House parties seem to be the new way for people our age to stay local, act a fool, and get home safely. I’m all about house parties because they are usually within walking/stumbling distance from my house. I personally like to pick a date that is a good time of year for weather so people can be outside and make it my annual house party. The Santos Family picks Cinco de Mayo. I imagine people think with a last name like Santos we are in some way of Spanish descent. Does Portuguese count? Maybe I just think the name Santos looks good on an Evite with a margarita on it… yep, that’s why.
So each year, Cinco comes around and I feel like it gets better and better. Just like any party, a couple of missteps can be adjusted each year to figure out how to make your party one to remember. Here are my top 7 suggestions:
1. A Sonos speaker system. This is something that is used every single day in my house. We are music people and I think I would of liked to be a DJ in another life. Music can make or break a party. Sure, we play all the theme party music in the beginning but as the night progresses, the oldies but goodies start to come out. Have someone in your crew that does a mean dance to Michael Jackson’s “Beat it”? Play it! Does some Beastie Boys favorite from the 80’s get the husband’s high-fiving? Sure it does. Do you want to sing every word to the latest Mumford and Sons song with your BFF? Put it on. The great addition to your Sonos system is a membership to great stations like Rhapsody or Spotify. You can create your own playlist the week before and it’s like you have your own DJ playing, all from an app on your phone. Only problem you can encounter is when the age group is too wide and you have people arguing over music decades. My husband and I often have this argument because he is 6 years older than me. Who wants to listen to hairbands like Poison when you have a good buzz going? Not me.
2. Take out. You must feed everyone right? I don’t want to spend my entire night in the kitchen so finding a great takeout spot is the key. Places like Salsaritas or Zoe’s Kitchen are extremely affordable ($7-10 a person) and some even deliver and set up for you. Bonus. I also have friends who are great cooks, so have them make a yummy appetizer for you! I also have learned that you need flashing neon lights pointing to food if it’s in another room. Too many times people have had too much to drink and not enough to eat because they didn’t realize there was food. Seriously?
3. Alcohol. Everyone is going to ask you what he or she can bring. If you are feeding them and providing entertainment, it’s okay to ask them to bring a bottle. You are never going to be able to provide all the items that people want to drink. Get the basics and mixers and let your guests fill in the rest. No reason to have a bar with all the goods at the ABC store. Everyone generally drinks the same things and if someone is coming to your party expecting to be served Jim Beam Black, then they are going to be out of luck.
4. Bartender. This has been something we started and will now never go without. Fixing mixed drinks for people, cutting limes, filling ice and taking out the trash are all DEFINITELY not things I want to be doing during the party. For about $200 you can hire a bartender from behind the bar of one of your favorite hangouts. They arrive early, cut garnishes, fill beer, make mixed drinks and can even make trays of shots for you to pass around. (This is my downfall. I can be quite the shot bully at my parties.) Best part of the bartender? They CLEAN UP! Oh and sometimes you can find cute ones who are about 27 that your lady friends will swoon over. Yum.
5. Entertainment. I know you think providing entertainment isn’t necessary because it’s not a kid party. Wrong. Ladies will stand around and cackle for hours at a party… men on the other hand need something to do. If you do not provide them with some kind of entertainment, you will ultimately have some guy ask you to turn on the game for them. After trying to keep the TV off all day with the kids, I definitely don’t want some basketball game on while I’m throwing my yearly party. Ugh. What we have done to entertain the boys is have things like cornhole, beer pong or our new 4ft tall Jenga set that my husband made on the patio ($15 in wood supplies at Lowes). Set up a March Madness tournament board for them and let the competition begin. It gives them something to focus on while we ladies relax. Our Jenga set was such a hit that my husband got requests to make 3 additional sets the next day. Another great addition is a photo booth or an instant Polaroid Camera just like you had in the old days ($69.99 + film cost Amazon.com). This makes for HOURS of entertainment for everyone. Also, with the instant Polaroid Camera shooting out pictures in 3 seconds, it keeps the pictures very PG and cute.
6. Guest list. The big problem with having parties can often times be the guest list. You know women these days. This person doesn’t like this person and this person doesn’t like this person. Don’t get involved in the drama. By not inviting someone, you are the one that will take the hit and it’s often times not worth it. If your party is large enough, grown people can avoid someone they don’t want to talk to. Do the right thing here and try not to be too high school about it. You’ll find that your party will break into small groups anyway. I always just try to get the groups to intermingle a bit. Meet someone new already! But stay above the guest list drama.
7. Party Smart. ($1.99 each) This little thing is a new party must have. As I was carelessly watching Real Housewives of Orange County the other day, I overheard one of them say while they were having a cocktail, “Don’t worry… I took a party smart! No hangover.” WHAT?!? I instantly had to Google this thing. Turns out there is an herbal pill sold at Whole Foods (so it must be legit!) that you can take during your night to help prevent the hangover the next day. Just recently I have noticed that my old bag of bones is not responding as well as I had hoped after a night of festivities. One little Party Smart at the beginning of my night (thanks to an awesome supply someone brought as a hostess gift) and I could of run a 5k the next morning. Who knew? I ordered these in bulk the next day.
We are getting pretty good about throwing these little shindigs. We have very little drama or broken glass. Maybe some years we need to give the walls a fresh coat of paint but otherwise we come out on top. My advice for guests coming to a house party? Clean up after yourself as best you can, bring the host a nice bottle of wine or little gift to say thank you and try to be an easygoing and fun guest. Chances are you will be invited back next year. 🙂
I would also add Uber to this list. So easy to get over-served and have guests driving home. We have starting taking Uber (Uber X or Uber black cars) home from dinners or house parties and it is easy and cheap (10% more than a taxi and nicer!). Download the app and order right from there. They send you the driver name and estimated time of arrival (usually less than 10 minutes) and the best part, you’ve entered your credit card into the app to start so there is no cash exchange at the time of drop off–they send you your receipt after the fact. Brills!
Nice call Heather! Yes! UBER is a must-do. We are becoming obsessed with it! So fast, easy and affordable. Using it this Saturday as a matter of fact. 😉
Totally agree, Heather! Love Uber! Great list, Erin!!
The Santos Cinco de Mayo Par-tay was most impressive! This is an excellent party list, coming from the party pro herself. Uber for sure at a shot-bully Santos party!