Planning Parties


Contact: Doug Adams- x3103

Every weekend, somebody wants to know where the party is. So you’ve decided that this weekend, what’s happening is your party. The only problem is that the thought of registering a party is a little daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Registering a party has great advantages the use of dorm lounges, potential funding, and legal kegs. This little guide will hopefully help demystify of the whole process and help you on your way.


First off we need to clarify some language.  There are four ways to legally have a party on campus.

1. Registered Private Party
- a party in a lounge or other public area or Social House hosted by an individual student where students serve the alcohol and guests are invited.  

2. Senior Housing Gatherings -
small, informal gatherings held in individual rooms, suites, and small houses occupied by of-age students

3. Licensed Party -
a function that is registed with the state of Vermont and service is provided by College employees.

4. Licensed Venues - The Grille, The Bunker and 51 Main -
an event in a venue that has a state liquor license.


Registered Private Parties

Why all the rules?

Middlebury College is a part of the State of Vermont. No getting around that. As such everyone at the College is required to follow all of the state’s laws. Just like you follow the speed limit and other traffic rules, you are required to abide by the states liquor laws. Party registration is designed to help you understand all the laws.

What’s this Party Host Workshop (PHW) thing?

Any student who is 21 years old and wants to register a party on campus must take this workshop. They are offered through the Department of Public Safety every other week and provide an overview of College policy and state law concerning parties with alcohol. Once you successfully complete the workshop – which takes about 30 minutes – you will be able to host parties for the remainder of that academic year.


Next steps - Registration

After attending a PHW you will need to find a place for your party and begin planning. Your Commons Coordinator can help you out with reserving a space and making any requests for items to be delivered to the party like band boxes or tables (NOTE: There may be a charge for items requested – make sure to ask first). The big rule to know is that that you must live in the same Commons as the party space - e.g. Wonnacott residents can register parties in Gifford Annex Lounge, the Gamut Room or Prescott Basement.


You will complete a Party Registration Form with your Coordinator. This form includes the name of the host (that’s you) and cohost (if you have one), type and amount of alcohol, location, and beginning and ending times. You will also review the Party Host responsibilities and questions about your party – size, theme, entertainment, etc. If you have any questions this is a good time to ask. As a host you are the one in charge so you may not be the DJ or in the band. The deadline for registering a party is 3:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the party. Plan ahead – you can register weeks or even months in advance.


TIP: It can be easier to host a party with a friend – co-hosts for parties are encouraged. Also, enlist some friends to help with the party. Not only can they help with set up and clean up but they can give you a hand in making sure the room doesn’t get out of control.


Is there any help out there?

Of course there is – this is Middlebury. Commons Coordinators, Commons Councils, MCAB, Student Activities (SA), student orgs, and social houses can all help with making arrangements and even covering some of the expenses such as the band, supplies, and decorations. The best place to start is with your Commons Council or the The Bank. They have special funds available for students like you who want to throw a party. Yes, they will give you money to help throw a party! Also, if you are a student organization you have access to the Food Closet, which will cover half of the food and alternative beverages for your party – free!

The Guest List

You have likely heard a great deal about the guest list requirement - put into place at the request of the state of Vermont. Here are the basics of the guest list:

1. Guests must be invited with an actual invitation. Email is OK but word-of-mouth is not.

2. Everyone at the party must be on the Guest List and the guests must check in at the entrance.

3. Hosts may invite up to twice the capacity of the space to a function.

4. For each guest invited the host must keep track of the guests and the guests of guests.

5. Guest Lists must be typed and available for DPS at all times. Lists must be kept.


So the night is here. You have your space, food, beverages, entertainment, and decorations. The invitations went out and the guest are about to arrive – now what?

1. Be nice to Public Safety. They will help check the party in and out and can lend a hand if you need them.

2. Don’t get overwhelmed by demanding party-goers. Be calm. If someone is being difficult you can ask them to leave. It’s your party after all.

3. Remember your manners – clean up the space when you are done. No one like a mess.

4. Have fun!


Here is a brief run down of some of the big laws and College policies you don’t want to forget:


2. As party host you must be at the party, available, and sober.

3. You may only let in your invited guests.

4. You must check all IDs, including those of your friends. If they don’t have an ID, don’t serve them. If their over 21 and forgot their ID, tell them to run home and get it.

5. You may not advertise for a private party. It wouldn’t be very private would it? If you want to invite the campus to the party check with Campus Activities about registering a Licensed Party.

6. You must be 21 to serve as a bartender.

7. Only the alcohol you register can be at the party – people can not bring in their own.

8. You cannot serve people who are visibly intoxicated. This is both the law and common sense.

9. You may not sell alcohol in any way. This means that you cannot collect money in any way. No selling cups, no door fee, no cover charge, no tip jar, no requested donation, no nothing.

10. You must have food and non-alcoholic beverage available. It’s a party after all. Get food people actually like to eat, buy soda you would drink anyway, and keep any leftovers.

11. No drinking games or smoking. None. Kein. Niente. Nada,

12. And last but certainly not least: Every Party Host is responsible for everything that happens as a result of that party, including cleaning up after the party. Do your best to make sure that people are getting home safely at the end of the night. Do not let people drink and drive.

13. Kegs must return to the place you bought it after the party – it can not go back to your room.

Senior Housing

– The Unregistered but Legal Party



The College also allows for small, informal gatherings held in individual rooms, suites, and small houses occupied by of-age students. These gatherings do not have to be registered. Residents of the living space will be treated as "Party Hosts," and assume all the same responsibilities for the actions of individuals who drink at the party. Students are responsible for these gatherings and the activities that occur in their rooms, whether or not they are present. Remember that College policies regarding noise, vandalism, and respect for persons apply to informal gatherings as well as registered parties. The keys for success in this type party · All residents and guests must be 21 or older. · The gathering is both small and informal. You can not have more people than the room can hold.


· You may not have common containers such as kegs at these parties


There are some great advantages to having the College’s Dining Events team help with your party. If the event is run through Dining Events – aka licensed - it can be advertised, you don’t need a Guest List, you can charge for the event, and it can be held in a public space such as the McCullough Student Center or Coltrane Lounge. Moreover, liability for the service of alcohol is deferred by the College’s liquor license. Student organizations, Commons, Social Houses, and individual students may all arrange for licensed parties through the Dining Events office.

But where is the money???

You may be saying to yourself, that’s fine but that’s wicked expensive. Your Commons Council to the rescue! Any student may apply to the Commons Council for assistance in funding a party – food, decorations, bands, djs, and event alcohol if the event is licensed. For more information attend your next Commons Council meeting.

There are some distinct differences between a licensed party and a private party:


Registered Thursday before the event

Restricted to invited guests

Limited invitees

Guest List required

No advertising allowed

Residential locations only

Liability resides with the host

No charging allowed

Host must be 21

Host must live where the party is registered


Registered 10-21 business days in advance

Open to campus

No invitations required

No Guest List required

Advertising permitted

Any campus location with approval

Liability resides with Dining Events

Charging permitted

By the Book – The College Policy on Licensed Events

  • Arrangements for parties must be made at least 21 business days in advance
    • 10 days for events in licensed locations such as Dining Hall, McCullough or FIC
  • Requests for licensed events are made through Campus Activities or your Commons before contacting Dining Events.
    • Parties or events held in nonresidential spaces must be licensed under the College’s Liquor License if alcoholic beverages are to be served.
    • Parties held in private residential spaces may be licensed.
  • After registering the party and reserving a space you will meet with Dining Events to arrange your function.
  • All events are required to serve a non-alcoholic beverage and some form of food. Dining Events will work with your group to plan out the food and beverage choices.
  • Tickets for a catered event may be sold prior to the event, at the door, and/or at a cash bar. Events may be advertised, but publicity and posters may not make reference to alcoholic beverages, other than to remind students to "please bring two forms of i.d."
  • Alcoholic beverages may not be taken to or from a licensed event.
  • At all licensed events Dining Events staff will be in charge of serving alcoholic beverages. The Dining Events manager will determine the appropriate bar staffing, security, and amount of alcohol for the event.
  • Department of Public Safety officers may be required (at the organizer's expense) for any event where alcoholic beverages are being served.
  • Under the license, it is the College's responsibility to enforce the legal drinking age and other laws of the State of Vermont connected with serving alcoholic beverages.


There are three licensed venues - The Grille, The Bunker and 51 Main - which serve alcohol as licensed establishments.  It is possible to stage an event in any of these spaces.

For all venues you will need to contact the Department of Events Management for scheduling.