January 23, 2005

Curious George: Party Planning. So my roommate and I are planning on hosting a party. The question is, how many people do we invite?

Our apartment is, well, small. It's not as small as a closet, but it's close. We figure we can host about 20 guests comfortably at a time. But, since not everyone will come at the same time, and people leave early, and not everyone will show up, about how many people should be invited in order to keep a constant level of around 20 in our place at any given time?

  • So this is a cocktail party and not a dinner, right? I don't have a large enough circle of acquaintances that I need to limit my invites, but for you I'd say to invite...oh, maybe 35. Always err on the side of too many, it's way more fun to go to a party that's crowded than one that's sparsely attended. Personally, I've found that about 2/3 of the people I invite will show up, and about 3/4 of the way through I have the highest number of people. Other things I have learned: Drinks, music and a good mix of people are the only essentials. Parties end when you run out of booze and you can never have too much ice, so buy twice what you think you'll need. Have hours of music already ready, you won't have time to play DJ (thank you iTunes!). Food is nice and appreciated but don't worry if it runs out, that's not why people came. It is more important that you be ready than that the house be ready. And if it'll be loud and/or go late, neighbors are much less likely to complain if you tell them about it ahead of time. Or hell, invite them. Hope this helps.
  • maybe people like you better than me, but I was going to say invite 60-100 to get 20. I am talking like work acquiantences and such, not close personal friends. I find I have 5-10 die-hards i could count on to show, tops, and the rest I'd invite are about a 1 in 5 shot at best. To me it's better too many than too few. Assuming you live in an open-minded building, the worst that'll happen is people spill out into the hall/courtyard/whatever.
  • More or less what drjimmy said. Invite about twice as many people as you want - say 50 would be about right - you should then get 20 - 25, depending. Invite everyone about 10 days to 2 weeks ahead of time - I do an evite and a paper invite that I hand out - and I give those to the neighbors too, so they'll be invited/forewarned. Then I remind people again a few days before. Theme parties, for whatever reason, tend to work pretty well, especially those centered around food. I did a Cuban/Hawaiian party one time that was lots of fun: mojitos, plastic flamingos, a whole roasted goat, and everybody dressed up in hawaiian clothes & panama hats & coconut bras and such. Go ahead and tell people to bring beer; everyone always asks what to bring, and you can't have too much beer. Other stuff: You need paper towels, plastic cups, a place for coats and lots of extra trashbags. Have a place for people to smoke & ashtrays, hang up Christmas lights for ambiance (they're safer than candles and just as fun) and tell people where it is & isn't cool to park. Have fun yourself & your guests will too - that's the key rule. Enjoy!
  • Get drunk and leave your place mid-party to your fifty sauced and screaming friends and go up to the local 7-11 and happily invite everyone who might be hanging around the parking lot on a Friday night. My friend would do this every time, and I'd be the one back at his house talking to the cops as my bud wandered around the streets inviting local hooligans. Made for an interesting mix of people until the fistfights started. He was always so amazed the next day when furniture was out on the lawn, windows broken, and the inevitable, "Man...I can't believe somebody would rip me off".
  • It is all relative to your social situation. When I was in high school, telling 4-5 people meant that I was going to get about 40-50. In college telling 1-2 people produced about that many. By my second year of law school, I actually would get 15 or so on a weekend night without telling anyone. Now I would probably have to invite about 400 to get 10.
  • Moneyjane, I think I was at that party. I was the guy who was laughing a little too loudly. It was fun, but I had a massive hangover the next morning.
  • OK, it depends on what kind of outcome you want. In my current situation (post-forties, middle class), I find that the 10-20 or so people I invite are good about RSVP's and behaving well. However, in my undergraduate and post-graduate days, I was well-known for throwing fabu cocktail parties. First of all, enlist a co-planner, and send out written invitations. I think 20 max is managable. You might have the come-and-go-effect, but always be ready for crashers. I believe people are compelled to respond to written invites. Then your party becomes a buzz. And if you make it like I did, martini parties, with everyone bringing their favorite gin, then you wind up with all kinds of useful leftovers. Plus some yummy but simple snacks, and OOF! You're done. But monitor or lock your bedroom. But you know that already.
  • Hawthorne I'm pretty sure we made out...but then again the whole evening is pretty hazy, what with the tear gas and then the elephants. Were you in lederhosen with superman underoos?
  • Jaypro22, in my circle in Houston we'd get about 2/3 showing for a cocktail party. I sent out written invitations, though, and my friends are in their 30s. Also, we had a party-throwing rep, especially for New Years' Eve, where I started getting questions in early November so people could line up babysitters. I'm probably going to send evites when I start throwing parties here (NYC), but I have a smaller place. We'd have 50 or 60 at our Houston parties and this place can't hold so many. I expect the number of RSVPs to go down and the number of no-shows to go up. I also tend to tell people to just come on over if they call at the last minute, though, and my friends always have done. If you want more people than your house can hold, make it an open house so people will know coming and going is expected. My $0.02, YMMV, etc.