How to throw a party! - A 12-step MMP

Until recently, I’ve never had the chance to host a party - in Korea, the house party culture is practically unheard of. You live with your parents until you get married, which obviously makes inviting your friends over a bit problematic; once you’re settled down, then you’re usually too busy to host gatherings of any sort. (Plus most Koreans live in tiny apartments; the population density in Seoul ranks somewhere in the world’s top 10, I think.) Anyway, I lived with my parents until I moved to Chicago in the fall of '06, but for the first few months I was subletting with roommates, and then for the rest of the school year I was living with my brother in a crappy basement apartment with very minimal furniture. So I didn’t really have a place of my own until last fall, when I moved with a friend into an actual three-bedroom apartment with the proper mix of furnishings from Ikea, charity shops, and other sundry articles we stole from our parents or picked up off the street. Since then I’ve discovered that despite the hassle involved I actually quite enjoy having people over. This has somehow led to our place becoming the default hang-out amongst our small circle of friends, which is interesting considering the fact that 1) we have a distinct lack of chairs - more than five-six people and we have to resort to using the cats as cushions 2) we don’t have cable or a game console or any other form of group entertainment more complicated than a pack of cards 3) the heating isn’t worth shit. Despite all of this our apartment apparently posesses an ambience that my guyfriends describe concisely as “nice,” by which they mean, “We bring booze and **HazelNutCoffee ** supplies us with food.” And I do like feeding people stuff. Must be some kind of maternal instinct that all my hoity-toity education failed to beat out of me. My aunts would be so relieved.

Anyway, so along the way I’ve discovered a party-planning process that has so far never disappointed me or my guests. And while I considered putting it in a glossy hardback book and becoming the next Martha Stewart, instead I’ve decided to be generous and share it with my fellow MMPers. So here it is: planning the perfect party in 12 easy steps.

  1. Decide what kind of party you’re going to throw. Is it going to be a casual low-key get-together or a huge drunken orgy? Or perhaps something in-between (a low-key orgy, for example). The last party I threw was to celebrate the Lunar New Year and introduce my white-as-the-driven-snow friends to a bit of Korean culture. Obviously the kind of party you throw will dictate the food and drinks and so forth. I decided I was going to make dumplings and a noodle dish, with rice and kimchii on the side. It’d practically cook itself.

  2. Send out the invites. Will they be handwritten on parchment or perhaps take the form of a casual text message? (“You free Sat. evening?”) For bigger parties this means creating an “Event” on Facebook, then sitting in front of the screen for an hour while checking and unchecking people on your Friends list. “Hm, I haven’t seen Dan in awhile. I’ll invite him. But if I invite him I know he’s going to bring Amanda. And Jill is coming, but she hates Amanda. And I can’t not invite Jill, because Kelly is coming, and she’ll hear it from her, and then she’ll be all hurt if I don’t invite her. And should I bother inviting Greg? He never comes anyway, but then if he doesn’t get an invite he’ll wonder why. . .” After realizing that grad school relationships are really no better than those forged in high school, decide your friends can all go screw themselves and invite whoever the hell you want.

  3. Clean the apartment the day before the party. This will usually involve terrifying the cats with the rarely-used vacuum cleaner, as well as finding about $1.56 in loose change, some student papers from last semester, and a hoard of beer bottle caps collected under the sofa in some nefarious feline plot to take over the world.

  4. Draw up a shopping list, then procrastinate until exactly seven hours before your party will start. Run over to your local Jewels, discover that you’ve forgotten said shopping list at home, then proceed to wander crazily around the store muttering to yourself while other patrons steer carefully out of your path. Come home and realize you’ve forgotten toasted seasame seeds, which your mother has insisted is indispensible for making perfect dumplings. Decide that your ignorant American friends wouldn’t know a perfect dumpling if it danced naked in front of them.

  5. Start cooking, planning your recipes in a way that is the most time efficient. Put the rice in the rice cooker first, so it’ll be done by the time the guests arrive. Start boiling the water before you chop up the vegetables. Dump the carrots in with the tofu, then realize that the tofu is for the dumplings and the carrots are for the noodles. Painstakingly pick out carrot pieces. Discover that the water is boiling over. Spend two hours making dumplings before wondering to yourself why the hell you decided to make dumplings when making the stupid things was the thing you hated most about celebrating Lunar New Year’s back home. Decide next time your friends are going to have to deal with the frozen stuff that comes in bags at the local Asian supermarket.

  6. Shoo cats away from nibbling at the scattered tidbits of food that now cover the kitchen floor. Then open a bottle of alcohol of choice and finish half of it at one go.

  7. Greet the one guest that inevitably is either on time or sometimes even early, God forbid. If a good friend, put them to work in the kitchen. If an awkward acquaintance that you invited with the expectation that they weren’t going to show up, dump the cats on them and wonder what nefarious motives they might have had in accepting an invitation they were obviously supposed to decline. If the boy you are currently sleeping with, collapse on sofa and demand sympathy. (And other things, depending on how much time you have left until your other guests arrive.)

  8. Greet guests as they trickle in. Usually this takes a good hour. Crack open the booze. Complain about work and politics. Talk freely about people who are not present.

  9. Serve the food. Unless you are having a fancy sit-down dinner, paper plates are the way to go. Sorry, environment, but my sanity is at stake. Always have plenty of paper towels on hand, as inevitably things will be dripped and spilled. As the host(ess), you should sit near the entrance so you can easily run to the kitchen and get whatever your guests may need. Either that, or sit wherever you want and tell your lazy-ass friends to get the damn forks themselves.

  10. As host(ess), you also have to ensure your guests are enjoying themselves. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to have plenty of alcohol around. They end up entertaining themselves. In emergencies, a laser pointer and two cats will do nicely.

  11. One of the most difficult parts about being the host(ess) is politely letting your guests know when they should leave. Usually for me this is not a problem, since I am almost always the last person to call it a night. (w00t!) But sometimes there is a need to take initiative and bring the party to a close - for exmaple, if it’s 3am and your friends are drunkenly trying to entice your cats to lap up the spilled vodka. Most of the time a polite, “Well, I really think I need to go to bed now,” will be enough, but if not, I’ve found that “You guys are WASTED; go home, for fuck’s sake!” can also be effective.

  12. Collapse into bed and sleep the sleep of the just.

  13. Wake up the next morning. Pop some Tylenol. Survey the aftermath and marvel at the sheer number of empty bottles taking up half your house. Go get breakfast at McDonalds in order to escape the chaos, and also because the thought of cooking anything else is enough to make you need another beer.


So, there are my secrets, bared for the pleasure of the MMP. Now it’s your turn. Do tell - how do you throw a successful party? And can I come to your next one?

Funny this comes up, because one of my coworkers insists that I need to throw a birthday party for myself. Another one, hearing this, asked me what he should bring to drink! I need to find out if they’re kidding or not, because if they’re not, I just might do it. I’m sure my roommate wouldn’t mind. I’ve got about another month to figure it out anyway, but my birthday does fall on a Friday.

Besides, the one who has insisted on the party is way nice and way cute and isn’t far too young for me like most of the really cute guys who work there!

BTW, not to sound like your mother, but I’d avoid Tylenol for hangovers. You don’t want to overdo it on your liver.

Yeah, I’ve recently discovered that Tylenol and alcohol shouldn’t be mixed. I’ll have to get asprin or something.

You should totally throw your own birthday party and get drunk and make out with the cute guy. :smiley:

:: waves hi ::
:: takes notes ::

Glad you had a good party! Me, I’m still in the apartment-cleaning phase.

I feel I have outgrown my “party” stage. I invited a couple other kids for New Years last year and they smoked in my roommates room, groped each other on the community couch, opened and drank a vintage bottle of soda (countless years old), and harassed my fish.

I’d much rather get blasted at your place than mine. That way I don’t have to clean my place.
ETA: Sunspace, see map link. You want in you tell me.

I just spent 5 minutes laughing to myself.
…At work :eek:

Good thing it’s early enough that my immediate “neighbors” aren’t here yet…

Have I mentioned yet that I laughed out loud? :slight_smile:

I sooooo want to come to one of your parties now!

[Carryover from last week]
**Rosie **-- get well soon!
**MBG **-- holding an exercise like that – with simulated gunshots yet – without posting ample notification is just all kinds of wrong and stupid! :mad:

Morning all! Nice [sub]last-minute stand-in[/sub] OP, Haze! Unfortunately, hosting (and attending) parties becomes a much more complicated scenario once there are children to consider (Won’t someone please think of the children??? :wink: ). Of course, once we finally get that live-in housemaid I have been begging for, that problem will not seem so insurmountable, since we will have a live-in, permanently on-call babysitter! w00t!!! I give it another 2 months to get everything organised (fingers crossed), then I can laugh (not too loudly) the next time FCM asks what happened to the staff she wanted ('cause they will be at my house, tending to my every need and vacuuming up my dust-bunnies and doing my washing and cleaning my bathrooms, and and and … BWAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!).

Ahem … sorry, where was I?

Sez “Sand Central” in your “Location.”

A propos of nothing at all – heh :smiley:

That there’s a contradiction in terms. Or sentences. Or whatever, is there such a thing as “a contradiction in sentences”? I mean, cats aren’t electronic, but they can be pretty complex.

Thanks, Haze, I needed a laugh. I’m working at home this week, only it’s at Mom’s and she’s
a) grabbed me with a ton of requests and a reminiscence of stuff she’d already told me several times before just as I was sitting down at the computer, then
b) when the cleaning lady arrived, proceeded to tell her, not just “yeah, she’s working from home this week” (the cleaning lady’s DiL does it sometimes, she’s an accountant), but how badly that project that “we” didn’t like very much worked out. What “we”?
c) entered “my office” three times in half an hour already!

If I do get the Mallorca job then I guess I won’t, but if it ends up being Bilbao-based jobs with the occasional “work from home,” I’ll have to tell my housesitter to make room for me. Can’t work like this. It was the same when I was in college; at least when I was in high school, Mom was either busy being “Mrs Important Person” at some function or other (Caritas, Sunday School, Parents School… pick one, she was involved in everything and it was all for the social value) or, for the last two years, bedridden. Isn’t it horrible when you realize that having a bedridden mother actually has benefits to it?

Great OP,Haze - I’ve thrown a few parties in my time, mostly successfully inasmuch as nobody got carted off to hospital and nothing valuable got broken!

I’ve been invited to some incredibly well-planned parties, one friend in particular springs to mind for those, he’s big on cocktails and decided to have a cocktail party. The invite came with a spreadsheet detailing all the spirits he thought he’d need and allocated them around the people he’d invited. There were strict instructions to bring only the booze he’d specified, and your choice of mixers, to avoid not having the right stuff for the selection of cocktails he was intending to make. A bit too regimented an idea for some, but it worked pretty well.

Of course the most fun ones are the impromptu parties. I belong to a social club, we have about four annual visits to various Center Parcs villages which will guarantee around 450 people turning up with their partying heads on. Although we have various activities available during the day, there’s almost always a glut of after-event parties going on until the wee small hours. Or sunrise. Or later. I remember one year getting up around 10am and having vodka chasers with breakfast, cocktails in the rock bar all afternoon, private party in the Village Centre, then after-party party in someone’s chalet until about 3am, then back to our chalet for more partying. Fell into bed around 10am the following day, having probably drunk myself sober.

Oh goody…we’re off to the Oasis village in Penrith in April!

Great OP, Haze! I too laughed out loud, and fortunately not at work. :wink: Seriously, though, you do sound like you’ve at least got the makings of a hostess-with-the-mostest. :slight_smile: I’d have tried your dumplings … even though I wouldn’t have known if they were good if they danced naked in front of me. LOL!! I probably would have even ventured a taste of the kimchee! :eek:

I’m up and caffeinating even though I don’t have to work today. I think I’ll go back to bed and catch a few more zzzs, though. I’ve had a bit of toast with my coffee, and later I think I’m going to try the muesili I got at the grocery store; I eat that mixed in yogurt. LOL Yes, I do sometimes eat right. :slight_smile:

Happy Monday, Mumpers!


  1. Must party by you. Be aware of being stuck with cats.
  2. Um…forgot # 2 as I have been up all night.

I think that is all.
Well probably not, but it’s all I should add at this time.

PS: Yes, drunked post.

Great OP there Haze! Actually there have been a few times, after throwin’ a party, that I wished there was some kind of “Twelve Step” program I could go to to keep me from doin’ it again. :smiley: Seriously though, I like havin’ people over. All my gatherings are pretty casual, like Saturday nights get together for gumbo and beer. In the summer it’s pool parties, which are a ton o’ fun and involve outside entertainin’ and cookin’, so not so bad. The only drawback bein’ that people have to go in the house to take care of bidness cause I don’t have a bathroom around the pool for that purpose. Still, folks do remember to dry off before traipsin’ in the house. Ok, sometimes, when it’s just guys and it’s just a weewee involved, there is a “discreet” outside place one can take care of that. OOOH! I think I just posted this week’s first TMI!

Up and caffienatin’ here. Work beckons in a while. Le sigh.

Later Y’all!

Party at Haze’s place! I’ve never thrown a party at my place. I prefer to leave the chaos to someone else. Work for me today, chili tonight.

Ah, the memories the OP stirred up, sorta. When we lived in Florida, we had a fairly social circle of friends, and we entertained tons more than we do now. I always went for party themes, although I promise I didn’t get *too * crazy.

For example, one Halloween, I had a “Come As You Were” party - the idea being you’d dress to represent one of your “former lives.” Sadly, most of the guests weren’t too creative, but we still ate well.

Another Halloween (is there a trend here?) we had a costumed scavenger hunt with video cameras. We divided the guests into teams of 3 or 4, each team having a camera and all having a list of tasks to accomplish within the confines of the county and something like 2 hours. Then we’d all meet back at our house, watch the videos, eat, have fun. I was particularly proud of that one. I came up with stunts like:

  • Go to the garden department at Sears, sit on the riding mowers, and sing the Green Acres song.
  • Find a baseball diamond and do baseball stuff (that one included lots of spitting and scratching.)
  • Go to the local fall festival and find a little kid who would sing a Halloween song (they all learn them in school, right?)
  • At the park by the river, do a Jacques Cousteau-esque documentary
    I think there were 20-25 tasks total. Then when it was all done, one of the guests (who made videos for a living) edited all the tapes into one and made copies for all the guests. I still have our somewhere. Great fun.

The most memorable party, tho, was one of my husband’s birthdays. He loves having a big deal made for his birthday, so I planned a surprise party. At 6AM on Sunday (his birthday that year.) Since it was November, it was pretty much dark at 6.

What I did was leave the side garage door open, left the light on in the garage, and told the guests to all meet there, then at a given time, come into the house and down the hall into our bedroom to wake the birthday boy. And all the guests would come in jammies and stuff. Funny, right?

Um, yeah…

I’d forgotten that **FCD ** is a really light sleeper and also that he’d had a couple of really bad experiences in Cuba when he was in the Navy. So it was mostly dark, there was this gawd-awful noise in the house approaching our room, and suddenly, there were dark, shadowy forms coming around our bed. :eek: **FCD ** sat up, started screaming, then literally leapt out of bed and tackled the first form, who happened to be a little guy named Mike. At that point (thank goodness for the mostly darkness, since we sleep nekkid) I got out of bed, pushed everyone else out to the hall, donned a robe, and turned on the light, all in 2.2 seconds.

And there I saw poor skinny balding Mike in his bathrobe and slippers with curlers in his beard, cold cream on his face, and **FCD ** pinning him against the dresser (which had moved about 4" from the impact. Meanwhile, our daughter woke up and was crying because she wanted to be in on the surprise, and she’d missed it (she was maybe 7 or 8 at the time.) My poor husband was thoroughly confused, Mike was trying to calm him, and I suddenly realized I should have thought this party thru a little better.

Anyway, **FCD ** dressed and eventually his heart rate returned to normal, I calmed our daughter, the perennial late guests showed up after the fact (thank goodness - they had intended to tape the whole thing) and we all had a fun breakfast together. By 9, everyone went home or to church, and we had a heck of a story to share.

Since then, my parties have become much more sedate. I’ve hosted a few fests, both at home and at parks, and I don’t do themes any more. Just food and talk and stuff. It’s easier on the heart…

Good morning everyone!!! Excellent OP, Haze!

Funny party stories, FCM.

swampy said weewee. Hee.

I don’t seem to have anything more than small gatherings (family, book group, etc.) at my house anymore. I keep thinking I should have a real party again sometime, but the time hasn’t seemed right yet.

My house/apartment was always where we had major events in grad school (Thanksgiving was our specialty). It was always pretty much a potluck, so the preparation part was mostly cleaning and throwing the turkey in the oven.

I’m supposed to have today off, but instead I’m getting ready for work. I’m hoping I can leave by 4.


Most of the people we have over are in the local music scene, so a lot of the talk revolves around music (“I can’t believe people are listening to that crap”), other local musicians they hate (“I can’t believe he/she hasn’t OD’d yet”) and how much better the world would be if only people in general listened to their music instead of what the current trend dictates (see the first quote.)

My wife is a great cook, and loves to make something special for parties, whether we are hosting or not. Last party we had was a small one, (only three people invited, plus the girls and their boyfriends, for a total of nine people), but we tend to have larger ones in the spring/summer because we have a lot of room outside. In those cases I just fire up the grill and toss on slabs of meat.

Last night we got some more of the smoke from the fires down North Carolina way. It was pretty heavy, in fact. The authorities said that we’ll be getting a lot of smoke for the next couple of weeks. Something about the roots of a lot of trees still smoldering.

Great OP!

Last party we had it took three days straight of cleaning just so I could say “sorry the pace is such a mess” :smiley:

The party was a lot of fun since we had just finished the basement. We now have somewhere for the kids to go! The adults played upstairs and the kids hung downstairs. How very civilized!

It is raining like the deluge here, but there was no school for the kids, hubby is off work and I only have to pop in for a few hours. So we slept in and listened to the rain.

Toodles, will check in later!

Usually I ignore MMPs, but I’m up early, and I have some experience in this.

Put me into the “something in between” category, not because it’s an orgy, but because it’s a lot of people.

My house is big, with three large rooms with hardwood floors, and large kitchen (with its own, built-in bar-b-q), and so it has become popular for Eastside Peruvians and Colombians to have a dance party (mostly salsa and merengue, but now reggaeton, too). These are the things I find helpful:

  1. Have a friend who is a DJ—and who’ll do it for free.
  2. Put mattresses up against the windows, so the neighbors don’t complain.
  3. Have at least one plastic trash can close to the kitchen for people to throw their bottles and such for recycling—saves you the effort.
  4. Tape your kitchen cabinets shut, and make sure there are lots of plastic cups and plates.
  5. If it’s a birthday, persuade your friends who like to cook to contribute. The folks who come early get to eat something delicious.
  6. Don’t let your drunken friend jump onto your old dining table to dance, because she’ll destroy it. (And she did, damn it. I’ve got a picture somewhere, but can’t find it.)

Also, if one of your (underage) students shows up, send her home, immediately. (“How the hell did she end up here?”)

What? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The only pain med I can take is Tylenol! cries bitterly

That being said, I’d love to go to a HazelNut party. I’d even get my own damn forks and bring a feathery thing to go with the laser-pointer cat entertainment. I prefer the low-key orgies, though. :wink:

Today’s goals are get some new shoes with my junked car money and dye my hair tonight. I’m gonna put off the online class until Complicated Roommate gets up. We had huge thunderstorms (:smiley: ) last night that have wreaked minor havoc with ye olde intarweb connection and he’s the computer guru who’ll have to fix it.