This post is part of the Party Primer Series. Answers to all of your party and event planning questions.
The party guest list can be the most fun – or the most challenging part of party planning. There are no set rules or even guidelines, and it can get overwhelming very quickly.
One of the reasons I love throwing parties for other people is because this part of the work is done for me! Hand me a list of names and addresses and I am an invitation-sending fiend. Ask me to choose only a few guests from a list of many who I’d love to include and suddenly things aren’t so simple. It can be impossibly hard to determine who to invite or leave off the list.
There will be many considerations you must take into account when setting your guest list, but make sure you don’t forget these important ones!
Three Things to consider
1. How much space do you have in the party location? Can you comfortably seat 16, or is 6 going to be a crowd? I almost always advocate for “the more the merrier” but you have to be realistic. If you have more guests than chairs you’re going to run in to problems. There are few things worse than being in an over-crowded room. This is especially important if you’re planning an outdoor party – your patio may have plenty of room for 20 people, but if the weather turns, do you have space for them all indoors as well?
2. What’s your budget? There are two schools of thought here and neither is wrong, per se. You can either make your plans, figure out the per-person cost and invite the number of guests your budget allows. Or you can determine how many people you’re going to invite and stick to planning a (perhaps less extravagant) party that fits in your budget. I tend to go 50/50 with my own parties, sometimes I will throw a very nice dinner party for a few close friends, and sometimes I want to throw a big bash and invite the neighborhood – even if it means cheaper food and fewer splurges.
3. Who gets along? This last one may be a no-brainer, but if your husband’s best friend and your neighbor got into a screaming match last year at your Fourth of July Picnic over a sports feud, its best to avoid inviting them to the same party, especially if its small. If there is no way around it, make sure to enlist a level-headed friend to serve as “buffer” and is willing to run interference between them all night. As someone who has served this role many times, I think it is nice for the host to check in on this person during the night, bringing them extra drinks as necessary.