If you’re throwing a party, do people know what the theme is?
And can people adapt to that theme? Some stuff is almost universally culturally relevant, which means that even if the guests aren’t experts on the subject, they’ll understand the concept. If you throw a Mad Men party, expect a lot of people in suits, and if you throw a sports party, expect a lot of people with shitty costumes. The party also has to be accessible. You don’t want the people going to begrudgingly accept the limitations you’ve set on them. Bad Halloween party themes can ruin friendships. I mean it.
Next, are you ready for a mess?
As a child, you couldn’t fathom that, 10 years later, whatever costume you had on would be half-stained with whatever drink you were currently holding. Do you have tables for people to set their drinks on, and, if you don’t, can you borrow some?
I know that this sounds like a minor detail, but have you ever been to a party where people had no place to put cans, bottles and glasses beside one single trashcan? I have. And what do people end up doing with their trash, now that they’ve downed the mind-altering substances in it? They put it on the ground. On your carpet or on your wooden or marble floors, where it becomes a slippery (and soon sticky) mess.
If your apartment or house doesn’t have a lot of drink-suitable surfaces, borrow some. I reiterate that it seems like silly advice, but imagine trying to get your security deposit back when there’s more parts of the floor that have had PJ spilled on them than haven’t. In that case, the “It was from the previous tenant” argument doesn’t work, because the previous tenants were genius enough to invest in tables.
What kind of music are you playing?
[Editor's note: If we were in middle school or trying to impress work colleagues with our hipster taste in music, we'd agree with Dockery's suggestions below. But, as it happens, we are in neither of those categories. Our parties always have a heavy metal playlist. Heavy metal has been shoved in the corner for far too long, and it's time someone - that's us - stood up for it. If you don't like heavy metal, you weren't invited to our party. Up the irons and get your horns in the air!]
This usually coincides with the people you’ve invited, but a strong playlist is vital in maintaining the proper atmosphere. I know that it would be killer to play all monster metal [Editor's note: It IS killer!], or in my case, all Pitbull, but people can’t really have a conversation over the former [Editor's note: Have you seen our friends?], and get tired of the latter in the middle of the first song.
Choose something that fits both the theme and the setting. If you have a basement for people to dance in, find a ton of sweet remixes and go to work. If it’s a small gathering with friends, look at their tastes and find a balance, usually something softer, but groovy, keeping the flow of the night going.
And lastly, are you prepared to keep the festivities happening as long as possible?
As I mentioned, Halloween only comes on night a year. Treat Halloween like taking an exam. Get plenty of sleep, eat a good breakfast, and go over your notes one last time. If you do that, you should be in the clear.