Monday, September 28, 2009

Creating the Guest List

A party is only as good as its guests, so consider the chemistry of the group you’re putting together when you make out your guest list. This exercise is entirely subjective, and every host has a private formula. But here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to help you learn some general rules.
  • Think of the party as an opportunity to bring together people who don’t know each other but who will probably enjoy meeting one another.
  • Think of the party as an opportunity to bring together old friends who never seem to have enough time to visit with one another.
  • Invite people who will appreciate the invitation and will make an effort to contribute to the success of the party.
  • Invite just one type of person. A room full of lawyers or doctors is almost antithetical to the very idea of a party.
  • Throw in a person or a couple who don’t really fit the group just because you owe them a dinner.
  • Invite known adversaries on the theory that it will make the party livelier. It may make the party livelier than you had hoped.
Everybody has his or her own little tricks and preferences when it comes to making up a guest list.
My personal formula, for example, always includes
  • A banker, because bankers know a little about a lot of industries and can talk about what’s going on in the economy.
  • A journalist, because journalists ask great questions.
  • Somebody involved in politics, however tangentially.
  • A restaurateur, because the entire world is interested in dining out and in food.
  • Someone in marketing, because marketers usually have something interesting to say about trends and tastes and what people are buying.
The best guests are those who know how to sing for their supper. They know that guests as well as hosts have a responsibility to contribute to the party. They will encourage and add to conversation. They are positive and cheerful. You can depend on them. An interesting person who loves to talk—even if it’s about himself—will amuse a handful of people and get others talking as well.

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