You're Invited: House Party

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Photograph courtesy Flickr/dupo-x-y

 

Tap Your Inner Cruise Director
Todd Berger throws about ten parties a year and lots of smaller gatherings. A party with no competition (he loves beanbag tossing at a barbecue) or theme (“Dress in Something Fuzzy or Shiny” cocktail soirees) is just “people sitting around awkwardly trying to talk.”

Pay to Play 
When Berger hosts midnight poker showdowns or glow-in-the-dark boccie ball contests, guests plunk down $10 or $20. If you’ve got 30 or 40 guests—well, do the math. They’re invested in more than just having a good time. Also, he says, “when you pair up two strangers, they immediately bond over the competition.”

Take a Risk 
Board games made a party comeback some years ago, but Berger ups the ante by dividing guests into teams. For his favorite strategic game, Risk, he fuels warring armies with international beers; bouts can last two to five hours.

Turn on the Tube
Come up with drinking games (you may want to stick to beer shots) to mark televised events like the presidential debates or the Lost season finale. Guests at Berger’s annual Oscar bash are required to concoct commemorative drinks when they nail a category. The ingredients they have to work with are anything they can dig up in Berger’s wet bar, which over the years has been stocked with an inventory of strange spirits that guests have brought him, like melon liqueur and butterscotch schnapps. At this year’s party, “I won for Man on Wire,” Berger says, “so I stood with a leg up on a stool, sipping a glass of French wine.”