31 Tips on Throwing a Summer Bash, via NYC’s Merrymaking Elite

On piñatas, Polaroids and avoiding your ex

By Shari Gab

31 Tips on Throwing a Summer Bash, via NYC’s Merrymaking Elite
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05 June 2018

Everyone’s summer dance card is about to fill up, and fast.

So if you’re keen on throwing a sun’s-out, fun’s-out soirèe of your own, you need to step up your game.

To help you achieve that, we dialed three bona fide local experts, from the McKittrick’s resident party planner to the maestros behind the boat bash of the season.

Below, they talk tunes, BYOB and the relative merits of Craigslist entertainers.

And get a piñata. That’s an order.

Supply throws the not-to-be-missed waterbound party of the year, and this summer, the creative mavens are celebrating five years in the biz. Rain or shine, you can expect a damn good, jam-filled time on June 8th. Tickets available here. Here’s how they do it ...

Must a party have a theme?
A theme can definitely help elevate a party It can create urgency to drive attendance. It inspires creativity and participation so people can be more invested in the event. Plus, it lends itself to more photos that will make a one-time affair last a lifetime.

How many people should I invite?
It depends on the size of the venue, but you always want it to feel slightly packed. When people walk in, it should feel poppin’, but not like a sardine can.

Yes, that way you never run out and you have extra booze to add to your shelf the next day.

Do I have to put out snacks?
Always add more elements to make people feel comfortable and give them a reason to stay.

Activity suggestions?
Seven minutes in heaven is a great icebreaker. We joke, we joke. Just let people have a good time. But a Polaroid or too lying around is always a win. Mezcal tastings are a cool idea too.

What do most hosts get wrong?
They forget to spend time with their guests and/or don't follow up with a “Thank you.”

What do I do if it's boring to stir the pot?
Switch up the music or entertainment. One time when we knew our lines were going to be really long, we had a magician to entertain guests. You can always pay some awesome entertainer from Craigslist $100 to shake up the scene.

Should I curate the music or turn it over to guests?
Turning it over to guests can be a disaster. Curating a playlist or having a DJ always enhances the experience. Nobody wants to hear the sound of iphones plugging in and out or someone’s phone ringing through the speakers.

What are your MVP hits for gettin’ things goin’?
Some of our remixes, mashups and edits,  2000s smash hits, classics (like the Boogie Nights soundtrack) and Flight Facilities’ “decade mixes”.

The McKittrick Hotel — home of Sleep No More, Gallow Green and some of the most curious debauchery around — hardly needs an introduction. Their newest affair, Bartschland Folies, is a midnight affair wherein eccentric cabaret, circus burlesque and opera collide. It’s a limited run, and tickets can be booked right here. Here’s their intrepid events producer, Victoria Gillmon, on how to turn a plain old BBQ into a brilliant one.

Should there be a theme?
Yes! A theme gives you something to tie all the other elements together and make it cohesive. At The McKittrick Hotel, we realize a theme through everything from the invitation to the entertainment.

What's the best day?
If you plan to be together over the summer holidays, those long weekends are ideal for seasonal soirées. However, you may want to go with a mid-week evening to avoid missing people who are out of town on your party date.

How many people should I invite?
Smaller, more intimate gatherings allow the host to maximize facetime with each guest. Plus, serving less guests reserves more budget to personalize with little touches and really bring your vision and theme to life.

Decorations: How intense do I have to get?
Coming from the home of Sleep No More, decorations can never be too intense! Just be mindful that everything has a use or place and contributes to the overall theme. Save receipts for any unused items that can be returned.

Do I provide everything or is BYOB ok?
Personally, I prefer to provide everything. If your guest surprises you with a bottle of something, then how lovely.

Catering or cooking?
Be prepared in advance! Everyone loves nibbles and if you're not a chef, there is always Trader Joe's! Alcoholic and non-alcoholic punches are a super idea for a party. You can prep in advance, have a beautiful container, and after you serve the first glass guests can top themselves off.

Activity suggestions?
Everyone loves to dance, and if you have any outside space a paddling pool is lovely (we had one for our Clue-themed Masquerade). Remember to have towels ready.

What is the role of the host?
To ensure everyone is having a super time, that they are topped up and well-fed. Most importantly, relax. It's hard to relax if the host isn't at ease!

What do most hosts get wrong?
The golden rule is ensure you have enough food and drink. No one is at their best when hungry or thirsty.

What if someone gets out of pocket?
Hydrate, calm them down, ensure they have eaten. Keep some emergency coconut water in the fridge.

Even worse - What if no one gets out of pocket?
Top off with more frequency!

What do I do if I think it's boring to stir the pot?
Switch your music and compact the party to a smaller area to encourage guest interaction.

Outpost is a bi-coastal outdoor sleepover that brings influencers, adventurers and consumers together under the guise of fun. From live comedy to jamming to enjoying a dram at midnight in a kayak, their flagship event will be in California later this summer, with tickets available here. Here’s what the team had to say about doin’ it right ...

Should there be a theme?
Themes are fantastic for garnering added interest in your party. But only if you can commit to it. There’s nothing worse than a half-assed, watered-down theme party.

What's the best day?
Saturday. Everyone will be in the right headspace. But plan in advance and follow-up as the event grows near.

How many people should I invite?
Small enough so that everyone can have a chance to interact. But also large enough so that your guest can avoid the person he/she slept with last month if need be.

What about decorations?
Meh. Just make sure the space is tidy. Don’t use plastic. Make a sign telling people where the loo is so you don’t have to say it a trillion times. … Maybe a piñata.

Full bar or BYOB?
Make one large batch of a specialty cocktail and stock your fridge with beer. BYOB beyond that.

Activity suggestions?
Hell yes! Lawn games. Card games. Entertainers. Illegal fireworks. Surprises. Roller skates. Petting zoos. Ha — not really. But activities is what will get the people interacting and make a memorable affair.

What is the role of the host?
Make sure everyone is having a good time. Also, have a good time.

What do most hosts get wrong?
Inviting people who all already know each other. Curating an interesting group makes or breaks the dynamic! Also: People hate when you run out of freakin’ ice.

What do I do if I think it's boring to stir the pot?
Change the music. Introduce people to new people. Lower the lights.

Anything else?
Hosts make the mistake of thinking that attendees want to come to their party — especially to see them. Not true. Adults have a million things to do and we’re all exhausted. So — make it enticing and don’t make it about you.

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