In the past year, I’ve started hosting parties regularly. I’ve come to really enjoy hosting, and I’d recommend it to anyone, even if you’re introverted.
Comfortable, Affordable, and Serendipitous
I live in San Francisco, so most places I go with friends are crowded, loud, and expensive. If I go to dinner with friends, we can only stay so long before we feel pressure to give up our table to the next party. If we go to a bar, we might have to shout to hear each other.
We seem to be missing ‘third places’, places where we can linger and enjoy each other’s company (without spending an excessive amount of money).
And a simple evening out in SF can quickly add up. Dinner and two drinks? That’ll be 50 bucks.
If you host a party, your guests can hang out for as long as you want.
There can be many phases of a party that naturally flow into each other. Dinner can turn into mingling, can turn into a late-night movie once all but a few guests have cleared out. Even though you stay in one location (rather than, say, bar-hopping), the night feels more serendipitous.
It’s also easy for people to join at any time. There’s no need to coordinate which restaurant or bar you are at, because we aren’t socially forced to change locations once we stop spending money or if the place doesn’t have the right ‘vibe’ (we create the vibe, so it’s always right!). I just give guests my address and they show up when they’re ready. No more stressing about running late; no more checking your phone continually to coordinate meetup logistics.
At home, you have everything you need. If my friends aren’t drinking, I can make them tea, and if they’re hungry I feed them leftovers. There’s a clean bathroom and no line, unlike many places in SF. And the whole serendipitous, stress-free night still ends up being cheaper than if we’d gone out.
All Your Favorite People
When you throw a party, you get to choose who comes. You introduce people from different parts of your life. It’s fun to see who befriends whom. (One of my secret party goals is to introduce a couple. That has yet to happen, but it’s only a matter of time 😜)
Hosting parties also lets you get to know people better. One of the hardest parts of adult friendship-making is when you meet someone you hit it off with, and then you try to hang out one-on-one but it feels a little bit awkward, almost like dating. Even if you enjoy one another’s company, your budding friendship can shrivel in this awkward phase. You might hang out once or twice, but if you don’t find shared hobbies or other ways to integrate into each other’s lives, your meet-ups become less frequent until they stop altogether.
If you’re a party-thrower, you can just invite new friends to parties. Friendship-making starts to feel more like it did in school. There’s less pressure to connect immediately. And frequent parties create an environment of frequent, unplanned interactions, which is especially conducive to friendship-making. This makes it easier for me to make friends, and it also leads to my friends naturally befriending each other, as they see each other again and again at events.
How to Host
People often think parties are for celebration, so they wait to throw a party until they have something to celebrate, like a birthday.
There’s no excuse needed for a party!
In 2019, we are increasingly isolated, and tend towards bowling, or at least tweeting, alone. Most people around you are in need of community, and one of the best ways to build community is simply to gather people IRL.
In that spirit, I host parties no matter my mood. In fact, as I’ve gotten more comfortable with party-throwing, I’ve found that low moods are a great time to throw a party. Parties give you something to focus on, and being around people can help get you out of your head.
(I once threw myself a heartbreak party, in the midst of depression. Knowing guests were coming over forced me to finally get out of bed – at 6:30 pm. The party ended up lifting my spirits!)
I have been told that I’m a good host, which I find funny because I don’t put much time or effort into hosting.
There is only one necessary step to throwing a party: inviting people.
Inviting people can be anxiety-inducing. Who should I invite? What if they say no? What if they say yes but they don’t actually want to come? What if they come and they don’t have fun?
My solution to this fear is as follows: I decide I’m going to have a party, which is like creating a void for myself to fill. And I’ll have natural inclinations to fill the void throughout the week.
I’ll have a sudden pang of missingness, like man, I miss JoeBob, I should tell him about my party. Or I’ll be texting my best friend and think, wouldn’t it be wonderful if she came to my party?Or I’ll meet someone new and want to get to know them better; maybe I can get to know them at my party!
I send that person a casual invitation. “Party at my place Saturday at 8 if you’re interested! 1234 MyAddress Street!” Or if we’re close, I’ll simply say: “Party Saturday if ya wanna come.” I include ‘if you’re interested’ or ‘if ya wanna come’ to make it more socially acceptable for the invitee to say no. If I’m inviting a friend who lives far away, I might say something more explicit like, “I know I’m far away, but if you feel like making the trek, I’d love to have you– no pressure!” I’ll add similar qualifiers for people I just met or don’t know well.
I don’t want my invitees to feel social pressure to come. By explicitly saying they should only come if they feel like it, I leave the door open to them saying they don’t feel like it, rather than the status quo which is for them to tell a white lie like “I wish I could but I have plans.” (Which is a better outcome for everyone; white lies erode trust)
If someone doesn’t want to attend, I don’t take it personally; sometimes I don’t want to go to a party either, because I’m feeling introverted or have another idea for my ideal night. Plus, if the only guests who come are people who are genuinely excited to be there, they’ll bring engaged, positive energy. Parties are co-created experiences; they’re only as good as the energy your guests bring to each other.
As I start to invite a few people, their excitement rubs off on me, and I go from being apprehensive about throwing a party to stoked about it. The day before my party I compile my guest list, realize I’ve forgotten a bunch of delightful humans and send out more invites. (I have an affinity for last-minute invites. It makes me feel like we are all in high school again, before we booked calendars weeks out. Although I suppose some friends prefer more notice!).
The actual labor of throwing a party is minimal.
If you plan to serve drinks or snacks, you should buy drinks or snacks. If it’s your first party, you might want to over-buy if you’re worried about having enough. You can always serve leftovers at a future party.
That said, in my experience, guests often bring alcohol or snacks, and sometimes I end parties with more than I started with! I now perpetually have leftover drinks and snacks that I keep in my cabinet, and often don’t need to shop before a party at all.
If your house is messy, you might want to clean it. Luckily my roommate and I are quite cleanly, so there’s no need to do extra cleaning before an event.
This seems to be a big hurdle for potential party-throwers. If you’re not a naturally clean person, consider not cleaning at all, especially if you suspect the labor of cleaning will hold you back from hosting an event in the first place. Parties don’t require a clean house, they just require good people. I’m speaking from experience here: I used to have 3 messy male roommates, and I got used to throwing parties in a messy house. You might feel embarrassed, but the upside of throwing parties (creating community for you and the people around you, in an increasingly isolated society!) outweighs the cost (your friends knowing you are messy).