I’ve never been much of a partier here at college, but I’m about to graduate, and I have a lot of friends of drinking age, so I’m thinking about throwing one big party for my 22nd birthday (which happens pretty close to graduation time). I’m thinking about venues and weighing a pool party, house party, and other options.
But I haven’t changed my stance on partying too much, and I’m a little worried about keeping everyone safe. I understand everyone makes their own choices, but at my party, I feel responsible. What can I do to make sure everyone has fun and stays safe (without everyone getting mad at me)?
There’s nothing wrong with a good get-together, but you’re correct to note that there are some dangers in really out-of-control parties. Binge drinking is a real problem among people your age (it peaks between the ages of 18 and 34, a broad window that seems likely to cover all of the invitees to your party). And that’s dangerous: alcohol kills over 85,000 people a year.
There are a few things you need to consider about your party. The first is whether or not there will be any underage attendees. If there are, you won’t find any experts to back a decision to provide alcohol or condone its consumption at your party. You’ll run into serious legal consequences if you do that, to say nothing of the morality and safety issues.
And even if all of your attendees are of age, you’ll want to extra careful with certain ideas of yours. Pool providers tell us that pools are safe and fun, of course, but experts caution that slippery hard surfaces, deep water, and hot sun don’t mix well with booze.
Assuming you have a safe environment with legal drinkers, there’s nothing wrong with providing a little alcohol. And you don’t have to be a nag to ensure a relatively safe time for your friends. Rather than police their individual drinking decisions, set the tone with the amount and quality of the alcohol, and make it clear that those who choose to drink will not be driving home. Absolute Taxi in Cooperstown, New York recommends getting the number of a local taxi service for your friends. Perhaps you could get a bunch of business cards from a car service and hand them out to your friends as they arrive–in exchange for their car keys, which can go into a jar for safekeeping.
You are not responsible for every decision your friends make, but you’re wise to see that you are responsible for the environment at a party you’re hosting. You should stay committed to your values and the things that make you happy. You’ve made it this far–don’t feel pressured to throw any party other than the one that you want most.
“Nobody’s ever asked me to a party before, as a friend. Is that why you dyed your eyebrow, for the party? Should I do mine too?” — J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince