Solving for the Perfect Party
2017 has just begun; hopefully, you celebrated the end of 2016 with a bang. If you happened to be one of the many who hosted a party, then you definitely did. Nothing creates chaos like hosting a party. Throngs of people in and out the door, the constant demand to entertain and feed your guests, as well as all the havoc that alcohol provides… Well, you see why some never attempt to host their own party. They leave that to the pros.
And, while planning my own New Year’s Eve party, I finally realized exactly where I went wrong. Yes, party planning is stressful, but that’s only because of the unexpected. How do you account for no-shows? What will you do with all the extra food? What if there’s not enough booze? These are frightening scenarios, but don’t worry: there are simple solutions to guide you. In fact, there are simple equations. Solving for them helped me plan my New Year’s Eve party with minimal stress, and I’ll certainly be applying these equations to every party from here on out.
- How Many People Will Actually Show Up?
We’re all increasingly busy. We’re booked weeks in advance, and sometimes, no matter how much you care for the person, you can’t make it to your friend’s event. Realize that your friends aren’t intending to hurt you by just “swinging by” or by foregoing your party altogether. They were probably just invited to several events, and there’s only so much time in the day! However, that leaves you in an awkward position: you don’t want to set up for more guests that will attend, but you can’t risk not having enough either.
First, gauge your guest lists’ interest level. If they don’t drink, and you’re already concocting your special margarita mix, count them out. If they have a baby, they probably won’t be there at midnight. Are they very popular? Expect them to dip in and out. All these maybes and in and outs count for half a person.
.5 * (# of maybes and in and outs)= A
Next, realize that despite your best promotion, some people would just rather sit in their PJs, eat take out, and watch Friends reruns every weekend. You might not understand how someone could be such a social recluse but to each their own. So, go ahead and do yourself a favour and just count out 30% now.
Given this, you’re left with a simple equation:
.7 X (A + # of your real friends)= expected guests
2. How Long Will it Last?
Too late, and you won’t have time to get the ball rolling before everyone has to leave. Too early, and the party burns out before midnight, which is an acceptable cut off point for most parties. While some might want it to last longer, no one will be affronted if you kick everyone out at midnight. People understand that it is technically the start of the next day, and you probably have plans for tomorrow.
First, realize that most people will show up late, so don’t plan for the party to really get started until about an hour after your official “start time”. Given this, 7:00 is a bit too early, and 9:00 is a bit too late. Settle on 8 pm as an official start time, as this will give everyone enough breathing room to arrive when they wish and party as hard as they want to. So, that’s four hours until midnight, but really only 3 hours with everyone present.
That leaves us with:
3+ (# of hours past midnight you can tolerate before you kick everyone out)= # of hours your party will last
If this isn’t enough time for you, or you think your friends might bail before then, tailor the party specifically for friends who you want to stay longer. You might have a friend that loves unicorns, or Harry Potter, or whiskey. Include those things into the theme of the party. People will also stay longer if they’re comfortable, so make sure that you remove any bad smells and tidy up before having anyone over.
3. How Much Booze Do You Need?
If you don’t want alcohol at your party, you can just skip right over this section…
If you want to be able to tolerate hosting a party, on the other hand, booze is required. But how much? We all have that friend that can only down two drinks before they’re on the bathroom floor and you’re rubbing their back, but we also know one person who needs a bottle to get a buzz. This can be a little tricky, but luckily there is an event planning standard to help you out.
(# of guests from step 1) X (# of hours from step 2) = # of servings
Make sure you realize how much a serving is. While this is obvious with a bottle of beer, take note of what a serving of wine is five ounces and a shot of liquor is 1.5 ounces. This will help you plan out how much booze you need to buy, which, honestly, can be the breaking point of any get-together.
Now, following these equations doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a stress-free planning experience. But it definitely helps. Considering that you’re attempting something that others do professionally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself plenty of time, and then it’s just an issue of plugging in the numbers.
Guest Blog Post: AJ Earley
AJ is a personal chef, caterer, freelance writer, travel junkie, and root beer float aficionado from The Pacific Northwest, USA.