Listen to Chrystina discuss her tips to bring different groups of friends together for a party in Episode 29 of the Party Ideas & Logistics with Chrystina Noel podcast, above.
In my years of hosting parties – and talking to people about hosting parties, the number one question that I get is how to bring different groups of friends together for a party.
While the logistics of a party can be complicated, those are left-brained problems. Sending the invitations, finding what to cook, how to cook it, how long you need to cook it, and cleaning your house are all very task-oriented items to add to a to-do list. Bringing different groups of friends together for a party has much more of an emotional component to it.
I have many different groups of friends. I think of them in terms of middle school friends, high school friends, college resident assistant (RA) friends, college choir friends, college engineering friends, work friends, blogger friends, choir friends, etc. And recently I’ve even started adding “friends I’ve met at networking events” to the list. It’s a lot to think about.
You might be wondering, are people going to come if I have other groups of people, what if they don’t have a good time, what if no one is talking to each other, and what if they don’t like each other. I’m here today to try to calm your worries and give you some tips I’ve learned through the years about how to bring different groups of friends together at a party.
Here’s how to bring different groups of friends together for a party in 7 steps:
Step 1: Put some extra time into making the guest list
Everyone has friends that are better at making small talk than others. In my own life, I know that if I have RAs in the room, everything will probably be okay. (I even once wrote a post on why RAs make excellent wedding dates.) Some friends are more outgoing than others are. Some friends have a general curiosity about people. Some friends are really good at talking to people who are standing alone in the corner (these people might have the “includer” strength on the StrengthsFinder test). Your entire party list doesn’t need to be made up of people like that, but having a few there definitely will help.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to put together a guest list, I’ve got you covered.
Step 2: Keep your guest list small
If you’re hosting a large party, you actually probably don’t need to worry about bringing different groups of people together because there will be so many people from each group everyone already knows that they will be okay. That said, this will probably also result in multiple little clumps of people around your house who already know each other.
If you’re actually trying to bring different groups of friends together at a party, I recommend starting small. A few friends from this group and a few friends from that group, that way people will feel like they know somebody there, but also have a higher likelihood of running into somebody they don’t already know and starting a conversation.
If somebody finds out about the party that’s not invited, you can simply tell them that you’re running an experiment in bringing together different groups of friends for the party, and if they’re interested, you’ll absolutely invite them to the next bring different groups of people together party.
Step 3: Let your guests know ahead of time you plan to bring together different groups of friends
This is optional, and once you start doing this pretty often in your life, people will just come to expect it at your parties so you won’t need to caveat it anymore. But if this is the first time that you are trying to bring different groups of people together, feel free to put a comment on the invitation that says, “I’m looking forward to introducing all of the cool people in my life. Hope to see you there!”
Step 4: Think about what your guests have in common before they arrive
This doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out process. It could be a quick brainstorm on your phone or a post-it note. Just give a second to think about whether any of your guests have things in common before they arrive, because that information might be useful during the party. That way you can use the sentence, “hey, Paul, you wrestled in college, right? Jamie currently coaches the wrestling team at the high school. Y’all should totally chat at some point tonight.” Questions to ask yourself could include:
- Are people from the same area / type of area?
Both from the west coast, both grew up on a farm, both currently live in the same area of town, both went to the same university
- Do people have the same job?
Both work in finance, both have a side hustle, both travel for work all the time
- Do people like the same hobbies?
Both are trying to get better at photography, both are watching the Great British Baking Show, both sing in choirs, both play board games, both love sci-fi novels
Step 5: Plan some activities so there’s something to talk about
This might be why there’s always an activity that my parties are based around. When you have an activity, you have a built in thing to talk about already. This could be dinner, a tasting party, some kind of competition, a movie to watch, or a game to play.
Step 6: Introduce everyone in the room
Not to each other. People can handle that. They’re adults. (I mean, if you’re standing right there next to two people who don’t know each other, introduce them, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.) About 30 minutes into every party I host, it’s a known fact that everyone will need to go around the room and say their name, how they know me, and answer some kind of fun-fact question related to the party. It’s corny, but it works. Questions could include: what are you most excited about this weekend, where is the next place you are traveling, what’s your favorite board game, did you play a sport growing up, etc.
I even once played a rapid fire of “never have I ever” type questions where I made people raise their hand if certain characteristics applied to them. For example: if they were an engineer, if they like to work out, if they like to travel, if they liked to play board games, if they’d ever made a board game, etc. If you’re looking for a list of PG13 Never Have I Ever questions, I’ve got you covered here.
Step 7: Remember, it’s not all on your shoulders
While yes, it is your party, it is not necessarily entirely on your shoulders to make sure that your friends have a good time. In the last episode of Gatherings Podcast with Madeline from Where is the Damn Corkscrew, she pointed out that as a host or hostess you are giving your guests an opportunity to have a good time. If they don’t come with an open mind, a good heart, and ready to take you up on your offer, that’s not your fault. It just isn’t. You can’t be responsible for other people’s emotions, only your own.
I hope this helps you in bringing all of your friends together for your next party, no matter how many different groups of friends you have.
What tips do you have for bringing different groups of people together for parties?