College prepares you for your career and teaches you valuable lessons you can use in all parts of your life. However, college is a great place to meet people, make lifelong friends, and have an active social life.
Parties give college students a chance to blow off steam, and you can get creative with themes, games, and drinks. You don’t need to wait for birthdays or holidays to celebrate. Here are 13 party ideas for the dorm or off-campus.
1. Graffiti Party
A traditional graffiti party uses sharpies, and there’s a backlight graffiti party with highlighters.
Place a large poster board at the dorm or apartment entrance so people can tag it as they enter the room. Put a bunch of sharpie and/or highlighters of different colors nearby, and people can tag each other with their names, sayings, and wacky or risque jokes.
Buy blacklights to light up the house if you want to throw a highlighter party. Use washable markers so you can get rid of stains left by marks on floors, ceilings, or furniture.
Dressing for a graffiti party is easy. Wear an old T-shirt and pants, and avoid any outfit that is formal or expensive. If you’re okay with the clothes being damaged, wear them.
Be aware that graffiti parties usually attract a few people who’ll use markers to write vulgar sayings on other party goers who pass out from drinking too much alcohol. Don’t get drunk and you’ll avoid this fate.
2. Formal Ties and Pearls Party
If you have the time and money, throw a fancy ties and pearls party. You’ll need the right group of classmates and friends to have a formal party. Some people refuse to get dressed up or act in a “civil” manner when partying, no matter what.
Dress up like you’re attending the opera or opening night of a Broadway play. A formal party requires more preparation than many college theme parties unless you already own a few formal outfits.
Use champagne glasses instead of red plastic cups. You can buy wine from Trader Joe’s or sparkling apple cider if you can’t afford expensive champagne. Set the tone for your party by putting glasses and bottles of wine or champagne on the table by the front door.
Use china and silverware as place settings instead of paper plates, or place china, cloth napkins, and silverware near the buffet if people are helping themselves to food.
Replace bright fluorescent light bulbs with dimmer lights. Only use candles in places where you’re sure they won’t be knocked over by tipsy partygoers. Use attractive lace tablecloths or fine linen table coverings. Avoid cheap paper tablecloths.
Play classical or easy-listening music. Hire a piano player to play show tunes or a singer to croon soft musical hits from the 20th Century or current easy-listening songs. Music will set the background for the party regardless of the era it represents.
Guys should wear a regular tie or bow tie. Button-up shirt, vest, suit jacket, and dress shoes. Girls can wear real or faux pearls, a cocktail dress, and heels, or flats. Dress like you would for a wedding or awards ceremony. Be formal, but comfortable. Girls should wear flats instead of high heels if they plan to dance, and guys should avoid too-tight suit jackets.
People usually think of college parties as crass affairs with lots of drinking and obnoxious behavior. A ties and pearls party gives you a chance to display your classy, laid-back side and enjoy the finer things of life.
Check Amazon and your local party store for fiesta supplies (usually sold as Cinco de Mayo supplies). Popular supplies include avocado pinatas, letter banners, cactus and chili pepper head boppers, and Mexican flag bead necklaces. Spice up alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Use hot sauce or spices to give drinks a kick.
Wear bright colors and invite guests to do so, too. Watch the movie The Three Amigos to get ideas for fun and festive costumes. Ruffled shirts and blouses, long, layered skirts, and wide-brimmed Panama hats are a few clothing ideas for your party.
Wear a serape. A serape is a covering that lies on your shoulders and goes down to your knees. Wear this cape with a sombrero for a display of authentic Mexican dress. Guests Can wear mariachi costumes and bring maracas or musical instruments to provide entertainment.
Food is the easiest part of a fiesta. Make tacos, burritos, tostada, and end the festivities with some flan, a Mexican custard.
Throw a Hollywood awards theme party to imitate the glitz and glamour of La La Land. Use your favorite stars, past and present, as inspiration.
Print out Walk of Fame Hollywood Stars with your guests’ names on them, or have guests write in their own names. Hang up posters of Hollywood landmarks – the Hollywood sign, the Chinese theatre, the Sunset Strip.
Have a table of Oscar statuette replicas to give away as party prizes or awards for activities such as “Best Dressed” or “Best Drinker.” Have designated paparazzi to take photos of guests as they walk down the “red carpet.” Use any inexpensive red runner carpet for this purpose. You can buy them online for discount rug outlets.
Serve high-end liquors and wine, champagne, and sparkling cider. Make appetizers or have a catering service bring food, complete with waiters and silver trays of canapes.
Guests can wear tuxedos, evening gowns, vintage dresses, or imitate their favorite star’s mode of awards show dress. Don’t go for perfect replicas of the stars but improvise your versions. Girls can wear fancy hairstyles and make-up. Guys should dress to the nines with cufflinks,suit-jackets, and vests.
5. Music Genre Party
Everybody likes music. You have probably bonded with several of your friends over a particular music genre (metal, country, or EDM) or a musical artist ( Billie Ellish, Slipknot, or Post Malone). Maybe you like to mix up all genres of music from various decades, from Motown to disco to psychedelic rock and grunge.
Decorate with band posters or photos. Guests can dress in the style of their favorite musician or musical decade. You want to keep things mixed up if you have a musical genre party dedicated to all types of music. If you’re dedicating the party to a specific genre, offer costume ideas. You don’t want everyone at your metal party dressing up like Ozzy Osbourne or KISS.
For a rap party, people can wear baggy pants, lots of bling, high-end sneakers, and backward baseball caps. If you’re imitating hair metal bands, try bandanas, jeans, long platinum wigs, and spiked leather bracelets.
Dress like Jake and Elwood Blues for blues music parties, and bring a harmonica. Country boys can wear plaid shirts, jeans, and a cowboy hat. Female party goers at a country-music themed party and dress all flashy with rhinestones like Dolly Parton or go for the cowgirl look in jeans, a fringed Western shirt, and cowboy boots.
Serve old-fashioned cocktails if you’re playing torch songs from the 1940s and 1950s, craft beer if you’re playing hipster-themed music or Jaeger bombs for metal music.
Hire a live band or DJ if you have the budget, or have guests sing karaoke. Listening to music is fun, but singing is even better-even if you don’t have a good voice.
Don’t camp out in front of the TV when your favorite team plays, why not throw a sports-themed party with all the trimmings?
Once you have your TV screen tuned to the game, get the food and drinks ready. Buy chips, dips, hot wings, and other party foods. Place hamburgers, fried chicken, roast beef sandwiches, and other foods fit for big appetites on the buffet tables, surrounded by banners and placards with your favorite teams’ logos and mascots.
Set out coolers and mini-fridges with beer, or bring in a few kegs to ensure you never run low on drinks.
If you want a general sports party, hang posters and pennants representing hockey, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, NASCAR, golf, even Olympic sports. Guests can wear jerseys, T-shirts with their favorite teams’ logos, or even uniforms, complete with a cap or helmet. Girls who don’t want to deck out in sports gear can dress as cheerleaders.
If you’re throwing your party outdoors, play a friendly (or competitive, if you wish) game of touch football, baseball, or soccer. Give out trophies to the members of the winning team.
7. Ugly Sweater Party
Ugly sweaters are usually connected with Christmas themes, but an ill-conceived sweater design can be worn at any time of year with non-holiday designs. Ugly sweaters can have horses, dogs, or other animal designs, abstract designs, or tacky cartoons. Instead of hiding your tacky sweaters in the closet, wear them to an Ugly Sweater Party.
Set up a Christmas Ugly Sweater party the same way you’d set up any other Christmas party – include one or more tabletop trees, miniature Santas and reindeers, snowmen, the Grinch, the peanuts gang, and other common Christmas themes.
Place sweets, alcohol, soda, and appetizers out on buffet tables. Serve a sit-down meal or have a selection of carnivore and vegetarian choices on the buffet table as the main course for guests.
For a generic winter sweater party, serve cranberry juice with vodka, Hot Toddies, spiced eggnog, and hot chocolate. Include snacks and appetizers to break up the drinking!
Have an ugly sweater contest and give wacky prizes like a “Boxing Nun” puppet to winners who have the ugliest, most colorful, or most creative sweater. Ugly sweaters are celebrated for their kookiness, so the prizes in the ugly sweater contest should be just as wacky.
Turn your apartment or room into a casino by decorating it with dice cut-outs and other supplies from online party stores or Party City. Some of the available supplies include fake money, Big Daddy jewelry, casino visors, casino-themed paper plates and cups, dealer vests, balloons, and tablecloths.
You’ll need more than decorations to have a true casino party-you’ll need plenty of booze and genuine gambling to recreate a Vegas casino. Set up a poker table and get playing cards and chips to get the first poker games of the night going.
There are professional-style craps and roulette set-ups, but they cost hundreds of dollars. If you can afford that, go for it. Otherwise, check with party stores about getting a wheel, table mat, and chips for table games. Get one of your friends to act as a dealer, or hire a real dealer for the night.
If you have a pool table, get some chalk and chips and turn the billiards table into a craps table.
Buy lots of booze for your casino party. Alcohol and gambling go hand in hand. Mixed drinks, from Jack and Coke to highballs, dry martinis, and Bloody Marys, are popular casino drinks. Of course, you’ll need plenty of beer, too, preferably in bottles. Some of the party’s female guests can wear short cocktail waitress outfits and serve drinks like real casino waitresses.
Guys coming to your party can wear any type of outfit, but most high-rollers, in real life, wear business suits, with or without bling. Girls can go the cocktail waitress route or wear short dresses or cleavage-baring gowns to distract male gamblers. Be sure to have plenty of fake Big Daddy money available for high-stakes games.
9. Super Heroes
Even if you’re not a comic-book nerd, you probably have a favorite superhero character, just like your friends. A superhero party pays homage to contemporary and traditional superheroes, from Batman and Aquaman to Wonder Woman and Spiderman.
Guests can dress up in full costume as their favorite character, or simply wear a T-shirt or sweatshirt picturing a superhero. Decorate the party room with posters of superheroes and show non-stop Marvel movies on the TV.
Keep plenty of beverages on hand, including beer and liquor. You’ll want to include special drinks, like red, white, and blue cocktails in honor of Captain America. (Use lemonade, vodka, and grenadine to make this drink.).Serve dark-hued drinks, like Guinness or rum, to celebrate Batman or the Punisher.
Use a brick or building backdrop to stand for the New York skyscrapers that Spider-man traverses. Dim lights and put “Bat poles” in one room to turn it onto the Bat Cave.
Avoid having too many Batmans and Supermans at the party by encouraging guests to look at comic books and come up with their own costumes. The best party will have a mix of good guys and bad guys, plus supporting cast members (Alfred from Batman, Mary Jane from Spiderman) and vixen heroines.
Guys can come dressed as Aquaman. The Tick, Daredevil, or Deadpool, among others. Girls can be Catwoman, Black Widow, Hawkgirl, Jean Grey, or Super Girl. Check out this list of top superheroes for more ideas.
10. Mardi Gras
Hang up purple, gold, and green banners and balloons.and buy Madri Gras beads from the party supply store. Paper hats, cups, and plates are also available in Mardi Gras colors. Guests can wear elaborate, feathered Mardi Gras masks to hide their identity, lots of beads, or brightly colored Mardi Gras vests.
Mardi Gras party drinks are the same as traditional New Orleans bar drinks. A Hurricane is made of light rum, passion fruit flavoring, lime juice, lemon-lime soda, and 151 proof rum. Make a Lava Lamp by mixing red and blue Jello, vodka, champagne, and boiling water.
A Red Snapper II combines amaretto, whiskey, and cranberry juice. A Bourbon Slush is made of lemonade concentrate, orange juice concentrate, pineapple juice, lemon-lime soda, sugar, black tea, and bourbon whiskey. A Bahama Mama has rum, grenadine syrup, orange juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, and flavored coconut rum.
Girls can wear a feather boa, plastic tiara, and lots of beads. Wear Mardi Gras colors, skimpy outfits, or jeans and a sparkly top. Guys can wear a pimp hat and bright clothes in Mardi Gras colors.
11. Paint Party
A paint party gives artists and non-artists alike a chance to be creative in a fun atmosphere. Make sure you have enough space for people to move around and paint freely. You may need to rent a larger space for the party/ You don’t want your furniture to get splashed with paint accidentally, so cover it with old sheets, or rent a bigger space.
Cover the floor if your guests are painting indoors. Painting outdoors will be easier on guests and prevent hard to clean up messes. Plus, you’ll have plenty of fresh air so you won’t be overwhelmed by paint smells. You’ll still need to use old sheets and tarps to catch spills, however.
Use bright yellows, oranges, purples, and reds in non-toxic formulas. Guests will love splashing on bright colors, especially if they’re new to painting.
The background music should be upbeat, but not too heavy. Play pop, rock, electronica, or anything that gives your guests energy without being too overwhelming. Serve a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in lidded cups to prevent spills.
Wear your oldest, junkiest clothes so you won’t worry if they get stained by paint, and ask your guests to do the same. Keep a stash of cheap oversized white T-shirts or cheap rain ponchos for guests to wear while they paint.
12. High School Stereotypes
A high school stereotype party gives you a chance to relive the happy times you had in high school and make fun of the foolish and wacky side of the school. Guests dress up as cheerleaders, nerds, jocks, drama queens, band kids, cholos, punks, and goths.
You may still have some of your clothes from high school, and you can wear them to the party. Reenact proms and graduation with a twist. Elect a Homecoming Queen and king and have faux crowns available for the ceremony.
Girls can wear sexy Catholic schoolgirl uniforms, and some partygoers can dress as nuns or stern gym teachers.
Toga parties were popularized in the 1970s movie “Animal House,” but they’ve been around on college campuses for a long time. You don’t need much for a toga costume, just a white bedsheet, although you can buy costumes online.
Guys can wear shorts and bedsheets. Wrap half of the sheet around your waist ..Tuck part of the sheet in your shorts to hold it in, and grab the rest of the sheet and bring it over your shoulder from the front. Bring the sheet down your back. Tuck the sheet in where you have already wrapped it around your waist to keep it in place.
You can also place one end of the sheet over your shoulders, so it dangles down to your knees in front of you. Place the rest of the sheet behind your body and across your back and under your right arm.
Throw the sheet across your front and put the other end over your left shoulder. Attractively arrange the folds. Take some of the left part out and tick it in your belt to keep it in place.
Girls can wear a full bed sheet or a two-piece toga made out of white fabric. For the full bedsheet, wrap it around your chest and waist and tuck it into your clothing underneath or keep it in place with a belt. Pin it in place to ensure it doesn’t unwrap.
GIrls can take two long pieces of white fabric for the two-part toga costume. Secure one piece around your bust and keep it in place with some pins. Wrap the second piece of fabric around your waist and secure it with a belt or pins. This is a sexier option as it shows the midriff.
Wear laurel headpieces, sandals, and rope belts. You can also buy fake gold coin belts to wrap around your waist and keep the toga in place.
Drink Greek wine or any alcohol you like. Decorate doorways with fake vines. Serve grapes and oysters, pitas, and spinach and cheese pies called spanakotiropita. Here are some easy Greek food recipes. Play music from the Animal House movie, like “Shout” or “Louie, Louie.”