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Going Potty

Although a restroom is a necessity for all, you can imagine how varied in experiences they can be, depending on how much thought has been put into them. Be an excellent host by including restrooms in your guest experience design.

Private Events

Countless films depict a long line at a restroom at a house party. There's a reason these parties are for high schoolers. For an event where guest experience is your priority, avoid long lines by:

  • Open up as many restrooms as possible
    • You may want to keep a bathroom in a master bedroom closed off. If this is a sensitive issue, consider allowing a few trusted friends or event staff to use them to lighten the load on the other restrooms.
    • While you can never have too many restrooms, you can certainly have too little. Though specific guidelines vary, a good average is 1 restroom per 50 guests. Consider the age, gender mix, and what you're serving at your party to estimate a good bathroom count.
  • Use signage
    • Let people know where the restroom is by including signage. Start from the first point of entrance from the guests' point of view, that way they arrive and know exactly where to go. Use a map or arrows to guide guests to different locations and use a sign on the door of the restroom itself (I'm sure you've experienced opening 5 closet doors in search of a restroom...)
    • Tossing toilet paper into a trash can instead of the bowl is one of the best ways to avoid a back up. Though most now know to not toss feminine products into the toilet, use signage to communicate any extra requests such as these. This will mean the trash cans needs to be emptied out more often, but this step helps tremendously in warding off any backups.
      • Example of language: "Sensitive Plumbing! Please toss toilet paper and feminine products into the trash can."
  • Provide plenty of backup supplies
    • Elevate your guest experience by providing plenty of back up supplies in the room. The more tools guests have on hand, the less you'll be asked for mid-party.
      • Use baskets to corral these items, and if you're hosting events on the regular, these baskets can be stored away and brought out easily - don't go running around the house searching for these supplies every time.
    • Needs: hand soap (pump is best), toilet paper, plunger and brush, hand towels, disinfecting wipes, a larger than usual trash can
    • Nice to have: tampons/pads, band aids (or even better, a full first aid kit), lotion, mouthwash, floss picks, baby wipes, flowers/potpourri/candle for smell, hair ties and bobby pins, tissues.
  • Delegate responsibility
    • What few rarely think of is that a home plumbing system is not designed to take on so many flushes in such a short time. I am in no way a plumber, but I know that if there is one backup in one restroom, the rest are sure to follow. While most people at a nice event will clean up after themselves, task someone to handle problems as they arise. Even better, add their phone number to a sign to the restroom so that guests know exactly who to reach out for when they need help. Quick action can save a lot of headache later on, and delegating this responsibility helps you focus on other elements of the event. 
    • Ask this person to keep an eye not only on the interior of the restroom, but outside too. If consistently long lines are forming, have them redirect guests to other restrooms or investigate the delay. At the very least, they can entertain people in line! 
Plungers: Splurge on a flange or accordion plunger. You will never regret this. A cup plunger, the cheapest and most commonly found, is designed for sinks, not toilets. A flange or accordion plunger can save your guests from calling you, and in turn save you from calling a plumber!

Babies: If your guest list includes families with small children, I highly recommend designating a separate diaper changing area, which should really help your guests feel taken care of. Stock baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and your best odor-friendly trash can.


When I was doing site-specific performances for the public and/or ticket holders, there were two restroom priorities: 1. Front of House (Audience) and 2. Backstage (Performers/Crew). The FOH restrooms were sometimes as simple as “where does the public go in this space?” Sometimes (ex. when the performance is in a parking lot) a rental was necessary. Gone are the days of awful port-a-potties - include nicer restrooms in your budget from the get go.

The backstage restrooms weren’t always the same. These restrooms sometimes functioned as their changing rooms, and sometimes we were in old restrooms that hadn’t been used in years. The important things we keep in mind for our backstage restrooms were:

  • Storage
    • Costumes, makeup, personal items. Depending on what you're storing, you'll need different levels of security (for personal items),
  • Cleanliness
    • The infrequent use of these restrooms sometimes resulted in us having to check on these ourselves. Although you may think that everyone would clean up after themselves, designating someone to watch this space and manage any issues as they come up will greatly help.
  • Security
    • Safety and security can quickly become a sensitive issue. For the most part during a rehearsal process you quickly learn how comfortable or not the group is with each other, which can help you navigate potential issues down the line. 
    • Ask yourself what steps you can take to make everyone feel comfortable, and if you sense it may become an issue, ask directly if people have ideas on how to increase safety and comfort.
    • Look into the following: 
      • Does the restroom have a working lock? 
      • Are there large gaps on the sides of the doors (quite common in the U.S.)? 
      • Do your performers need to shower pre/post performance?
      • Are shower facilities accessed via a locked door or just a shower curtain? 

Most importantly, for any restroom in any location - ask in advance who to call for problems and come up with a back up plan or two. Talk openly about the restrooms to hear about any problems before they escalate. Communication around this sensitive topic should occur early and often.

Gendered Restrooms: If your space includes gendered restrooms with no all-gender options, consider highlighting the following:

"I’ll Go With You / #IllGoWithYou allies go into bathrooms and other spaces with people who may be afraid or concerned about their safety. An #IllGoWithYou ally offers support, buffering, and nonviolent assistance when asked." - #IllGoWithYou: An Ally Project