Flat parties are a routine occurrence for the students of St Andrews. The lack of nightclubs (save the Lizard) and the newfound freedom of independent living mean that these gatherings are a popular and inexpensive way to socialize. Herewith, The Saint’s guide to hosting a cheap and successful flat party.
1. Consult your calendars
Get everyone in your flat together and decide on a date when you’re all free to host a party. Arranging it just before exams or important deadlines is probably ill advised. It also means everyone else will be too busy setting up camp in the library to attend. Make sure you warn your neighbours you are planning to hold a social gathering, especially if you live in a residential area with families and pensioners. If they are prepared for the inevitable commotion that a student party creates, they are less likely to lodge a complaint. You should also check your tenancy agreement. If your landlord has forbidden house parties and finds out that you’ve breached the conditions of your lease, you could find yourself in hot water.
2. Log onto Facebook
In the age of social media, creating a Facebook event is the quickest way to let people know you are hosting a flat party. Be realistic about how many people you can invite. If you live in a poky two bedroom flat where there is barely space to swing a cat, chances are you are not going to manage to cram 150 bodies into your living room. Those who invite huge numbers of people are often overly optimistic about the size of their house or fear everyone will decline the invitation. It can be a challenge to second-guess how many will turn up on the night, but Facebook generally gives you the ability to estimate roughly. I would advise against making a flat party a ‘public’ event. Everyone by now has heard the horror stories of house parties where a thousand people have turned up and wreaked havoc because the event has gone viral. This may be a worst-case scenario, but it is something to bear in mind.
3. Keep refreshments simple
To ensure you still have enough of your student loan left over to eat for the rest of the month, tell everyone the party is BYOB. Providing mixers for drinks is cheap and convenient for attendees. Fruit punches (Jungle Juice) are always a crowd-pleaser. Combining supermarket brand vodka, lemonade and fruit juice seems a fail-safe formula. Adding chopped fruit and serving it from a mixing bowl with a ladle suggests it is rather more exotic than it really is. Buying disposable plastic cups would be sensible. There seems to be a chronic shortage of glassware (which is all too easy to smash) in student abodes, and people inevitably forget to bring their own vessels. Crisps and nibbles are always speedily devoured – but avoid the temptation to gobble them all before everyone arrives.
4. Dust the cobwebs off those cleaning products
Yes, that means attempting to make the place seem somewhat presentable! Washing up the plate that no one has claimed to be his or hers for the past fortnight, cracking out the temperamental old hoover, and blitzing the bathroom with bleach is a good place to start. Try to keep clutter to a minimum so everyone will be able to fit comfortably into your flat. Fragile possessions – televisions, musical instruments, ornamental china vases – would be best put to bed in a cupboard for the night. Sticking a sign on the bathroom door means it is less likely that people will stumble into your bedroom by mistake. Making a playlist of recognisable, upbeat songs can help alleviate the occasional awkwardness of the first half hour. Keeping the music at a sensible level means people have a better chance of hearing each other over the general din, and it decreases the risk of disgruntled neighbors.
5. And on the day of…
Remind everyone that the party is happening. If you live in an obscure location (whether down a dark alley or up several flights of stairs), make sure you give clear instructions on how to find your house or flat. It is unlikely that the neighbours will be best pleased with confused students repeatedly ringing their doorbell at midnight. If it really is off the beaten track, it might help to send out a search party to round up anyone circling an adjacent street like a lost sheep. Provide a mobile number or two on the Facebook event so people can ring you if necessary. Elect a willing flatmate who is happy to stay sober and keep on the alert for the night, should anything go wrong. And most crucially, remember to enjoy yourself!
When the night has drawn to a close and the last of the revellers have departed, the final task is to sweep up the fast-accumulated debris, which has been inevitably left behind. However, you’d be forgiven for delaying that particular undertaking until the morning.