Ann and I co-hosted a joint birthday party of couple of years ago. Since so many people were involved, it wound up being a large-ish party of about fifty people. Ann's only request? That we hire a bartender. At first I balked, saying that guests could help themselves, or we could do it. It turned out to be the best thing we've ever done.
The bartender arrived a little early and completely took over the bar, setting it up in advance and breaking it down at the end of the night. During the party, she also walked around and picked up abandoned glasses.
We felt more like guests ourselves, free to chat with others and not worry about replenishing cocktails. Like buying my first sofa, it also made me feel strangely adult.
If you decide to go this route, here are a couple of things to think about:
Hiring: We have tons of bartender friends, and even more friends that could use a little extra cash, especially right around the holidays. Asking someone you know saves the hassle of finding a stranger, and helps out a friend.
Timing: Ask your friend to arrive early so you can show them where everything is, and talk about what you'd like them to do that evening. Don't have them come too early, however; to get the most bang for your buck, you want most of their paid time to occur during the actual party.
Tipping: Don't suggest guests tip via a not-so-subtle tip jar. Tip your bartender yourself at the end of the evening.
Have you ever hired someone to help you for an event? If so, were you happy you did?