House parties are a hoot, but some occasions warrant pulling out all the stops. Like a friend's 40th birthday for example. Recently I was in charge of planning such a party. I put on my thinking cap (sparkly and topped with a feather) and decided on a "Party on Wheels" theme.
Here's how to plan this portable party — STEP-BY-STEP
1. Come up with a guest list and send out a "save-the-date" invite outlining the party idea.
Something like, "Hey gang, Sarah's 40th is coming up! Who's in for a party on wheels? Aug. 19th, 6pm-midnight. Pre-party food & drinks at my house. Cost will be roughly $35 each. Please let me know if you can make it ASAP as I'll need numbers to book the appropriate party bus. Yes, PARTY BUS! We're taking this shindig on the road!" You can add any other details as well like possible destinations along the bus route, gifts/no gifts, whether or not it's a surprise, etc.
2. Once you have an idea of the number of guests, BOOK the BUS. If you're looking for a weekend versus a weeknight date, book farther in advance.
a) Google "Party Bus" or "Limo Bus" rentals in your area.
b) Call several companies and make a list of what they offer and how much they charge. Fees vary quite a bit!
c) Ask for a flat rate so you know exactly what you'll be paying.
d) Be aware that tax and tip are extra so factor that into the final price. Also, some companies charge a fee for each stop along the route.
e) To give you a rough idea, we were charged a flat rate of $400 for the bus (which seats 25). This was for BOTH ways. We paid $50 per extra stop, plus HST. The tip was also automatically added to the bill by the company. *Be sure to check the invoice as our driver tried to trick us into giving him an additional tip by claiming it wasn't included. Sigh.
3. Plan Your Route. Consider the guest of honour's interests. My friend loves board games, karaoke, and dancing. So, we stopped at a bar that serves cocktails and has shelves of board games. Snakes and Lagers (wish I'd thought of that name) in Toronto was perfect. Find out if your destinations require reservations and then book accordingly, or at least give them a heads up that you're coming.
Our second stop was a hipster bar that offers karaoke and dancing. Who knew a group of 40-something mamas could have so much fun? Don't ask me why the photos of these songstresses are from behind. Either they refused to sign a waiver or the photographer was too drunk to walk around to the front of the stage! ;)
4. Send out an updated invite with finalized details: your address, agenda (great to have for those who might not be able to participate in the bus portion, but want to meet up along the way), what they should bring.... you might want them to BYOB for the bus.
5. Fuel Up! Ask guests to arrive at your house an hour or so before the bus is scheduled for pick-up. Provide snacks (partying on an empty stomach is a big no-no. Just ask my friend Ralph. See what I did there?). Premix a pitcher of cocktails to serve as well.
6. Get the money out of the way. Have a friend collect the bus fee from guests as they arrive so you can pay the driver—they will likely ask for payment up front.
7. Stock the bus with chips and water for the ride home, napkins for spills, plastic cups (some buses provide glasses and ice. Ours did not.), a great iTunes playlist, and cocktails. Thank you Michele for sending over Sarah's favourite pretty pink and sparkling wines!
9. Keep in touch. Give your driver the venue addresses ahead of time and provide him with your cell number in case he/she needs to get in touch with you while you're singing karaoke. Or maybe pretending to DJ...
10. Take lots of pictures! This will be a party to remember. Have fun!
*This post is NOT sponsored. We paid for the bus sans discount. I have chosen not to include the name of the bus company since I had several concerns with their service. The bus was not clean. In fact, it smelled like pee. Nothing that a little room deodorizer couldn't mask, but ew. Aside from the driver trying to bully us into increasing his tip (which was already generous), his driving was dangerous. I have addressed these issues with the company directly. I'm of the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" mindset. The experience was positive overall and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
** Our friend Michele from Chateau des Charmes generously provided us with wine and bubbly. Thanks Michele! You made our night extra effervescent.
And now for something ridiculous but entertaining... Maybe you've seen this SNL sketch? It's one we quote every time we go out. In fact, most GNO sentences end with the line.. 'Thank you champagne!" Or "Champagne is for occasions like.... occasions." Silly, but fun. Enjoy!
Looking for other unique party ideas? Here are a few more: