How to Decide Who to Invite to a Party

Three Parts:Figuring Out the BasicsChoosing Guests TactfullyInviting the Chosen Ones

When you’re planning a party, one of the most important aspects is the guest list. No matter how great the food is or how beautiful the venue is, a party won’t be successful unless you’ve filled it with the best people. Bringing together the finest group of attendees may seem like a daunting task, but there are a few tips to minimize any invitation angst.

Part 1
Figuring Out the Basics

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    Determine how many guests you can invite. This will depend on things like the size of the venue, the purpose of the celebration, the amount of food or alcohol you’ll be providing, etc. If you’re throwing a huge bash, you may be able to invite all your best friends, close friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. You won’t need to be extremely particular about the guest list, because the more the merrier. However, you’ll have to be pickier if you’re planning a small gathering.[1]
    • It’s best to determine a range of guests, because there’s always a chance that someone will bail on the party last minute, or do the opposite and bring an unexpected plus-one.
    • Figure out a budget for your party, and determine how much each guest will cost you.
    • The venue should provide you with its maximum occupancy, so you can make sure you don't invite too many guests.
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    Consider which type of people would enjoy the party most. It makes for a great party when you invite guests who genuinely enjoy themselves. For example, if you’re hosting a soiree at an upscale restaurant, think about your friends who love trying new cuisine or are self-proclaimed “foodies.” If you’re hosting a casual backyard cookout, you may want to invite your more low-key, low maintenance friends. You get the idea![2]
    • This doesn’t mean to exclude good friends that may not “fit” the atmosphere you’re going for. It can certainly be fun to get them out of their comfort zones.
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    Include information in your invitation about bringing friends. If you know you have plenty of room for all your guests and then some, you can include a line about your party being "the more the merrier!" This will let your invitees know that they are welcome and even encouraged to bring others along with them.
    • Proper party etiquette is that the only people who are explicitly invited are the names on the invitation. If you want your guests to bring dates, children, friends, or whoever, specify![3]

Part 2
Choosing Guests Tactfully

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    Make a list of the non-negotiable guests. These are people that you absolutely must invite, for whatever reason. These could be your best friends or family members that you couldn’t imagine having a party without, or any people that you feel completely obligated to invite. Typically, non-negotiables are people you desperately want at your party or the people that you must invite to avoid tension. Once you’ve created this list, you can determine how much space you have left to invite others.[4]
    • If you’re having an engagement party, your soon-to-be mother-in-law is a non-negotiable. You may not love her, but there is no way you can exclude her.
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    Consider the relationships or “plus-ones” of your non-negotiable guests. This applies to all ages and types of parties. If you’re a child hosting a sleepover and you invite your best friend, they may want to bring their other best friend. If you’re inviting your favorite co-worker to your dinner party, you should probably expect his new fiancée to join him. These things are important to consider when planning a party both for logistical reasons, such as food, drinks, space, etc., but also for the dynamic and mood of the party as a whole. A party may go more smoothly if everyone feels comfortable, whether they brought a guest or have other friends in attendance.[5]
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    Eliminate any potential conflicting pairs. These are any guests that have problems or bad blood with each other. There may be two people you really want at your birthday party, but it won’t be much fun if they’re fighting with each other the whole time. This can be a difficult task, but you need to try your best to avoid potential conflicts or awkward situations.[6]
    • Sometimes you just can't eliminate all potential conflict pairs. If there are two people who are at odds that you absolutely must invite, consider planning a larger-sized party where there will be plenty of other people to divert attention and reduce overall tension.
    • If you're planning a smaller party where the two conflicting guests will be in contact with each other, let them both know beforehand. Tell them privately that the other person will be there, and you hope they can respect your desire to have a calm and drama-free party.
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    Invite everyone if you are inviting a majority. In other words, if you are inviting over half of your office or class, you need to invite everyone. Don't alienate a couple of people by inviting everyone else, because it will create an uncomfortable and exclusive atmosphere. Put yourself in their shoes, and give them an invitation if everyone else is getting one.
    • If you are having a smaller party and aren't capable of inviting everyone, invite only a chosen few. That way, the majority of your co-workers or classmates aren't invited and won't take it as a personal affront.
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    Invite people you want to invite. At the end of the day, it is your party and you can invite whoever you want. While there is common etiquette to ensure that people don't feel unnecessarily excluded, you are not obligated to invite anyone you don't want to. If you are comfortable with the tension or repercussion that may result from leaving someone off your guest list, then you should. You will not be able to enjoy your event if you are surrounded by people you don't want to be around.[7]
    • This is a trickier issue if you are co-hosting a party. If your co-host wants someone there that you dislike, or vice versa, you may need to compromise.

Part 3
Inviting the Chosen Ones

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    Use tact and manners when inviting your guests. If you’re only inviting a few people at school or work, don’t pass out invitations or spread the word there. Sending your invitations via mail or e-mail is a great method. You can send invitations discreetly, and you can also include pertinent information, such as your address, driving directions, dress code, or anything else they may need to know.[8]
    • Send your invitations a couple weeks before a more formal event, and within a week for an informal party.
    • Websites like Paperless Post make it easy to create cute, custom invitations. They offer an entire section of invitations you can create completely for free.[9]
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    Request and follow up for RSVPs. This can be as formal as requesting written RSVPs, or just asking invitees if they plan on attending so you can get a general headcount. Regardless of how you go about doing this, you should figure out who is planning to attend so that you can make sure you are prepared to host everyone. Make sure that when you request RSVPs, you also ask if they intend on bringing a date or friend along with them.
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    Invite reserves if applicable. If many of your invitees are unable to come, you can always send out additional invitations to anyone you may not have considered originally. After you’ve created your list of non-negotiable guests and their potential dates, create a list of reserve guests. These reserves will get invited if many of your original invitees can’t make it.[10]

Article Info

Categories: Event and Party Planning