Play parties are great fun, but once the number attending an event passes 8 or 10, especially when some of those present have not played together before, they work far better with some appropriate organising.
You may have a great time without any of the following arrangements but when a party or event does not go well it is usually because something has gone wrong which should have been anticipated and wasn't, or that facilities which were needed were not available. Perhaps the most logical way to address these is to consider them in order of preparations, arrival, playing, and closing.
In addition you might want to provide information on the facilities available, food, drinks, transport, parking and access, dress codes, forms of address, etiquette re other people's sub or Dom, entrance fees or cost sharing arrangements, special events and many others.
As guests arrive they should be identified, welcomed, asked if they received and understand the rules and arrangements for the night and if they have any questions, relieved of any money due (unless other arrangements have been made) and directed to the facilities, emergency equipment and exits. Name badges can help guests to break the ice and make contact, especially among a group who may know one another by name but not have met before.
The facility next needed is somewhere for guests to change into their Scene gear and to safely store their street clothes and any other equipment. Privacy and security aren't such a problem at a private party attended by friends but do try to provide somewhere for clothes to be hung and bags stored.
It is rare for people to arrive and want to get straight into the action. Usually they want to gather, catch up on one another's news, be introduced to new faces, and generally relax into the party atmosphere. If alcohol is allowed then this is also the time and place for those one or two small drinks. It helps but is rare if there is sufficient seating for Doms and floor space for subs in a suitable area separate from the play area for this socialising. Guests will probably not be playing throughout the whole event and may often retire to this area to recuperate too, so here is where you will want to make food and soft drinks available. Keep the music to background level because people will want to talk without shouting.
Once people start to move to the play area they will be looking to the equipment available. You will want to provide suitable furniture, rope, and possibly a few toys for people who don't have many of their own or who have had to travel by public transport and so were limited in what they could bring. Please make sure that you also have available the necessary safety and first aid equipment. More details on safety are given in the members section of this site. As the party organiser, you always have responsibility for the safety of your guests.
Lighting within the play area is often subdued in order to build atmosphere but it needs to be sufficient for Dominants to be able to clearly see their targets and the reactions of their subs, including body language. Rhythmic music with a deep steady beat can really add to the Scene but it must be at a low enough level that a safe word can be heard and understood instantly. Since the sub, and possibly the Dom too, may be wearing relatively little, if anything in the case of the sub, the temperature should be warm enough to be comfortable but remember that heat will build up as activity increases. There should be cold water and disposable cups available in the play room; both subs and Doms can get very dehydrated while Scening. Smoking in the play area should be banned unless there is very good ventilation, it can get thick enough in some clubs to obscure visibility and to irritate the throat and lungs of people breathing hard through exertion and excitement.
Following an intense session a sub may need some gentle after-care. The party organisers should keep a friendly eye on this area as well as the play zone, ready to give help if needed. They should also watch for people who have played, retired to the rest room, had a few drinks and decided to return to the play area. Too much drink does not go well together with Scene play. The Dom needs to be ever alert and accurate and it is dangerous for a sub to play when they are not fully aware of what is going on with their body, endorphins dull the senses quite nicely enough as it is!
As a private party comes to an end and people start to leave please continue to take your responsibilities seriously. Call a taxi for anyone who needs it or who has been drinking. Remind your happy guests to spare a thought for your neighbours and your reputation. Check that they are leaving with everything they arrived with that they want to take, but do a trawl for lost property afterwards anyway, things always get left behind. And finally, chat to your friends within a week or so to find out what they liked or didn't like or needed but didn't have so that your next party can be even better!
So, to summarise, what should you prepare or look for in a good party?