Just in time for this year's Worldcon, Making Light's Teresa Nielsen Hayden has posted a wonderful treatise on hosting large room parties at SF conventions. I've hosted a few room parties in my time, and her recommendations are spot on.
I especially like her inclusion of "very small, shallow, insecure paper plates" on the Universal Party Essentials list. Seems like an odd thing to include, but she explains it perfectly:
Very small insecure paper plates will enable your guests to load up a handful of cookies or veggie bits and carry them off to wherever they're conversing, but won't encourage malfeasants to carry off a half-pound of chocolates when they leave.Another amusing bit:
When you're dealing with non-fans, the purpose of fancy exotic fruits is to decorate fruit-and-cheese platters so people can feel swankier while eating the same seedless green grapes they always eat. If you lay on the same spread for fans, the exotic stuff will get eaten. And discussed.On the issue of closing the party and cleaning up, she has this to say:
It's fairly effective to make a cheerful announcement that anyone who's still around after the cutoff time is volunteering for the cleanup crew. If they go, that's good. If they stay, that's even better.I must add to that one addendum, which is that if your party goes late enough, I have found saying "We can't go to breakfast until the room is clean" to be an excellent motivator to get those lingering diehards to pitch in. Finding somewhere to eat breakfast at 7 am on a Sunday morning in downtown Philadelphia turned out to be the harder problem, in fact.
Do click through and check out the rest of her post, if you haven't already. The comment section on Making Light is always lively and informative, and this post is no exception!