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"Pay My Rent" Party

Updated on May 12, 2009
Time to throw a party!
Time to throw a party!
The Harlem Rent Party tradition lives on.
The Harlem Rent Party tradition lives on.

Old Fashioned House Party!

An old fad is becoming a new trend in these days of economic hardships. Rent parties, also known as house parties, have deep roots in Harlem, where residents threw parties to raise money for bills and rent. With live music playing, a hat would be passed around to all of the guests for contributions.

These parties are making a comeback, and I think it’s a rocking idea.

Of course, today’s parties, hopefully, don’t have the same challenges as those Harlem parties had. First, we don’t have to worry about Prohibition today. And, the living and working conditions were not great for these pre-Civil Rights partiers. Unfortunately, slums still exist and I’m not naïve enough to think that everything is laddy da fine in this day and age, but things are different.

Unfortunately, people are going through rough financial times. Throwing rent parties provide two different kinds of relief during hard times:

  1. They raise much needed money.
  2. They provide an opportunity for fun.

We all know that fun, social environments create great outlets for stress relief!

Tips for Your Rent Party

The most important thing to remember is that you are trying to raise money so you need to keep your expenses low.

Let me give you some quick DON’Ts before I give you the DOs.

DON’T buy invitations – dude, this costs money. Plus, you will have to buy the postage, which is not cheap these days.

DON’T throw a dinner party – food isn’t cheap, so stay away from anything formal or sit down.

DON’T hire live entertainment – you aren’t getting married here, you are trying to raise money.

DON’T buy pricey wine, beer, or liquor – this isn’t some high society cocktail party, it’s a “help me pay by bills so I’m not evicted” party.

DON’T go overboard crazy – seriously, do you want the neighbors to call the police? I didn’t think so.

The DOs

Okay, do you get the general idea of what not to do? Now, let’s talk about what you should do to throw a successful rent party.

DO charge a small fee – you can ask everyone to contribute something at the door (just let people know ahead of time that this is a “pay my rent” party). Either let people choose what to contribute, or set the price yourself. $5 or $10 a head isn’t bad, especially if you kept your spending low.

DO go online – Facebook, email, electronic invitations = free, free, free!

DO talk to everyone you know – word of mouth is the best way to advertise your party.

DO buy cheap foods – think pizza and chips. Head out to Costco, or a store like that, and buy some cheap bulk items.

DO invite a friend’s band to play – seriously, a lot of bands just want the opportunity to promote themselves. I totally threw an awesome party where I let a friend of a friend’s band play. They even promoted the party themselves…there’s nothing like being handed a flyer by a stranger promoting a party at your own house…oh yeah.

DO buy cheap drinks – Trader Joe’s has awesome wine prices (Two Buck Chuck), warehouses have good deals on beer, or get a keg of the cheap stuff. If you want to have liquor, do not go high end. Shop for bargains.

DO have fun – the party can be totally fun without it ending in a trashed home or the cops showing up. Remember that you are an adult, and don’t let it get out of control.

DO thank everyone – these people are paying guests, and helping you pay your bills, so be thankful and gracious.


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    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I don't know if I would have the nerve to do that but it is an interesting idea. Maybe in the cities, and if you are a young person and know a lot of other young people, that would work. Voted up and interesting.

      Blessings to you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      They did this in the 1920's in Harlem. They were "Stride Piano" parties and such. They are part of the history and roots of Jazz music. If you are in college and especially if you are a musician this is a great idea.

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 

      6 years ago from Cardiff

      That is a brilliant idea, why have I never thought of that, all those wasted money making oppurtunities in college and uni. lol!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Stacie,

      never heard of a rent party, what a great idea. Great hub thanks for writing and for sharing. Voting up,


    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 

      6 years ago from California

      Wow I should have thought of this when I was in college...way smarter

      than throwing a sorority party. Speaking of Two Buck Chucks, I love them!

      After your guests get hammered, they won't even notice the difference

      between a $40 bottle and a $2 bottle. ;-)

    • Kim Cantrell profile image

      Kim Cantrell 

      7 years ago from Deep In The Pages of a Book

      Hmm, interesting concept. They don't do anything like that around here (Tennessee). I could see this idea also being used as a unique fundraiser for someone's medical bills and the likes as well.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is a great idea. Voted up. I think it is great when people are willing to ask for help, and provide a fun way to let people help them.

    • princesswithapen profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Stacie

      I loved the idea of a pay my rent party. Very interesting hub, worth passing around to friends.

      Voted up and useful.


    • trimar7 profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Wow - have to admit this is a new idea to me. Not sure how I feel about it. I was raised to invite people to my home without expectations. No - my family was not wealthy by any means. In fact, there were some lean years. I know we are living in hard times but this may be just a little over the top for me. However, if it works for some and they are not offended - have at it.

    • taaduh profile image


      7 years ago from San Diego, Ca

      Yeah, back in the day we threw parties like this, and we had some serious fun doing it! I hope I don't really need to do it again, but thanks for the tips if I do!

    • W. K. Hayes profile image

      Warren Keith Hayes 

      7 years ago from Bryson City, North Carolina

      Wow, the things I have forgotten that you just reminded me of...thanks for the great article.

    • Canklefish profile image


      8 years ago from East Coast

      You left a "don't" off your list...

      DON'T invite people with less money than you to your gala fundraiser event!

    • eventsyoudesign profile image


      8 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      This is the first time I have heard of a rent party. I have always liked a good party. Thanks for sharing. I like the way you write.

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I would never do this, but it's a funny idea.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This trend has an interesting backstory but I think nowadays people would be insulted if you asked them to pay for a party. In fact, I think I would be if I was invited to a friends house and found out they wanted monetary help. Maybe that's just my social circle though. Interesting concept...I could definitely use some help on the rent. : )

    • Info Help profile image

      Info Help 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      this hub is fantastic! Great idea which I think I will try

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      9 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      I can husker du with this one! My house party days are winding down, but it was fun to read about them all the same. I like your use of "dude", used sparingly it's verbally amusing isn't it, dude?

    • MAYRAPINK profile image


      9 years ago from texas

      i really like this hub.. entertaining and informative...:)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I thought 2 Buck Chuck was a cheap steak.

    • nebraska66 profile image


      9 years ago from Grand Island, Nebraska USA

      Now someone needs to invent the Online Rent Party! Oh look...the domain name is available. :)

    • caitlinlea profile image


      9 years ago from Texas

      Awesome idea!! With all the hard times going around these's a wonderful way to help each other out!! =-D Thanks for the fabulous hub!!

    • solarstories profile image


      9 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      That's very interesting! I never heard of it, but it sounds like a great idea!

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      I've never heard of them either, but what a great idea! It'll be interesting to see how well it catches on. Thanks for sharing Stacie!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I had never heard of it but.......why not? One would not even have to call it a "Rent" party. Just a party where everyone is expected to help defray the expenses by contributing a set price. This could really catch on.......especially with the younger set.

    • ratcliffe07 profile image


      9 years ago

      wow very interesting idea...I wouldn't ever have the guts to do it but definitely intersting idea

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      wow! Cool idea!

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Good idea, and good hub!

    • C.Ferreira profile image


      9 years ago from Rutland, VT

      Great idea! I will be throwing one of these parties as soon as I move into my new home!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Fantastic! I don't knoe of any rent parties recently -- Maybe someone will have one because of your Hub!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Oh dear here you go again...yikes...good Luck Angel will be interesting to say the least...hummm does this honestly work these days?.Must be fun if nothing else and any excuse to PARTY is good enough...when is the party??? Love you sweetie G-Ma :O) Hugs

    • RooBee profile image

      Arby Bourne 

      9 years ago from USA

      What a cool idea - I had never heard of it, thanks for the backstory.

      Killer hub and very nicely written!!

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      9 years ago

      Now that is a brilliant idea and a very useful one!


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