What kind of event is it? What is your goal? It might be as simple as providing a space for your friends to hang out and have fun, but it’s important to think about what you want before you think about how to achieve it. If the event is hosted by a group, everyone should understand the goals for the event and strategies for achieving them. That discussion should include a frank assessment of risk and a collective plan to minimize it.
Think about who to invite. How big is your space? Will there be dancing? Is it a dinner party? Will the people you invite bring guests? Thinking this through will help you know how to set up the space and how much food etc. to purchase.
Think about the physical space of the event and how that space might be used. Are there adequate spaces where conversations can happen? If there are more isolated spaces figure out who will remain aware of what’s happening in those spaces during the event.
Choose the music strategically. Any music playing will be a big factor in determining the atmosphere of the entire event, how your guests perceive it, and how people will act.
Many events need to be registered. If you are hosting an event in a residential space on campus and there will be more than 20 people, it needs to be registered with your Head of College. If you are hosting an event off campus and there will be more than 50 people, it needs to be registered with the Yale College Dean’s Office.
Talk to your neighbors ahead of time. Let them know something will be happening and give them your phone number so they can call you if there is a problem.
Remember, as the host you set the tone for your event. During the event do not tolerate patters of pressure, derogatory language, or other offensive behavior. If you don’t want a direct confrontation, intervene in a low key way (change the topic, make a joke, dance between people).
If you are serving alcohol remember that you can be held legally responsible for your guests’ behavior. Make sure you read up on Connecticut’s Social Host laws. A few important precautions:
Take steps to make sure guests are not pressured to drink or to drink beyond their limits.
Make it easy for people to manage their own consumption. Provide ways for people to measure the alcohol they put into a drink, or better yet, have a friend go through Yale’s free bartender training and run the bar for the party.
Have interesting non-alcohol options available along with food. Alcohol metabolizes much more gradually if consumed with food.
Keep an eye on your guests.
Be alert to the possibility that someone needs help. Does anyone look uncomfortable or unwell? Make yourself visible as a host- and offer help when it might be useful.
Be alert to the possibility that someone is causing trouble. Are there signs of pressure, coercion, disrespect or general shadiness? Intervene. Don’t wait for things to get out of control. The best interventions come early, and are often barely perceptible. Redirect situations well before they reach a danger point. Speak up. Distract. Disrupt.