How to Throw A Fantastic Party (Without Risking Eviction)

1970s Disco Music PartyCome summertime, the mind turns to certain Hollywood-crafted daydreams. Leisurely picnic brunches by the lake. Long naps in hammocks. Tall, glistening glasses of lemonade. Pulsing house parties that gather momentum and last long past intended ending time.

Those first three don’t have much to do with apartments, but let’s talk about the last one. Is it possible to have a party that’s both fun AND doesn’t annoy your neighbors? Of course it is.

As always in apartment living—and not to sound like your mom, but …—it’s important to have some common sense and basic respect for the people around you. That includes not just the people in the adjoining apartments (both sides, plus upstairs and downstairs) but anyone else who might be affected by an unexpected influx of people in the hallway, on the stoop, or taking up parking spots.

Be mindful that you’re sharing your space with other people
And those people are just trying to go about their own daily lives—and, understandably, they don’t want to deal with the distraction and inconvenience of strangers who have shown up unannounced.

Talk to your neighbors ahead of time
If you like your neighbors, invite them to the party! This is a great chance to get to know them. Heck, if they all come, then you can crank the music up to eardrum-bursting levels. Problem solved. But even if you don’t want to invite the weird dude across the hall, it’s still a nice gesture to give him a heads-up, even if it’s just a note slid under the door. “I’m having a few friends over tonight, and we’ll try to keep things down, but if there are any problems, please just knock and let us know.”

Even aside from the noise issue, an advance warning will help your neighbors understand what’s going on when they see a mass of people show up unexpectedly—and will help prevent them from just assuming you’re throwing a rager and they should just call the police before it gets out of control.

Make sure your guests know where the party begins and ends
A couple of people taking a break outside—for a smoke or fresh air or just some quiet—is perfectly fine, but the whole party shouldn’t spill out into the hallway, the stoop, the parking lot, the street. All the world is not your playground. Remind your guests to be courteous to any neighbors they encounter.

Pick up after yourself–and your guests
The boundaries of the party apply not just to people but to trash—don’t leave bottles or food all over the common spaces of the building. Think of how annoyed you would be to have to step over someone else’s garbage. Make sure all the bottles end up in the recycle bin, not strewn about in the general vicinity.

Keep the noise down
This one can be tricky, because volume is open to interpretation—what’s too soft for you may well be too loud for your neighbors. Be particularly mindful of the room-shaking effects of your subwoofer. It’s pretty sweet to have a dance floor that literally shudders with each bass note, but it’s not so sweet for the person below you who’s trying to have a quiet date night or get some sleep. There’s really no way around the fact that loud music can be a huge nuisance for your neighbors, especially after about 10pm or so.

Intoxication and neighbors: not a good combination
You’re not in college anymore. It’s time to grow up and remember that while more booze makes for a wilder party, that’s really not a good thing. You’ll have more guests who need to crash on your couch, more people being loud and obnoxious in the hallway, more stuff to clean up (from bottles to, alas, bodily fluid). It’s just not worth it. Keep the drinking to a minimum and you’ll have a great time without the later work and regrets—plus, you’ll remember the party better.

Above all, remember: you’re accountable for your guests
If there are any problems—like that one unruly friend singing “Thriller” in the hallway at 2am—it’s on you to make amends with any offended neighbors. You’re the one the landlord will call if there’s any damage. You’re the one who has the ultimate responsibility for cleaning up any trash in the hallway. And so on. Keep all the problems to a minimum and you’ll have less to worry about.

In short: respect your neighbors and make sure your guests do the same.

None of this means that you have to have to just sit around in silence, sipping water and eating quiet foods (“Who needs more apple sauce?”). You can still play music. You can still dance. You can still hang out until the wee hours, chatting with your friends.

But maybe you do things differently from your college days. Maybe you have a themed dinner party instead of an all-night dance-fest. Maybe you spend the evening sipping fancy cocktails and playing board games rather than slamming cheap beers. Be creative. Be zany. And know that the key to a good party isn’t loud music or what time it ends. It’s always about the people—the welcoming host (that’s you) and an eclectic, friendly group of attendees.

For more tips on throwing a great party–including the vital importance of stocking up on munches–be sure to check out Kate’s party post from a few years back.

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Doug Mack is a writer based in Minneapolis and the author of the travel memoir Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide (Perigee Books/Penguin). He has lived in apartments large and small, historic and modern, in Minneapolis and Chicago. Visit his web site at or find him on Twitter @douglasmack.

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Comments (1)

  1. Avatar samson61

    The neighbors are a bunch of trash who have shown no common courtesy for their neighbors and I suspect since they have put all this crap in the backyard for a party that they aren’t starting now. We can’t stop it although I’m sure the police will be called at least once bc the lady next door hates them. No golden rule here so ill just get my headphones out and hope for the best. Hopefully the landlord grows balls and gets rid of them soon.