Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Your Party Flopped

The holidays have come to an end and undoubtedly you attended a wide range of parties over the past month or so. Some of these parties were amazing, but most of these were just "meh." Why is it that so many parties fail while a distinct few succeed in glorious fashion?

Where's The Bar?

How many restaurants or clubs have you been to where you walk in and find it difficult to locate the bar? I predict the answer is none, and that if you thought of one, that place is no longer in business. Now, how many parties have you been to where you have to ask, "where are the drinks," this number is probably significantly higher.
I managed to leave out, "don't litter your couch with hunting trophies."

The bar is a social hot spot, this is where a whole mess of spontaneous social interaction takes place. So why is it that when we have a house party we hide the drinks? The drink table should be placed in a centralized location, which will elicit the most traffic and effectively force mingling. Also, assigning someone to be a bartender for at least the opening of the night will exponentially increase the bars social stimulating significance. But first...

Location, Location, Location

Lots of people like to host parties at their homes, which is of course cost effective, but with separate rooms you essentially end up throwing a few small gathers rather than the large party you were going for. The simplest and most inexpensive way to avoid this is to move the party outside. However, if this isn't an option (you live in a yard less apartment, or the weather isn't cooperating) then you should attempt to contain the party to one or two larger rooms. Don't scatter snacks and drink stations all over the house, try to maintain a centralized location. The main reason people generally attend parties is to interact with new or rarely encountered persons, when you have six or seven rooms the groups just split into their respective social circles, which brings me to my next point...
If you get enough people with a common goal, you can even have living room crowd surfing!

Click, Click, BOOM

People generally enjoy being comfortable, so they will unconsciously sort themselves out into groups, your work friends, gym buddies, your wives book club. To have a successful party you must navigate these social intricacies and force interaction. There are a variety of ways, like using social movement patterns to not allow groups to drift apart physically, but how do you force the interaction once you get the respective groups in the same room?
Dinner parties are a great place to trap people into talking to new people.

Having a small pre-party with a selective collection of members of the different circles can help to stimulate co-mingling amongst the groups. By taking ten members from different groups and having dinner together, you force a social bond, as the evening progresses and the main party shows up, your select ten will introduce members of their respective clans to their new friends. This alleviates not only the awkwardness of ice breaking, but also the pressure of you, as host, of introducing all the attendees to each other, but do...

Introduce People

Obviously as the night progresses and more and more people show up, it becomes increasingly difficult to introduce each new person who shows up, but greet every person and attempt to introduce them to people who you think they would have the most in common with, this way you are doing the ice breaking for them and scripting the interactions that will dictate the parties success. Another great way to do this is to have activities that force people into meeting each other...
'Cause who doesn't love a metaphor!


I know what you are thinking, "well that's just lame," but hear me out. Think back to college, how many friends and acquaintances did you meet at a game of beer pong, kings or flip cup?  For me it was quite a few, in fact it may be all of them who I wasn't assigned to live with. The board game market is flush with games designed to be played by groups of adults at parties, and they work just the same as a deck of cards and a community cup, without all the social stigma or chance of contracting communicable diseases.
Also, invite loads of beautiful people. ...not completely joking
In conclusion, if you want to have a successful party understand the sociology of groups of people and break down the walls between the clicks, it really is that simple. Every Frat house has figured this out, which is why they clear out large rooms downstairs, make the kegs readily available and have tables set up for playing games. That's right, all you need to do to host a successful house party is translate the lessons of college debauchery into adult life. And don't be afraid to invite my friends and me, we are always up for free booze and interacting with the cute girls from you;re work.

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