether it’s someone with a laptop, or someone who has an iPod, designate that person as DJ and then that person is responsible, you know? Best thing is to have someone there that is responsible for just running the music for you. If not, there’s no way around it. Just keep watch, because it will get stolen if you leave it unattended.
What sort of advice would you have for someone for preventing police from coming to their house?
What we do is notify our neighbors. So first and foremost, if you’re having a party and you know you’re having a good amount of people over where there’s possible police conflict, usually the police come over because your neighbors call the cops. So if you live in a neighborhood where you maybe have homeowners or students that aren’t down to have noise going on all the time, go and knock on those doors earlier that day and say, “Hey, I’m your neighbor. I’m gonna have some people over tonight, just wanted to let you know beforehand, if there’s any troubles, here’s my cellphone number, give me a call.” Those are some preventative measures.
It’s also good to put a sign on the door that says, “21-and-older only.” So when the police come there, it’s backup that you’re not letting minors drink.
Just be respectful. Keep it at a decent volume. Keep people inside. Keep the door shut. Stuff like that.
How should the host of a party handle the party when the police show up?
Number one, turn the music off so people to listen to you. Tell everyone to stay there. People shouldn’t be leaving your house. The safest thing is to tell people to stay there and chill. Make sure if you’re the host of the party, that you’re not too inebriated yourself. You should be conscious that the police are going to come. You should be professional and be able to handle your own party. When the police get there, be cooperative, answer all their questions. If they want to come inside, you don’t have to let them in — I don’t think — unless they have a warrant. Just go outside, answer all their questions, agree to everything. If they tell you to turn it down and shut the party down, then shut the party down.
Not a lot of people think about the aftermath of a house party. How do you throw a party that doesn’t leave a big mess?
Um … you can’t. You have to expect cleanup. If you have a nice house or nice carpet, you probably don’t want to have a house party. It’s kind of how you make the party. If you describe the party as, “We’re going to have a rager, BYOB, come over to music and dancing,” your house is probably gonna be trashed because it’s gonna attract a lot of people that are gonna drink heavily, throw up on your carpet, kick-in your doors, or whatever (laughs).
When you describe the party, tell people to keep it respectable, no throwing up.
That’s a good rule in life generally, right?
Yeah (laughs), just don’t drink to the point where you’re throwing up on my floor, and put things away. If there’s breakable things that are gonna get smashed, put it in your room, lock it. Make your house a drunk-safe zone. Drunk-safe your house.
Is that kind of like child-proofing?
Yeah. Drunk-proof your house (laughs).
Describe the act of drunk-proofing your house.
Well … I just kind of made that one up. But drunk-proofing is, you just take anything that could be dangerous away. Anything that will spill on your floor. Anything that can be grabbed and used as a weapon. That’s pretty much it. Keep it safe for the drunk people coming to the house.
How often do you throw parties?
We live a ways off campus, so it’s kind of a quieter neighborhood, but we do one a term, just to get all the friends back together. We usually have decent-sized get-togethers. I have some friends that are DJs, so they’ll come and play the whole time. We’ll also get a keg. That’s usually good.
Parties make a big impact to what people see of you and your roommates. Don’t do ’em very often, but when you do have a party, make it good. Make it something fun, that people will want to come back for, because that’s how you meet people and their impressions of you are made. Plan it well, and don’t do a rager every weekend unless you want a trashed house and stolen stuff.
Another important thing is having a theme for the party. If you have a Facebook event for the party, make a theme, and make it interesting because that’s something that will keep people around. If they come dressed a certain way, they’re more likely to stay there and hang out and have fun. It’s a conversation starter if you’re wearing something interesting that goes with the theme, and it also just makes it memorable — good pictures, too.
Speaking of pictures, there’s this place called Facebook where a lot of random, unfortunate, crazy pictures show up. Is there anything you can do as a party host to prevent someone from the “tagging of death?”
(laughs) Uh … no. I don’t think so. That’s your own judgment. If you get caught doing something stupid, and you’re in a photo on Facebook, that’s your thing. Everybody has cellphones that can instantly upload to their social media circles nowadays. So … not really. Keep in mind that you can have snapped photos of you with red cups in your hands.
Last question: other than drunk-proofing, what are some more measures that the host of a party can do to keep all the attendants safe?
I’d say as a host, get your roommates together and establish that you’re going to be responsible for the party. As a roommate you’re responsible for keeping watch of the party and keeping people safe, whether they drink too much and they’re sick or they need a ride home. I’m not a big expert on all the services provided, but whether it’s a taxi or Safe Ride, be in a state of mind where you can help that person out, so you’re not liable for someone getting alcohol poisoning at your party.
Don’t drink too much. Keep yourself and the party at a good level.