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I'm not the most social of people, but I have a small number of friends and acquaintances. I've been wanting to hold parties at my house for some time, I have a wood-fired oven and would love to make pizzas for everyone, for example. But I've been struggling to even get more than a couple to come, and then I have the opposite problem, there's not enough to make it worth actually setting up a party, so I typically cancel in the hope I can have better luck on another weekend.

I've been organised, I create a telegram group, invite people, make a doodle poll to see when the most people are available, and set a date typically a couple of weeks out or more. But pretty much the week before when I send out a reminder, it seems a lot of them can't make it, they're working the weekend, or they have other plans, or another event comes up that they forgot to mention (they do seem to have much busier social lives than me, to be honest). It always seems sincere enough, I know most of them and I doubt they are doing this deliberately, but it's becoming increasingly annoying to have been looking forward to hosting a party and then having your plans dashed, and disappointing the couple who did express an interest.

I've also been wary of inviting too many people because I wouldn't be able to cater for all of them if they all showed up, plus my house isn't that large so I don't want to be overrun.

Honestly, all I'd like is to be able to plan and execute a house party that's an appropriate size with a least a couple of weeks advance warning, not just a couple of people but not a huge crowd, something I could plan for numbers (so I could make enough pizza bases or whatever).

Some further information, the people I invite are typically a mix of locals and those further afield (I don't plan for them to come but I invite them anyway just in case). I do say they can bring friends along long as they tell me first, and I haven't been to many parties at their places, usually because they don't host any. This is in the UK, with people in the 18-30 age group with a common interest.

  • Can you be more specific? I mean. "How to arrange house parties" does not appear to be about interpersonal skills, to me. – NVZ Aug 11 '17 at 20:14
  • @NVZ I'm not sure what you mean. I'm sort of trying to approach this from a social/interpersonal skills angle. "Getting people to come to your party" is a social/interpersonal skill, no? – Crazymoomin Aug 11 '17 at 20:20
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    are these people who's houses you have been to for house parties at theirs? also, if you dont mind, what age group are we talking about? – Kev Price Aug 11 '17 at 20:20
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    Can you please clarify: you've invited them, they've accepted the invitation and if you send them a reminder a short while before the event they back out? Can you go into more detail about the communication (how you invite and how they accept/don't accept)? – AllTheKingsHorses Aug 12 '17 at 14:46
  • @AllTheKingsHorses I have an IM group (Telegram) that I invite people on, where I post up dates and availability polls (Doodle). About a week before I post a message asking for yes/no on who is coming. They usually back out only a day or so before. – Crazymoomin Aug 12 '17 at 17:04
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there's not enough to make it worth actually setting up a party, so I typically cancel in the hope I can have better luck on another weekend.

Don't cancel - even with just a few people it can turn into a fun, sociable night - it will get talked about, and might help generate more interest the next time around.

By cancelling each event at the last minute, you're getting a reputation for not following through - so people may well end up (subconsciously) assuming your thing isn't going to happen and take up another offer if it comes along.

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House parties can be difficult to organise, as you have found. They can involve unknown social rules which can be a concern for many.

Think about it - you're going to someone's home and they are going to host you. That can bring up a lot of questions:

  • Do they expect me to bring anything?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Who is providing alcohol?
  • Do they expect me to pay?
  • What time do I arrive and leave?
  • Will there be games? I don't like games

and many more minor considerations that can build up into an unknown environment which may not guarantee fun.

Contrast that to a night out at a pub or dancing. Most people know the rules, they know who is hosting them. there are far fewer unknowns to deal with.

As this SE shows, many people struggle in social situations.

So, in order to achieve what you are trying then I advise you start smaller. Something with fewer unknowns.

For example: At some point when hanging out with friends you could suggest they come around to yours for lunch. You'll throw some pizzas in your wood stove, you've not had much opportunity to use it.

It is a far easier 'yes' to get. People understand lunch, it is lunch time and they are doing you a favour by letting you play with your oven.

This can get people used to the environment, let them see and envision what a party would look like next time you invite them over and remove some of the questions over the social rules around your house.

It may be that your friends then invite you somewhere to lunch. It would be a good idea to accept. Setting up reciprocal agreements is a good way to get this kind of thing going.

I moved a new valley a few years ago. Over time I started inviting people around for coffees. Then I'd go to theirs for coffees. Then we'd get together for games. Now we stay over at each other's places getting drunk and playing board games. But we built up to it and became used to each others rules and comfortable that we could let our guard down in each other's homes.

So: to summarise - don't rush in with a big formal party. it's too scary. Start off slow and small and build up over time allowing people to find out your place is fun and relaxed.

  • Thanks. My parties are pretty casual, no dress code, no obligation to bring anything (though things like pizza toppings and alcohol, because I don't drink, would be encouraged). Generally, these have to be held on weekends, I have a 9-5 job so I'm restricted to the weekends, it tends to be lunch because it's easier to cook outside in the middle of the day. I can't do some things too casually though, pizza party needs ingredients bought and the bases need proving (best made the night before). I also don't live in the city, people would need to come to the outskirts. – Crazymoomin Aug 11 '17 at 20:48
  • so - you are trying to organise a party, in the middle of the day, outdoors (in manchester?), that people have to drive too and if they bring their own drink then they will have to taxi back and book it in with two weeks notice? that is a hard sell. As I suggested. start off as small and casual as you can, perhaps without the pizza oven if it takes a lot of organising. Accept as many other invites as you can because reciprocity and obligation can be important hooks. "Familiarity does not breed contempt", so make sure you see these people often, as familiarity is important in friendships – Kev Price Aug 11 '17 at 21:23
  • There is a train station nearby, if it helps. – Crazymoomin Aug 11 '17 at 21:46
  • lowers the bar a little bit for you. removes a couple of questions over getting there and back – Kev Price Aug 11 '17 at 21:46
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Wanted to add a few things, these are from my personal experience...

Plan parties well in advance. I plan mine about a month or more in advance.

Invite more people then you want to come. I invite about 2-3 times more people than I want to come, because about 1/2 - 1/3 actually show up. This will make your party "self-sustaining" i.e. you don't have to talk to everybody yourself to keep the conversation going. When you have a large group, I find it to be far easier than a small group.

Encourage your guests to bring friends. This will expand your social circle and fill in gaps in your invite list.

Had trouble finding outside sources: How to plan a party

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