Inclusive party planning

How to actively make parties fun and safe for everyone

As the school year begins to wrap up, more parties will be happening both on and off campus, with this celebratory spirit continuing through the summer. These parties often have themes, large guest lists and drinking. In order to ensure that everyone has a good time and stays safe at parties, there are a number of things that need to be considered. Inclusion is proactive, not reactive; this means that the experiences of everyone who could potentially attend the party should be a factor in the party planning process. People who experience various forms of discrimination do so in all scenarios, therefore one needs to take these experiences into account and centre the safety and enjoyment of all guests.

The first consideration should be the theme and promotion of the party. When choosing a theme, ensure that you are not furthering discrimination or exclusion. Avoid selecting themes that could potentially involve costumes that steal or appropriate from a particular culture or racial group. Other themes to avoid include ones that promote a binary understanding of gender and themes that promote a hypersexualized environment where consent is compromised. Exclusive party themes can make potential guests feel not only unwelcome but unsafe. Certain themes, such as hypersexualized ones, can even make the event unsafe for those who attend.

Another consideration is the actual setup of the party. What measures are being put in place to ensure the safety and inclusiveness of the party? This step in the party planning process requires thinking about the physical space of the event. The event should be made physically accessible if possible. If not, accommodations should be made to include any guests with accessibility needs. Beyond accessibility, the event needs to made as safe as it possibly can. If there is alcohol being provided at the event, there should be someone responsible for ensuring guests are not over-served and that intoxicated guests are able to get home safely. Furthermore, if there is a dance floor, it is important to consider how to make this space one that is safe and one where consent is respected.

The protection and enjoyment of those who experience discrimination is necessary in order to truly make a party safe, inclusive and fun for everyone. Thinking critically about the theme and setup of the party allows for the creation of an environment that everyone can enjoy. For tips on safe and inclusive party planning, contact SHARE by email at share@mta.ca or by phone at 506-364-2613.

Jilane Buryn
Jilane Buryn is a contributor to the Argosy.