I had two primary motivations for hosting several friends for a Bring Your Own Cheese (BYOC) night. First, I love cheese. Every time I go to the grocery store, my one big treat for the trip is a new kind of gourmet cheese. Unfortunately, as a college student, I'm unable to indulge myself in as many different kinds of cheese as I'd like. So, a friend and I came up with the BYOC event to provide a large variety of cheeses at a more reasonable expense to each attendee. My second motivation was that I've always wanted to attend a chic event held on a rooftop overlooking the rest of the city. Cliche, yes, but still a dream of mine. When I found out I was dog sitting in a building downtown with a roof, I knew I had to take advantage of it. A few minutes on Facebook later, and voila! The event was set in motion.
Now, those of you who know me know that I often find myself torn between my desire to host people I love and the immense anxiety I experience surrounding social occasions. My mom and her friends have taught me the art of hosting since I was young. They've shown me how to prep for an event, how to set a dress code, how to determine when a theme is appropriate (pretty much any special occasion except religious holidays), and how be DIY savvy enough to decorate like a Kardashian. My dad has taught me how to supplement an event with the perfect menu and party playlist. I grew up going to some really awesome events, and have thrown some pretty cool ones of my own (including a Harry Potter party for my sister's 11th birthday, a mother-daughter graduation tea party, and my own birthday parties since I was in middle school).
At the same time, though, I am an introvert with an anxiety disorder. As much as I love picture-worthy DIY decorations and the idea of spending an evening with some of my friends, I treasure my alone time and have been known to hyperventilate at the thought of interacting with people for too long. So, I'm often torn between these two opposing parts of myself.
First, I've found that I'm happiest with a smaller guest list. As enticing and easy as it is to keep clicking "invite" on Facebook, things are more likely to get out of control and I'm more likely to feel overwhelmed with a large guest list. Keeping it small means it's quieter, easier to clean up, and my guests are also less likely to feel overwhelmed: all of which help to ease my anxiety. Plus, having a small number of close friends means it's more intimate, which is conducive to stimulating group conversation.
Second, I set an end time. I've learned that I have the emotional energy to keep a party going for about four hours. After that, I find myself wishing everyone would leave so I could snuggle my dog in peace. This is a lot easier to enforce with a smaller guest list.
Third, I keep the emphasis off the alcohol. I'm not a huge fan of doing anything based on drinking, so this is an obvious rule that I set for myself. When there is alcohol present, it's never hard alcohol, and it's provided in moderation. Drunk people make me incredibly anxious and uncomfortable, so I avoid that as much as possible. Plus, there are so many other things to emphasize at an event: good friends, good food, and good picture opportunities, to name a few.
Finally, I keep things casual. This is especially essential as a college student. I've learned from experience that people my age simply don't have the funds or the time to fully participate in formal or themed occasions. This used to disappoint me, but now I embrace it. I have plenty of time to kick things up a notch in the years in front of me. For now, I'm enjoying company over costumery.