Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life Well Lived: Organizing Get Togethers

Question: What is your best tip for hosting a gathering, get-together or party that is enjoyable and stress-free for both the host and guests?

At the end of my leadership program last year, I took on the unofficial title of Social Committee Co-Chair for our class. I'd loved spending time with this particular group of people, and didn't want our relationships to end just because our program had, so my co-chair and I took it upon ourselves to put together social gatherings to keep our class connected.

Being the co-chairs, of course, the first thing was finding dates and times that would work for us. We would alternate between Happy Hours and weekday lunches, and would switch the venue each time (a la "floating crap game" style) to keep it interesting (and affordable) for us.

Once we'd chosen the date and venue, we'd send an email out to the group. Some people would respond immediately, and some never did, but we were all right with it. We understood from the onset that no one had any further obligation to the group, and that we are all busy people.

I've never understood why people get so hurt or offended if someone doesn't RSVP right away...or at all. I assume that everyone is busy and the invitation can easily get lost (electronic or snail mail) without ill intention. I'm quite sure I've had it happen to me more than once as well. I'm opening my mail (or checking my email) while having a conversation with my daughter. I look at the date and time, but of course, have no idea if I'm busy then or not. There's an 80% chance that I'll be distracted by a hungry child (or cat) or phone call or something shiny before I get to checking my calendar to see if I'm available. Then about 100 other things happen before I remember that I got invited to something in the first place! It's no reflection on the sender, it's just what happens.

I expect the last-minute cancellations and the no-shows. If the no-show is someone that I usually would hear from, I'll be concerned enough to send a "we missed you" email just to check on their well-being, but certainly not to shame them for not coming. Generally, I just try to enjoy the company of those that were able to make it. I'm sure it helps that we pick places where it doesn't really matter how many of us there are, and don't make reservations because it's so casual. The worst that can happen is the waitstaff will have to add more chairs to accommodate a larger group, and they never seem to mind the extra business!

So all of that to say that my tip is: remember that the intention is to enjoy the company! Food might spill, a waiter might be slow, or someone may show up an hour late. Social gatherings are supposed to be fun. And if they cause more stress than they're worth, it might be time to retire from hosting.

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Missy June said...

I'm notorious for using Facebook's Event function for gatherings of friends for lunch or a night out.

Laura said...

The unexpected cancellations and changes--that's why you schedule things outside of a person's house so they don't take it personally.