6 Tips for Hosting a Dorm Room Get-Together Slideshow

1. Love Your Toaster Oven

When I was in college, our idea of a dorm dinner party was going downstairs to the caf, bringing back our dins on trays, and bringing it back to the table to dine together. No cooking.

 

Open a dorm room today and you’ll find George Foreman grills, microwaves, and Lily’s favorite — the toaster oven.“Whenever I had friends over, I loved to make butterflied garlic shrimp and bacon-wrapped figs in the toaster oven. I believe we had several Lost parties featuring toaster oven appetizers, bowls of Chex mix, and liquor in paper cups, "borrowed" from the dining hall. 

2. Shop Smart

After tuition and books, most undergrads are living on a budget. But there is no need to resort to watered-down PBRs or ramen made in the microwave when inviting friends over to watch the game (cough, I mean study) if you know where to find good bargains. “If there's a Trader Joe's anywhere nearby,” says Lily, “I'm a huge proponent of stocking up on their sub-five-dollar bottles of wine.”

 

It doesn’t have to be a weekly habit, either. Lily and her friends would save their cash and make a once-a-semester trip to their local TJ’s (which wasn’t all that local) to stock up for the coming months (although it never lasted quite that long). When you’re having a couple of friends over, “a bottle of two-buck chuck and a bowl of Easy Mac or a bag of popcorn goes a long way,” adds Lily.

3. Inviting Guests Over

Living in a single has its perks — you can stay up as late as you want and leave that pile of laundry on the floor for days at a time. But, when it comes to having friends over, it can be a challenge. When getting together with friends, “it's all about getting people to come to you,” says Lily. And that usually doesn't take more than an email announcing you've got cookie dough or a handle of Captain Morgan. 

 

If you’re in a double, it’s a bit trickier. You’re lucky if your roomie is your co-host, but more often than not, you're working around their schedule. “Hopefully they want to join the party,” Lily adds. If not, courtesy and cleanliness counts. “Let him/her know you're having people over in advance, and make sure to have a garbage bag handy so you can toss everything at the end of the party for easy cleanup.” Clorox wipes are great for cleaning up any stickiness and will help to keep any lingering odors at bay.

4. Feeding Your Friends

They are the jewels of upperclassmen’s eyes — those suites with microwaves, sinks, even full-size ovens — and they go like hotcakes during room draw. But before you get all excited thinking the sky is the limit, Lily cautions that even the most adept cooks use caution and make it easy — after all, you want them to come back, right?

 

“For easy entertaining, I would suggest making a big pot of pasta. It's simple, quick, comforting, and unless you're hosting a gluten-free gathering, it suits pretty much everyone's taste.” Platters of snack foods like crudités and dip are also great to have on hand, and a rich and delicious brownie mousse (left) will guarantee your guests return.

5. Equip Yourself with the Essentials

No matter where you’re living, having the right tools and advice will make hosting dinner parties and study sessions at your place easy. Lily can’t imagine going through school without her toaster oven. “I scored it off a graduating senior for $15 and it was invaluable.”

 

She also advises having at least one real knife, some plates and bowls (not gained illicitly from the dining hall, of course), a mishmash of forks and spoons, and a corkscrew or two, as “we were always looking for those.” A wooden cutting board is both functional, and when placed on a stool, doubles as a serving piece. Just don’t forget the paper towels. 

6. Advice from One Dorm Room Host to Another

“Take the popcorn bag out of its plastic before you put it in the microwave. No, Lily's serious. “I bore witness to a fire on my first night of college due to this mistake.” Same goes for leaving plastic near stoves, “toasting” bread on the broil setting (hello toaster fire), and sticking anything with metal on it in the microwave. Need we say more?