Ideas for throwing the best college party ever
No matter what the occasion, everyone needs a great party to shake off the stress of student life. But who will organize the party and get the games going?
Well… why not you?
With our ideas, you’re bound to throw a great party! So keep reading!
Get the Word Out
All successful events require getting the word out to the community. Make sure you check with policies and regulations-- Resident Life Advisors can help with this-- and get approval from the right people. If you need money to buy supplies, come up with a plan to collect the funds and write up a budget. You’ll also need to check on policies regarding off-campus or non-student guests, how to account for them, etc.
Once all of the paperwork is out of the way, it’s time to do the legwork. Gather your party crew and get the word out on social media, bulletin boards (with approval), and handouts to pass around between classes and at meal times. Make sure all of the details are ironed out before you start spreading the word-- that means choosing your theme and nailing down the time and place.
Network with professors and other folks with Res Life, Facilities, and even Public Safety. Even if they won’t spread the word for you, they are all departments who should be notified of the party anyway-- Res Life because it’s on campus, Facilities because of clean-up, and Public Safety just in case something happens or someone comes to the party who shouldn’t be there. They may swing by from time to time to check on things if it’s a big party-- which is a good thing!
Halloween is an ideal time to work with your resident life advisor and create activities that get the floor-- or even the whole dorm-- involved.
Start with decorating! Buddy up with Resident Life and hold a door decorating contest for each floor, with voting and prizes. Hold a craft night to decorate the common areas like the living room, foyer, and bathrooms. Pick a theme-- classics like “zombie apocalypse” and “monsters” always work-- and pick a time and place, provide some snacks and let the screams begin!
Get each floor’s advisor to hand out candy, or ask for volunteers to do it. Everyone dresses up and goes trick-or-treating, just like they used to as kids! It’s also a great time to introduce the custom to foreign exchange students who may not be familiar with the tradition.
Go old-skool, and set up bobbing for apples and pumpkin carving in the common area. If it’s a nice evening, bring out some lamps and do it outside! Or of carving pumpkins isn’t allowed, there are tons of no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas. Pop It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Hocus Pocus on the tv and be sure to have plenty of popcorn and drinks on hand.
Depending on the budget, you might want to see if you can hire a tarot, palm, or pendulum reader. It’s also possible that a fellow peer may have some divination experience, and doesn’t mind volunteering. However, be sure that your college campus is open to alternative religious practices such as tarot and pendulums, so be sure to do your homework on this one before suggesting it.
Most of your fellow classmates will vacate the dorms for the season, but not before taking some midterms and handing in some projects and papers that really take the spark out of them. By the time everyone gets home for Thanksgiving, they’re already burnt out and trying to cram for the last few weeks before finals.
Now’s the perfect time to help them take care of themselves and create room for the “thankful” part of Thanksgiving. Throw a self-care party! Supply epsom salts, a carrier oil and a couple of essential oils and let everyone make their own bath salts. Or add citric acid, baking soda, and cornstarch to make bath bombs. Since aromatherapy is highly effective, but candles are often banned, collect empty spray bottles-- or have everyone bring their own-- and mix three parts water to one part alcohol, add some essential oils and voila! Aromatherapy room spray, mixed exactly to each person’s liking. It’s also safe for most cotton bedding. Just shake and spray!
There are tons of self-care ideas that are easy to incorporate. Do a yoga session, or form a back massage circle. Play soothing music and try some meditations or mindfulness exercises. Color with crayons and exchange pictures as reminders to give yourselves a break now and then! You can even pop some cucumber slices into a bowl of iced water and invite everyone to your dorm room for a facial party-- everyone brings a mask, and you supply the movies!
Another idea is to throw a snack potluck. Since it’s a potluck, it’s easy on the budget. It’s also easily accomplished at any point of the day or night, so having a “Midnight Snack” themed party is totally classic! Complete the potluck with seasonal cider or hot chocolate. Or, if midterms are still going on, coffee!
Many people will agree that pets are the ultimate form of stress-relief. Partner with Res Life-- and any other departments on campus whose approval you’ll need-- and local shelters or therapy animal organizations to bring puppies or kittens on campus for a half hour or so of pet snuggles. Who knows? Maybe someone will even find their forever home! And wouldn’t that be a great feeling?
If you have something smaller and more intimate in mind-- let’s say, just a few friends or just you and your roomies-- have a quiet night with board games and chips and dip or salsa.
Christmas & Hanukkah
Amidst the chaos of finals and gift shopping, take the time to celebrate the season. Dorm rooms are often too small for Christmas trees, and since candles are usually banned, lighting a traditional menorah for Hanukkah is out of the question (unless you do it outside). So what are celebrants to do?
Use construction paper to create a Christmas tree or menorah on your dorm room walls. Add paper presents and dreidels. Use paper to “light” the candles. Alternatively, purchase a tiny desktop tree and decorate it with mini ornaments and battery-operated LED light strands. You can purchase battery-operated menorahs, and real dreidels are not hard to find. Then, pick a time with your roomies to exchange gifts!
Another great idea is to have an “It’s a Wrap!” party. Everyone brings their gifts, wrapping paper, scissors, and tape to the designated room. You supply some snacks and a holiday movie while everyone wraps their gifts for home!
If you have some musically-talented friends, you could ask Res Life to help you choose a time and place for a holiday jam session! Plan and rehearse some classics, but throw in some improv, too, and invite others to join you as they are able! Or grab a few friends and organize a caroling party-- just make sure that you’re not violating any quiet hours that might be in place for finals. You could also surprise a few professors or department staff by paying them a caroling visit! Or check with Public Safety where it’s safe to carol off campus.
This is also the time of the academic year when you won’t be in your dorm room for a few weeks-- usually from mid-December to the first week of January. Chances are you and your roomies will vacate the room around the same time, so it’s the perfect opportunity to have a cleaning and packing party! Pick a time when everyone will be together and bust out the tunes and brooms! Dust, wipe, sweep, and disinfect-- seriously, it’s cold and flu season!-- while everyone takes a turn playing a few songs. Once your room is spic-and-span, haul out the suitcases and get packin’! (Remember your keys, ID cards and chargers!)
Oftentimes, college life is casual-- sometimes to the point of wearing your pajamas to your earliest classes if you didn’t wake up on time. Add a touch of class by organizing a High Tea party, complete with macaroons, tea sandwiches, and a few kinds of classic British tea. Set up the trays of tiny delicacies with deliberate design, and get a few friends to donate their hotpots to brew the teas. If you plan ahead of time and enlist your resident advisor’s help, you might be able to get catering-- complete with tea cups and real silverware! No matter what you’re serving the tea out of or pouring it into, make dressing the part a requirement!
Tired of winter and cold weather with no end in sight? Throw an indoor beach party! Order some Hawaian pizza and serve slices of tropical fruits. Combine orange juice with lemon-lime sparkling water and garnish with watermelon pieces. Borrow some extra lamps so your room is super-bright like the beach, and queue up some ocean sounds to play in the background. Have your friends bring their towels and wear their swimming suits to the party! Once everyone is settled, pop on Lilo & Stitch (remember the tissues), and relax!
Are scavenger hunts a thing of the past? We don’t think so! Partner with upper-classmen and create an on- or off-campus scavenger hunt to get everyone out and about, learning their new home. Offer a prize of school supplies (which could be running low at certain points in the semester), a gift card to the bookstore, or a school t-shirt.
At some point in the year, everyone feels the need to get some friends together and have a good time. How big or small your party is can vary, but don’t fall into the same old party traps. Use our guide to inspire you, and be sure to drop a comment to tell us how the party went!