1. Know What A Lock-In Is
A lock-in is a party where nobody can enter or leave for a predetermined amount of time. I recommend 5:30 or 6:00 as a starting time and 10:00 or 11:00 AM as an ending time.
Whatever it is, it is important that a lock-in starts too early to be an actual party and that it forces the sleepover.
2. The Pitch
A lock in is the best of both worlds. It’s a chill hangout with friends, a house-party, a night in, a night out, movie night, a chance to cook, a chance to eat, drink, gossip, talk philosophy, nap, or board games.
It works best on a snowy, snowy night, but I’ve had a great one in the summer, too.
It’s a true wild-card, because unlike a normal night in or a normal night out, it has mutually been decided upon by your group as an in-between special evening. And it thrives if you give it two things…
3. Seriousness And Weirdness
You might think these two words sound super unfun.
You would be wrong.
A successful lock-in is serious. Ideally people get there before 5:00 or 5:30 because they know if they’re even a minute late they’ll be locked out. The more seriously you hold to your rules, the more fun it will be to follow the weirdness.
The weirdness is what will naturally happen if you take this seriously. If you’re really at a house party for that long, you can’t possibly be partying, especially if you have nowhere to go. That means you will have to pace yourself and manage not to go stir-crazy; people will be playing chess, cooking, listening to headphones, dancing, gossiping, cards- all in rotating, constantly changing groups.
Things are going to be weird if you do this serious. That’s the fun.
4. Set Up The Space.
The coolest house you have. Don’t worry about location; you’re not heading out.
A good kitchen for cooking.
Lots of sleeping space
Multiple separate rooms for hooking up or just mentally recharging
A good TV, good speakers, etc.
5. Set Up The People.
8-12 friends, depending on the friend group and physical space above. Any fewer and it’s a long hangout, which is fine. Any more and it’s a party, which is fine. But this is the sweet spot for the hangout.
Mixed gender, but not actively pursuing hookups. This is crucial. This needs to be a safe, fun space where people respect each other and the friendship weirdness of the night.
No couples, except for super cool couples who everyone loves both sides of.
Someone who can cook.
6. Set Up The Drink Supplies.
A lot of cheap, light beer for drinking.
Some good, sturdy, seasonal appropriate beer for enjoying.
A main “woo!” hard alcohol to get the job done.
A secondary “cocktail” alcohol to enjoy in moderation.
The ingredients for a third, secret, delicious and calm drink (think hot cider, hot chocolate with bailies, etc) to be sipped and savored for calm moments or people.
Soda, for mixing and caffeine.
7. Set Up The Food Supplies
A communal dinner, either lots of pizza or lots of a pasta/chili you all make together.
Standard tasty snacks, like chips and salsa, plus popcorn.
Supplies for basic food, to be had as needed (peanut butter and bread, etc)
Supplies to make baked goods. You may get baked good, if legal in your state.
Lots of good stuff for breakfast. (Which can also double as a midnight breakfast, as needed)
A special treat to really make the night your own, only to be presented at a crucial moment.
8. Other Supplies
Sleeping spots! People aren’t going to get “wasted and pass out” probably, so make sure they all have decent bedding.
PJ’s, toothbrushes, face-wash etc. Really get comfy with this and make sure everyone does too. Communal coziness adds up fast.
Good speakers with a good TV. People are going to be chill-hanging, and having a central focal point is a key supplement for conversation.
An active activity, like a board game, a drinking game, or video games. Poker is good, too.
A passive activity, like a great movie, a great playlist you savor, etc.
Cell phone chargers? A dead phone will make you feel isolated and anxious.
Think of what would bother you to miss, and encourage others to do the same. Nothing ruins a lock in like anxiety of “needing something.” Err on the side of the pampered.
9. Other Points.
Make sure everyone has read this article and knows to be on the same page. Talk about expectations, and make sure people are on board.
No FOMO! Acknowledge that right off the bat. You’re going to be the envy of everyone after you do this. Trust me.
Tell people in advance, so they don’t bother you.
Minimal cell-phone use, but not none. Use as needed, but no arguments over text, etc.
Things will be semi-communal, which is the fun. If you Tinder, expect everyone to Tinder for you, and vice-versa.
Things will be semi-communal, which is some of the crazy. Take personal breaks for yourself as needed, in small doses.
Remember that the lock-in encourages diversity of fun-having; enjoy all types, and make sure they’re available.
10. Simplified Pitch.
Have a lock-in party. It is the best and longest hangout ever. It also doubles as a party slash old-school pajama sleepover slash cool discussion night slash bakery slash poker game slash something weird, fun and unpredictable.
It’s always those sorts of nights that are the most savored, best remembered in the long run, right?
Why not plan one in advance?