College life is more than just books and exams. For many of your members, parties will be the most important part of being in a fraternity. Not saying this is wrong or right, but stating a fact that everyone realizes…
To throw a fraternity party you need meticulous planning focused on building excitement and preparation. You also need flawless execution centered around everyone having fun while adhering to your risk management principles.
Planning a Fraternity Party
The first step is assigning responsibility for the event. This is an opportunity to lead and that should not be overlooked. A brother should be assigned to take lead on the event. This brother doesn’t always have to be the social chair. The assigned organizer should have authority over the budget and should have a group to help him put together a great event.
The next and most obvious step is you need a theme for the party. There are an infinite number of ideas – and you are really only limited by your imagination. If you aren’t creative enough, a quick Google search will give you thousands of ideas. Here are some good articles that can help:
The next step is building excitement for your party. You need to have the brothers excited about the event. If they aren’t looking forward to it, then there is little chance that the event will be a success. As such, it is paramount that they have bought into the idea and they can’t wait for it to happen.
There is a secret recipe for success for fraternity parties. That is inviting girls. If you can get girls to the party, everything else will probably fall into place.
To get girls to your party, there are some obvious and some not-so-obvious approaches. Obviously, friends who are girls should be invited. Friends of girlfriends should be invited. Girls who you want to be friends with should be invited. These invitations should be personal, and you should let the potential guest you want them to attend.
Further, don’t forget to tap into the sorority network at your school. Take the time to send them invitations by mail. Better yet, go to their house and invite them personally. My chapter had great success by having the new member class serenade a sorority, and then invite them to a party. Regardless of how you approach this task, make sure it happens.
Another critical planning step is making sure your timing is right. You want to make sure you have enough time to get invites out. You want to make sure you have enough time to prepare the venue for the event. You want to make sure your party doesn’t conflict with other events. You don’t want to plan your party opposite other fraternity ‘party of the year’ events. You don’t want to plan it on the same day as a home football or basketball game. Spend five minutes to make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for future failure.
Before the event, be sure to notify your neighbors that you are having a party. If your house is on Greek Row, this isn’t as big of a deal. It is probably a good move to be a good neighbor and invite them over though. If you live in a residential community near the general public, it is critical you do this. Let your neighbors know if things get loud or out-of-hand, they can call you directly and you will address the issue. This beats the hell out of them calling the cops and shutting the event down.
A task that isn’t very glamorous and very necessary is preparing the house for a party. Cleaning the house is important. Making sure certain areas are off-limits is important. Making sure bedrooms have the ability to be secure is important to make sure nothing gets stolen. Make sure nothing can be taken from bathrooms.
Putting away items in the house that could easily disappear is a must. Don’t think for a second a rival fraternity won’t notice something on the wall and take it home claiming it as a found treasure. Put another way – don’t think for a second a rival fraternity won’t steal your shit.
Also, make sure the house has proper lighting and there are no other safety hazards. You don’t need someone falling off a porch due to a weak guard rail or someone turning an angle because of a rotten step.
A lot of planning goes into throwing a good party. This time-well-spent will be realized on the night of the party.
Executing a Fraternity Party
College is short. Four or five years sounds like a long time but it will be over faster than you realize. Have fun at these parties. Don’t live with regrets. Stand tall, stick your chest out and talk to the pretty girl. Stay up a little later than normal shooting the bull with the boys. Take advantage of the night, and live your best life.
During the party, someone responsible has to be designated to be in charge and the representative of the chapter. This person has the authority to shut the party down if it gets out of hand. They have the authority to throw anyone out and settle disputes. They are the only one that should be allowed to talk to the police. They must stay sober and they must be someone the chapter trusts to make sound decisions.
A challenge my chapter often had was getting everyone on the same page at the start of a party. The guys who lived in the house would be there around dinner time. The guys who didn’t live in the house would show up whenever. The guests would start showing up at 10ish, and that was before most of the brothers arrived. Seeing no one there, these guests would leave to go find a better party.
To solve this problem, the chapter focused on making sure we always had a good base to our events. We set a time and made sure everyone showed up by then. This ensured that our guests arrived to a full party and not an empty house.
Challenge the brothers to get out of their shell. I cringe when I think of a full party with the music pumping and everyone having a great time except the handful of brothers talking to themselves in the corner. What a waste.
It is important that the brothers make all their guests feel welcome. If the sorority you invited show up (and they will), be sure you thank them. The same holds true for all your guests. Fraternity men are gentleman, and gentleman are always gracious hosts.
Make sure your chapter has a plan for trash. Garbage tends to quickly pile up during a party. All brothers have be responsible for noticing and doing something about it. It isn’t ok to have trash spilling all over the ground because everyone was too lazy to change the bag out. This is your fraternity house after all. Never lose pride in your house.
Alcohol is a tricky subject. There is what should happen, and then there is reality. What should happen is all events should be BYOB. All IDs should be checked at the door to eliminate underage drinking. No liquor should be allowed.
Reality tends to be a bit different. My personal belief is if you are old enough to go to war and vote, you are old enough to have a beer. However, my personal beliefs conflict with the law of your state. Tread very lightly should you choose to break a law.
To go with that theme, risk management is critical for a good party. I recommend hiring private security to work the door. This takes the responsibility of checking IDs and marking underage guests hands away from the brothers who are going to be more interested in partying than manning the door.
Having private security is a valuable insurance policy in case something does go wrong. If a fight breaks out, they will be able to break it up and also provide an unbiased account of what happened to the police and university (if needed). Security also acts as a deterrent to these fights happening in the first place. In addition, security can be responsible for being the ‘bad guy’ and stopping underage drinking from happening on your property.
Another risk management measure is having a guest list. Open parties are not allowed at many universities anymore. As such, keeping a list of who is invited is important. It is also key to keep the undesirables out.
Be sure your chapter is smart with social media. Everyone has a camera on them, which is the equivalent to everyone carrying a bomb that could blow up your chapter. Be sure nothing happens in public that you wouldn’t want to be on the internet. On the flip side though, you can use social media to your advantage. If the party is awesome, be sure to let the world know it. This will significantly help your image on campus.
Be sure to practice ‘girl safety’. If your chapter makes a point for your girl guests to feel safe, this will become known on campus. Girls will flock to your parties in the future if they know they are safe at your fraternity. Watch out for girls who have been overserved. Make sure they aren’t taken advantage of, and make sure that they get home safely. Not only will that make your fraternity look good, it is the right thing to do.
After the Party
Have a plan for cleanup. The morning after a party is always a disaster. Brothers normally aren’t at their best after a long night of hell-raising. There is a saying though: “If you want to play with the boys at night, you have to get up with the men in the morning.” Make sure the chapter is committed to putting the house back together and cleaning up.
Finally, the person assigned as the lead of the party needs to put together notes on what went right and what went wrong at the party. This needs to be done while the event is still fresh in everyone’s mind. He also needs to prepare a report for the chapter to discuss at the next meeting to include how the party did against budget. He should provide a list of guys that were met that could be good candidates for rush.
This will ensure the fraternity is better prepared for the next time it throws a party. Also, this gives the fraternity a chance to thank the individual who took the lead in planning the party. As you can see, this isn’t a little amount of work. To throw a party right, it takes a lot of time and commitment. Be sure to thank those who played a key part in the successful event.
If you liked this article – you may want to check out my book The Fraternity Leader. In the book, I have an entire chapter describing a complete social program to include mixers, formals, semi-formals and brotherhood events. I also have another chapter on how to become popular with sororities. It is a worth-while read for anyone looking to take their chapter to the next level.