Everyone loves a good party. Especially when hosting it in one’s own space, far, far away from parents where there is no fine china to fear breaking, no lingering neighbours and no curfew. The budget may be small and the space even smaller, that should not keep them from hosting the event of the year. Hosting a vibrant party is no easy task, so these helpful tips can go a long way in planning the gathering students deserve. 

Maximise your space

Maximising a space is tremendously important. When one only has five spaces available for guests, it would be unreasonable to invite twenty people. If a guest asks to bring a friend (or a clingy significant other), politely explain that a tiny student apartment simply does not have enough space for even one more person. As the host or hostess, play that sympathy card!

The menu

With social spacing out of the way, it is time to focus on the key elements that make a good party. Simplicity is best. The thought of experiencing a kitchen meltdown due to overly ambitious experimenting with new, time-consuming foods is more than enough to dampen one’s party enthusiasm. Stick to what you know, students are not picky. 

A few options to consider on the menu are chips (R20 at Checkers), dips (R20 at Checkers), pizza (Between R60 and R70 at Checkers) and a quick puff pastry that takes 20 minutes to bake in the air fryer before guests arrive. Serve these snacks on a long wooden board or even paper plates – whatever you have at your disposal should work just fine. If guests take offence to paper plates, they probably were not real friends to begin with! A wooden board is easy to clean; simply run it under warm water for about a minute, dry off any excess water and leave it overnight to dry. Paper plates are any host or hostess’ dream, as they go straight into the bin. 

The drinks

Now, for the long-awaited section. The fuel for foolishness, the instigator of inhibition… booze. Yes, it is expensive, sometimes unpalatable and can give you a headache like no tomorrow, but nonetheless, we still consume it. Before even thinking about hosting a party, decide whether you are going to supply some sort of alcoholic beverage to guests or just soft drinks and water. It is definitely easier and cheaper for the host or hostess to make use of the acronym BYOB, informing guests to bring their own booze. But if you want to supply it, punch is always a good route to take. A simple punch recipe can always be topped with a can of mixed fruits and Sprite. 

Quick and easy punch recipe:

– The liquor of your choosing. Most people opt for Vodka, but you can add almost anything you have lying around the house. 

– Lemonade. You can substitute this for any other soda, fruit juice, energy drinks (use with caution) or any combination of these you like. 

– If you are feeling extra: add some edible flowers or glitter, food colouring or fruit. While you may have heard of adding candy to your punch before, this is generally not as fun as it sounds, as the candy just ends up swollen and mushy, and it leaves your punch looking murky. 

The guest list

There is always that one guest who had a little (or a lot) too much to drink. A helpful tip on how to handle these types of guests includes taking preventative measures. When inviting guests, take note of who historically seems to get the rowdiest, then make a decision. Ask yourself: will I be able to handle this guest if things get out of hand or will I be faced with a noise complaint (and a looming friendship breakup) the next morning? Maybe this guest will mature out of the blue, but it is better not to take any chances! Furthermore, it may be worth considering the vibe you want to curate before you send out your WhatsApp invites. Your go-all-night, Strip friends may not be the ones to invite to a night of casual board games. Similarly, your more mellow, relationship friends may not particularly enjoy a night of Strip Poker and binge drinking. 

Curating the vibe

House parties can range anywhere from laid-back dinner parties to wild ragers. Decide on what you are going for and plan accordingly. A theme can be a simple way to help set your vibe, and it can be as simple as asking your guests to dress accordingly, or just picking out a fun, on-theme activity. Curating the music can also help set the mood you want. Spotify has a wide array of (extremely specific) playlists, so you are bound to find something that suits your event. Consider your seating arrangements as well. If you are serving dinner or want to foster a more conversational atmosphere, make sure that all of your guests have enough room to sit. If you do not own enough chairs, you can always ask your guests to bring their own camp chairs or throw some blankets and pillows on the floor. If, on the other hand, you would like people to dance or move around more, move the chairs and furniture out of the way to create a small dance floor and make sure there are fewer seats than there are people. This will encourage people to get up and dance. 

No theme ideas? No problem! Here are some easy, affordable, apartment-friendly themes: 

Pizza and game night: busting out the board games is a great way to ensure that your guests always have something to do and do not get bored. If you are going for a more boozy vibe, swap the board games out for drinking games. 

Wine-tasting night: have everyone bring a different bottle of wine to save some cash.

Pyjama party: this works especially well if your guests are staying the night.

Potluck: everyone brings a different dish. 

Euphoria: turn on your LED strip lights, put on some fun, glittery make-up and Charli XCX type beats.

Pink-night: it can be any colour, really. Just throw out any decorations that match and ask your guests to dress accordingly. 

Craft night: TikTok is always ready with new and interesting craft ideas. Candle painting, jewellery making, decorating lighters or even swapping paintings every 5 minutes are all fun and creative things you can do with your friends. 

Crime scene clean-up

The party has come to an end. The memories created during an unforgettable night that might have been forgotten are evidenced in the chaos of your home. Last but not least, have a clean-up plan. A wise man once said, “Once you have a plan, you are already 50% there.” Clean the kitchen, wash- and pack away the glasses, cutlery, and leftover food after your guests leave to simplify the cleaning duties for the following day. A big bonus would be to politely ask your guests to bring their own snacks. That way they have brought and saved you the trip to the Tupperware drawer. Keep one thing in mind though, the more wild the party – the more wild the cleanup. If it is a rage you are going for, be prepared to clean all of your floors, counters, bathrooms, and sheets (better safe than sorry). If you have any valuable or breakable items, stow them away somewhere safe unless you want to be cleaning up glass the next morning. Rolling up your carpets may also be a good way to help minimise cleaning the next day. Remember that the feeling of hungover regret you feel while you scrub the sticky red wine from your floor is natural and it means that you threw a true rager. Note: it is also natural that you never want to host a house party ever again. 

Last minute tips

While it may be really upsetting, there always seem to be last-minute cancellations to any event. Try not to let this dampen your spirits too much, as you can have a great time even if your event is smaller than anticipated. In the last few hours before your event, there are some things that are easy to forget. Make sure your bathroom is stocked with enough toilet paper, and that there is a bin as well (especially if there are ladies coming). Make sure that you have enough ice and keep in mind that if people are going to be drinking, they may start getting hungry later in the night (even if you supplied food to start with). Also, bear in mind that some people may end up staying the night unexpectedly. Depending on your living situation, you may also consider warning your neighbours or housemates that you are having a party, and that they should feel free to ask you to turn your music down. No need to make enemies with your downstairs neighbour a mere 3 months into the year. 

Hosting a party in your apartment as a student can be a rewarding experience, but it requires proper planning and execution. By following these tips, you can create a fun and memorable Friday night that leaves a positive impression on your guests while minimizing any potential disruptions or issues. So, go ahead, put on the party planning hat, and get ready to host the ultimate apartment bash!

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I’m Kirsten, a law student who loves writing, making spreadsheets and consuming an unhealthy amount of caffeine.
I love writing about student issues and current events.

Marike Muller
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