The light is there, at the end of this long tunnel, but we’re not yet—and it doesn’t look like we will be by 4/20.
Try to find a public celebration, and you’ll run into messages saying the event is in limbo (FlyHi 420 Festival in Denver), scheduled to be rescheduled (National Cannabis Festival in D.C., announcing a new date on June 1), or outright canceled (Sweetwater420 Festival in Atlanta).
Last year, we were just starting to figure out how to celebrate things on Zoom when 4/20 rolled around. This year, heavy with Zoom fatigue, it’s hard to consider anything on that platform a celebration.
This is the year to gather safely with our pods for an intimate (but not too intimate) session. But we know. It’s been so long since you threw a party, it feels like you’ve forgotten how.
And we got you. This guide to hosting a bitching 4/20 bash for your besties—whether a wake-and-bake brunch, a high happy hour, or a five-course dinner—has everything you need to know.
After a year of digital everything, sending real paper invitations via USPS (which needs your support right now) is a thoughtful touch. Etsy has a great collection of handmade seed paper invitations that your guests can plant in their gardens this spring to remind them that on 4/20/21, things were beginning to begin again.
Give your friends an email to RSVP, and when they do, send them a questionnaire about their experience and tolerance levels—even if you’re certain you know them—especially if you’re planning an infused meal.
A lot of people have given up smoking until we reach the other side of this pandemic. That’s a good reason to make this the year you try your hand at infusing food or beverages with cannabis. Depending on the weather, a picnic would be right on point.
To some, this might sound scary. What if you dose yourself or your guests into oblivion? You’re right to have this healthy respect for the plant’s effects. But with today’s testing and technology, it’s pretty easy to keep track of how many milligrams of THC you’re feeding to your friends.
When you make oil and butter infusions and tinctures using cannabis flower or concentrates that have been tested for THC and CBD content, you can easily check the cannabinoid content of the final product using online calculators. Try the one at jeffthe420chefcalculator.com.
No matter how heavyweight you think your friends are (or they claim to be), keep the THC milligram count of any meal you serve to 10. Infuse dressings, sauces, and relishes rather than the dish itself so people can dole out more or less based on their preferences and still enjoy the meal.
Cooking with cannabis that has at least a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD is also a great way to ensure your guests don’t end up drooling on the sofa. CBD mitigates some of THC’s negative effects and is heavy on the relaxation vibe.
You can also “cheat” by using pre-made tinctures, oils, and butters, as well as cannabis chocolates, beverages, and water-soluble additives. With dosing information on the labels, these products make it a breeze to create accurate servings.
Set & Setting
First described by Timothy Leary in his book The Psychedelic Experience, “set” is your mental state at the time you consume cannabis, and “setting” is your physical and social environment. You can’t control everything, but when you’re hosting a cannabis-centered party, it’s your job to make sure the setting helps everyone have a lovely set.
That means you want to create a space that’s soft and nurturing yet stimulating and inspiring at the same time. It’s not as hard as it sounds.
Lighting is everything. Keep it low and festive. Turn off any harsh overhead lights and replace bright white bulbs with soothing pink or blue ones (which are easy to find online). Bring in a little magic with fairy lights and natural candles, maybe with an almond scent to complement the terpenes found in cannabis-infused food.
Music is also key to the event’s tempo. Make a playlist appropriate for your guests and your event and long enough to last throughout the soiree. Make sure to test it beforehand. If you’re serving a meal, choose softer, down-tempo instrumental music for when people are eating.
People love to listen to and share their own favorite tunes, so make sure to leave space for them on your playlist.
You can also create safe spaces for people. Have a lounge space where guests can relax with soft pillows and blankets, sip hot tea, and wipe their foreheads with cold lemon and lavender scented towels.
In the bathroom, dim the lighting, light a fragrant candle, and fill a basket with things that make cannabis consumers happy, like single-serving eye drops, lip balms, hand sanitizers, and lotions.
Finally, keep decorations simple, tasteful, and earth-friendly. No plastic pot leaf tablecloths or mylar 420 balloons—basically, nothing that will end up in the landfill on 4/21. But we didn’t have to tell you that.
Keep it Booze-Free
You could serve alcohol, but it will be a whole different (and better) event without it. Consuming cannabis and alcohol can exacerbate the negative effects of both. Plus, after a year of quarantinis and Zoom happy hours, your guests might welcome a booze-free gathering.
Start with a mocktail hour featuring nonalcoholic drinks spiked with Stillwater Ripple or another water-soluble THC or CBD product. Throughout the event, make sure everyone’s glasses are constantly filled with herbal sparkling water or another alcohol-free beverage.
Prepare for the Worst
After the year we just had, will we ever not prepare for the worst?
The worst thing that could happen at your 4/20 party is that someone consumes too much cannabis and thinks they’re going to die. They’re not—it’s impossible—but that’s tough to explain in the moment.
You can be prepared with what our friends at Irie Weddings & Events in Colorado call an “Oh, Shit Kit.” It’s a collection of remedies to help over-indulgers come back down to earth.
These kits include water with electrolytes, CBD tinctures or Undoo softgels (a mixture of CBD and vitamin E that promises to “unhaze the blaze”), homeopathic rescue remedies, chamomile essential oil, and ground-up pepper (which is said to mitigate anxiety and paranoia).
Expect the Best
Of all the things you can do to prepare for your 4/20 party, the most important one is to relax. If you’re stressed, your guests will be stressed. It won’t be a fun party.
This year, 4/20 falls on a Tuesday—no one’s favorite day of the week. If you’re planning a full-on brunch or dinner, you might want to celebrate the weekend before or after.
For a Tuesday party, consider having the pod over for mocktails and appetizers or herbal tea and dessert. Keep it simple. You could even make it a potluck, as long as you don’t call it a “pot” luck.
No matter what you choose to do, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. There couldn’t be a better year to throw a party. People are happy to be anywhere that isn’t Zoom.