You can’t have an amazing party without an amazing guest list. Although it may be tempting to just send an invite to everyone in your contact list, it’s best to keep some guidelines in mind to ensure conversation flows, everyone feels comfortable, and the party is fun and memorable.
Play the numbers game. Before you send out invitations, figure out how many you can comfortably entertain based on the size of your venue and your budget for food and drinks. That said, remember that a certain percentage of your guests won’t be able to come (that percentage depends on factors including how far in advance you send out the invites and how close you are to those on your guest list, but planning for a 20% decline rate is a good rule of thumb). Don’t over-invite, but at the same time, plan to comfortably fill the space you’ve designated for the event, whether it’s your dining room table or your whole house. Nothing feels deader than a party in a mostly empty room.
Follow gender rules. Invite roughly an even number of men and women. That way, you keep things interesting for the flirts — and prevent two guys from feeling awkward at a 20-girl party.
Invite people who already like each other. Ever walked into a party where you didn’t know anyone except the host? Awkward. Even worse? Walking in and seeing your ex after a bitter breakup. Unless the guest in question is a confirmed social butterfly, make sure anyone you invite will know at least one other person at the party. And don’t feed any grudges by bringing two people together who may prefer to stay apart. If you’re not sure, ask the person you’re closer with if they’re okay with you inviting the other one, or if you can’t pick sides, let them know they’re both invited so they can each decide whether to come or not.
Open up the list. Sometimes getting the gang together can be fun for a night of reminiscing, but rehashing the same old stories can get — well, old. Don’t let boredom crash your party: Create a guest list that allows old friends to catch up, but also allows invitees to meet new people. Open up the circle by inviting acquaintances with enough history to start a conversation and even introducing some completely new faces to a lot of your guests.
Include the life of the party. A room full of individuals who may get along doesn’t guarantee party success; people just don’t always have much to talk about. Invite a couple of charismatic, chatty friends to give more timid guests a chance to open up and enjoy themselves.