How do I throw the best pre-drinks?

Photography by Ewen Spencer

Asking for a friend: Getting all your mates over before you go out-out this weekend? Here’s how to nail the sesh before the club like a pro.

Right then. The group chat has decided it’s time for a Big One this weekend and you, bless your generous soul, have volunteered your flat as the spot for pre-drinks. And why not? As a benevolent host, you can command the playlist and don’t have to travel anywhere before heading to your final destination. Win-win.

But when it comes to hosting pre-drinks – that is, the tradition of getting smashed on Tesco vodka at home so you don’t have to fork out for the club’s eye-watering bar prices later on – it’s important to get it right. After all, these few hours of living room shots and kitchen heart-to-hearts set the tone for the rest of the night. You need to set the mood, and create an anything-can-happen vibe. You need people to leave excited, not deflated; merrily drunk, not paralytic.

That can be a tricky balance to nail. Luckily, we’ve had lots of practice. Here are our fail-safe tips for impressing all your mates with an impeccably planned pre-drinks this weekend. Bottoms up.

Stock up on mixers and ice

A BYOB policy is pretty standard when it comes to pre-drinks, but it’s always handy to have a stash of supplies on standby for any forgetful (or extra thirsty) guests. Now, we’re not suggesting you foot the bill for all of your mates’ drinking habits – there’s a cost of living crisis, for god’s sake. Instead, spend a couple of quid on some standard mixers (Coke, lemonade, tonic water) and a big bag of ice, so that there’s plenty to go round when mixing those G&Ts. If you’re feeling really kind, grab a couple of cheap beers, too, then pat yourself on the back for your philanthropy.

Dim the lights

Fluorescent overhead lighting? Turn it off. No one wants to feel like they’re in a GP waiting room before hitting the dance floor. Lamps are your best friend here, as are those galaxy light things that always pop up on TikTok. If you really want to go all out, grab yourself a cheap disco ball and position it near a reading lamp to turn your flat into Studio 54. It’s an investment, really.

Perfect the playlist

This one’s a no-brainer. But it’s worth putting some effort into this, by curating a playlist to fit the vibe of the night you’re heading out to. Off to the latest Recess party? Afrobeats and dancehall. GutterRing? A bit of hyperpop should help ease you into the techno and gabber madness.

But we know you’re busy, so if you don’t have time, head over to THE FACE’s weekly playlist, bringing you the best in new music releases. No need to thank us – it’s on the house.

Expect everyone to arrive late

…because they always do. This may seem unimportant, but it’s good to factor in for logistics. If you’re heading to a night that’s free or has discounted entry before 1am, for example, then you probably want to be heading out around 00.30am. You want everyone to be around for all the pre-drink fun at least an hour before that, so set your pre-drinks start time accordingly. By our calculations, in this hypothetical situation, that means inviting people over around 10ish. Do the maths.

Choose your drinking games wisely

Drinking games can be good for breaking the ice, but you don’t want to overdo it. Beer pong is a classic, but it can get messy and takes a while to crown a winner. Never Have I Ever can be, er, eye-opening, but it’s messy in a different way and could end up revealing truths you’d rather keep secret. Ring of Fire will just make you throw up. If you want our honest opinion, we reckon you should scrap the drinking games altogether (sophisticated, you know) and let the tunes do the talking (along with actual talking, obviously). Only bring out a deck of cards if you’re desperate.

Pre-plan your route to the club

There’s nothing worse than that last minute scramble for taxis before you head out. Avoid the confusion and figure that all out beforehand. If you can get public transport to your destination, check the route before pres start and make sure all buses and trains are running. If you need a taxi, pre-book to make sure you get there in time for free entry. This is the most boring bit of planning a night out, but it’s also the most essential. You don’t want everyone hanging out in your flat all night, do you?

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