House Painting Party

Cocktails, paint cans and cool friends

The easiest way to paint your walls in a day? Throw a painting party! A fun and funky alternative to the traditional housewarming, this festive fete requires just a few close friends, several cans of paint and supplies and a sensational cocktail party spread to reward your guests for their hard work. Go-Girl Guide author Julia Bourland shows you how to throw it all together:

First, the reality: When you invite your friends over to paint your walls, you may not get them painted in the exact way you might have done so solo. The perks, of course, are that you get the room painted much quicker and with a lot more spirit than you would doing the work all by your lonesome. If you go the communal route, you must place the emphasis on the party '- how else are you going to beg your friends for their help? Party tips are as follows:

  1. Beverages and food: The essential components of a successful paint party. Pizza and good beer (not Bud in a can) are common favorites, but you can also go a little more gourmet, if you please, with homemade lasagna (an easy, filling fix for large crowds) or some variation of your favorite pasta salad. For added inspiration, consider a cocktail that matches the color you're painting '- Cosmos for a pink bedroom; Mojitos for a kelly-green kitchen. Warning: You might want to introduce the heavy liquor when you're wrapping up. Otherwise, the paint job will suffer.

  2. Snacks: In addition to a lunch or dinner meal, keep a healthy supply of snacks around your nest for the spurt of energy your guests and laborers will need to get the job done. Chocolate is always a good call. Chips will do the trick, too.

  3. Good music: Essential for keeping the party lively. Don't forget to take pictures '- grooving to the tunes while painting is sure to occur among several of your guests.

  4. Painting supplies for all: You will need at least one roller or brush for every participant, which is why it is wise to keep the guest list small '- unless you plan to paint a whole nest in one day, in which case, you'll also need supplies for every room. Your guests can trade off tasks when they get sick of cutting in or rolling on paint.

  5. A plan: Just as you might plan the general flow of a dinner party (guests arrive, cocktails for all, dinner is served, dessert by the fire), so must you prepare a general plan for painting or else mayhem could occur. If you're attempting the works '- ceilings, walls, and trim '- get your guests started on cutting in and rolling on the paint of both the ceilings and the walls '- scatter them about so no one runs into each other. Two people per wall or ceiling is a good number for starters '- they can begin on opposite sides and meet in the middle.

    Since you may need to tape between wall and ceiling, depending on whether or not you have molding between the two, you may need to start and finish one or the other first, then move onto the next when the paint has dried. Save the trim for last, since glossier finishes tend to dry more slowly. If your party is a daylong event, schedule the walls and ceiling in the morning (after coffee and pastries, of course), then break for lunch while those dry. Then, tackle the trim in the afternoon.

  6. A place for guests to clean: Always offer your shower to guests who offer their help at a paint party. Be prepared with a slew of clean towels, soaps and post-shower primping '- pull out your best lotions and hair products. Then, get out of the house '- the fumes are likely getting to all of you and fresh evening air is in order. Planning something afterward '- a movie, dinner and even a swim (if it's the right season) is a great way to end the backbreaking day.

Excerpted from Twigs: The Go-Girl Guide to Nesting by Julia Bourland. © 2005. Penguin Group, publisher.

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