Are you ready for the greatest holiday party season ever? Brush up on acoustic solutions for your next holiday party to make it the best one yet.
The busiest holiday season of the year is starting up in November (sorry, Halloween, we love you but we don’t love you THAT much) and Americans know how to spend that cold, hard money.
How much exactly? Hundreds of billions. Yeah, you read that right — Americans spend HUNDREDS of billions during the last two months of the calendar year.
In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates holiday retail sales will top out at $720.89 billion — you read that right, too — just for November and December. That’s an increase of 4.8% over last year, which means you can bet people are going to be throwing even more smashing holiday parties this year. So how can you be sure to have happy guests and happy neighbors for your next holiday party? We’ve got some sound advice just for you!
Tip #1: Hey There, Neighbor
Some people hate surprises. Neighbors are definitely some people. Don’t surprise them with dozens of vehicles in the street, annoying coming-and-going guests, and the obnoxiously loud thump-thump-thump of your party tunes. Instead, give them a heads up with the details so they know what to expect.
Telling them what hours your guests will be partying will give them solid expectations instead of a guessing game for when it’ll die down. A few might want to head out to avoid the commotion, and most will appreciate the simple fact your considered letting them know ahead of time.
If they are friendly (yay for friendly neighbors!) and people you want to mingle with a bit more, invite them. While they may already have plans, people generally like to feel included so you’ll win a few more points on the good-neighbor scorecard…and we all know they are definitely keeping score. Getting to know your neighbors is also a great idea in general, so go on, knock on their door.
Tip #2: The Party’s Over, Amigo
After you’ve told your neighbors when to expect the party to get started, make certain your guests wind down and leave at the aforementioned end time. Of course, you don’t need to yell, “Party’s over!” and direct everyone promptly out the door like a parent walking in on a teen’s unchaperoned rager.
Cues like tidying up, opening the inside front door (if you have one), casually handing out coats, and turning down or fading out the music can help guests realize the time. Saying you hope they had a great time can help conclude the evening too.
If anyone resists and tries to linger, try handing them a trash bag for clean-up. They’ll get the point and either provide free assistance or, more likely, say they better head home — either way, you’re good.
Tip #3: Turn the Music Down, Mate
This one is easy. If your music is too loud, simply turn it down a notch or two. While it may not seem excessive during the day, the quiet of nighttime can cause music coming from your house to be much louder.
Do a quick sound check a week or two before the party on the same day at the same time as your planned soiree. You might even try a little walk around the neighborhood to check how far the sound travels at different levels. After checking outside sound levels for your neighbors, consider your guests.
It might be your goal to keep the party jumping with a hot soundtrack, but your guests may find the party less enjoyable if they can’t hear well enough for easy conversation. Too-loud music can also become distorted, and you want everyone to enjoy the atmosphere, not leave with a sound-induced headache.
Tip #4: Wall Off the Sound, Sister
If your house has an interior room that works well for mingling and accommodates your sound system, keep the music centrally located.
An interior room provides a common area for guests to talk and enjoy your playlist while adding layers to help with sound absorption. The more walls your music has to travel through, the less it gets beyond your property. This can greatly decrease your chance of a noise complaint so you keep the party going without flashing red and blue lights shutting you down early.
Tip #5: Obey City Curfew, Comrade
Another way to assure your holiday party goes off without a hitch is to check the local noise and curfew laws.
Every area is different, so knowing whether you need to shut it down at 9 PM or 2 AM can make a difference. Your neighbors likely know the law (or know how to Google it) and some love nothing more than a valid reason to complain.
When the local police department gets a call, they are likely to show up and shut it down for you, and that can put a damper on everyone’s holiday spirit.
Tip #6: Bring Down the Bass, Bro
Low frequencies travel through walls better than mid and high ones, so tweaking your sound system to bring down the bass will eliminate much of the sound leaving party central.
Hard-hitting bass might increase adrenaline, but an angry neighbor will too and in a much less pleasant way. If you just can’t bring yourself to tone down that thump, perhaps you can consider this next tip.
Tip #7: Move the Party Below, Buddy
You know what really dampens noise? The ground. Yeah, the solid earth surrounding the walls of a basement level can soundproof a party better than many other options.
If you are planning a holiday party that is just going to be out-of-this-world fun and there’s no way your guests are going to be anything but full of the holiday spirit, move the party down to an underground level. Though you may have some sound traveling to the floor above, your overall noise level will be greatly reduced.
Tip #8: Soften up the Place, Pam
That’s right. More throw pillows. More throw blankets. More throw rugs. More throw furniture. Okay, scratch that last one because it’s not a real thing, but the rest? Yes, add in as many soft, cozy, warm accessories as possible.
Not only will they add interesting décor to your rooms, but the soft surfaces also help reduce noise by providing a small amount of additional sound absorption. You can even cover windows and walls with blankets or rugs to help keep the sound from leaving the rooms. Floors with more area covered in soft materials will absorb instead reflect footfalls for even better acoustics.
Tip #9: Mind the Gaps, Girlfriend
As we mentioned in 5 Ways to Reduce Noise in a Rental, check doors and windows for sound leaks. Sound can escape from small spaces, so don’t assume just because a door is closed no sound will get out.
Draft blockers and door sweeps are easy solutions for cracks at the bottom of doors, and simple weather gasketing strips around the door frame will close up thin openings. You can even hang a decorative rubber floor mat on the door for additional sound dampening. Fabric shades work well for windows, and doubling up on curtain panels can help too.
Tip #10: Clear the Space, Chum
Another easy way to improve the acoustics at your holiday party is to clear up some space! Move any furniture currently in the middle of a room to the walls.
Opening up the middle of a room gives you several party benefits: 1) your guests will have more common space available to chat and enjoy some nog; 2) your furniture will do a better job absorbing sound before it leaves your abode. Plan on putting down one of your fancy new throw rugs to keep the floor soft and sound absorbing, and you’ll be good to go.
Tip #11: Put Up Foam & Panels, Pal
Since so much sound travels through walls, adding sound-absorbing foam and acoustic paneling to and near your walls can improve the acoustics at your holiday party even more.
Depending on your commitment to this party season, you can put up temporary panels or have a professional install permanent ones. Acoustic wall panels typically have sound-absorbent filling and come in a large variety of colorways to complement your décor. Other panels can be ceiling mounted or mounted to a wall, and serve as a visual space that improves acoustics. The better your acoustics are, the more your guests will enjoy your space.
So what’s the takeaway? Talk to your neighbors, consider your acoustics, and get ready to have a great time! Now that you are acoustically prepared for the upcoming holiday season, you can set the date for all your winter parties. Just be sure to send us an invite.