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How To Keep Your Party Guest List Under Control

Posted by The Chocablock Events Team on Aug 14, 2020

How To Keep Your Party Guest List Under Control

Guest chemistry. Like regular chemistry, it leaves most of us scratching our heads. As if planning a venue, décor and food wasn’t hard enough, now you have to plan a party guest list that not only keeps you and the other guests happy but makes the night fun too. You can always tell the best parties, because when they are over, you’ll remember how well everybody got on.

So where do you start with your guest list? The following tips are just as relevant to a sweet 16th as they are for a full blown block party, from an elegant engagement to a 50th anniversary.

Family first

If it’s the kind of event that is family friendly, then start there. Even if family members annoy you now, in 20 years they may be all you have. Spending personal time but also celebrating big events with them is an investment for the future.

Pick a number and stick to it

Booking a venue makes things easier because hard limits are put in place, and you can use that as an excuse for trimming excess guests (“The venue has a cap of 100 people, I just can’t!”). But parties at home are more difficult as it is rarely a sit-down affair and squeezing 20 extra people in is logistically possible, but not what you may want to do. Usually 10% of invited guests can’t make it and that’s why having a B list is a good idea. For younger parties, set a hard number and do NOT negotiate.

A word to the wise. An alarming trend has started for the current teenage generation that we hope doesn’t translate into their later years. With social media being what it is, if invites are sent out a month in advance, so begins a month of bombardment of uninvited guests asking to be invited PLUS invited guests all asking if they can add a “+1”. Once upon a time, most people would have had too much pride to beg to be invited somewhere, but not anymore. We have seen the emotional impact this has on teenagers and it is nasty. Tell your son and daughter that every single request they get, just blame it on you, “No, my Mum and Dad are being really tight about 40 people. Sorry.”

Partners & kids – be consistent

Announcing your intention for kids and partners in your invitation is a great way to stop party numbers swelling, and also sets the tone for the night. If you are invited and know there are no partners or children, would you dress differently, approach the night differently, behave differently? Many would.

As for teenagers above, you will get a few last minute excuses like “the babysitter fell through, can I bring little Tim”. Stay firm – your guests will respect you and most who get a hard “no” will find alternatives.

For single friends, singledom is not what it used to be. Many take great pride in their independence and will gladly go to parties alone.

If you only have one or two single friends, then allowing a guest for them could help them create a new relationship so a little flexibility here when writing your guest list may be a good idea.

On the night

The main reason for controlling the numbers coming to your party is because you cater food, drinks and party favours accordingly. You don’t want guests to miss out. For larger events, having security checking a guest list and letting everybody know this will be the case takes a lot of pressure off you. Even if it is a family friend dressed in black, it sends a strong message to people thinking about bringing others along.

Another word of warning for teenage parties. Once an address is advertised, get ready for the gate crashers because social media has made it easier for them than ever. We know parents who now won’t advertise the address of the party until the day of the event! And even then that’s still enough time for party crashers to show up. Security at kids parties is becoming a far more frequent occurrence than it used to be. As per above - ADVERTISE that security will be there.

A trick some guests try to pull is they tell you on the day that a guest can’t come and can they swap for somebody else which most would allow. And then the original guest shows up and your party of 40 hits 50 in a flash. It’s best to tell your kids up front that you know about this ploy and not to try it.