From roughly the age of sixteen, I have absolutely adored house parties.
As much as I do enjoy a cheeky trip to the pub / cocktail bar / 80’s-themed big-night-out, the true love of my partying life has to be the classic house party.
Why? Oh, so many reasons. The alcohol is cheap (or free), the venue is more intimate, the host has control over who gets to attend / what music to play / what ridiculous games to encourage, you don’t get automatically kicked out at 2am when the fun is just getting started, and (if you ask your host nicely), you can crash somewhere comfortable without having to get the night bus half-way across the city at 4.30am.
So, now we’ve established just why house parties are so damn great, here are a few tips about how to host one when you are low on funds*.
* Disclaimer; these tips will work fine for a fun, wild night with your drink-mixing, recently-graduated friends in your twenties, but are far less likely to wash at a pleasant, sophisticated dinner party when you’re all in your forties with two kids and a mortgage. Good luck with that.
Hosting a house party when you’re broke
- BYOB. Just stick this on the invite. Most people will assume this is the case anyway, but just to be on the safe side. But of course, as host you need to provide a healthy stock of drinks too. So…
- Fake it. Only bother with this if you’re inviting people who are likely to care whether they drink paint-stripper or not. At one point in your life, invest in a couple of bottles of Grey Goose / El Dorado / Glenfiddich, save the empties, and refill them with supermarket own-brand. Whatever people say about being able to taste the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ vodka, I promise you, they’re lying. Alternatively, mix some punch before your guests arrive.
- Bulk buy. If you know in advance you’re going to be hosting a party, shop around for deals on multiple bottles. Wine is often good for this.
- Food. You have a few options here. Either start the party late enough that food won’t be expected, get in some cheap stuff beforehand (again, bulk-buying is your friend), or let people know that there’s going to be a mass Domino’s-ordering at some point, so they’ll expect to pay for it themselves.
- Music. Stick an iPod on some speakers. If you don’t have some kind of decent sound-system, just ask around. You’ll definitely have friends who are willing to bring theirs along – everyone wants decent music at a party they’re attending.
- Games. If you’re the kind of person who likes games (which I do recommend) at a house party, again you have a couple of options. Ask around – you will definitely know someone who owns Cards Against Humanity (if you don’t, you’re friends with the wrong people). Cards, dice, ping-pong balls, and plastic cups are all cheap, especially if you plan to get them in advance. There are loads of apps with free games too, and you can always resort to the classics (‘Never have I ever…’, Truth/Dare, ‘Would you rather?’ etc).
- Venue. If you’re broke in London, chances are, your place might not be huge. You can either a) invite less people b) accept that everyone is going to have to get super friendly , or c) team up with a friend who has a bigger place, and co-host (since they’re agreeing to let people rampage all over their home, you may want to be extra helpful with the set-up/clean-up operation, or take more responsibility for the guest list etc).
- Yes / No rooms. Designate some areas of your place as the ‘party’ rooms – kitchen (easy to clean), living room (places for people to sit / drink / talk), and any balcony / outside space you have (less problematic if it gets messy) – are usually good for this. Bedrooms are often less popular (no one wants vodka-cranberry all over their pillow), so make it clear if certain rooms are out of bounds.
- Breakables. It’s safest to work on the assumption that anything you leave out in the party rooms is gonna get damaged in some way. Play it safe and hide anything you vaguely care about.
- Sleepover. If you can, agree to let your friends sleep over. They’ll love you more, act as a hungover clean-up team the morning after, and may return the favour in future, which could save you from forking out for an Uber from Clapham to Upton Park at 3am.
- Hangover Food. Be prepared. Buy in some of your favourite hangover food before the party, so you don’t end up ordering £35 worth of pizza in your fragile state.
- Recycle. People will undoubtedly leave some of their booze at your house. Although it may seem tempting to tip it all down the sink in your I’m-never-drinking-again phase, keep hold of it, future-you will appreciate it*.
* Within reason; an almost-full bottle of vodka – save. Two inches of warm lager in a beer pong cup – throw.
So, there you go. House parties are the best, and it’s possible to throw a fun one even if you are pretty broke. Have fun, and please send any more tips you have my way!