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Planning Your Party

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Putting together a party requires many steps and lots of consideration to be successful. Here you can learn more about what you need to do in order to be triumphant.

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What to Consider

  1. Why are you having a party? If you’re like most, you want to provide an opportunity for students to come together to meet and unwind from the stresses of being a college student. Whatever your reason, make sure it’s good, healthy, and meaningful.
  2. Who is coming? Are they all from your house? Are they all from your Voluntary Student Organization? Are they Seniors? Know who is coming so that you know what to expect. The number of guests and the characteristics of those guests determine what space you can use. For example, you should not invite 1,000 people to a space with a fire-code occupancy of 300. Further on in this guide we will discuss party categories but one thing you should know is that non-Stanford students who are under 18 are NEVER allowed at a Stanford party.
  3. Is there a theme? What do you name the party? Themes make your party stand out. That said, do not make your party stand out because of a theme or title that could be offensive to another group or member of the community. Themes directed at a, race, ethnicity, or culture tend to fall into this category. Party names and themes that include words for hard alcohol, or promote large consumption of alcohol (e.g. Thirsty Thursday or Case Race) will not be approved. The words beer and wine (e.g. Beer and Pretzels or Wine and Cheese) are permissible.  
  4. Are you serving alcohol? See the Party Categories section for a breakdown of the acceptable forms of alcohol that can be offered at each type of party. In student residences, house funds (funds collected by Student Financial Services or other University offices) cannot be used to buy alcohol. Any decision to collect funds to buy alcohol must be made lawfully, thoughtfully, fairly and in a way that respects the views of all students. Students must not be required to contribute to the purchase of alcohol.
  5. Where will you have the party? In the Lounge? Tresidder? Row House? Every type of party space has unique requirements. For example, if you would like to have your party in Tresidder, you will need to visit meeting services and complete their online registration form as well as your registration with SUPER.
    • Select a space that can comfortably accommodate your event and never exceed the maximum occupancy for the space.
    • Choose a space that is easily accessible to people of all abilities, including those with physical disabilities, hearing impairment, or vision impairment.
    • Please review the Row House Reservation Policy and Process if your organization plans to reserve space in a Row House.
  6. Based on the theme, expected attendance, and purpose of the party, what things do you need?
    • A. Decorations: Be tasteful. Be classy.
      • Buying decorations for one event can be expensive, and wasteful. Try to buy decorations that can be used more than once, or be recycled or composted after their use.
        • Decorations and Fire Safety: All decorations used shall be made from a nonflammable material, or shall be treated and maintained in a flame-retardant condition. Exits, exit lights, fire alarm sending stations, smoke detectors, sprinklers and fire extinguishers shall not be concealed, in whole or in part, by any decorative material. Any decorations or construction, especially if they alter entrances and exits, are not permitted unless approved by the Campus Fire Marshal. Flammable materials such as, but not limited to, hay, paper panels, sheets, tree branches and green foliage shall not be used as decorations unless properly treated with a flame retardant material and approved by the Campus Fire Marshal. Do not cut tree or palm branches or other foliage without prior permission. The use of tiki torches and fog machines are specifically prohibited. If the event will be held at a campus residence and extensive decorations are being used, please contact the Housing Supervisor for that location two weeks prior to the event to review your decoration plan. This will help ensure safety to all attendees and prevent damage to the facilities.
    • B. Food: Providing your guests with delicious and hearty food will make your party more enjoyable for all guests, and it will shift focus away from alcohol consumption at your party. Be conscious of guest’s dietary restrictions and clearly indicate the contents of the dishes you provide.
    • C. EANABs (Equally Attractive Non Alcoholic Beverages): If you are serving alcohol at your party, you must also serve EANABs. All EANABs should be appealing alternatives to alcohol (virgin daiquiri vs. tap water) so that non-drinkers and those who choose not to drink alcohol can enjoy inviting substitutes.
    • D. Security: You must keep your event safe by barring entry to unauthorized guests, as well as by managing authorized guests.
      • Access Control: You want to keep some people out of your party, while allowing others in. Similarly, you want to know who is 21 years old and who is not. Implement a plan to determine who can and cannot enter. Guard the door and implement the plan consistently. Use wristbands to identify guests who have been cleared or who are over 21. If you plan to host a large party, hire security as you may be dealing with a greater number of unauthorized entrants, as well as people willing to sneak in to your party.
      • Internal Security: Party guests may be a danger to themselves or others even if they are permitted entry into the party. A party guest my drink too much. Or, if the party is in a residence, may attempt to access areas of the house for illicit purposes. One guest may assault another guest. Individuals can be a problem, but also groups. People may crowd into an area, or rush and risk trampling one another. Event staff should be alter to risky situations. Attempt to defuse situations with belligerent guests. Call emergency services if a guest becomes a danger to him or herself or to others. If a guest reports a crime to you, immediately contact law enforcement and university personnel. OAPE can provide training on intervening with belligerent guests.
        • If you would like to hire professional security for your party, you can make a request with SUDPS. 
    • E. Transportation: If your organization is traveling to an off campus location for your party, you might consider chartering busses. Off Campus parties with more than 50 attendees are required to charter busses to their off campus venue. You can contact Stanford Charter Services here. You will also need to have a plan for safely loading and unloading your busses. In some cases, you might be asked to hire professional security for loading and unloading purposes.
      • For off campus venues with less than 50 guests, consider using professional services (taxis, car rentals, etc.). Stanford is not liable for incidents that occur in personal vehicles.
    • F. Party Length: Parties lasting longer than four hours will not be approved. We also do not approve back-to-back parties or pre-parties (parties before another party).
  7. Budget: The most important component of throwing a successful, and classy, party is making sure that you can pay for it. After budgeting and accounting for all of the aforementioned components add an additional 10% for your contingency budget, that is the budget for your party. You must have all necessary funds in your account well in advance of your party.