A Foreign Service couple, back in America after years in countries where salaries were low and servants plentiful, were shocked at the cost of hiring help here. Serve themselves? Not they. They had miniature maid and waiter uniforms made, suited up their son and daughter, and continued at table in the manner to which they'd become accustomed.
Although never so formally, most of us do depend on families and friends to get through the average party. There are, however, parties which are not average. Large ones, where it is necessary to have someone ride herd on drinks at all times, or celebrations like anniversaries, where no one wants to be brought back to married reality by a 3 a.m. cleanup.
For those occasions, there is always the caterer. The oh-so-expensive caterer. There are also, more cheaply, college students who hire out as bartenders, waiters, cleanup crew or, in some cases, cooks. Many area colleges and universities have student placement offices, which will read you a list of available students or post your job notice. They generally prefer that you negotiate rates with the students themselves; if you're at a loss as to what to offer, check the going rate with a professional caterer. Also, make sure that you both understand the terms of employment; hours, rates, transportation and the level of skills being offered. If your guests are going to demand Pink Ladies and Sidecars, don't hire someone who thinks those are two of Barnum & Bailey's circus acts.
The University of the District of Columbia (727-2141) has listings of students who've made applications for specific jobs. If there's no one listed who can fill your request, they'll post a notice on the bulletin board offering your job. They suggest one week's to 10 days' notice.
George Mason University (323-2535) will send an employment form that you fill out and which is then posted on their job board under Domestic Assistance. Take the vicissitudes of mailing into account and work out a time schedule that will leave the notice posted at least a week.
George Washington University (676-6495) has lists of students who have signed up to take bartending or clean-up jobs and also will post your specific job request.
Georgetown University (625-4071) has a listing of students who will do bartending, cleanup or even catering (one student offers to do private dinners, citing seven years' experience). They suggest you call at least two weeks in advance and will go through the names with you.
Catholic University (635-5623) has a special Quick Jobs heading on their job board, where one-time jobs like bartending or cleaning up after a party can be listed.
Johns Hopkins University (785-6230) also has a bulletin board where they will post job requests for students. Since people are more likely to be looking for part-time work than for one-night jobs, they suggest you allow a week to 10 days. Ask for Cathy Tanner.