colorful cocktails close up

Getting Drinks Right at Your Party

Drinks, alcoholic or otherwise, are a foundational element of any get together. No matter what kind of party you’re throwing, some manner of drinks will have to be provided. However, it’s a little more complicated than just throwing a few six packs in the fridge. Keep these points in mind when organizing drinks for your party.

Mixers, Mixers, Mixers

Even if you’re planning on heavy drinking at your event, you need a serious quantity of mixers. Buying an equal amount of alcohol and mixer means guests will end up mixing equal parts Jack and Coke. And if the mixers run out entirely, people may turn to straight shots.

Moreover, there are people who won’t want alcohol or will want to pace themselves. You need drinks for them too, and tap water doesn’t count. Providing non-alcoholic alternatives emphasizes your get-together is a social event, not just a night of drinking.

Stocking up a good supply of soda, juices, and pre-made mixers will help keep your event under control and your guests from overindulging.

Have Enough Glasses

One person, one glass is a recipe for disaster. When people switch drinks, they’ll want a fresh glass. And if they walk away from their drink, they may well grab another glass when they seek out a refill. Over the course of several hours, most people will go through multiple glasses.

This makes disposable cups practically a necessity. They take up minimal space when stacked, can be discarded as needed, and there’s no deed to pile them next to the dishwasher. They also aren’t breakable, which means fewer spilled drinks and a lack of picking broken glass up out of your carpet.

group of friends enjoying drink at outdoor rooftop bar

Let Guests Mix Their Own Drinks

It might sound cool to stand behind the bar mixing up sophisticated drinks for your friends. The problem is you end up trapped behind the bar all night rather than socializing. Sure, you’ll trade a few words with everyone who asks for a drink, but it won’t be meaningful conversation.

And since you now expect your guests to serve themselves, make sure the drinks are obvious. People don’t like poking through other people’s fridges trying to figure out what’s up for grabs. Putting available drinks in coolers is one way of indicating exactly where guests should be going. Pitchers of pre-mixed drinks also work well. It’s convenient for your guests and keeps them from mixing super-strong drinks.

Don’t Forget the Ice

Nearly every event can benefit from an extra bag of ice. Whether it’s to fill coolers or chill individual drinks, ice can be in high demand, even if the party is indoors. It’s also cheap and never goes bad, so if it isn’t used you can toss it in the freezer or just let it melt in the sink.

Keep the Drinkers from Driving

You may well end up with guests who have no business behind the wheel of a car. Have a plan ahead of time, such as whether you’ll suggest a taxi, Uber or Lyft. And maybe the guest can’t go home at all, in which case you’re going to need crash space. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just be sure you know where a couple extra pillows and blankets are in case someone needs to sleep it off.

Every party plan needs to devote time to drinks as well as the aftermath of drinking. The plan doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be thorough. Consider all the needs needing to be met. And think about yourself as well. Simplify arrangements as much as possible so you can enjoy the party as much as everyone else.

Images copyright: yellowj / 123RF Stock Photo and stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo.

People at a block party celebrating around a table

5 Things to Remember When Planning a Block Party

Block parties are a time honored tradition, bringing together the local community for a day of fun. Their size, however, makes them complicated affairs. They aren’t things you can simply throw together for the weekend. It’s something that takes weeks of planning.

Get the Necessary Permits

Make sure you find out if your event needs a permit. Every locale has different laws. Often, block party planners can get barricades for either end of the street, cutting it off from traffic, but they need to fill out the appropriate paperwork well ahead of time. Even without the barriers, a permit may be required.

There may be other legal requirements as well. Grills may have to be kept on private property, for example, not rolled out into the street. Every city as noise ordinances, particularly after a certain time of night. Not educating yourself about these laws can lead to a fine or even a dispersal of your party.

Tell Your Neighbors

A block party is a local social event. It’s not a private party. You need to invite everyone, even that neighbor you don’t like. They certainly aren’t required to attend, but you have to extend the offer. If nothing else, your neighbors need to know when they can and can’t get into their driveways.

Grilling meat at a block party

Plan the Food

Block parties are big affairs. You probably don’t want to be stocking the whole thing yourself. Some ways of sharing the costs include:

  • Having people supply their own drinks
  • Asking for people to bring side dishes
  • Asking for donations to cover the cost of grilling meat and other foods you may be providing

Reconsider the Keg

The beer keg is a common part of block parties. After all, it’s an economical way to supply a large quantity of alcohol, and you don’t even have to fit it in your fridge.

The problem with them is access. You don’t really want someone checking IDs at the keg, but if teenagers start drinking from it, you can be held responsible. Better everyone bring their own beer, and each person can be in control of who can access it.

Have a Cleanup Plan

Even the neatest of neighbors are going to leave a mess: napkins, paper cups, soda cans, beer bottles and so on. Have people assigned ahead of time to help you clean up after the party, and don’t leave that chore to the very end. Periodically sweep discarded items into trash bags so you aren’t having to attack everything at once when you’re exhausted.

Also, put out recycle and trash bins during the event so others can help in disposing of their garbage. Most people want to be responsible about trash, but if receptacles aren’t obvious, people may start stashing their stuff in any number of places.

Block parties are big deals to throw, but they’re a great way of bringing a community together. Let that community help you stock and organize it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself unable to enjoy a single moment. And keep yourself on the right side of the law. Most cities have no objections to block parties, just so long as they conform to local ordinances. With some planning and cooperation, your block party can be the highlight of the summer.

Images copyright: kzenon / 123RF Stock Photo and freeprod / 123RF Stock Photo

group of friends partying with glitter

Safety Tips for House Parties

There’s a lot of things to keep track of when planning a party. No matter what kind of party you’re throwing, from birthday to bachelorette parties, you must remember to protect your guests.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Even if you’re planning on totally boozing it up, non-alcoholic drinks are an absolute requirement. Designated drivers are going to appreciate it, and the option will encourage alcohol drinkers to moderate their alcohol consumption with other beverages. The selection can be as simple as water, or you can offer soda, coffee, tea, juice or other drink.

Just make sure no one is under the impression drinking these beverages will sober them up. If you’re drunk before that cup of coffee, you’ll be drunk after it. Hydration does, however, stave off things like hangovers.

Insist on “Invitation Only”

When you plan a party, the number of attendees is a major factor in your decision-making. That’s why you ask for RSVPs. But while a couple of unreserved friends showing up might not be a problem, them bringing their own friends quickly turns into a nightmare.

You invited people into your home because you like them and trust them. You didn’t put all this effort into an event to be saddled with strangers you don’t know, don’t like, or don’t trust.

If your friends are so sure their buddy would be a great fit, all they need to do is contact you ahead of time and ask. It’s not your fault if they couldn’t extend this basic courtesy. It’s an uncomfortable task, but give uninvited visitors the boot.

girl putting cigarette in ashtray at crazy party
Make clear what is and isn’t acceptable on your property, such as smoking, drinking or vaping. Never allow illegal substances. It can get you in trouble even if you aren’t partaking.

Have a Plan

You should have an idea how you’re going to respond to common situations. If a guest attempts to go home drunk, what do you do? Pay for a taxi? Have a friend drive? Offer a place to crash? What do you do if he refuses these options?

Call the Police

Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, things get out of control. If this is the case, call the police, and don’t feel guilty about it. If your guests are behaving so badly that you’re considering this option, they have gone well beyond violating your hospitality, and you don’t owe them a thing.

When possible, issue a warning. Either they leave, or the police are being called. Them promising to “settle down” is not good enough. If they’re that out of control, you need them out of your house.

A lot of responsible party planning involves keeping control of the situation. Set clear boundaries: where people can go, what they can do, and who is welcome. If your boundaries are violated, be polite but firm. Guests need to either honor your wishes or be unwelcome. Keeping control of your party will let everyone have a much more enjoyable evening.

Painting some picture with paintbrush

Have Fun, Make Art: Enjoy a Paint and Sip Party

Looking for a night out but tired of your usual haunts? Ever wanted to learn to paint, but couldn’t get up the nerve? Now you can let out your inner artist through a paint and sip party, where you discover creativity goes great with a good bottle of wine.

Today, there are entire businesses dedicated to paint and sip parties, which represent one of the fastest growing segments of the entertainment market. Some are held in art studios, while others are special events at bars and restaurants. Search for them online, and you may be surprised how many are in your neighborhood.

Expert Instruction

Many people who attend these events haven’t picked up a paintbrush since grade school, yet they come home with a respectable work of art. Each painting event is led by a skilled instructor who walks you through every step. It’s very much like The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, except without the happy trees. You follow along while support staff wander the crowd, providing additional guidance and answering questions.

stylized artwork of wine bottle and glassesThere’s no pressure to create a masterpiece. Designs are fairly basic so no one struggles with complicated techniques. The primary goal is to relax, let go of insecurities, and enjoy creating art no matter what your skill level.

Traditional art classes require participants to bring their own supplies, which gets expensive. Painting parties provide everything you need, including canvas, paint and brushes.

Enjoy a Glass at Your Paint and Sip

It’s easy to say you’re going to unwind, but it can be quite a bit more difficult to actually do so, particularly if you’re trying something for the first time. That’s why there’s the “sip” in “paint and sip.”

Some venues offer their own bar where wine, beer, and even food is available for purchase. Others encourage participants to bring their own food and drinks. No matter how it’s done, adding a little alcohol to the mix is part of the point. Lowering inhibitions helps you be less self-conscious, sit back, relax, and create something fun.

Private Parties vs. Public Events

Many studios offer private parties as well as public events. Don’t worry about disturbing strangers as you chat, laugh, and otherwise enjoy a cozy evening while enjoying the creative process with a glass or two of your favorite drink.

Paint and sip parties merge the worlds of art and alcohol into an enjoyable and relaxing night. Whether attending alone or with a group of friends, you’ll find these events nurturing an artistic side you might not know you had. Check out your nearest location, and see how much fun these events can be.

Teens Partying With Beer

Play It Safe: Navigating Parties, Alcohol and Teens

Teenagers are in an awkward phase of life. They desperately want to have the freedoms of an adult, and you want them to learn the responsibilities of adulthood. But you can’t have one without the other. The only way an independent teen is going to accept responsibility is if there are benefits that go with it.

The result is a constant tug-of-war between teens and parents as teens push for independence and parents rein them in. But parents have to decide when they’re going to loosen the leash, and one potential issue is alcohol.

A lot of argument can be made for hosting a party for your teen which provides alcohol. A majority of teenagers drink at least occasionally behind their parents’ backs. If they’re going to be drinking, they’re safer under your supervision, right?

It might be philosophically sound, but it leaves you legally liable for a lot of unpleasantness. First, providing alcohol to minors is illegal. Like, potentially a year in jail illegal.

Teens in a Car with BeerSecond, if something happens to those minors while under the influence, you may be held liable for that as well. And you can’t depend on a policy of barring intoxicated individuals from leaving. Teenagers lie. Teenagers sneak out when no one’s looking. Some of them probably sneaked out to your party in the first place. You can’t risk it.

But what if they brought their own alcohol? Then you’re not providing it. Sorry, doesn’t work. Providing a space for minors to drink is against the law, even if you aren’t handing out the liquor.

What about providing alcohol at a party with both adults and teens, with the understanding that teens will not be drinking? Still not enough in some states. Your alcohol, your responsibility. If the teens sneak off with beer and crash a car, you might be held accountable for property damages and medical bills as well as criminal charges.

Teaching Your Teen To Avoid Alcohol at Other Parties

Teen saying no to beerHow do you get around the great fear of teens drinking in places outside your home? The first answer is education. Have them understand the dangers of drinking. Also, make clear you have zero tolerance for underage drinking, and carry through on threats if rules are broken.

Second, if your teen is going to a party, be in contact with the host parent. If your kid doesn’t show up (because he’s sneaking off elsewhere), have that parent tell you. If a parent won’t be in attendance, don’t let your teen attend.

Third, make your teen understand that you will always pick them up from a party if they feel uncomfortable. Maybe a friend is driving, then subsequently gets drunk. It can also come into play if your driving teen drinks but realizes he shouldn’t get behind the wheel. Even if it’s three in the morning, make it clear you will be there if needed.

Dealing with alcohol at parties where teens are present is an important topic. Besides the obvious safety dangers posed by inebriated teens, there is also considerable liability involved for you. Play it safe. Don’t involve alcohol when teens are involved, and make sure your own teen knows the importance of avoiding alcohol and those who have been drinking.

Happy people with drinks in hand

Party Hard, Get Home Safe

In 2014, drunk driving killed almost 10,000 people in the United States. Many victims were innocent bystanders; over 1000 of them were children.  They might be in a car struck by the drunk driver, be pedestrians, or be passengers in the drunk driver’s car.

There’s lots of reasons why people get behind the wheel drunk.  Some don’t realize their own condition.  Others feel they have no other way home other than behind the wheel of their car.  Some think they’re only risking themselves.

Tired man with drinkThere are always options.  Taxis, for one.  In the era of smart phones, you can privately look up a local company without asking your host.  Hitching a ride with a friend is another possibility.  Simply waiting is also an option.  If you’re not sure if you’re drunk, give yourself another hour to see how you feel.  Don’t be fooled by claims that things like coffee will sober you up faster.  They don’t  The only thing that sobers you is time.

At worst, you may have to ask to crash in a spare bedroom or on a couch.  You might find that embarrassing, but it’s not nearly as embarrassing as a DUI, which can lead to a revoking of your license, thousands of dollars of legal fees, and even jail.

Providing Safety as Party Host

It’s an uncomfortable situation when a party host has to cut off a guest’s drinking or claim their car keys.  However, you owe it to your friends to keep them safe, even when you’re protecting them from their own poor decisions.

Alcoholic drink and car keysLuckily, more options are being made available, not just to drivers but also to event hosts.  UberEvents allows you to prepay for rides.  You hand out promotion codes to your guests, and you’re only charged for the number of rides redeemed.

At the very least, this allows you to easily provide a ride to someone past their limit.  And if you’ve given the promotion code ahead of time, your guest doesn’t have to make a show of getting assistance when it’s time to leave. He arranges his own ride, punches in the code, and goes.

UberEvents also allows you to pay for rides to the event, so your guests don’t have to fear leaving their vehicle behind if they use the Uber service later.

There’s nothing wrong with having – and providing – a good time.  But drunk driving is a national epidemic, and it’s absolutely preventable.  Do your part by being a responsible party host.  No matter how you do it, don’t let your guests become statistics by getting behind the wheel drunk.