Hosting the Minicon Pool Party

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Tips on planning, hosting and paying for the traditional Minicon Pool Party. This party, which often does double duty as a Minnstf meeting, is typically held at the Minicon hotel (particularly when the Minicon hotel is the Sheraton Bloomington) round about February. When Minicon was huge they gave us the space for free; in more recent years they have sometimes charged us for the rooms but at an extremely good rate.

Karen's Pool Party Tips

With comments interpolated by others

The hotel needs to be asked to provide

  • 3 stacks of chairs
  • 3 rounds (that seat 8, not 10, or at least the smallest round banquet tables that can be brought 'round -- put two on the side room porches, and the other on the main room porch. These are for gaming.)
  • a coat rack, because there aren't enough hangers in the closets
  • ice (unless there are enough volunteers to slowly fetch it from the ice machines.)
    • The hotel charges a fortune for ice. In the Sheraton, there is an ice machine just down the hall, on the 2nd floor, with a very large hopper, allowing ice to be transported very quickly if we bring an appropriate bucket. We go through many times more ice at Minicon than during the pool party, and it works (with, granted, some degree of tedium) for us.
  • a large trash can and extra liners. Filled trash bags get stashed in the back hall.
  • If you are having hot drinks, get a rack or two rack of coffee mugs from Convention Services. There is no need to mention these things to your sales contact (who might charge for them), just call for what you need when you get to the hotel. If you are having wine, ditto for wine glasses.
    • I've heard of this technique before, and have ended up paying for glasses anyway. The sales contacts aren't the only ones who know they are supposed to bill. I've seen it work too, but it's a bit iffy.

I have usually brought from home, as party supplies

a coffee maker
some sugar
coffee filters
a cutting board
a sharp knife
serving bowls (as many as a dozen, various sizes)
platters or trays
a bottle opener (you must remember this)
a cork screw
paper, markers, tape for sign-making

If you are serving something that requires forks or spoons, make sure you have enough. Don't forget the food in the fridge: perhaps have a flexible schedule for when things get served, so your helpers have a plan to follow. Got any decorations? I generally leave $20 for a tip, and I have always let any very late stayers who wanted to crash in the beds at the end of the party.

  • The knives, cutting boards, etc. are all available in the storage locker, but it helps if you have someone along who is familiar with how everything is stored, so it is easier to find. This stuff is organized in storage around the way that hospitality and the bar use it an Minicon, so Joel, Beth, Keith, or someone else who has worked hospitality/bar recently can go along to help find things.

Sample shopping list, circa 2000

For the Permanent Record, here's the shopping list I used in 2000 when I bought the Pool Party supplies. Let this be a suggestion, not a required list. About 96 people signed in at this party. This spent whatever the budget was, I think about $300. I suggest that the host/pool party cabal provide fewer drinkables and ask people to bring drinks. People like to bring things, and this is A Good Thing To Encourage. Spend most of the smaller budget on food.

Or, have a Dessert Party, or a Cheese Party, or both and let people contribute to those. I dunno. I just think that asking people to contribute either food or drink will work pretty well.

partyware + supplies
ice = 80 lbs.
roll of masking tape
indelible marker to write name on drinks
1 box asst'ed plastic silverware
1 box toothpicks
1 roll freezer paper
3 sm pkg. plates
1 pkg. paper bowls
1 pkg. plastic cups
(some of this was donated)
(note: someone else made signs)

12 packs:
spring water = 3
diet coke = 4
coke = 4
asst'ed = 6 (diet Dr. Pepper,  Sunkist Lemonade, ginger ale, Barq's, diet 7 Up)
bottled pop 6 packs = 4
(Kemper Root Beer, Crystal Alpine Water, Dorothy's Root Beer)
Bottled pop 4 packs =3
(Stewart's Key Lime, Stewart's Ginger Beer)
Bottle juice = 1
(cran something)
Beer = case of 24 Leinie's
Beer (other 6 packs) = 2 (I forget what)
Hard Cider, 6 packs = 6
wine = 2 bottles
(LEFTOVERS = 4 12-packs of pop, a case of cider, a case of beer, 3 2-liter bottles.  People bring things to drink.  At least 3 cases of alcohol were donated to this party, IIRC.  This should be considered when shopping)

6 dozen bars from bakery (this was unnecessarily elaborate and expensive.  I don't recommend repeating this)
crackers (5 boxes)
chips (3 bags or boxes)
 cookies (3 pkgs.)
cheese (2 pkgs.)
hard sausages (3)
pickled things (6 jars = cornichons, brussels sprouts, olives, small jar of mustard, artichoke hearts)
2 pints grape tomatoes
6 peppers (ass'ted colours)
lg bag baby carrots
3 cukes
1 box clementines
3 sm heads broccoli
5 asst'ed: salsa (2 different), crab dip, french onion, hummus
half and half (coffee was donated)
dried mango slices
imitation crab meat
Besides this list, I recommend candy and sweets.  Bread and dips. Something substantial, something showy.  Something you like.  Pie or cake?

Another completely different shopping list from 1999

For future reference, this is what Karen and Bruce bought for the pool party in 1999. At the end are notes on costs.

Chips-like stuff:
bag of pretzel sticks
bag of Fritos
bag of Doritos (Nacho Cheese)
bag of Cheetos (quick-fried to a crackly crunch)
2 boxes of potato chips
2 large bags of Tostitos (corn chips)
Dips (for chips, vegies, bread, whatever):
Pace med. chunky salsa (small jar)
River Bank brand tomatillo/chipotle salsa (largely uneaten)
River Bank brand red salsa (largely uneaten)
Frito Lay cheese dip (canned)
Spinach-artichoke dip (deli)
Mexican bean dip (deli)
Old Home Dill Dip
Old Home Bermuda Onion Dip
1/2 pint guacamole
1/2 pint hummus
1 lb. M&Ms
1 lb. M&Ms (crunchy)
2 bags of Hersey's miniatures
bag of Skittles
bag of  (some other candy)
Chips Ahoy
Oreos (2)
Almond Sandies
Entenmann's choc. chip
Fig Newtons
Pinwheels (those marshmallow thingies)
Little School Boys (dark chocc.)
Pepperidge Farm Endless Chocolate cookies
2 Carr's Table Water crackers
box of Goldfish (cheddar cheese)
garlic Melba toast rounds
Ak-Mak crackers
Chicken in a Bisket
2 pints cherry tomatoes
pkg celery
2 8 oz. containers small whole mushrooms
3 green peppers
1 red pepper
3.5 lbs bananas
4 lbs green grapes
2 lbs baby carrots
Pop (12 packs)
4 Coke
1 caffeine-free Coke
5 Diet Coke
1 Sunkist Sparkling Lemonade
1 Diet 7-Up
1 Diet Ginger Ale
2 fizzy water (plain)
1 A&W Root Beer
1 Diet  A&W Root Beer
1 Tahitian Treat
1 Mountain Dew
Other beverages
coffee: (Karen donated from home)
teas: (Mike donated from home)
(Mike and Karen both brought sugar from home as well)
half & half: 1 pint.  Could have used a second one
Apple juice: about a half-gallon
Cranapple juice:  gallon. largely unused
Pink Grapefruit juice: about a half-gallon
Lemon Poppyseed cake
mint-frosted brownies (small pkg., on sale)
German-choc.-frosted brownies (small pkg., on sale)
Pecan Carmel Ring
3 loaves of bread (pesto foccachia, caraway rye, sundried-tomato)
Cheeses, Meats
8 oz block of lacy swiss
8 oz block of pepper jack
8 oz block of sharp cheddar
small (8 oz.?) Thuringer sausage
small garlic sausage
small Schweigert summer sausage
small jar sweet-hot mustard
small jar stone ground mustard
jar of hot pickled Brussels sprouts
jar of pickled asparagus
jar of pickled artichoke hearts
can of roasted peanuts
jar of cashew halves
sent people to get from hotel's ice machines.  Took a lot of trips, but it worked just fine.
1 case Leinie's
4 six packs (=one case) assorted micro brews (on sale)
4 six packs (=one case) Woodchuck hard cider (on sale) (ran out way early)
Total spent on 1999 pool party
      $286.91 (grocery store)
       $64.54 (liquor store)
       $10.00 (bellman tip)