Five Ways to Plan a Fun, Safe Party

With the first Husker game of the season quickly approaching, you may be considering hosting a party or tailgating with friends to watch the game or celebrate.

Parties and tailgating can be fun – until they get out of hand. When red cups litter the lawn, cars block driveways or the street, and shrubbery becomes a toilet, it’s gone way too far.

There are steps you can take as a party or tailgating host to help things go well. Follow these five steps to avoid problems at informal get-togethers.

1. Make a plan, follow the plan, and let others know the plan

Making a plan is the most important step, and it doesn’t have to take long or happen far in advance. Answering the following questions will help you create the event you want.

  • How many guests do you want to attend?
  • What types of food and non-alcoholic beverages will you provide?
  • What do you want to do together?
  • What problems do you want to avoid?
  • What will make the event a success in your mind?

Once you’ve created the plan, it’s important to stick to it. Be sure to let everyone know what type of event it will be so they know what to expect. Tell your neighbors and your landlord about your plan. They may be able to help you create the most successful plan.

If the home you plan to use for a party is not your own, know that you’re still liable for any issues, property damage, and could be cited for a disorderly house if things go awry.

2. If alcohol will be present, control it

There’s a reason why bars have bartenders and not open spigots or bottles, and it’s not just so they can make money. Having someone behind the bar, whether it’s a third-party vendor/bartender or someone who is at least 21, helps you control the amount of booze people drink, keep drinking to individuals above the age of 21, and sets the tone for the role of alcohol in the party.

More importantly, it keeps the very small percentage of students who don’t know their limits from getting wasted on your alcohol. An alternative, especially for informal parties, is to have guests who are 21 bring—and drink—their own alcohol where permitted.

After all, if a guest under the age of 21 drinks too much and causes harm to someone, as the social host you could be liable, too.

Remember that your student organization, sport club, fraternity or sorority cannot purchase alcohol with organization funds. This includes any funds serviced through Student Organization Financial Services (SOFS).

3. Make the party about more than getting drunk

There’s got to be something more than just getting high or drunk at your party or event. Making the party about something other than getting drunk is easier when you provide alternative beverages and some food. And what do you want to do together — Get to know new people? Have good conversations? Tell each other stories? Dance? Play a game or other activity? Watch a band, film, performance, or sporting event together? There are endless possibilities; you just need a little planning and some creativity.

When selecting your activity, remember to keep noise in mind – you might like having a band in your backyard, but what about the neighbors? Noise complaints are one of the most common issues that lead to police showing up.

4. Have one or two sober party/event monitors, and empower them to take care of problems

You may not need a stereotypical bouncer, but you can probably see why most clubs have them. Some people don’t know what is appropriate in social situations, they don’t know their limits, and they won’t respect you, your guests, or your property.

You need one or more individuals who will step in to stop a disaster from happening, ask someone to leave, intervene in a tense situation, or deal calmly with the police or other authorities if they show up. The party/event monitors need to be empowered to keep the peace and to prevent problems before they begin.

5. Be proactive with the police and other authorities

Despite your best efforts, unwanted problems can pop up at events and parties where alcohol is present. The best approach is to be proactive with the police (e.g., talk with campus and community police officers about safe party strategies, call the police when unwanted guests arrive or get too rowdy, work with the police to resolve issues peacefully).

Get to know the police officers in your area, and if they show up uninvited, work with them. Being defensive or obstinate gives them more cause to investigate or cite you. They are most likely responding to a complaint from a neighbor, and need to be reassured that you have matters under control.

If problems at the party lead to citations, know that you will be contacted by the Dean of Students Office. However, demonstrating that you’ve taken steps to make a plan, control your guest list, provide non-alcoholic beverages and food, and mitigate problems could be beneficial. Student Legal Services may be able to help and provide you with free legal advice.

If a party gets busted and your Recognized Student Organization (RSO), sport club, fraternity or sorority may be implicated, the organization’s president should contact staff in Student Involvement, Campus Recreation – Sport Clubs, or the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to proactively provide information.

Learn more at the Campus Alcohol Risk Education website.

For safe drinking tips, read this blog post

For more information about Nebraska Medicine – University Health Center, visit health.unl.edu.

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