Here’s How To Host a Memorable Watch Party

published Sep 26, 2022
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Credit: From Left to Right: Shutterstock, Ollie Upton / HBO; Design: Apartment Therapy

I pride myself on being a memorable host. “Hostess with the mostest” feels personal when my loved ones have complimented my parties for their stylish decor, funky music playlist, and delectable vegan appetizers. The heartwarming reviews aside — throwing parties and hosting game nights are an excuse to have my loved ones in one space and build community with my different friend groups.

But watch parties differ from hosting, say, dinner parties. Paying attention to whatever is streaming is the bare minimum that could be done, especially if you’re a talker (embarrassingly, like myself). To me, gathering around a television with your friends while surrounded by a variety of sweets and drinks delivers a similar nostalgic feeling to the infamous house party scene in the beloved 1996 slasher film “Scream,” minus the Ghostface villain.

Since zietgeist-y shows like HBO’s “House of the Dragon” or the now-concluded “Insecure” draw in a massive amount of weekly viewers, a watch party is a chance to bond with your other pop culture-enamored friends. Here are my tips for throwing a good watch party, where everybody has fun.

Send Your Invitations

If your guests are excited to binge-watch the latest popular series on Netflix, give them a heads up if you plan on broadcasting the show at your watch party. If you’re not feeling the task of handing out physical invitations, either send a detailed text about the party’s whereabouts or use a Canva template to create a digital invite. Facebook has an event feature that is quite handy for planning parties, especially when your guests are actually active on the app. Whether your guests receive an invitation a week in advance or a month in advance, collecting even some casual RSVPs will help with preparing the options for comfortable seating and an adequate amount of food.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh

Set a Menu

Hosting can be expensive. Sure, everyone’s coming over to socialize and enjoy the show, but they’re definitely going to be hungry, at least for finger foods. Just remember that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help and turning the watch party into a potluck. If the thought of planning the evening’s menu causes stress, opt-in for serving the entree and requesting sides to build a hearty meal. As a host, I love providing a special themed alcoholic drink and a vegan-friendly appetizer. Often, guests will be open to bringing their preferred drink and a beloved snack, like a bag of chips or store-bought dessert. 

Prep Your Guests

What’s the theme? If you’re watching the new “Game of Thrones” or “Lord of the Rings” spinoff shows, dressing up is half the fun. Perhaps, the theme of the evening will have less to do with outfits— maybe your menu is autumnal or everyone brings a school supply to donate because you’re watching “Abbott Elementary.”

Does everyone know which item they were delegated to bring for the potluck? It’s easy to end up with an abundance of drinks or desserts at a party, but it is an excuse to get a pizza delivered (something about ordering a pizza during a watch party feels like you’re stepping into an early 2000s movie). Either way, feel free to send a reminder text to your guests the day prior to your viewing party just to give them an extra heads up.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh

Ready Your Space

If your guests are dressing up, dress up your house, too! I know what you’re thinking, “Who has the time and money for that?” A little bit of arts and crafts has never failed me — and I’m talking about construction paper and reusable decorations from the dollar store. I’m a big fan of reusing decor from past Halloween and Christmas parties, so I’ve accumulated quite the collection over the years. But for a streaming party, the decor depends on the theme, so circle back to the previous step before creating an inspiration board on Pinterest.

Besides decorations, is your living room ready for the evening’s events? This fall cleaning checklist may give you an insight on the spots in your home that may need a little TLC before guests arrive. Once everything’s tidy, there’s no harm in double checking that your internet router, television, and streaming device are up-to-date and working properly to prevent any technical difficulties.

Enjoy Yourself

As a host, I’ve found myself running around preparing food, greeting guests, finishing a last minute costume detail, minimizing accidental spills, and anything else that prohibits me from actually enjoying the party. If you happen to be free all day prior to the party, create a simple checklist for yourself to use your preparation time wisely. Watch parties actually require attention, so don’t be shy and allow your guests to help if they offer and give yourself a second to relax.

Happy viewing!