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Help! Venue for Classy 21st Birthday Party

Hi everyone,

First post! This fall is my 21st birthday and my parents are being generous enough to fund a little soiree (rather, they did it for my sisters so they have to do it for me too, recession be damned). While my sisters opted for the big-dorm-room-rager style 21st birthday, I'm not a big drinker so I'm just looking to find a venue off campus to treat myself and my friends to a fun and classy evening.

In order to make my 21st magical, please help me find a venue! Here are some specs:

-Location: Harvard Square (where I live) locales aren't really coming to mind unless you can think of something, so anywhere Boston if easily accessible by T (Red line preferred).
-Restaurants, Hotels, or even unique venues like old houses or museums. I do NOT want a pub or anything that remotely resembles a nightclub.
-Atmosphere: Dim lights, plush lounge-y feeling, lots of nooks that are good for conversations that will go late into the night. Going for classic, not trendy.
-Budget: Pretty big budget for hors d'oeuvres/booze, but hopefully the place will expect a minimum of food/booze and not have a room fee on top of that.
-People: 75 max, probably closer to 50 though
-Bonus: It'd be great if it happened to be a place with a good restaurant where I could get dinner with my family beforehand.

Thanks so much!

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  1. here's one possibility: The Living Room in the north end.

    http://thelivingroomboston.com/events/

    1. What night of the week are we talking about? A Tuesday or a Saturday? Big difference..

      7 Replies
      1. re: purple bot

        so you want to host a cocktail party? are most attending over 21? can the place expect to sell booze? are you planning on open bar or consumption?

        when you say, "Budget: Pretty big budget for hors d'oeuvres/booze, but hopefully the place will expect a minimum of food/booze..." that's a contradiction. what are you planning cost per person? what month, and when? like if it's regatta weekend, good luck getting a private room for short money.

        an old house or a museum will involve a caterer, so that's a completely different angle.

        let us help you, lol.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          i would throw a party at the atheneum.

          1. re: cassoulady

            LOL, i was also thinking the atheneum, but like i said, that would require a caterer, and some more info from the op.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              OK answers to your questions:

              -Yeah so basically it is a cocktail party, I didn't think of it that way but it pretty much is.
              -On the budget front, by minimum for food/drink I didn't mean minimal cost, I meant that they would say "In order to book this space you need to spend $1,000 on food/drink" (or something like that) instead of paying a room reservation fee AND for food and drink.
              -I'd say about half of the people will be 21+
              -Cost per person, ah, maybe $35 average (because a decent number won't be drinking). But I don't have experience with this, is that high or low for drinks and aps at a cocktail party?
              -We'd want an open bar in that I would want to treat my guests. Hopefully I'd arrange beforehand so they'd offer a certain set of stuff though - probably some of the bottom of the shelf booze for your standard drinks, then design some signature cocktail of the evening.
              -Athenaeum seems really awesome... but big room booking fee, probably more suited for a wedding reception or something. Realistically, this'll probably be in a hotel or restaurant/bar.
              -Catering seems overly complicated, again making the NON-hotel/restaurant/bar spaces unlikely. Let's just take those off the table.
              -The suggestion of Upstairs on the Square is a good idea, more of the wacky vibe that what I was thinking but it's a good jumping off point.
              -Date will hopefully be my actual birthday weekend, Columbus Day weekend. So I want to book soon to avoid any long-weekend extravaganzas that others might be planning (This is not Head of the Charles, which is the next weekend).

              1. re: Harvard2010

                Oh, as for what night of the week - I was hoping Friday, but if weekday vs. weekend makes a big difference Thursday would be fine too, or maybe the Sunday of Columbus Day weekend if that makes a difference.

                1. re: Harvard2010

                  that's a still a very busy boston weekend.

                  hotels booking private rooms are going to typically charge you a food & beverage minimum, plus a room fee. plus add-ons, like staffing, gratuity and linen. restaurants that do a lot of functions often follow the same model. you can usually choose your bar package, (i.e. well, call, premium -- although hotels will call it something else) and a signature cocktail is a given these days.

                  using your numbers: they will offer unlimited soda, to however many guests you tell them are under 21, charging you probably $5-$10 for each of those ppl for drinks. for the adults, splitting your figure and that's $15 each for food, $20 for alcohol. you will have a very hard time booking a private room at a hotel or a restaurant for something that low on an october weekend night. for 50 ppl, @ $35 per, the place is looking at revenue of $1750. sorry, but it's peanuts. restaurants that have check averages that low anticipate 3-4 turns on a weekend night.

                  also, if you sign a contract for 75 ppl and only 50 show, you will pay for the 75.

                  you might want to consider sunday daytime, and offer a buyout to a place not normally open for brunch. in this economic climate, you may get a taker. someplace like central kitchen? even locke-ober or teatro, both of which have easy red-line access. although, they still have to bring in staff, turn on the lights and stoves, etc. don't know, but it never hurts to ask.

                  from your nic, do you attend harvard? you may want to contact them about this -- you'll get better pricing than an outsider. a friend got married in a very pretty space at mit, for relatively little money and she loved their planner. but that was in february, so off-peak wedding season, and they were dying for biz.

        2. What about Upstairs on the Square? I went to an event there recently and thought that the atmosphere was great (it was in the Zebra Room, which looks like it's smaller than what you'd be looking for, but they offer a few different private dining room options for parties of various sizes) and the food and drink really well done.

          5 Replies
          1. re: renéemarie

            When I hear "dim" and "plush" I reflexively think of the Enormous Room.

            Hard to think of a private room in a hotel that skews to the nooky, cocktail-party vibe you're seeking. But have you been in the Charles Hotel? It's got sort of a nooky bar (as opposed to nookie bar which is something else entirely) and lounge area, if memory serves. Willing to bet you can hook up something with the Rialto folks, for instance.

            What about something at one of the places at the Liberty Hotel?

            What about the downstairs at Om?

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Eastern Standard will let you book the smaller outside patio and front bar area for a private party: great food and even better drinks and the area can do 50 people.
              Another alternative is estragon tapas. they have a smaller area they use for private parties but you may be able to get them to let you use the larger part of the place and they can use the smaller area for nowmal patrons.

              1. re: rmillman

                Ooo, Eastern Standard looks great - the area you're talking about seems to be the "Ann Corio Lounge and Patio" www.easternstandardboston.com . That looks amazing, this may be it folks! Thank you!

                But if anyone wants to keep the suggestions coming, all are welcome. I'm liking the Eastern Standard because the red leather couches, comfy armchairs, and dim lights are just what I was trying to get at. So anywhere that incorporates those kind of touches is great.

                1. re: Harvard2010

                  I was also going to suggest Eastern Standard. I think this fits your requirements perfectly. If for some reason it doesn't work out, maybe the lounge at the Hotel Marlowe? You could have dinner before-hand at Bambara. Or maybe Parker's Bar at the Omni Parker House? Or the top floor at the Hampshire House (I had my wedding there - 50 people, apps and drinks - it was lovely).

                  Good luck!

            2. re: renéemarie

              i went to a wedding at upstairs on the square and it was one of the nicest ones i have been to.