How to Throw a Keg Party

Keg parties can be the highlight of a college student's life. But throwing a keg party is not as easy as you think. Pre-planning is a must!


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    Find a place to throw your parties. Ideally, there will be a place where parties are most acceptable in the area, so locations will already be narrowed down for you. In any case, there are several factors to think about when deciding whether a house is suitable:
    • Size of party space in square feet (basement, etc).
    • Proximity to campus, this should eliminate any possibilities of DUIs, everyone should be walking.
    • Bathroom locations, window locations, entrances (an entrance from the back yard, directly into the basement, and a bathroom in the basement is ideal)
    • House layout and flow.
    • Strength of walls in party spaces and ability to withstand damage.
    • Neighbors
    • Seclusion factor
    • Landlord
    • Nearest Police Station, just in case things get out of hand and you need help.
    • Basement drain.
    • Central Air Conditioning (nice to have).
    • "DJ Booth" location (should be inaccessible to guests).
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    Prepare the house. Preparing the house is something which can save you time and money. It cuts down on theft, damage to property and unwanted guests (police, campus officials, undercover cops, hookers, drug dealers, etc).
    • All rooms which are not party space should have pad locks installed, this includes the "DJ Booth" if you are using a room for that purpose. This especially references bedrooms and bathrooms which you do not want guests using. These keys should be kept on your person for the duration of the party. DO NOT give special treatment to any guest (ie: to use the extra bathroom because the line is too long), you will regret it. Do not give in to women who try to get you to give them special treatment, everyone will want to use the clean bathroom next. If guests nag too much for access to the rooms, give the keys to a neighbor or trusted friend who is not attending your party.
    • Anything which you would mind having stolen, broken, or destroyed should be moved into a locked room. Anything which someone could injure themselves on, or use as a weapon, should also be moved.
    • Make the most of your space by removing any junk that has accumulated in your house and basement. Do a very thorough cleaning. If a body could fit there, move the item, or throw it out.
    • Rearrange furniture, etc. You want to maximize flow, so there are minimal bottle necks in the house.
    • Steps which could be slippery when covered in beer should have traction tape put on them to prevent any injuries.
    • Ideally the flooring for your party space will be cement, tile, or older hardwood (to be stained the beer color of your choice). If you are stuck with wall-to-wall carpet, and hope to get your security deposit returned, you should cover it with two layers of plastic tarp and then a few planks of particle board and an old couch or two to weigh it down. Any mobile carpet should be rolled up against a wall.
    • All windows which can be seen from the street should have thick drapes, or be covered in black garbage bags. You should ensure that your house looks completely pitch black, and sounds the same. Under no condition should these windows ever be open during a party no matter what temperature the house is. Put locks on them too, if necessary. Police should notice nothing, even if neighbors complain. Eventually the police may stop coming because they think the neighbors are making fake complaints. They will be confused as to which house the call was made about. Ninety percent of the time they will leave, unless you give them cause to stay. They may pass by as many as three times, they may do "surveillance" at the end of the street, they may be in an unmarked car. At this point, you are on lock down. Turn the music down, and lock the front door. No one goes out, or comes in. Send a scout out the back door to wander around the block to see if they've really left.
    • All doorways exposed to the street should also have a curtain installed within 3 feet (0.9 m) of the door itself. This assures that even if the door is open, police will not be able to see alcohol containers.
    • If you live in an area where the police are clever and actually care about this kind of thing (after all, they are worried about real crimes) buy a police radio. Some of the more expensive models will actually tell you how far away the transmissions are coming from.
    • Watch for unmarked cars at the end of streets and undercover officers. If you need to, check for university IDs at the door so that you know who is coming in.
    • If you have Central Air Conditioning, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, select a single window which is the most adequate to pump air into the house. Ideally this will be a small basement window. Buy a fan appropriate for your needs and hang it in front of the window. If the window is street side, cover it, or paint it black. Place cheaper fans in the house to circulate the air from the window. Consider buying an industrial fan or air conditioner if you still have problems.
    • Most furnaces have fan test switches where it will circulate air through the house without heating it. This does help, but keep in mind to turn it off after you are done because it is hard on the furnace.
    • You should drop the temperature in your venue two hours before the party is scheduled to begin. If it is winter, the furnace should be shut off (you still might require fans or air conditioning).
    • Make sure there is adequate toilet paper (multiple rolls). Make sure you have your TP in some sort of dispenser, or it will simply fall in the muck and get ruined. If you do not have a sink, provide handy wipes. Remove from the bathroom everything which isn't needed.
    • You should have several forty gallon garbage cans in various places throughout the venue. They should be double bagged with commercial fifty gallon bags. Ash trays are another great addition.
    • Add lighting and decorations. Street signs, fire hydrants, alcohol paraphernalia, can collections, pools full of jello, pool tables, beer pong tables, beer funnels, disco dance floors, disco balls, stripper poles,Christmas lights, couches, bars, dance cages, black lights, posters, whatever floats your boat.
    • Wire the house for sound. Ideally you want to place speakers in a fashion which creates an area for people to dance while immersed in sound but so that the sound has to travel a distance, through something, or bounce off of something before it travels out the front of the house to the street. Rear of the house, in the basement, is best. If you do this right, you shouldn't be able to hear any sound on the street. You don't need anything extremely expensive or elaborate. A good 5.1 surround sound system will work just fine. Mount the speakers to the walls or ceilings. Wire the inputs to a computer or even an iPod in a bedroom (it's important that guests not be able to access it). Drunk people don't really care about superb sound quality. In fact, its better to have a sound system that can only get so loud, this is in case someone gets access to the volume controls. It's a proven fact that the louder the music is, the more people drink. This is because loud music is extremely uncomfortable and people have to do something to deaden the pain. Since you are not charging for individual drinks, obscenely loud music would be counter-productive to your goals.
    • If you've opted for cans, you need to prepare the refrigerator and bar area. A few hours prior to your party, clear as much of the refrigerator and freezer (turn the temperature down) as possible, fill it full of beer cans and pile the cases in the backyard, or dumpster. Don't put more beer in the refrigerator then you will use, however(as the beer is consumed, you'll be putting more beer in anyway). Block off the kitchen by putting wooden crates in the doorway and make a makeshift bar. For some reason drunk people congregate in kitchens, so it's imperative that you block it off from guests.
    • Get a cash box and change. Stash it in a bedroom or locked closet, or safe. This is where the cash for the next party will end up.
    • Alternative drink preparation. Buy an athletic drink cooler. You should prepare some sort of mixed drink a few hours before the party starts. Usually lemonade and vodka works well, and is cheap enough. Grain alcohol will probably give you more for your buck if you can get hold of it. In any case, make sure you have enough cups on hand. Stash the mixed drinks with the beer behind the bar so you can still cut people off when things begin to get out of control.
    • Offer non-alcoholic beverages. This may seem stupid, but sometimes, you will even have occurrences of drunk people drinking things like canola oil and thinking they are something else. Have of bottled beverages or fruit juice to help hydrate your guests. Always have water and vitamin b12 on hand. It can prevent people from getting sick in your house and also makes youngsters not old enough to drink feel welcome.
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    Pick your music. Creating a play list is a job in its own regard. Unless you are throwing a theme party, you will most likely be playing lots of rap, hip hop and possibly some eighties music. If you don't normally listen to this sort of thing all the time, you can look at for the most popular songs. It's also important to keep your play list fresh. Live performances can be a good change of pace, but there are trade-offs, since they tend to take up a lot of space and tend to be louder. In any case, never let a DJ or band take control over your party, never.
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    Determine the type of beer you want and the container type.
    • Kegs
      • Advantages:
        • A lot of beer.
        • Ability to do the infamous keg stand.
        • Sometimes cheaper then alternatives.
        • Cuts down on theft of beer. Minimal supervision.
      • Disadvantages:
        • Tagged and traceable by police in many jurisdictions, rendering this option useless in those cases.
        • People tend to over pump, a lot of beer is lost in foam (unless managed properly).
        • Tap Problems, rental fees, etc.
        • Extremely heavy.
        • Damages the house.
        • Cannot be stored for long periods of time at room temperature.
        • Requires much ice to keep cold.
        • Requires cups.
        • Empty kegs are often prone to theft, as many opportunistic individuals will steal them for their deposit value (often upwards of $30).
    • Cans
      • Advantages:
        • Doesn't require you to buy cups.
        • Numerous and in wide variety.
        • Warm cans can be stored at room temperature for long periods of time.
        • The cheapest beers are sold in cans.
        • You can cut off people who do not know their limit, far more easily.
        • Safe, in terms of roofies, etc.
      • Disadvantages:
        • Creates an obscene amount of trash.
        • Leaves you open to theft of beer (unless managed properly).
        • Requires a bar and bar tenders to manage properly.
        • Requires ice, or refrigerator rotation.
    • Bottles can be used as weapons and therefore should not be purchased at all (except for a private stash of good beer).
    • Unless your party has over two hundred guests, cans are usually the way to go. A kegerator behind a bar that's managed properly is the ultimate, but otherwise forget it. If you have the room and have a junk fridge, that could also work. The biggest advantage to cans over kegs is the fact that leftover cans can be kept for your next party, a half empty keg, cannot (unless you have a kegerator). You do not have to bother predicting how many people will come. You can never buy too many cans, since they will just be used some other time if you have leftovers. In addition, if you can find a way to get "broken cases," directly from a brewery, you will be paying less per case.
    • When determining what type of beer to purchase, shop around. Find every distributor in your area and find out their prices, specials, and closing times (in case you have to buy more beer mid-party). Take advantage of this knowledge. Usually local breweries provide the best cost advantage as does buying from wholesale. Usually wholesale does not advertise that they sell to the public, and requires cash purchases. Attempt to buy from wholesale though, it's worth it. In addition, make sure you do your math and make sure that the twenty four pack is cheaper per can than the 30 pack. Most people will drink whatever you give them (there are some exceptions to this rule, however), but whatever you do, do not purchase a wide variety (unless you are trying to make your party look BYOB) as people will think they have a choice, and the beer line will be longer and slower.
    • If you choose kegs, estimate the number of people who are coming to determine how many kegs you will need. One keg will usually allow about thirty to forty people to drink throughout the night (more or less). Also think about lines - the more kegs, the smaller the lines will be and the more fun people will have. Make sure you get the keg the day of the party so it is cold. If you have to pick it up in the morning, find a box, or buy a container made for this purpose, and fill it with ice to keep it cool!
    • A week in advance, find a local beverage store and reserve your kegs. Kegs usually have a cost plus a deposit.
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    Advertising. Advertising is important. Don't be worried if your first party is an absolute flop. Your reputation will get better and better with each party you throw, except for with the people who think that drinking parties are lame. Your situation will determine what you can get away with in terms of advertising. You should begin your advertising at least a week in advance (which is usually a few days after your last party ended). Keep in mind that people never want to be the first ones at the party, don't be surprised if your party actually starts an hour later then advertised.
    • Scream and yell. Go through the dorms and popular areas on campus and tell people about your party.
    • Desk Aides. Take advantage of this high traffic area. Desk Aides see more people then anyone and can tell people about your party or hand out flyers.
    • Flyers. Flyers are by far the most successful method. Using this method you can achieve some level of control over the types of people who show up at your parties. Simply get someone to sign you into the dormitories (usually someone from your last party) and slip flyers under the doors. There are some basic rules you should observe, however.
      • DO NOT UNDER ANY CONDITION suggest, or imply that there is alcohol at your party. People can figure that there is alcohol at your party for themselves.
      • Don't name the names of the hosts or anything. Simply, "Party at the brown house" will do just fine once your reputation has caught up to speed, until then simply mention directions.
      • Favor the female dormitories over the male dormitories, as a more balanced male to female ratio will result (you will have to experiment and adjust your advertising as needed). The downside of this is that most of the males that come will be brought by females and you will encounter more douche-bags and troublemakers this way. Do not give preferential treatment just because a troublemaker was brought by a girl, be willing to eject them both.
    • Facebook. Facebook is useful. Just observe common sense and don't mention alcohol.
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    Start your party. The house is prepared and your best friend just ran out the door because he forgot cups. All the padlocks are locked and the windows are covered. The house is frigid. The punch is made. The rest of your friends are already drinking. These are the jobs they have to take turns doing:
    • Doorman. Someone must be at the door at all times. This person needs either be completely sober or completely responsible when totally hammered.
      • Make sure there is no one loitering outside of the house at any time (this is the #1 fatal party killer). Even getting them into the house and closing the door before they pay(If there is a hallway that you can use as a queue).
      • Makes sure no one leaves the house with alcohol.
      • Ensures everyone pays to get in the party, unless your campus' customs dictate otherwise.
      • Ensures unwanted guests do not enter the party.
      • Ensures the door is closed and locked if the police arrive. Signals to kill the music and shut the downstairs window. Ensures no one steps foot outside the door until the police have left.
    • Bartenders. Friends who stand behind the bar to serve drinks.
      • Ensures that every can they hand out has been opened before giving it to a guest.
      • Ensures that the guest isn't drinking beyond his/her limit.
      • Listens to the police radio for the house address to be mentioned. Tells the doorman.
      • Places more beer in the refrigerator as the colder ones are distributed.
      • Gives a 3 cases remaining beer warning (so someone can go buy more if it is still early).
      • Decides when to call the party "full" and not let anyone else in.
    • Roamers. Any trusted friend instructed to keep an eye out for belligerent behavior.
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    Problems: Belligerent individuals.
    • Be swift. Do not give second chances. Fighting, destruction of property, etc. cannot be tolerated. Return with a group of friends, and ask the individual to leave, if he does not. Remove him. No second chances. Don't rationalize with him or talk with him. Just have you and your friends pick him up and remove him. It is important that you have enough muscle to remove people like this. It also helps to have a taser gun handy for self defense in an emergency. If the individual cannot be removed, for whatever reason. Do not get in fights. Call the party finished, turn on the lights, kill the music, and tell everyone the police are on their way. People will leave immediately. His reputation will suffer more then it has already because he ended the party. This type of behavior will occur less and less frequently as you display zero tolerance for it. If there is still trouble, call the police.


  • Unless you have money to spare, you may want to charge a small fee at the door to offset the cost of the beer. On some campuses, it is customary to pay; on others, it is not. Regardless of your current campus customs, recognize that you cannot throw parties every Friday without charging. It is far smarter to only allow the hosts of other parties in the neighborhood in for free and women who advertise the parties in for free. Don't ever take someones assurance that they aren't going to drink (unless you know them well) and that you should let them in free, they are paying for the space they take up as well.
  • Make sure you get other drinks besides beer. Remember, not everyone likes beer!
  • To help offset costs, have all of you friends save aluminum cans prior to the party and cash in at a metal scrapping business for money.
  • Research some cool drinking games before the party (just in case the party bombs!)
  • If it's a high school-aged party, simply spike the punch bowl. Make (or have on hand, the supplies) two bowls of punch. Tell them one of the punch bowls has alcohol and one doesn't. Chances are, the teenagers won't know what real alcohol tastes like, and will start to act drunk. This will result in more alcohol for the professionals, and a cheaper party overall. The next day, when they wake up, complaining of a hang-over, you just tell them they were fooled and the punch had no alcohol.
  • Decide whether you want to have a selected guest list or if you want to have general admission. If you want only certain people to come, make up a guest list and have someone at the door who can check it.
  • Proper serving can save a lot of time and keep lines short, not to mention avoid overly foamy beers
    • If the party is large have one person man a keg and serve for a period of time
    • Relieve the server with a new one so they can party as well
    • When a keg is first tapped, de-pressurize it. Many taps have a small silver button on the side for this. Then pump a few times and pour.
    • Do not over pump. This is tempting because beer will dispense quickly. The problem is that beers poured this way will be half foam and it will take longer to fill without spilling foam everywhere.
    • Hold the cup at an ~45 degree angle while pouring. This reduces foam, reduces waiting time and is a simple trick.
    • If the party is very busy and either kegs or taps for kegs are in short supply a simple trick is to pour beer into pitchers just before the party really gets busy. This way people can quickly pour beer while new pitchers are filling.
    • If you find that you are throwing a lot of keg parties investing in a CO2 powered tap and/or a kegerator. These are expensive but very nice to have if you find yourself throwing a lot of parties.


  • DO NOT under any circumstances allow party goers access to roofs. Falling from roofs is the #1 cause of alcohol related party deaths.
  • Depending on the amount of people at the party, ask one or two people to volunteer to stay sober, to drive others home, get taxis or help those too drunk to do it themselves.
  • Do not leave open containers or pitchers out in the open; someone could spike them with something.
  • Always drink responsibly.
  • At the entrance to the party ask guests to give up their keys. Use a simple method to identify whose is whose. Make sure they know the keys will be returned if they are able to drive when they leave. In the meantime, keep them in a secure place.
  • Do not leave cans in containers of melted ice for more then several hours. When the temperature changes, the cans will pop and the beer will be ruined. You will end up with a moldy mess. Drill holes in the bottoms of the containers to prevent this.
  • Do not leave unopened cans for people to take for themselves, they will be stolen. Only give out opened cans of beer, using a butter knife will keep your hands from getting cut after opening hundreds of cans. Always open cans in front of the person who will be drinking it.
  • Make sure all people at the party are over the legal age to drink.

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Categories: Theme Parties