How to Throw a Big Party

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My 30th birthday party was a massive success: about 200 guests through the door, over $3000 raised for the charity and we met our bar guarantee.  One of my co-hosts – John G – also had the good grace to stop the party and get everyone to sing me happy birthday – absolutely something I’ll never forget.

It took a lot to make this one happen.  Negotiating with a venue, stuffing gift bags, collecting items for a silent auction… I was lucky to be working with a few very organized people.

I’ve written before about how to get the word out about a party (although that post seems to be lost, hmmm) and how to be a good social connector, so today, let’s consider the flow of the party.

If you want your party to achieve “rager” status, you’ve got about four hours to make it happen.  The crowd, the music, and the alcohol need to come together in the right way to get people to forget about the rest of their lives for a few hours and surrender completely to the fun they’re having.

Let’s start with the crowd: it’s not sufficient to invite your friends.  They all know each other already, and if you’re a guy, then chances are that most of your friends are guys too.  And they’ll most likely bring guys, because if you hype your party enough, they’re not going to want to bring a date unless she’s a girlfriend – they want to meet girls there. So get a co-host or five.

When you have enough co-hosts – and when there are slightly more female co-hosts than males – you’ll end up with the right male:female ratio.  People will feel peripherally connected, but see a lot of new faces.

How about the music?  A good DJ or two will do the hard work for you, but if you don’t know any (and even if you do, and want to give them some direction), a few tips…  The first hour and a half should be fairly chill, and not too loud.  You want people talking and getting comfortable with each other and in the venue.  Stuff like Gypsy Kings, Buena Vista Social Club, even a little ambient music is fine.  But starting about an hour and a half into the party, the music should increase in volume and vibe.  Nothing insane… but definitely more fun.  Some 80’s and 90’s hip hop… stuff that just feels good.  And about two and half hours into the party, break out the dance music.  Madonna, Kanye, Lionel Richie… the big hits that everyone loves to dance and sing along to.

And finally, the alcohol.  Alcohol plays an important part in making a rager come together.  Besides getting people drunk, it provides a social activity, and if delivered right, adds greatly to the vibe of the party.

People rarely show up and start hitting liquor hard, but it’s in your best interest as a host to get them two drinks in fairly quickly – within 45 to an hour.  Italian beer brand Peroni sponsored our event, so we gave everyone who paid in advance a free beer with their admission for this event.  Two-for-one cocktails in the first hour of the party is another great way to get people drinking.

About two hours into the party, accompanying the music changes, the shots should start flying; this is when you as the host have to be a catalyst.  And the fancier the alcohol, the better.  No one loves straight vodka shots, but when it’s Grey Goose, very few people will say no.  Patron is obviously another winner.

Not long after the shots start flowing – maybe 15 to 30 minutes – get ready to pop some bottles of champagne.  Pour them into flutes and distribute them to as many girls as you can – the hotter the better.  It is an old party axiom that if hot girls are having fun, other people will start to have fun too.   Don’t be stingy with the champagne – it doesn’t have to be Cristal – it just has to be bubbly and fun.  Do this two or three more times over the next 30-45, as people are dancing more.  Your goal is for the girls to feel taken care of.

Think of it this way: the hosts set the vibe of the party, and if they do things right, the hot girls pick up on that.  Fun and social guys start to vibe off the hot girls, and soon, everyone is drinking, dancing and enjoying themselves.  Lost in the moment of the party and forgetting about their days.

If things have come together properly, an early evening party (i.e. something that starts around 6:30) should really be moving about 3 hours in.  Later parties i.e. those that start around 10 or 11 should be moving within two hours – just compress the activity timeline.

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