How to Plan a Creative Retreat Weekend

How to Plan a Creative Retreat Weekend via Chrystina Noel

In early March I had the pleasure of attending (well, and planning) a creative retreat weekend for three pretty fabulous ladies. We spent the weekend in Lancaster, PA – only 1.5 hours of Philadelphia, but it still felt great to get out of the City for a while – and to have some ladies to chat with about blogging and business troubles that we’re currently facing these days. And you know what? It was really quite easy to put together, I highly recommend it if you’re stuck in a rut and looking for a little more inspiration in your life. Here’s how to make it happen:

Choose a location

Admittedly, every part of me wants to be the person who emails a group of people and then decide all together where you want to spend the weekend, that’s just the kind of girl I am. I knew that was going to be really complicated though, so I went ahead and chose the location: Lancaster, PA, which turned out to be perfect. Here were my criteria:

  • Close enough to the city that it made sense to go for a weekend.
  • Not super expensive.
  • Must have cute coffee shops.

How to Plan a Creative Retreat Weekend via Chrystina Noel

Figure out a loose budget

Before you invite people to something, you need to know how much it’s roughly going to cost, that way people will know whether or not they’re able to financially commit. Break down your costs into the following categories:

  • Hotel/Lodging: Find a boutique hotel, an AirBNB, or stay at a friend’s house who lives in the area. Admittedly, I had a bunch of hotel points that were going to expire soon, so we used points to rent a hotel for two nights, which made this part of the trip $0.
  • Transportation: How will you get there? Will you need to rent a car? Is it cheaper to take public transportation than to have to park a car over night? What will gas and tolls cost?
  • Meals: Every individual has her own control over this, but have an idea if you want to go out for expensive dinners or stick to the basics ahead of time.

Figure out a loose itinerary

This will help provide some framework around what people will expect to do, what they will get out of the weekend, and what kind of logistics they should be planning for. Questions to consider include:

  • When will you arrive?
  • How many nights will you be staying?
  • What type of meals will you be eating?
  • What will you do each day?
  • When will you leave?

 How to Plan a Creative Retreat Weekend via Chrystina Noel

Send out your initial email

Choose some people that inspire you to come on the adventure. Keeping the list small will keep it manageable (in my brain once your group is large enough that you can’t all stay in the same location, you’re making it too complicated for yourself). Here’s what my initial email looked like:

Hi guys,

…I have 2 nights at a Holiday Inn that I need to book before Friday. I know some of you live in that area already, but I thought it would be fun to do a blogging retreat type thing at the Holiday Inn in Lancaster/Litiz. We can stay Friday and Saturday night. We can find a cute café to visit, we can set aside a bunch of time for blogging stuff we want to get ahead on, we can go out to dinner, and the stay itself will be free. I’ll be more than happy to itinerary it out if people are into that. And we can all drive there.

Upcoming dates that work for me:

  • February 3-5…



We found a date that worked (2 months out) and put it on the calendar all within 3 days.

Finalize some of the details

Once you know you’re going and book a place to stay, you have some time to figure out the details. I said in my email that that I would “itinerary it out” if people are into that. It turned out everybody was into the idea of a loose itinerary, and I would highly recommend it just to make sure the weekend has some forward momentum.

  • How will you be splitting the costs? Know this information ahead of time. Will one person be paying and everybody else will Venmo them. Should people come prepared with cash?
  • Structure your itinerary. Here was our plan: Arrive Friday night, have dinner at Bull’s Head, go to a café Saturday morning, mastermind conversations, lunch, go to the West Elm Outlet in the afternoon, have a nice dinner at Luca, wine in the hotel room, Sunday brunch, and head home. It was a loose enough itinerary to have a plan, but vague enough that we could decide things as we went (like what coffee shop to choose, where we would eat, and how long everything would take).
  • What will people need to bring? Sure, there’s toothbrush, toothpaste, underwear, etc, but should people also come prepared with specific questions? In doing my research for how to plan one of these, I found a great freebie from Sarah von Bargen at Yes and Yes called How to DIY a Creative Mastermind Retreat, where she mentioned having everyone give a small presentation on a topic to everyone else. I decided to keep it simpler for the first time around and ask everybody to come up with something they were struggling with right now to talk about.

 How to Plan a Creative Retreat Weekend via Chrystina Noel

Don’t forget to:

  • Exchange phone numbers (and consider starting a group text message to get people excited and coordinate logistics).
  • Make dinner reservations ahead of time.

Things I would do differently next time:

  • We had some really great conversations, but we didn’t accomplish much on the getting shit done front. There was time in the afternoon we could have planned better to be work session time.
  • Don’t be doing the Whole 30 before you go to a really great bar. (Ha, this was my own personal problem.)

My biggest worry before we got there was that people weren’t going to get anything out of it. It was actually really stressing me out. All of my worrying turned out to be pointless though (as worrying usually does). The weekend went wonderfully. Four people was just the right amount. It was amazing how effortlessly the conversation flowed from blogging to life to business ideas to shopping to internet culture. This is all to say that so long as you choose people that you’re excited to spend time with on your retreat, it will all turn out fine in the end.

Let me know if you end up planning a creative retreat weekend – or if you have any additional questions about planning your own. I’d love to help you out.

As for me? I’m definitely thinking about planning other one. I just need to choose the next location. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Find The Best Wine Under $20

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

It’s been two years since I had my last “find the best wine” party. The inspiration for this party was the suggestion to add a chalkboard to my living room that could be utilized during parties. It seemed like the perfect time to take a second stab at finding the best wine under $20. (Last time it was under $10, but now we’ve grown up a bit.)

A word for the wise. (Just going to lay this out there right off the bat.) There’s something I forgot about this type of party. In order to get the absolute most out of it, you should definitely specify which type of wine you’re trying to find the best of – whether that’s find the best merlot under $20, find the best sweet wine under $20, or find the best wine to pair with my favorite gouda under $20. That would definitely bring more structure to the party and result with an actual outcome. When you have 10 different bottles of wine, you’re essentially voting on your favorite type of wine. I guess we’re just going to have to do it again. (Rough life, I know.)

That said. Please note that for the 22 oz. beer party I had where the purpose was to just try as many beers as possible, I think it was totally acceptable to have all different varieties. It made it more interesting for the pallet – and there was something there for everyone.

Now, onto the party.

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

I was very proud of myself. After a few weeks of parties where I had way too much food, I think I got it right for this one.

Wine Party Menu

  • Baked Ziti, Ricotta, and Mozzarella – it’s super easy to make ahead of time, feeds a lot of people, and is great reheated if you have leftovers
  • Cheese – this is definitely the most expensive part of the lineup, we went with gorgonzola, midnight moon, truffle tremor, and gouda, the gorgonzola definitely didn’t go as fast as the others, I would probably leave it out next time unless there was something special to pair it with
  • Spinach Dip – I don’t know why I took this out of my circuit of usuals, it’s so easy to make and it’s delicious. It also gives you an excuse to put more healthy things on the able to dunk in it.
  • Philly Pretzel Factory Pretzels – I still ordered too many, I really need to work on this (1 per person is too many)
  • Sweet Snacks – Cookies, brownies, and chocolates
  • Savory Snacks – Bread, crackers, carrots, and popcorn

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

The Party Setup

This is actually a pretty easy party to setup for, and the activity takes care of itself. There are only a few things you need ahead of time:

  • A rating system – we decided to rank each wine 1-10 (worst to best), I found this to be much easier than needing to put all of the wines in order of worst to best. This does, however, mean that you could rank every bottle of wine the score of an 8.
  • A way for people to record their wine ratings – this is how you find the best wine under $20, last time we did this we used score cards that everyone carried around with them and I typed the numbers into an excel spreadsheet at the end of the night. This time we used the chalkboard wall.
  • Bags to cover the bottles – this is so that you can’t judge a book by its cover (or wine by its bottle), we also labeled them so we knew which bottle was which
  • A way to tell your glasses apart – I have a stash of “wine charms” that everybody got to choose from
  • A great icebreaker question icebreaker games are my favorite (in case you’re new around here), we went around in the circle and everyone told the story of the first drink they ever had

One of the fun parts of this party is that everybody actually brought two bottles of wine with them. We tasted one of them and the other one went into a prize pile. So with 11 bottles of wine, there were also 11 prize bottles of wine available for the winners.

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel
Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel
Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel
Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Drinking Responsibly

There are a few things you can do to make sure that your guests stay put together. Also, you can tell that we’re growing up, because I don’t think I did most of these last time we had the party.

  • Serve food – between the baked ziti and pretzels I felt like there were enough options to keep people full throughout the night
  • Make sure there’s water nearby – don’t make it so people have to ask for it, keep it right in front of them and always full
  • Provide a dump bucket – you’re not going to like every type of wine you pour, it’s okay to dump some of it out at the end of your glass (that said, we suggest you only pour a few ounces to not be wasteful until you know you like it)

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Tallying the Score

At the end of the party, you unveil all of the wine bottles, total the score, and find out who won. The persons who won took home 5 bottles, second place took 3, and third place took 3. (I think? It’s a little hazy.)

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

And then what happens is you leave a bunch of tipsy engineers alone with the numbers too long and they try to find the standard deviations to see if the scoring was really fair. Admittedly, some people scored bottles over a range of 6 numbers and some scored over a range of 3 numbers. There’s probably a way to even the playing field a little bit in the future. Maybe you rate 1-7 instead of 1-10. Also, I think if the wines were more similar it would be easier to compare them. I’m not sure that our top three bottles are actually the best bottles because of the aforementioned reasons, but here were the winners:

  1. Bottle 6: 19 Crimes, The Banished, $8.99
  2. Bottle 8: Joel Gott Zinfandel, $14.79
  3. Bottle 5: Apothic Red, $7.49

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

Wine Party Games - Find the Best Wine Under $20 via Chrystina Noel

At the end of the day, a great time was had at all. I recommend getting through the tasting in somewhere between an hour and 90 minutes so that the rest of the wine is available for drinking the rest of the night. We closed out the night with board games – and I made a cup of tea because that’s what happens when you get older.

Have you ever had a party like this? How would you have you tried to keep the scoring fair? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below.

A Hot Chocolate Bar

Last weekend was the 14th Annual Christmas Cookie Swap. The guest list includes people from all different points of my life, and this year I took it to a new extreme. There were people with whom I went to middle school, high school, and college. There were some family members, some of my sister’s friends I’ve gotten to know over the years, and the lady who lives downstairs – and at one point my neighbors I have grown up with (all 6 of them) came over to crash the party (who were, of course, welcomed wholeheartedly). It was quite the crew.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been trying hard to step up my party game in the past few months. I’ve been working on setting the whole stage, putting consideration into decorating, and planning out activities for the party. That said, this party doesn’t take place at my house, I couldn’t find any flowers that felt Christmas-y enough at Trader Joe’s, and the activities for this party have always kind of been laid out: eat cookies and sing Christmas carols. Exhibit A:

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

Of course, y’all already knew about the party favor bags. I set those up in the entrance way so that people would see them before they left. In retrospect, I probably should have made a sign that said, “take one of these when you leave.” But they looked great, and the people I remembered to tell were excited to take a treat bag when they left.

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

The biggest addition to the party this year was a spiked hot chocolate bar. They’re all the rage on Pinterest these days. (Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D, Exhibit E)

5 Steps to Make a Hot Chocolate Bar

  1. Lay out the mugs.
  2. Don’t forget to buy the hot chocolate.
  3. Make a sign. I found a chalk board in the children’s play drawer in my kitchen. It was hot pink so I covered the edges of it in green wrapping paper.
  4. Add in some flavors. Flavors can be alcoholic: godiva liquor, kahlua, baileys, vanilla vodka or non alcoholic: candy canes, peppermints, and marshmallows.
  5. Pour on the toppings. Don’t forget the whipped cream, but then remember that you can decorate the whipped cream with sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, or chocolate shavings.

Here’s how it turned out:

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

I’ve learned through the years that not everyone is going to want to use the hot chocolate bar. And not all of the toppings are going to get used – especially with wine to drink. So setting out only a few glasses was absolutely alright. One thing I would consider doing differently is having the hot chocolate pre-made as opposed to needing to turn the kettle on every time we wanted a cup, but I think it went well for the first year. Maybe next year I’ll get one of those pendant banners that are all the rage. We’ll see.

The food staple of this party is always the stuffed breads. The party starts at 7, so most people have eaten ahead of time, but the stuffed breads are a great way to tide people over and provide some balance to all of the cookies for the swap. Ben suggested getting pretzels in Philadelphia before we left to take to Connecticut. They were a big hit! That said, 21 pretzels was far too many, next year I would do 15. Yet again, not everybody wants a pretzel.

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

And then there were a few new additions to our line-up. I’ve been on a chili kick recently, so we had chili available for anybody who wanted it. Then I bought two cheeses (the delice de bourgogne was gone by the end of the night), carrots, and hummus.

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

The final touch I added this year was cookie name tags. Usually we just make people guess what type of cookies they are, but I think putting out the signs really helped this year. From year’s past I’ve learned that what happens is everybody brings about cookies, we all eat cookies while we are there, and then most people don’t take any cookies when they leave so I end up with a bunch. So this year I told everybody not to aim for only 30 cookies. (I still had a lot left over…)

A Christmas Cookie Swap & a Hot Chocolate Bar via Chrystina Noel

I never actually took a picture of the table full of cookies because I was too caught up in the hustle and bustle of saying hello, getting people drinks, attempting to figure out what was wrong with the bottle of chardonnay I opened and offered to my friends fiancee that I met for the first time, and putting on a Christmas performance with Biz and Kerry (usually we have more than just 3 people around the piano, but this year it was 3 people around the piano and about 15 watching… it made me wish we had rehearsed…).

Anyway. That’s it. I hope you’re inspired to make your own hot chocolate bar! It was fun!

A 22-ounce Beer Party

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

This past weekend I hosted another party about beer. This time the theme was 22-ounce bottles of beer. (Yes, I decided that can be a party theme. Hear me out.)

You know when you go to a restaurant that has a lot of craft beer and you start reading through the list and you want to try a bunch of them but realize that they’re all sold in the big bottles so you could barely commit to finishing one let alone trying more than one of them – partially because of the volume of liquid in the bottle and partially because the level of alcohol is usually higher in the big bottles beers. Well this party was designed to help with that.

I asked everybody to bring a 22-ounce bottle of beer that they wanted to try and decided that we would all share them. That way you could try a bunch of high-quality beers in one night at a minimal cost with minimal damage to your liver. (See, I told you it could totally be a party theme.)

This party was a little bit different than most for me. I’ve been looking at and reading many different sources of party inspiration recently. I’ve been pinning up a storm, recently just bought the book Great Get-Togethers by Anna and Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute, and have been talking to a handful of friends about parties that they want to host. So my brain has been spinning out of control with party ideas. I decided this was going to be the party I implemented all of my new ideas at. And you know what? It kind of made me feel like a brand new party hostess again. I was anxious/nervous/excited before the party started, and when everybody left I found myself with a decent-sized list of “I would totally do this differently next time” items. First, let me set the scene.

Sending the Invitations

I sent the invitations for this party two months ahead of time because my schedule was filling out quickly, so I had a feeling other people’s schedules would be filling up quickly as well. Evite has been my go-to way to send invitations recently. I’ve found it has the most successful response rate because it goes to everyone’s inboxes. I also like that it makes it very easy for guests to see who was invited to the party. I set the party start time to 7:00pm hoping that people would realize that they should eat dinner beforehand and made sure to include on the Evite that everybody should bring a 22-ounce beer for the party.

Making the Guest List

Usually when I get inspired to throw a party there is a specific set of people in my brain that I am already thinking about inviting. When I have tea parties I tend to think of the bloggers. When I have alcohol parties I tend to think of the folks I went to college with. I usually invite the core group I was thinking at the time that I sent the party list, plus a few folks from different groups that I think would get along well with them.

I set the party start time to 7:00pm and I invited 40 people. I usually invite 40 people to my parties. What usually happens is that I invite 40 people, 16 say yes, and the day of the event 10 show up. Well, it went a little bit differently this time. I invited 40 people, 18 said yes, and 15 showed up. That’s five extra people in my little row house. I was nervous. Especially because we just recently moved the futon from the first floor to the second floor as a guest bed so my living room only had one small love seat in it. And a dining room table right in the middle.

Preparing for the Party

The first thing I do after I invite the guests is make a list of food I want to serve. I decided to try to keep it to simple snacks to munch on for this party. I was once at a party where a friend had chili and really enjoyed that, so I added Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili to my list. I was inspired by a pin to recreate making pumpkin patch dirt for dessert (oreo crumbs, chocolate pudding, and candy corn pumpkins). I decided instead of pretzels this time to make corn muffins as my main carbohydrate to absorb the alcohol. Then I filled in the remainder of the food with cheeses, raw vegetables and hummus, brownies, and berries.

Once I had my menu, I went shopping a week beforehand for 95% of the groceries leaving fresh flowers and berries for later in the week closer to the party. I bought ice immediately before the party started.

The first issue I needed to deal with was the fact that I would have more people in my house than I’ve ever had before. I decided it was about time to buy some folding chairs. I purchased four, all of which we used throughout the course of the night, so that was a good decision. In addition, I decided I should make the back patio presentable in case the house got too crowded. We never actually ended up using this space.

I also made a party preparations list that was sorted by room. This is the first time I have ever done it this way and I really liked it. It looked a little bit like this:

  • Outside Front: Sweep front steps, Turn lights on
  • Back Patio: Weed, Sweep, Turn lights on
  • Living Room: Set buffet, Create a table centerpiece, Flowers, Set out cups and markers, Set out ice bin and water, Turn on music
  • Kitchen: Clean, Set out ice bin and water
  • Guest Room: Use as coat room, Turn lights on
  • Bathroom: Clean, Light a candle before the party

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel
This was an incredibly useful list to have. It helped me to realize things earlier than I normally would during the week; for example, I remembered that the front porch light had recently gone out so I needed to find a new bulb before the party. Also, it was super useful to have this list the hour before the party started because most of these things were things that needed to be done in the last little bit of time.

I also divided the food into four categories that arranged it by room, what needed to be done ahead of time, and what I needed specific servingware for.

  • Living Room: Cheese, crackers, carrots, hummus, snap peas, candy
  • Kitchen: Chili, dirt, berries, corn muffins, chips, salsa, hide beer I don’t want being drank
  • Make the night before: Oreo crumbs, pudding, corn muffins
  • Serving: Cups, dirt bowls, chili bowls, appetizer dishes, napkins

This was also an incredibly useful list. That said, I bought cookies that never actually made it onto the list so I didn’t remember to put them out. We also bought some extra beer because we were worried that 22 oz. per person wasn’t going to be enough. (Because remember, if everybody brings 22 oz. of beer and you split it evenly that means everybody leaves having had 22 oz. of beer.)

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

Kicking Off the Party

As the guests started to arrive I told them they could put their coats upstairs and offered them a beverage. Around 7:30 most of the guests had arrived and I interrupted everyone to explain how the evening was going to go down. This is something that you will pretty much always see me do at my parties. I think that it sets the stage to let everybody know what to expect and also gives you the chance to point out important things to everybody.

During my introduction I explained that there was food both upstairs and downstairs and downstairs guests could find ingredients to make their own dirt (I figured they’d be confused if they just saw all the ingredients, I know I would have), I told them there was chili downstairs, and I told them that the plan was for each of us to try all of the beers. I then reminded them that that meant that everybody should only pour about 1-1.5 oz. of each beer in their tasting cup.

Then we did an icebreaker. Everybody went around, said their name, how they knew me, and what the biggest lie they told as a child was. We got the inspiration for this question from a Table Topics game that I opened and put on the table right as the first people were walking in. A friend pointed out to me that since my parties are usually activity-based it’s always good for people to know everyone’s names before the party starts.

We kicked off the evening with Pliny the Elder, which was given to us by our Napa tour guide the week prior after we told him about the party. This was a beer that beer connoisseurs love that’s hard to get on the east coast because they only sell it in bottles from the brewery (which is in northern California). So it was awesome to get to start off with this one. We cheers-ed to our tour guide, Doug and the evening began.

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

What I Thought Was Going To Happen vs. What Happened

Here’s what I thought was going to happen. I thought that I was going to split all of the beer between an ice bin in the living room and an ice bin in the kitchen (which are on two different floors) and that was going to keep the circulation of the party moving. What actually happened was that everybody made themselves comfortable in the living room and we just passed the beer around and each poured it into our own glasses with the exception of three folks who setup shop for the evening in the kitchen. In fairness, there weren’t any more seats in the living room. Which was okay. It didn’t make for quite the mix and mingle atmosphere that I had hoped for, but considering that the purpose of the party was to drink beer, that was probably a mission accomplished.

Also, I was originally going to try to get the names of the beer from everyone beforehand so that I could make up tasting cards for everybody, but I realized about a week out that there was no way I was going to get this information ahead of time, which I realized was fine. However, a suggestion was made during the party to turn one of the walls in my living room into a chalkboard wall so that we could write important party facts and voting right on the wall. I think this is brilliant and I really hope we can make it happen soon.

What I Would Do Again

  • I thought it worked out really nicely not having a specific type of beer that everyone was supposed to bring. It left us with a good variety. When we started tasting, somehow we ended up having the strongest, darkest beers last, which was a bit much for the end of the night. That said, if we had had them earlier in the night, we may not have appreciated the flavor of the lighter beers. So I’m not actually sure what the best way to facilitate this would be going forward. It might actually be to have less overall beers, but what fun would that be?
  • I really liked having a designated coat room with the lights on. I think it was good to have that set apart from where everybody was hanging out – mostly because there actually wasn’t any room in my living room for the coats.
  • I really liked having the candle lit in the bathroom. Yes, it helps to make it smell nice, but there were also way fewer “where’s the light in the bathroom” questions yelled down the stairs because people were at least able to see a little bit.
  • Having music on in the background was really nice too. It made it seem like more of a party atmosphere. I didn’t have time to curate a playlist beforehand, but whatever Pandora playlist Ben chose worked out pretty well.
  • I put out small quantities of some of the food and just kept refilling the plates. This worked really well for me because I could use smaller serving dishes and keep the rest of the food in my not-as-pretty storage containers in the kitchen. This worked great with crackers, brownies, and corn muffins.
  • Keeping the pitcher of water out and on the table was a solid choice. It kept people hydrated during the party.
  • Having the extra folding chairs was great. I love that they’re easy to move and that they pull up to the table nicely. This was a solid long-term investment.
  • I would absolutely consider just putting all the beer in the fridge to not need to deal with the ice bins. We only opened one at a time anyway. I could have kept it way less complicated.

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

What I Would Do Differently Next Time

  • I would buy 3 cheeses for 15 people instead of 2 cheeses. I figured since the focus wasn’t cheese that we didn’t need that much of it. False. I should have had 3.
  • This next one was poor form for an Italian. I only bought 5 cans of chili from Trader Joe’s, which was essentially 10 servings. I was originally thinking that chili would just be something that some people would want on the side. We actually ran out of this. In the future I would have definitely just gotten 10 cans and assumed that I would eat whatever didn’t get eaten for lunch during the week. That said, I ran out of food and the world didn’t end, so that was at least good to confirm.
  • I tried to be fancy and make corn muffins instead of buying my usual pretzels, but at the end of the day I think the pretzels absorb the beer better. Plus, I think they pair with beer a little bit better.
  • I would put the flowers in a different location. Before everybody got there I worked hard to set flowers all around the house and made a nice centerpiece in the middle of the table. However, almost immediately after the beer was broken out we moved all of the stuff off of the middle of the table to replace it with food. I’m not exactly sure where I would move the flowers to, but in the middle of the table didn’t end up being practical at all. People like food way better than flowers. (Understandable.)
  • I would open the windows with the screens instead of open the door for air. This is probably obvious to people, but I kind of forgot I had windows. The amount of bug bites I now have is actually ridiculous.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, here’s all of the beers we tried in order:

Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

Hosting Your Own Party

  • Create an attending party guest list of 10-15 people. Any more than that and it’s an oddly small amount of alcohol to try. Any less than that and it’s not allll that many beers to try.
  • Have everybody post what beers they get so there aren’t any duplicates.
  • Find a quick and cheap dinner that you can make in a crock pot to serve.
  • Set your attendees up for success: get carbohydrate-y food and put out water pitchers.
  • Put out enough snacks to keep people well fed. Buy things that when you’re left with them you like the leftovers.
  • Lay out the rules for the games right at the beginning and everybody will get involved.
  • Come up with an icebreaker came right a the beginning so everybody will learn each other’s names.

All in all, the party was a lot of fun. It was great to try new beers that I normally wouldn’t get to try. It was really fun to watch people meet new people. And everyone said that they had a great time. So that was cool. Mission accomplished.

Do you have any favorite 22 oz. beers? Have you ever hosted a party like this? I’d love to hear what you think or any new ideas!