How to throw the ultimate house party

Guest list finalised. Dress code decided. Sound system optimised. It's time to thrown the best party your home has ever seen...

A house party is the ultimate social gathering. Unlike a bar or club, you won’t get charged extortionate prices for drinks, you can avoid that long Uber ride home and, most importantly, you have ultimate control. From the guest list to what tracks are blaring from the speakers, you’re the master of the minutiae and this is an opportunity to really show off your hosting credentials. But with these upsides there are also downsides, and if you don’t fine-tune your functions, your next invitation will get deleted before it’s even read.

To make sure you become the Gatsby of your group, here’s everything you need to know in order to draw a crowd:

The guest list

A key factor in the success of your house party depends on who’s attending. The first thing to consider is how big you want your gathering to be; for smaller ones, perhaps opt for a group of around 15 – 20 guests; for larger ones, and depending on the size of your abode, around 40 – 50 attendees should suffice. Whereas the former should really consist of good friends (and perhaps a few of their associates), for bigger parties you should be a bit braver with your guest list and to try to bring together an eclectic group of people, mixing together individuals from different job industries, backgrounds and neighbourhoods. That artist friend of yours who recently sold his oil painting for £4m? Introduce him to your neighbour who’s currently restringing Rafael Nadal’s tennis racket. 

Your pal who’s a food journalist at The Telegraph? She’d have a great time with Steve the sommelier from upstairs. After all, when there’s another aspect brought into the familiar, people become stimulated and conversation flows. Just avoid inviting anyone who might bring a heated political argument to the party; nothing’s more of a festive mood killer than talking Trump and Brexit when standing around the fireplace. 

Moreover, send out your invites at least a week or two in advance to ensure that everyone can clear their schedule for your soirée.

Invite the neighbours

Whether you live across the hall from a newly wed couple or an OAP with hearing difficulties, extend your invite to the neighbours; okay, you can warn them that things will get loud, but reaching out and asking them to come over will make them feel respected, even if they won’t want to attend. Doing so can help ensure that you won’t get any noise complaints during future parties.

The dress code

One of the worst parts of pre-party planning for any guest is deciding what to wear. Is a T-shirt and jeans combination too casual? Is a tux over the top? To put all minds at rest, let everyone know the dress code, whether it’s black tie, cocktail or smart casual; that way they can avoid any last-minute wardrobe panics or outfit anxiety. A relaxed and stress-free preparation makes for a happier evening. 

The sound system

Before you start to connect your smartphone or laptop to your speaker system, just make sure to put the record player away first. Sure, you may have a vintage Crosley with a smooth-running belt drive and flawless audio, but it won’t be of much use when it’s been defaced and dismantled by an inebriated friend.

So, make sure the vintage turntable is stored away safely and hook-up something a bit less fragile and a bit more powerful. For something that’s both sleek, stylish and has a reliable performance, opt for the BeoLab 18 by Danish giant Bang & Olufsen – thanks to its 180-degree horizontal arc, this beautifully-designed sound column spreads optimal sound throughout the room, making sure that music can be heard wherever you stand.

The playlist

A well-curated Spotify or iTunes mix can be as good as an in-house DJ, just as long as it flows with the ambience and mood. For example, don’t play any melancholic melodies by Morrissey when people arrive. Likewise, if you must play cheesy holiday songs (Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey et al.), leave them for the end of the evening when everyone is a little merrier and well-oiled.

The songs on your mix should be like a cocktail: not too long, refreshing, cool and made with the right degree of spice. Think Mark Ronson and the like.

The fuel

People arrive at parties expecting to be fed and fed well. So, put out some carrots and hummus if you’d like, but expect your next gathering to have a disappointing turnout. For something a bit more appealing, bite-sized finger foods such as prosciutto-wrapped pears or Dublin Bay prawns are the way to go. Moreover, these simple flavours will not only easily satiate famished attendees, but they’re far less messy than pots of curry and stew.

Another tip: By having no plates on offer, you’ll guarantee that the food will go a lot further.

The tipples

Hard-to-make, sugary and over-decorated drinks are best left to the cocktail bars and lounges your guests have already chosen to avoid on the evening of your big do. A basic spread of drinks – gin and tonics, wines, whiskeys, martinis– are always crowd-pleasers, take no time at all to make or pour, will guarantee that everyone is well-watered and are bound to make your job as host far, far easier.

Dealing with the drunks

A key reason for going to a party is to drink and have a good time. But, more often than not, there’s always someone who takes it a bit too far. That’s no bad thing (it is the season to be merry, after all), but if he or she is making others feel uncomfortable by being loud and inappropriate, then offer that person a bed, tell them to have a quick nap and then leave them to snore until the late morning. Not only are you saving them from any potential self-embarrassment, but you’re also letting the rest of the party continue with what they were doing. 

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Further Reading