How to Host the Perfect Sauna Party

Did you catch the news of the big sauna party? There’s actually an event called the World Sauna Championship and the goal is (as you can guess) to stay in a broiling hot sauna longer than your competitors. The victor is the last one to leave the sauna … without assistance.

Despite the fact that the sauna has existed for eons, the competition wasn’t invented officially until 1999, and it only began then after some folks were banned from the swim hall in Heinola, Finland, for staging an unofficial sauna sit-in contest. Now these World Championships have become one big sauna party, televised and viewed by millions of people around the world.

The Finnish Sauna Society is aghast at the whole idea and have denounced it. They think it’s unhealthy and dangerous (the starter temperature is 230 degrees F and goes up every 30 seconds from there). But this party isn’t just a nutter’s competition; bathers are willing to bake to lobster-red for several minutes in order to win a week’s vacation in some exotic -- and hot -- locale like Morocco.

UPDATE: As of 2010 these sauna contests are no longer being held. The health risks were just too great.

Host Your Own Sauna Party

Sauna Party

But enough about pain and suffering and survival of the fittest, you can host your own party and have a lot more fun. If you’ve recently installed a large outdoor sauna and have given some thought to sending out invitations, here’s a few ideas to keep in mind:

  • Winter is the best time to have a party but you can have it in the summer too, especially if it’s going to be a cooler day. If you live in a snowy climate, a traditional Finnish dive in a deep snow bank would be the perfect finale after the last sauna session. The host (you) will need to lead by example and go first!
  • Make sure your sauna stove is heated to the correct temperature before guests arrive. You don’t want to wait around for 40 minutes trying to warm up the room.
  • Provide towels for the party guests who forgot them.
  • Set the mood with some aromatic fragrant oils. Just a few drops added to the water bucket will give your sauna a delightful appeal.
  • It almost goes without saying that a sauna party, like a pool party, will only sound inviting to people who are at ease in a bathing suit. Overweight friends or just anyone who feels uncomfortable in exposing a lot of skin will need extra encouragement to attend.
  • Don’t forget drinks and food. Treat your sauna bathing guests to a few cold beers or refreshing mineral water afterwards and have a nice selection of treats for the après sauna bathing party.
  • The party shouldn’t last for more than 30 minutes. That way, the guests won’t feel obliged to try and tolerate the sauna heat past their comfort zone or do their own competition of who can stay in the longest. Encourage guests to enjoy the heat as long as they like, but that they shouldn’t overdo it.

Hosting your own sauna party is a great way to connect with friends and introduce them to the wonderful experience of the sauna bath. Or here’s an idea: invite your friends over to enjoy the bath, then go in and catch the World Sauna Championships on TV!

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