How to Host: The Art of Having People Over
Recently, I’ve been thinking about community and bringing people together.
In NPR’s Lifekit podcast, Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering, discusses the topic of having people over. Here are my notes:
- The point of gathering is for the host and guests to have a wonderful time. A sign of a good host is if guests leave remembering what a great time they had.
- Figure out your purpose first. Get clear about this and the rest will follow. This is meant to create more meaningful interactions but it doesn’t have to be serious.
- The biggest mistake is assuming that the purpose is shared and obvious. By clarifying the purpose, you’re adding an intention that helps shape the gathering and the group.
- It’s the hosts responsibility to connect the group to eachother, connect them to the purpose or intention of the gathering, protect them from each other, and take care of the life of the group.
- Hosts need to make guests feel like they belong. For example, if you’re hosting a dance party, how will you make it comfortable for the person that doesn’t usually dance. There needs to be a context that’s set up, that no matter their identity, they can find a way in.
- Group size matters. It fundamentally affects peoples behaviors. If I enter a room, what I say isn’t dictated by those whom I feel most comfortable with, but rather those whom I feel least comfortable. The composition and dynamics will give you different evenings.
- 4-6 is a great size for a connected conversation.
- 8-12 is a great for buzzy, dinner parties. The conversations will likely break up into groups of 2 or 3. Likely to have smaller group conversations then bigger ones.
- 20-30 is more of a party.
- There’s different pressure if you host often. If you host often it’s not that big of a deal to cycle through groups of friends. But if it’s a once in a life time event like a wedding, then the stakes get higher. If you’re worried about excluding, host more not less.
- The most important thing is that guest feels at home.
- The gathering begins the moment guests discover the event. Before you send out the invitation, give your gathering a name. The role of the invitation is a psychological contract to help people understand this temporary world you’re building and whether they want to come or not.
- The host should deeply enjoy themselves during the event.