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My Best Tips for Hosting Big Gatherings

It can be really intimidating to host a large number of people. How do you feed them all? How do you make sure everyone is having a good time? I want to know that my guests are having a good time, feel comfortable and walk away chatting about how glad they were that they decided to come.

I am admittedly more of a small group extrovert. I flourish in one-on-one conversations or feel more relaxed when we are hosting just a small few but, we often are celebrating a birthday, a cake day or just hosting our weekly “small” group of twenty men and women. So, how do we make big gatherings feel cozy and inclusive? Here are some of our best tips!

Plan things with others in mind.

There have been a few gatherings I have hosted that were flops! Yes, that’s right! The “community queen” over here has hosted some stinkers! Growing up, some high school friends of mine use to get together and read. We loved reading, but we also loved each other (talk about the FOMO generation). So, we’d go to someone’s house with our books, eat cookies and drink Sonic slushies and read together.

Fast forward ten years and I asked my husband if we could host our own coffee shop night in our house. We could have coffee, tea and some snacks. Set up different rooms in our house to be cozy shared work spaces or a comfortable place to read books amongst friends. Now some of you book lovers may be thinking THIS SOUNDS AWESOME! Well, you know how many people showed up…zero. Yea, people in Denver didn’t really think this was an exciting way to spend a Friday evening.

The takeaway from this story is keep others in mind. I knew that Denver folks may not be excited for an in-home coffee shop experience because it didn’t include some serious exercise or local craft beer, but I wanted to do something that sounded fun to me.Now when we bring people together, we make sure to include things theywould enjoy and get excited about. We want to do things we love with the people we love but we should make sure it is something everyone will enjoy.

Introduce people and find a common topic.

When we are having a lot of people in one place, my guess is they are coming from different social circles. Take a birthday party for example. We invite work friends, neighbors, small group buddies and family. It’s up to us as hosts to introduce folks and not leave them stranded to fend for themselves around new people.

Now, introducing names is one thing but to take your hospitality to the next level, find something they both have in common to encourage continued conversation.

Ex: Jennifer, this is my neighbor Alexa. She has a 2-year-old girl just like yours. We’ve been talking about getting our kids into a soccer program this fall. Do you have any advice for her?

Find common ground for people! Trust me, they appreciate the conversation starter and it will make them feel more comfortable amongst new people.

Activity! Activity! Activity!

I know we want to be organic, but you have need activities planned to just create an atmosphere of fun. It can be a game you all play together like trivia or charades. Or you can have a bunch of different activities set up to allow people to play at their leisure but for the success of a quality party; you need to have planned activities for folks to let loose and create some shared memories.

Let’s be real, the best inside jokes come from some “out-of-the-box” game.

Ex: A friend of mine had folks decorate wood blocks at her son’s first birthday! It was great for the adults to get creative, busy their hands and laugh about whose blocks looked the silliest.

Run to the bathroom and pray!

Okay, so this one may seem weird but at some appointed time during the party, you will find yourself in a quiet place…the bathroom. Usually, I take some deep breaths and find some moments to pray. I pray for friends to feel connected, for good conversation to take place and for energy to continue being a good host to others. Also, if you are an introvert, you may need a minute to recharge. The bathroom is the most natural place you will go rather than retreating to your bedroom or wherever. But perhaps you take a moment and pray while filling up your water cup or when you go change a diaper. Just make a point of taking a moment to refill your tank before pouring yourself back out.

Tim tip:

Be aware of what’s going on and look for people who are not connecting or standing off to the side of conversation and bring them in. This just happens to be Tim’s super power. Sometimes, I am unaware, or I see it happening and just stand paralyzed not sure how to make the transition smooth. But Tim always knows what to say, is always willing to leave a comfortable conversation to go talk to someone new, and often makes them feel like family. He then invites the person into conversation with a friend and moves on to the next person who may need some friendly assistance. I am so lucky to have him as my #1 teammate in loving others.

So, next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about hosting a large gathering just remember it’s the small, personal touches that help people feel loved and known.

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21 Comments

  • Reply Marcie Cramsey

    I love this post, Bailey! All of your suggestions work, for I do them. I love entertaining (minus the cooking!) Being a Children’s Minister at a church for many years, I organized and hosted many gatherings (big and small), so I get what you outline here. The activity one is my favorite, as it gets everyone involved and surely gives that one standing off to the side something to do. Thank you for such wonderful suggestions! 🙂

    Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 11:47am
    • Reply Bailey

      Oh my, I bet you do lots of hosting! For all hostesses everywhere, hang in there and keep making the effort that you do!

      Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 8:36pm
  • Reply Karen Friday

    Awesome gathering tips. I especially like to introduce people AND find a common topic. If we do that, the conversation will progress on its own.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 7:08pm
    • Reply Bailey

      exactly, Karen!

      Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 8:36pm
  • Reply Liz

    Great tips! I agree that a fun party includes some kind of activity…nothing more boring than standing around trying to think of something to say/question to ask people you don’t know well. Well done.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 6:08pm
    • Reply Bailey

      haha, exactly! I went to a Christmas party once and there were so many team activities. I didn’t know folks that well but left having the BEST time

      Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 8:37pm
  • Reply Heather Hart

    Great tips, Baily. I don’t host large groups. And probably wont until after my kids are grown, but I do recognize what others put into hosting them and appreciate it.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 4:07pm
  • Reply Alynda Long

    Thanks so much for the tips on hosting! I LOVE hosting big parties (until the day of the party then have an anxiety attack) and your suggestions are spot on!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 3:13pm
    • Reply Bailey

      Oh goodness, that’s never good! I recently hosted my birthday party and had a bit of stress getting everything done and in the end, it all doesn’t matter. Just that I had some good conversation and others did too.

      Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 8:38pm
  • Reply Nancy E. Head

    I love these. Behind on my reading because lots of relatives are coming this weekend! You came through for me just in time!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 2:15pm
    • Reply Bailey

      hehe, perfect timing!

      Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 2:17pm
  • Reply Emily | To Unearth

    Love this! My husband and I love hosting, but it can definitely be intimating at times. Thanks for these tips!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 7:51am
    • Reply Bailey

      Also, I can get worn out! But, keeping things simple can really be a blessing!

      Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 2:16pm
  • Reply Edna Davidsen

    Dear Bailey!

    Thank you for your tips on hosting big gatherings. I’m also more of a one-on-one person. You broke the process of socialising into understandable parts in this blog post. I especially liked the idea of being aware of people who are not connecting.

    Blessings!
    Edna Davidsen

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 4:54am
    • Reply Bailey

      That is always a tough one!

      Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 2:17pm
  • Reply Scott Osgood

    Truly great tips Bailey. Liked the touches of humor as well!!

    Monday, July 16, 2018 at 10:02pm
    • Reply Bailey

      haha, thanks for noticing. I am not great with humor but I try,

      Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 2:16pm
  • Reply Melissa Henderson

    Love this message!!! Whether I am hosting or not, I enjoy introducing people to each other. I want everyone to feel comfortable and have a good time.

    Monday, July 16, 2018 at 2:14pm
    • Reply Bailey

      so glad we are on the same page

      Monday, July 16, 2018 at 8:09pm
  • Reply Yvonne Morgan

    Hi Bailey. Wonderful tips on hosting groups. Spending time with others is so important to offering the love of Christ to others.

    Monday, July 16, 2018 at 2:09pm
    • Reply Bailey

      Yes, girl!

      Monday, July 16, 2018 at 8:09pm

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