It turns out that throwing a house party in your thirties is (like a lot of things) not much different than it was in your twenties, only undeniably better. The main difference is this: all that hard partying experience you now have enables you to host a bash where A) the cops don’t show up, and B) you don’t actually die cleaning it up the next day. I threw myself a little birthday bash here at the CS Bungalow while Camille was on vacation, and proved that 30-something house parties are where it’s at! (Minus the arrests.)
Read on to discover my tips for hosting a killer house party below, and check out the surprise act of our event Molly Burch singing “Downhearted” here:
photographed by jessica attie
1. Design a digital invite to keep track of your headcount before the event.
I found a piece of artwork on pinterest that captured the vibe I wanted for the party and used SplashThat to design my invitation around it. The invite clearly conveyed to guests all the info for the party, including the fact that there would be a surprise performance starting at 8pm! Keeping track of your headcount will help you from making rookie mistakes like inviting way too many people, or running out of drinks or food.
2. Dress up your space with something special.
My middle name is “Rose” so people always send me roses on my birthday. I know. Lucky, right? I used our bar cart to display their flowers (along with some I picked up myself from Austin Flower Company). Even if you weren’t fortunate enough to be named after a flower, you could still do a cool floral installment somewhere in your house.
3. Arrange for some entertainment.
As far as I’m concerned the best parties always involve live music, whether it’s friends bringing guitars to a campfire or just plain plugging in a karaoke machine in the living room and getting stupid. I stepped it up a notch and arranged for musician Molly Burch to play a secret show in our office the night of the party.
Molly’s music is right up my alley — I’d describe it as low-fi, dreamy, a sunny sort of sadness reminiscent of Patsy Cline. (Listen to her track above to see what I mean!)
4. Consider your lighting.
Everyone in this office will tell you I’m obsessed with candles and creating groovy, low lit vibes for my parties. It’s true that any Friday night at my house could basically double as a seance… but candles are one of the easiest, most affordable ways you can transform your house into an intimate feeling space! Scatter votives, string up some christmas lights, drape scarves over lamps, but try to avoid using overhead lighting if you can for maximum party vibes.
5. Put down your camera and let your friends document the event for you.
It took a long time for me to learn this, but it’s better to have actual memories from an event than it is to have a bunch of forced photos. Don’t be afraid to put down your phone and just enjoy being with the people you love. Trust me — they’ll get plenty of great pics and video they can share with you after the event. Chanel captured these shots of Molly singing along with plenty of video and funny moments throughout the night.
6. Plan for food that’s filling, easy to eat standing up, and easy for you to clean up.
The last thing you want to do is to be so overwhelmed with food prep during your party that you never make it out of the kitchen. You also don’t want people leaving because they’re starved or making a huge mess with food that’s hard to eat while standing up. For my party, I knew I wanted something that would be filling for my guests and required little to no prep work for me. Caroline helped me think of a genius solution, which was to have the P. Terry’s burger truck park outside our office! Boom. Who doesn’t like burgers and fries?
7. Allow for spontaneous moments.
Again, live music is the magic ingredient for any party in my book. You can help your non-musician friends feel involved by stashing a few small percussion instruments around the house in case of emergency jam session.
8. Set the stage for fun.
I used one of the curtains from my bedroom and a few battery operated candles to create a stage area for Molly and her boyfriend Dailey Toliver to play in front of. It gave the room a focal point and made for great photos of the show.
9. Consider your neighbors when it comes to sound.
This doesn’t mean you can’t turn it up to eleven. It just means that you should actually consider the event from your neighbor’s point of view before it starts. Let your neighbors know about the party beforehand (or better yet, invite them). You just want to establish a friendly atmosphere before the party begins, that way if they do have a noise complaint they’ll feel comfortable with making it to you directly (and not the police.)
10. Step up your beverage game (and use a drink calculator!)
Let’s face it, some things are probably best left in your twenties. Things like Everclear, ice shots, and physical walks of shame. Serving your guests a good bottle of wine doesn’t have to break the bank, and is an easy way to take your house party game up a notch. We served La Crema wine at my party and served it in cute recyclable glasses from Tossware. Oh! And I used this nifty drink calculator to figure out exactly how many bottles I would need. I have to say, it was freaky accurate. When the last guest left at 1:30 am, there wasn’t a drop left.
11. Help your guests clean up after themselves.
This is one of the biggest lessons I learned the hard way in my twenties. If you don’t give people a place to put their empty drinks, dirty plates, and cigarettes butts, they will leave them literally anywhere they can. This includes the hood of your neighbor’s car. Avoid that (and a sickening morning of cleaning up for yourself) by providing plenty of trashcans/recycle bins/ashtrays in multiple locations throughout the event space.
12. Be open to making new friends!
I didn’t know Molly and Dailey when I reached out and asked them to play the event, but I’m so glad I took the chance. Not only did they put on a great show, but they brought some of their friends with them to the party which made for a really fun mix of people. Ultimately, the most important element of any event is the people — so why not use yours to reconnect with old friends and make new ones as well? Party on, thirty-somethings.
Follow Molly Burch on instagram here.