Tips for planning a party of 25 people at home
December 1, 2006 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I want to throw my first major party and I need tips on fitting 25+ people into an apartment.

I'm usually a private person. I don't throw parties. I've only done one such event and in my life that was just 6 people invited.

Anyway, I want to fight the blues over turning 31 yesterday and lots of people are clamouring for a party. I've decided to give in and do one. I'd like to enlist your help in making sure things don't screw up.

I made a potential guest list and so far it's come to 27 friends. Even assuming a few don't come, that's still close to 25 people. So... how best should I manage this? I only have seating capacity (chairs/sofa) for about 12 people. That leaves half the people standing.

What I have: a 3-bedroom apartment that's got a living room/dining room combined area of about 450 sq. feet. I also have a balcony that's about 100 sq ft. right outside the living room (I live on the 3rd floor). I don't want to use any of the bedrooms for entertaining, though I suppose I could use the one next to the living room in a serious pinch.

And any other tips for an event like this? I manage stuff like this professionally in my restaurant but there I've got lot of seating space and staff to help out.
posted by madman to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not take over a section of a pub or a bar?
posted by k8t at 6:59 AM on December 1, 2006

Scatter food and drink stations around, so everyone doesn't end up standing in the kitchen.
posted by gnat at 7:01 AM on December 1, 2006

In my experience it's very unlikely that 93 percent of the people you invite (25/27) are going to come to an event like this. And those that come are unlikely to be all there at the same time. So don't stress about that bit so much, I don't think you'll have too many people in one place, and it's okay if some people stand—I kinda expect that at a party.
posted by grouse at 7:04 AM on December 1, 2006

Don't put too much thought into it, people will arrange themselves in their own way based on where there friends are, who they're flirting with, etc, etc.

When you invite people and they ask what they can bring, ask a few to bring folding chairs.

Have fun!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:05 AM on December 1, 2006

Don't worry about seating. You've more than enough. I was worried about this myself last year when I threw a holiday open house. I wound up with about 40 people in my loft which consisted of approximately 8-10 places to sit.

By nearly every account it was a fantastic party.

You'll be fine. Just make sure that your bar area is easily accessible and easy to work in.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:12 AM on December 1, 2006

Ditto what all above said. I have a small place and I threw a party and invited, oh, about 100 people. Only about 20-30 showed. I don't have seating for that many people, so they stood around, or went outside to stand around. Make sure food and drinks are easily accessable and you'll be fine.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:18 AM on December 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Even if everybody comes, they won't be there at the same time, as grouse said. Although I'm sure you can count on better than 7% attendance!

At my last party, over 30 people attended, but I doubt there were ever more than 15 or 20 people there at the same time, and it never felt uncomfortable. There's a sort of natural flow to how people arrive and when they leave, and after you've had a couple parties, you'll be able to begin to predict where most of your friends fit on that flow.

Also, even if everyone is standing, they generally don't mind because it means that there are tons of people there, which people usually find exciting. She hallmark of a great party (and great hosting) is not whether there is adequate room and seating for comfort-- it's what people are doing while they're there, or what they feel welcome to do.

I don't know if you asked people to RSVP, but you should send a follow-up email a week before the party, and if you are comfortable doing so, call some of them a couple of days beforehand just to say, "Hey, I've been getting evertything set up for this party, it's going to be fun. Does it look like you're going to make it?" That way you'll have a more realistic expectation of what to prepare for.
posted by hermitosis at 7:21 AM on December 1, 2006

Happy Birthday! You should be fine especially if you have a few things in order before people show up.

1. Use bedroom for coats. This keeps people out of your bedroom generally but also gives everyone's coast and extra stuff a place to be that is not a ppotential place where they could sit/lean

2. Keep food/drinks to stuff that is easily walked around with (no soup, just finger foods etc.) Have little places where people can leave drinks while they're standing/leaning.

3. Have big obvious places for a) more food and drink b) trash c) coats and bags and such

4. assuming the weather isn't horrible, make sure the balcony is available and inviting, don't just leave the door open and assume people will gravitate out there

I agree with what everyone else said, it doesn't sound like too many people at all.
posted by jessamyn at 7:24 AM on December 1, 2006

Although I'm sure you can count on better than 7% attendance!

Poor phrasing on my part. I meant that his assumption that he would get 93 percent attendance is overoptimistic.

In my experience as well, the number of people who tell you they're coming is a good estimate of how many people will show up. Some of them won't come, but it will be balanced by people who never replied but come anyway, or who bring guests without telling you in advance.
posted by grouse at 7:29 AM on December 1, 2006

You will be amazed how many people will fit into your place. And the more crowded it is, the better! People don't want to sit around at parties.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:30 AM on December 1, 2006

If you're planning on putting food or drinks on a dining table, make sure you move the chairs away from it. You want plenty of easy access, and if people do sit down, you don't want them blocking the table. Put the dining chairs out in the living room or something, and make sure all the furniture is arranged so that there's a natural flow from one area to another -- not a closed circle, but a half-circle or corners. This makes it easier for seated people to talk to each other, but doesn't trap them or close off newcomers. Your particular layout will dictate a lot of things, but I generally assume most folks will spend the bulk of the time standing, and when they sit they'll be getting up (for food/drink/bathroom) before very long, so make it easy.
posted by nickmark at 7:40 AM on December 1, 2006

You're in Bangalore! Why are you doing this in your own place? If you don't like to entertain, then consider reducing the stress by reserving a room in a cool restaurant/club. You have a restaurant - you must have lots of connections and could easily do this someplace else. You could have it catered, and really reduce the stress. You're a pro - why don't you stay in your element so that you can relax and enjoy yourself?

You know your friends right? - Do they typically attend parties when invited? Do they typically invite more people? I don't know how the social scene in Bangalore is....

Anyway, if you do stick with your apartment, and you think 25 is accurate, you should be fine. The balcony is a nice feature. Don't stress if people don't show up early - often it takes a while for these things to get going. You might also want to spread the word that at x hour, you're all going to move the party to y bar/club. That way, if you want people to get out of your apartment, you have a built in excuse. And if the party is going well and you're still happy having everyone there, then you can stay and it's no big deal.
posted by Amizu at 7:55 AM on December 1, 2006

Set up the food and drinks in key places to keep everything spread out, so you don't have everybody bunched around the watering hole, so to speak. For example, split locations for beer, liquor, and finger foods. Put the dining room chairs out on the balcony to encourage people to go there, while opening up space on the inside.

As far as numbers, you should be able to hold more than 25 people and nobody is expected to be seated the entire time anywayso don't even worry about that. Contrary to the theme of responses, in my experience more people than those invited show up because they bring friends.
posted by bangitliketmac at 7:58 AM on December 1, 2006

Make sure to get your neighbors on your side, maybe leave a note letting them know that you're going to have a party so that they don't get bent out of shape and make noise complaints.

If they're cool people, hell, invite them over and feed them drinks...
posted by anthill at 8:01 AM on December 1, 2006

Don't worry about overcrowding at a party. If there's a huge turnout and you have to cram people in, everyone's going to talk about what a great party you had. It's better to have people standing and mingling than sitting comfortably. Often at parties the kitchen is the most popular room, exactly for this reason.

How sturdy is your porch? A few of summers ago there was a rash of porch collapses here in Chicago, but we're talking about 30 people on an old wood deck.

Guests will naturally stay out of the bedrooms if you keep the doors closed (except the one for coats).
posted by hydrophonic at 8:21 AM on December 1, 2006

Make sure there is plenty of soap, towels and toilet paper in the bathroom. Make sure there is a plunger so that if someone overflows the toilet at least they have something to attack it with (more likely the next person will have to attack it). Nobody likes a poopy bathroom during a party and these sorts of problems are common when you have a lot of people in a short period of time.

Leave out ashtrays if you expect people to smoke inside. If you don't allow smoking inside, then have a plan for those who do wish to smoke (e.g. balcony, back porch, front porch) and put a botch can there out of respect to your neighbours. Also don't allow smoking in hallways out of respect to neighbours. You also want to let neighbours know in advance about the party. This is not to get their permission, and you don't have to invite them if you don't want to (but you can) but at least they'll know why there's so much traffic in the halls and why they heard a loud thump at 2am. Put up a note by the entrance to the building the day of the party as a reminder.

Drinks. I don't know if this is a BYOB or not, but always plan for the following two scenarios :
a) some people didn't bring drinks and are thirsty
b) some people will drink other people's beer without realizing it, causing an unexpected shortage.

So I usually stock the fridge in advance, and keep some spare set aside in case the drinks run out before the party does.
posted by furtive at 8:48 AM on December 1, 2006

No one seems to have mentioned this, but:

--place all small high-value items in one room of your apartment, and lock it/block the door
--clear the bathroom, especially, of ANY medicines or anything else valuable or alcoholic or that might produce a high
--you or your spouse or some other person who personally knows everyone who has been invited needs to man the door. If someone shows up that you don't know, they don't get in. Even if they say they're a friend of Ed or Bob. Seriously.

Your party will go better if you don't wake up the next day and find your ipod and a bunch of CDs missing, all the cough syrup and cat hairball medicine has been consumed in the bathroom, etc. Yes, people will do this! And the "better" your party is, the more likely it is.
posted by jellicle at 9:34 AM on December 1, 2006

jellice, I believe you are overstating the case - it is a small party for close friends (we usually have 20 to 25 people at our family-and-very-close-friends-only birthday parties). It is not a major event - you don't need a thug at the door to stop the uninvited guests (specially because the friends of Ed or Bob are probably welcome too). As for the cough syrup, well, that depends on the crowd and the party but a 31 years-old birthday party won't have that many teenagers attending and alcohol will be available in many forms - so anyone wanting some cough syrup or cat hairball medicine will probably bring it along...
posted by nkyad at 9:47 AM on December 1, 2006

Ah, so many good answers that I don't want to mark a whole lot as "best answers". Thank you.

The reason I'm not doing this at my own restaurant is that I can't afford to lose weekend sales from customers who would otherwise have given me business but now can't because of my own crowd. On top of that, the Bangalore moral police aka the government has set 11:30 PM as the deadline for all restaurants and pubs to close, which doesn't really work for me. (I should probably make a post on the blue about this.)

jellice, this is only for good friends, so nobody will bring extras, and no need for bouncers, etc. ;)

Thanks again to everyone who replied
posted by madman at 10:55 AM on December 1, 2006

« Older What's with the branch?   |   Paging obscure cellist, Joseph Luptale, please... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.