The 6 Most Unexpectedly Awesome Party Hacks of All Time
Partying is what separates us from the animals. Sure, our furry friends are no strangers to intoxication, but even the smartest simians have yet to unlock basic disco ball technology. And while dolphins are incredibly clever, they lack the necessary thumbs for beer pong. Yes, when it comes to good times, Homo sapiens stand alone.
But that doesn't mean we should sit on our laurels. We owe it to our fuzzy, party-less cousins to make every bash count. So before you plan your next party, read on and make sure your good times are based on the most up-to-date party science.
Know What You Want
Ever heard the advice "Dress for the job you want"? I don't know if it's true in the business world (I bayoneted my last tie), but it's sure-as-a-schnapps-hangover true about parties. Appearances dictate reality. And morality, as it turns out: A recent scientific study suggests that people lie more readily at work than at home. This is not because all your co-workers are sociopaths. It's because lies can be incredibly efficient, and nothing's more valuable at most offices than productivity.
After all, what is coffee but liquid black deception?
How does this relate to partying? Well, if a few fluorescent lights, clattering keyboards, and yammering customers can flip off the honesty switch in a brain, think about what happens when that same brain enters a dingy liquor-soaked party house. If your digs look like they were decorated by Sid Vicious using the contents of his stomach, people will treat them accordingly. That "don't throw beer bottles directly on the ground" switch flips, and you wake up the next morning with a shattered-glass carpet.
Don't want anyone breaking bones in your precious living room? Don't leave a bottle of Everclear next to a pile of shot glasses and a Polaroid instant camera. Drunk people don't take direction, but they do take suggestions. A few empty trash cans, a clean carpet, and locks for all your handguns send a clear message your guests will appreciate. Leaving a bottle of tequila next to a pair of bicycles and two homemade lances sends an equally clear, much more entertaining lesson.
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Have a Plan for Crashers
Once upon a time I threw a party on the balcony of a hotel in Dallas. Good times were had by all, but the location made it a dicey thing from the get-go. See, this hotel happened to be the site of a giant nerd convention attended by about 20,000 people. Like most conventions, 50 percent of those people were on enough drugs to kill a small horse or a large donkey, and the other 50 percent were children. Neither of those groups are exactly ideal party guests.
Seventeen-year-olds are good times kryptonite.
Now the lack of razor wire (I have terrible foresight) meant we couldn't forcibly keep anyone out. So how were we supposed to protect our good times from rampaging hordes of Stormtroopers and Sailor Moons?
Thankfully, when force fails, our old friend lying is always there to hold the flank. Early in the night, a tall man dressed as the Green Lantern approached me, asking if I knew where he could get "a bump." My fist-bump was not well-received, nor was my offer of liquor. This left me with only one option:
"Well, I hear things are getting pretty crazy up in the eighth floor conference room. Maybe you should check there."
"Oh yeah, it's lousy with people throwing their hands in the air like they just don't care."
I'd heard no such thing, but it got him to leave. And for the rest of the night that's exactly what we suggested to everyone else who staggered in. That same strategy can work for you! There's a middle-ground between "kicking people out" and "suffering through bad guests." And that ground is paved with the cobblestones of deception.
The Right Amount of Danger Makes People Safer
All the safest parties I've ever attended had huge fires and absolutely zero officials watching out to make sure people didn't die. No firefighters or police, just drunk people chilling around bonfires in the woods or barrel fires in some derelict oontz-y warehouse. There is a reason for this: Visible danger makes people pay more attention to everything.
You wouldn't believe how safe this guy makes all the other drivers.
Fire is the easiest danger to procure and control at a party, and it fits in most naturally with the great human pastimes of "drinking," "talking while drinking," and "listening to music while talking and drinking." In fact, fire is so good at compelling our attention that it might partly explain the evolution of human thought. The thoughtful, meditative trance that comes from flickering flame is both cheap entertainment and an easy way to reduce the risk of knife-fights.
Ever heard of the Peltzman Effect? It's the reason bicycle helmet laws don't reduce the number of dead cyclists, and also the reason people with safer cars drive like shit. The theory is that, over time, we get comfortable with a certain amount of danger. So a bunch of extra safety measures just make us act even dumber until we ratchet that fear of injury up to an acceptable level. And the Peltzman Effect holds true at parties. Give people a controlled, visible (pretty) danger and they'll take fewer risks with everything else.
"No knife-fighting tonight guys, we've got a fire to stoke."
Of course, if you're going to throw a bash with a bonfire, you'd better make sure you ...
Party With Smart People
This might be the most important rule on the list. As soon as people start drinking and flirting, the collective IQ of the guest list drops like the pants of those same guests an hour or two later. There's nothing wrong with this. Nobody goes out to a party because they want to practice their good-decision-making skills.
Immediately after this picture was taken, they all hopped on laptops to file their taxes and research retirement funds.
But party fouls happen. Careless drunk people decide to boil some oil and have a French fry, and then 10 minutes later your neighborhood succumbs to flame-based gentrification. It's a story as old as time, or at least as old as frying things in oil. But that can't happen if you pick guests you can trust to respond to disaster with something besides "running away" or "stealing the DJ's laptop and then running away."
I was at a shindig on a farm in North Texas once, during the legendary drought of 2011. If you've never spent time on a grassy plain in the middle of a seven-month drought, you don't know what dry is. Pour a glass of water on the ground and the mud will turn back to dirt before you can spit in it. Dry grass catches on fire when you look at it the wrong way.
Or if you fall asleep with just a few lit cigars in your mouth.
Or when you set off a fistful of the cheapest fireworks Mexico can make. And that's exactly what someone (not a party guest) decided to do. This person had set a few taped bricks of black cats off over the course of a couple hours, and it had been nothing but harmless explode-y fun. But the third brick caught the grass, and a second or two later we had a legitimate wildfire on our hands. There were a good dozen of us left at that point, and we leapt into action with fire blankets and jugs of water. For all the good that stuff did we might as well have been pissing on it one person at a time.
Wildfire moves as fast as a sprinter: 14 miles per hour. Water does fuck all to slow it down, and our fire blankets melted after the first minute or so. We even called the fire department, and they couldn't find our farm. At this point, the blaze was closing in on an acre in size. The farmhouse, our cars, everyone else's farmhouses and cars were all completely fucked. Or they would have been, if not for a jeep and a dry above-ground swimming pool.
Above: the Swiss Army Knife of cars.
One of my friends, an engineer, hit upon the brilliant idea of hitching an old, empty metal swimming pool to the back of a jeep. You can't fight a wildfire with water, but you can smother those bastards to death with something wide and heavy. And that's exactly what we did; the jeep rolled around the fire in narrowing circles until, eventually, we smothered it all out. So remember, kids: Party with smart people. It might just save your life.
Beware the Accessories
There's a lot of B.S. propaganda floating around about the speed of light. "Nothing can go faster than that!" say assholes like Albert Einstein. But that's not true. And I don't need math or chalkboards or any kind of fancy degree to prove it. A blender and tequila are enough.
Consider this a warp drive for your liver.
See, here's the thing about the human tongue: At the beginning of the party, when you're close to sober, alcohol has a very strong taste. But add a few drinks and a few hours and that sensitivity fades. And if some bastard with a blender starts making margaritas and daiquiris at that point, folks are liable to treat them like soda. Only they aren't soda, they're liquor, and they'll turn your party-goers from "pleasantly buzzed" to "puking" faster than the laws of physics allow.
Be careful with blenders. And, for the love of all that's holy, be careful with trampolines. About a quarter of a million people every year end up riding their springy metal mistress straight to the hospital. And really, there's no way to make "trampoline shenanigans" safe. No matter what precautions you take, it'll always be a game of "leap in the air and land on your neck." Look, I'm not saying don't drink and play with trampolines, but I am begging you: Wear a helmet.
Or at least have some kindergartners do a safety-check first.
Plan for The Man
The best laid plans of mice and men fall right the hell apart as soon as blue and red lights start flashing. Very few parties survive that sight. Even if you're following every little law and noise ordinance, the boys in blue still have the power to turn your spine into a Jello shot. If you don't have a plan to deal with the inevitable, you might be one pissed-off neighbor away from losing your guests.
These things are basically the anti-disco ball.
Now, the designated driver is a well-established job for the responsible shenanigoer. But why stop there? If you really want to be prepared, you need to designate someone for The Man duty. Think about your friends, particularly the group of friends you feel most comfortable getting lit with. Now how many of those folks would you trust dealing with the cops on your behalf, while drunk? Exactly.
Picking this person is a delicate balancing act. And I'll let you in on a little secret: Pregnant ladies are better at this job than anyone else. They're already spending the party sober, and that little belly bulge says "nothing sketchy going on here" in a way no inebriated dude in a stained T-shirt ever could.
Another upon a time, some friends of mine decided to throw a housewarming party. There was a party-crasher, and said party-crasher got unfortunately drunk and managed to escape the party. He ran free through the cul-de-sac, galloping across whatever fantasy land admits the whimsically pissed. His adventures went so well, he decided the only way to make them better was to explore another house.
All doors lead to Narnia.
Tragically, the house he chose wasn't the same house he'd been partying at. And when the owner of that house (a little old lady) wouldn't let him in, he responded by screaming and pounding on the door until the lady's son greeted him next. With a shotgun. Things went downhill from there, and while no one got shot, it wasn't long before the police showed up and decided to poke around the wild party that had spawned this accidental home invader.
This could have been a bad thing, if not for my eight-month-pregnant friend, whom we'll call "K." Before The Man could start asking her hammered friends the kind of questions hammered people suck at answering (read: all questions), K rolled out of bed in an adorable shark onesie, wielding a belly full of baby. The full force of a pregnant nigh-mother roused from her slumber was terrible to behold. Before she stepped outside that party, the cops had her house pegged as a drug-filled den of inequity. But K changed their minds, because there's something about an indignant young mother that flips off the "independent thought" switch in a man's brain. Not even the authorities can compare to the power of Mom Authority.