We're expecting an artificially small party on the fourth of July weekend. Because of the holiday and because people are finally realizing that we do these every month, fewer people show up. We had fewer people than usual for this last one, and I expect the next one will be similar. That means it's a great "trainer wheels" party for anything new we want to try out! It'll be easier to try stuff with thirty people than sixty.
[Edit -- suggestions from girlpurple, ravenslost and bdot incorporated, plus I've started putting stuff on the usual invitation page. If you don't get the party announce emails then you should email me and ask to be put on the list, shouldn't you? :-)]
So what do we want to try out that's new? A multi-day party! It'd be about two days, with some people coming and going as they please, and others staying for a full day or two. We had a fourteen-hour party last time(sixteen, technically, or seventeen perhaps), so it's a pretty obvious extension. We just need to do it well...
I've talked this over with miss_mimsy and briefly with bk2w, both of whom made some great suggestions. Now I'll release this half-baked version on all of my LJ friends and anybody they care to point to it. Suggest away!
Some problems that this would raise:
Hosting: I'm not gonna be able to be awake, hostlike and "on" for 48 hours. Doing it for fourteen hours has convinced me of that. That means either more hosts, hosting in shifts, or both. But more importantly, we need to make it clearer how people can get the basic necessities and comforts without us. We've gotten a good start with things like labelling the bathrooms and putting out lots of disposable silverware, and giving people quick summaries on the way in. We need to do more of that, especially with food and non-alcoholic drinks. Labelling, maybe written instructions, and more obvious locations for snacks and stuff.
Food: In a two-day party, people need real food. We've had that for every party so far, and for every party people have failed to eat much of it. We need it to be more obvious, more on-demand, more vegetarian-friendly. We need a better UI for food at our parties. We also need to be able to periodically do larger, more organized things like french toast or grilling, but that works pretty well already.
Activities/Boredom: After the first 12 hours, people start burning out on drinking, snacking, socializing and cuddling. Not everybody, but lots of them. And that means we're going to want some other kind(s) of activities. Doesn't have to be, y'know, a nature hike. But games, for instance, would help a lot.
Sleep: Sleep becomes mandatory in a 48-hour party. Sure, people will come and go, but the worst time to make them go drive somewhere is when they're exhausted, and that's when they're least likely to come back.
Our Proposed Party:
Kitchen: The kitchen, in addition to food-prep, will still be overflow socializing for the less-sociable. I couldn't stop that from happening if I wanted to, but why would I want to? The liquor table will become a buffet table, and the liquor will be nearby -- perhaps in well-labelled boxes? The wine will be on shelves nearby.
Front room: The front room stays as it has been. It'll be the main socializing area. If anything, it'll probably be less cuddly than before (see the office for details). The furniture and setup will be a lot like last party. It worked well, we had a lot of space. The papasan chair probably needs to go, but everything else is working well. Maybe more chairs.
Garage: The garage will be absolutely unliveable during the day -- it'll be early July and it's poorly insulated. At night it'll still be a place to grab ice cream from, and maybe a hangout for the less-sociable, as it has been in the past. Overflow social space is good, especially at night. We can keep it a little cooler with good ventilation, but we can't expect people to spend any time there during the day.
Office: We can drape one of the desks in the office, move the other somewhere else, and clear the stuff off the floor. Air mattresses on the floor will also help. That gives us overflow sleep space during the day and cuddle space in the evening. The trick will be getting the big touchy-feely groups from the living room into here. We'll work on it. This will make the front room safer for new people as well.
The hosts' bedrooms aren't going to be part of the festivities directly. Any, ahem, festivities will need to be arranged with us directly. Prepare your bribes appropriately.
Backyard: The backyard will continue to contain the hot tub and shed. The shed stays cool, but we're basically just planning to put all this stuff we clear out of other places into it -- it smells like motor oil and grease, even though it's otherwise reasonably comfortable. The hot tub is, y'know, the hot tub.
But, we can put a tent up in the back yard! This plus some air mattresses will provide sleep space at night (the yard needs to be pretty quiet for the neighbors' comfort anyway) and possibly during the day as well. It may be too hot, though.
Hot tub: we'll probably want it colder during the day. And it tends to accumulate sediment quickly when lots of people are using it. We can easily leave the heat (and cover) off if we want to cool it during the daytime. We can wet/dry-vac the sediment out, which isn't a perfect solution. It sounds like draining daily just isn't going to happen, though, since it takes *many* hours with our current setup.
Food: We'll want a lot of pre-made stuff -- Trader Joe's frozen entrees, maybe homemade garlic/pesto chicken (it reheats very well) and lots of snacks. Definitely want to include some vegetarian stuff. We also need instructions on preparing everything to be available easily. That's not because people won't figure it out, it's because otherwise they won't feel welcome to make and eat food. We can also do larger food events at regular mealtimes -- grilling steaks, ordering pizza, making french toast, and baking rum chicken are all strong possibilities. But people should be able to eat whenever they want, just in case. We'll also want buffet space on the table for constant things like chips, pretzels, maybe beer and so on.
Snacks & Drinks: We're doing pretty well on these overall. We just need to buy more for a full two-day marathon. We do need better display space for them so that people will eat them, but that'll be handled just like the food, with a buffet table. Another Brita might be good, bottled water would be very good, and we should display a well-labelled cooler of soda very prominently on or next to the buffet table.
Sleep: During the day, the office will be sleep space. We've got fans, and we can probably redirect the air conditioner to hit the office appropriately. During the evening, the tent in the back should be nicely cool. It'll be a little noisy with the hot tub there, but should be adequate for our tired revellers. I hope. I'm recommending earplugs to the sensitive in the invitation.
Labelling and Instructions: We should take a Dymo labeller to the kitchen cabinets for things like plates and glasses and silverware to be obvious. Maybe a "put the toilet seat down" label. Label the bedrooms as private (or just "bathroom to your left" like last time, which seems to have worked). A "Your Designated Host Is XXX" sign if we host in shifts. We could put food instructions on the refrigerator ("Microwavable Trader Joe's entrees avaiable in freezer, veggie and non-veggie, instructions on box or bag", "Garlic/Pesto chicken on shelf inside, cover with paper towel and microwave for 2.5 min").
Activities: bk2w talked about doing something nearby, within walking distance, but wasn't sure what. If so then we should definitely stock bottled water and sunscreen, just in case. Not sure what's available besides a local playground, though. We could always get lots of bubble stuff and let them go blow bubbles :-) Some other suggestions: the Fremont Farmer's Market on Sunday morning, and Le Mans indoor Go-Karts.
Coming and Going: there'll be people awake at almost any hour, so we can pretty much leave the door open with the "come on in" sign, perhaps with a "for God's sake, don't ring the doorbell". Then if people want to arrive at 5am, let 'em :-)
Staying Cool: aside from the hot tub stuff and making sure we have lots of fans, an air conditioner and non-alcoholic drinks available, maybe a kiddie pool and/or sprinkler in the back yard. It'd be fun. We should see if we can get camp showers and/or a shower curtain/hose combo to act as showers, but also to let people bathe themselves in cold water if they need to. We'll see how hot it actually gets, but better to plan for the worst.
Hygeine: the Disaster House has only a single bathroom. That means that showering facilities will be limited. We'll want to set up hoses and/or camp showers for the intrepid (and impatient). But mainly it's just gonna be a little barbaric in the mornings, and there's not gonna be enough hot water for 30 people to take long, hot showers. I'm sure some people will scurry off back home, but it'll still be a little frustrating. I don't know a good way around this. At a minimum, people should be willing to shower at nonstandard times if they want hot water. I wonder if we could heat water on the stove and set up a little old-style bath... That'd be low volume as well, though, certainly not enough for thirty people.