The Sober Girls Guide To Throwing A Fabulous Party

by - July 21, 2015

Sober Girls Guide to Throwing a Fabulous Party - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
Over the weekend we hosted our third annual summer party - a two night epic extravaganza that includes watching the sun come up, laughing until your face hurts, and dancing in the barn. The only rule: No Kids Allowed. We didn't keep track of official numbers but my best guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy people - all of whom left their inhibitions {and children} at home to join in the festivities.

It was a riot.

And the most-asked questions I received were, "how can you stand it?" and "why are you so calm?"

Drinks all around. And 'CHEERS!' 

And then there's me, sitting at the fire with my never-ending mug of tea.

I don't remember ever making a firm, conscience decision that I would not be a drinker and when people ask me why I don't indulge I really don't have a great answer for them aside from 'wine tastes like vomit' and 'the smell of beer is revolting'. Apparently this makes me fascinating to the large community of alcohol consumers who don't understand how one could stand being among a crowd of 'drinkers' while not being one themselves.

I don't judge people for their choice to drink. I do judge them if they become an idiot. And thankfully we have a crowd of friends who did not behave like idiots - they just came and respectfully enjoyed the safe space we provided. They made a lot of noise but noise doesn't really bother me. {People throwing up on my rhubarb would.} 

Why was I so calm? 

Because that's who I am. I am a calm, patient person - which makes me a perfect hostess, I suppose.

I also follow a very simple formula for making a huge party really simple: Music. Fire. Toilet Paper. Stripped down to the basics, that's all you really need - of course there are a few more tips I can pass along and expand upon...

1. No Kids. Be very clear when you're inviting people. I am wildly uncomfortable with exposing my children to drunkenness {whether people are being idiots or not} - other parents have their own views on this and that's their prerogative but as far as I'm concerned No Kids reduces my stress by a hundredfold and saves their unnecessary exposure to adult behavior and language.  

2. Space. Without the outdoor space we are so lucky to have, a party like this could never happen. If you live in a studio apartment in New York City this will not be something you can accomplish without stress {and a visit from the boys in blue}. Between the yard and the barn we had more than enough room for people to park, roam about, set up tents, barbeque themselves some lunch...Aside from using the washroom there was very little reason for people to actually be in our house and so, at the end of it all, I had little more to do inside than sweep the floor. {Hallelujah!}

3. Be friends with amazing musicians. Live music is part of the big draw for our party. We set up a sound system and it's an open invitation for anyone at anytime to get up and play their instrument of choice. We plan nothing and so when music happens and it happens well it's basically magic. One of our neighbors {see #6} wasn't comfortable coming over to a crowd she didn't know BUT she sat in her living room with her door propped open late into the night and enjoyed the free concert filtering across the lawn. Of course, you can just run a playlist through some speakers and you've got an instant party soundtrack BUT there's just something about live music, isn't there...?

Sober Girls Guide to Throwing a Fabulous Party - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

4. Have a huge fire pit and lots of wood. I adore a campfire. I love to watch the flames. I love the conversation that is sparked when you form a circle around the crackle and the pop. I love the way it makes my clothes and hair smell and how, when you need a break from the LOUD MUSIC in the barn, you can slip away to the calm of the flame and still enjoy the music without permanently damaging your hearing.

Sober Girls Guide to Throwing a Fabulous Party - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak5. Bring Your Own Beer, Bites, & Bed. I was very clear: I will provide the space, the rest is up to each guest to see to their own needs. There's no way we could afford to feed seventy people or keep them in enough whiskey to last a weekend and we were not willing to condone anyone driving away in their cars. And so we opened our backyard for tents and our driveway for car-sleeping {which seems horribly uncomfortable but surprisingly it was the option most people went for}.

6. Tell {warn} your neighbors. That's just what considerate people do - with a full-on invitation to come over and join us or come over and tell us to quiet down if things get too loud. Luckily, we have amazing neighbors who just shrugged and said, 'no big deal - it's only once a year.'

7. Buy toilet paper. Because that's a lot of bottoms potentially in need of your facilities and to run out would be...well...embarrassing. We had hopes of building an outhouse but the weekend was upon us before our outhouse was more than a hole in the ground behind the barn. Maybe next year...

8. Hashtag it. As the first people arrived we brainstormed together and settled on #RusnakBarnSmash - it didn't really take off like we hoped it would...but there's always next year!

Sober Girls Guide to Throwing a Fabulous Party - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

9. Relax. Invite people you can trust and then you'll have nothing to worry about. They're adults. Trust that they'll carry themselves as such. Worry won't change a thing. Relax. Sit by the fire. Enjoy the music. Be proud of what you've done {as you sip your tea and grin across the sparking flame at your friend on the other side}.

What about you? Do you have any experience throwing a big party? What advice would you add?

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  1. Your instagram pictures were great. It looked so fun!
    Great tips too!


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