The term “house party” probably conjures up images of teenagers hosting a party while their parents are away, with too many people and not enough common sense to go around. As you get older, the idea of what constitutes a house party will change. As an adult, you have responsibilities with your guests and valuable possessions in your home. From alcohol consumption to food, fire, and electrical safety, easy entertaining and safely hosting a house party is a big responsibility, but it doesn’t have to be boring.

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Checking out your home

When thinking about entertaining at home, the first thing you need to consider is the size of your space. If you want to have four or five people over, the available space in your home won’t be quite as important as it would be for a party with greater than 20 people. You don’t need to measure the exact square footage available, but you’ll need the space to provide adequate seating and standing areas for the number of people you want to invite. You’ll also need to consider the exact nature of the event. A house party of around 15 people requires space for people to stand or sit as they wish, while a backyard wedding requires enough seating for the complete guest list.

Aside from being able to accommodate everyone on your guest list, you’ll need to think about the possible safety risks in your home. You’ll be liable for injuries that may occur at your event. Here’s a quick look at some things you can do to make an event safer for you and your guests:

  • Risk assessment. Go through your property and look for potential safety hazards. These can include places where a guest could possibly slip and fall, get burned or cut, suffer swimming injuries, fall off a trampoline, or get bitten or scratched by the family pet. Take steps to reduce the likelihood of an injury, like salting an icy walkway, locking away the family pet, and making sure fireplaces and balconies are safely blocked off.
  • Set expectations. Your guests are more likely to safely enjoy your party if you set clear expectations for them. One popular way to reduce the likelihood of injury related to unsafe alcohol consumption is to hold onto your guests’ car keys if they plan to drink. This way, they can’t drive home while under the influence.
  • Control alcohol consumption. One way to control the amount of alcohol being consumed at your house party is to limit the amount and strength of the drinks being served. Offer a menu of non-alcoholic drinks, like sodas or mocktails. If your party is going to have alcohol, make sure you have a plan for your intoxicated and possibly sick guests.
  • Supervise. While it can be tricky to step away from a serving and hosting role at your own party, it’s a good idea to spend time with your guests in order to supervise. If you can’t see what’s going on, you can’t take steps to avoid trouble as or before it arises. Also, being visible at your own party is a great way to deter potential theft.
  • Crowd management. Crowd management isn’t about restricting the guest list to invited people and their “plus one.” Rather, it’s about monitoring who comes and goes and keeping them in the area you are using for the party. Guests who aren’t accounted for or who go where they shouldn’t open up the possibility of mishaps.

Safety first

A safe party can be a fun party. As the host and event planner, it’s up to you to make sure your guests enjoy themselves as safely as possible. You have an obligation to mitigate the possibility of accidents as much as you can. When you are assessing your home for safety risks, consider taking a few proactive steps.

  • Identify and remove slipping or tripping hazards. If you’re event planning for a winter holiday party, ensure the walkways leading to your home are free of snow and ice. Inside, tape down loose cords or carpet edges and make sure there are no wet spots on the floor. Clear your floor and stairs of belongings or debris.
  • Ensure proper lighting and ventilation. While there’s much to be said about mood lighting, your lights shouldn’t be dim enough to create dark areas. Make sure there is adequate ventilation in your house since it can be difficult to breathe in closed and crowded spaces.
  • Guest control. A party is easy to manage when you know all the guests. However, with larger parties, your guests usually expect to be able to invite others. This is where problems can start with an unchecked guest population. By limiting your guests to inviting a “plus one,” instead leaving it open-ended, your guests are kept to a more manageable number.

Consider installing a smart doorbell or other security measures. Installing these strictly to help you manage your event may seem odd, but when you consider the long-term security benefits of using cameras and smart devices, it makes sense for you.

Fire safety

It goes without saying that any home should have a working smoke alarm on every level. If you’re technologically inclined, think about installing smart smoke detectors in your home. Smart detectors not only sound an alarm the way any other smoke detectors would but they can also be programmed to send alerts to your mobile phone or other devices. This way, you can call emergency services right away if needed.

If you have a fireplace, an outdoor fire pit, or a gas-burning stove or BBQ, make sure you have an adequate number of working fire extinguishers on hand in the event the flames escape their confines. Likewise, if you’re using candles, ensure they’re kept in a safe place where they aren’t likely to get knocked over. When cooking with gas, be as safe as possible and make sure your guests are behaving safely around the stove or BBQ.

Finally, consider designating a certain area for your smoking guests, with plenty of ashtrays or other safe places to dispose of cigarette butts. This way, you prevent smoldering butts from ending up on the ground and potentially starting a fire.

Electrical safety

Among other safety concerns, parties usually have plenty of electronics running at the same time. In addition to your usual T.V, computer, and kitchen appliances, you may also be adding the following to the electrical workload:

  • Stereo components
  • Karaoke machine
  • Ice machine
  • Electric cooler
  • Electric fireplace/heater
  • Fans
  • Cooking/food warming appliances (such as crockpots and electric chafing dishes)

The additional workload could easily cause your electrical system to overload if you aren’t careful. To prevent this, consider plugging your extra devices into a power bar with a built-in surge protector. While in the planning stages of your event, make sure your system can handle the additional equipment to prevent a short, a blowout, or even a fire. Inspect your equipment, including cords, to make sure there’s no damage before. Damaged equipment can cause a shock injury or even start a fire.

Food safety

Some of your guests may have food allergies or dietary requirements that are linked to medical reasons. It’s up to you to avoid serving those foods or at least prevent cross-contamination from happening.

Proper sanitization and hand washing helps to ensure you don’t make anyone sick. If you’re offering a lot of finger foods, consider adding toothpicks to pick the food up and having plenty of hand sanitizer available. Your food should be stored and served at the correct temperatures to eliminate the risk of sickness related to spoilage.

Drinking responsibly

Many people like to be able to have a few drinks when they’re at parties. In the case of event planning, ensuring safe alcohol consumption is your responsibility as much as your guests. While a person should be able to determine when they’ve reached their consumption limit, it may be up to the host to help them out by either restricting their intake or at least making sure they don’t drive home. In addition to limiting the amount of alcohol available, offer gluten-free alcohol options for guests with allergies and non-alcoholic options as well, such as soda or mocktails. Take your guests’ safety a step further by having a designated driver available to take them home if need be.

Child safety

House parties and other home entertainment events aren’t all for adults only. If children are present, there are a few additional things to think about in terms of providing a safe environment for them. Here’s a quick look at how you can create a child-friendly house party:

  • Secure dangerous items or areas. By securing potentially dangerous items like knives, small appliances, candles, fireplaces, or anything small children can get their hands on, you can avoid a bad accident. Consider locking cabinets, putting gates on stairs, or locking rooms you don’t want the children to get into.
  • Create a designated play area. If you have a designated play area with toys and other entertainment, it’ll be like giving the children their own party. By keeping the toys in one area, you eliminate the possibility of them becoming a tripping hazard for other guests.
  • Provide supervision. You may not be able to supervise the children personally, but you can set them up with a trusted onsite babysitter. This way, they get to have fun and still be safe while doing so. Providing a babysitter gives the parents peace of mind so they can relax and enjoy themselves.
  • Secure the food and alcohol. If you serve alcohol, make sure it’s kept out of the reach of little hands. Keep foods out of reach to prevent accidents or burns or having a child ingest food they may be allergic to.

Guest parking

Parking is always an issue at house parties. A big driveway or guest parking may not be enough. Sometimes your guests will have to park along the curb, which can pose its own risks. To start with, be aware of your local parking regulations – after all, you don’t want your guests to find a ticket on their windshield or have their car towed. Make sure your guests know the parking regulations and let them know to be on the lookout for pedestrians when they park or pull out, especially if it happens to be dark out.

Mind your own safety

Taking steps to ensure your guests’ safety is one thing, but you also have to look after yourself and your household. There are a few things you can do to ensure the welfare of your household while still enjoying a party with friends:

  • Protect your pets. You may have the sweetest cat in the world, but it can hurt someone if it feels provoked or over-stimulated. Likewise, they may get underfoot and get hurt by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The best thing to do is secure them in a safe place where no guests are allowed to go.
  • Set off-limit areas. Places that often hold items of value – such as the bedroom – should be secured. This way, you have the peace of mind of knowing that nobody is rifling through your valuables. Consider setting security alarms or cameras in your off-limit areas to keep an eye on things.
  • Secure your valuables. Whether it’s your wallet, laptop, jewelry, or collectibles, it pays to keep them in a secure place. This reduces the risk of theft.

Home insurance

If you have home insurance, look into what’s covered and what isn’t. You’ll notice that your insurance can provide extra protection during your party. Home insurance is essential to shield yourself from unforeseen incidents, such as accidents during gatherings. Liability coverage is a critical part of home insurance, protecting homeowners if someone sustains injuries on their property. For example, home insurance may cover their medical bills and legal expenses if a guest slips and falls while visiting. 

In case of a fire damaging the home, home insurance usually includes the costs for repairs or reconstruction. Especially during parties, when you might have multiple electronics running, you’re cooking more, and you have more people on your property, it’s good to know you’re financially protected and your guests will be safe in case of unexpected events at the party.

Safe but not boring

All these safety considerations might make you think that safe entertainment is boring, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little creativity, you can not only offer an inviting entertainment space but also make it enjoyable for yourself and your guests. Try the following to make a fun – and safe – house party:

  • Define your occasion. Whether it’s a milestone anniversary, a graduation celebration, an outdoor wedding, or a themed costume party, having a clear purpose helps guide your choices in decorations, activities, and entertainment. By defining the occasion, you create a cohesive and meaningful experience that will leave a lasting impression on your guests.
  • Set a budget. Before you start planning, determine how much you’re willing to spend on the party. This will help you make informed decisions about decorations, food, drinks, and entertainment while ensuring you stay within your financial means.
  • Use a theme. Make your party fun by adding a little whimsy. Some popular party theme ideas include costume parties, beach themes, wine and cheese pairings, holiday themes, and much more.
  • Decorate. Decorating for parties doesn’t have to be reserved for the holidays. Why not add a little personal flair by using novelty balloons or elegant table décor?
  • Cozy outdoor spaces. People love patios and backyards. Make your outdoor space inviting by adding comfortable chairs and charming lighting.
  • Get creative with tables and chairs. Tables and chairs don’t have to follow a particular pattern. Lots of good conversation happens at a party, so arrange your tables and chairs to encourage your guests to chat. Decorate them or use mismatched pieces for an eclectic and charming look.
  • Make a playlist. You won’t want your playlist to run out halfway through the party, so it’s a good idea to set a generous amount of time for your party and make a playlist that fits it. This way, your guests don’t end up listening to the same songs over and over.
  • Play party games. Parties don’t have to be just about people coming over, eating, drinking, and maybe dancing. Having party games and fun activities can make your party memorable. Why not try having an egg-and-spoon race or a game of beer pong for an adult party?
  • Get creative with the food and drink. If you like to cook, a party is your time to shine. Use your talents to make interesting food or signature cocktails and have your guests coming back to the table for more.  Customize can coolers or other party items for your guests to make your event truly unique.

House parties can be safe without sacrificing the fun. Whether you’re inviting 5 or 25 people, there are steps you can take to ensure your party is as safe and enjoyable as possible. From assessing the size of your space to checking your equipment for damage and ensuring the safety of yourself and your household, creating a safe party can ease your worries and allow you and your guests to relax and have fun.