Found in 2 comments on Hacker News
nickgray · 2023-01-20 · Original thread
In this comment: I'll tell you why you should never host a dinner party, how to make new friends, why "cocktail parties" are better than dinner parties (even if you don't drink alcohol), and discuss the macro trends in parties and relationships.

Hi! I wrote a book called "The 2-Hour Cocktail Party" that people seem to really like on Amazon and Audible.

I've hosted hundreds of parties myself and personally coached 175 people* over the past year on how to host a simple, effective party or gathering to help them make new friends and build relationships.

*see these party photos for proof:

Here's what I've learned as it relates to your questions:

(1) YES the macro trends on partying are down, and reports of loneliness are way up. Do a search for "loneliness epidemic" or "friendship recession," two phrases that I track with Google News Alerts, to see constant press pieces with supporting data showing people have way less friends and social interactions today than they did 10 years ago.

I'm less interested in the reasoning for this trend and more interested in how to fix it, which- spoiler alert- I think anyone can learn how to host a great little gathering or happy hour, even if you don't drink alcohol (I don't but my friends do).

(2) Your hypothesis about COVID knocking out a lot of house parties seems to be directionally correct, based on my own experience and that reported to me by my book readers. I hear again and again something like: "We used to host an annual summer party," or "We hosted dinner parties every Friday night before COVID."

Why I say "directionally correct" is that I don't believe parties aren't happening due to COVID concerns, largely, and instead because COVID washed out the momentum that many long-time hosts had. Whether it was the regularity of hosting that built muscle memory for them, or even the geographical displacement we saw of some people during COVID- something major happened and I've never seen anyone specifically write about this. When you have a long-time host who annually throws a Christmas or New Year's bash, and they miss that for two years straight, it becomes REALLY hard for them to pick it back up.

^^ that's anecdotal, and I don't have the data to back it up, but I just feel it from conversations that I've had and heard about: that long-time party hosts have changed their habits post-COVID, not out of fear of infection today, but because they lost momentum or dropped the habit and haven't since picked it back up.

(2a) The habit of hosting, by the way, is huge. I've seen people get the BIGGEST benefits in new friendships and new relationships when they can make hosting a habit. When you can learn to throw a monthly or quarterly event, you start to go through life "collecting" people to invite to your parties. It really is a "life unlock" or "life hack" or whatever you want to say. I did it, first when I moved to NYC, and then later when I moved to Texas. And the relationships I built from hosting those parties helped me launch a multi-million dollar business (Museum Hack), which I say not to brag but to just hint that there are benefits beyond your personal life that come from hosting parties.

(3) If you want to get better at hosting a party, you can! This is a skill that literally anyone can learn. As much as the vibe-shakra people are going to hate me saying this, I've found that success for a new party host largely comes down to pre-planning, logistics, and filling the room.

Here are the key things that will help you host a great gathering:

- DO NOT host a dinner party. They're too complicated and too stressful for a new host. They take too much work, too much time, and WAY too much moderation. Instead, host a cocktail party or happy hour. After hosting dozens of dinner parties and hundreds of cocktail parties, I found that I could get 80% of the benefits of hosting a dinner party — with 20% of the work in a cocktail party. Cocktail parties helped me cast a wider net, too, and connect with more people.

A note about the phrase cocktail party: I personally don't drink alcohol. And there isn't a single drink recipe in my book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. But we use that phrase "cocktail party" because it represents a simple social construct: an easy, casual, lightweight gathering where you'll have a lot of little conversations. It is low-commitment and generally low-stress.

This is the longest comment I'll ever write on HN and I'm worried I'm talking too much, so apologies if this sounds like spam! I'm honestly like MLM-passionate about convincing people why they should learn to host parties because it changed my life SO MUCH.

Here's my personal website:

and an executive summary of my book about exactly how to host your first party with a little bit of structure:

I will wrap this up. Here are the pro-tips:

- 15 to 20 people. You need 15 people, minimum, to show up to your party. Any less than that and the room never reaches a critical mass or energy level and excitement. It feels… a little flat. So I've found that 15 people needs to be your minimum, which means you'll need to invite more than 15 to actually get 15 to attend. Over 20 and things get hectic.

- Collect RSVPs. For the love of God, PLEASE collect RSVPs. Use a free tool online. GenZ loves Partiful, I suggest and use Mixily, you can even use Paperless Post. Please don't use Evite because they have a thousand ads and JavaScript pop-up crap and they'll spam your guests.

Why do we collect RSVPs? Well, the biggest success indicator of a party- for a new host, at least- is whether they can fill the room. People come to parties for the PEOPLE, not for the drinks, not for the food, not for the music… they come for the people.

You have to collect RSVPs to create a social contract to get your friends to actually show up. People who read my book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party report over a 93% attendance rate of those who say they're going to come (people who RSVP) and those who actually show up.

Compare that to the days of Facebook Events, when I'd do the "spray and pray" method of mass-inviting people and be lucky to get a 50% attendance rate.

- Send 3 reminder messages. I like to do: 1 week before, 3-4 days before, and morning of. These are important: they will boost your attendance rate and increase excitement. They also help show that you're a host who actually cares, which is rare in the age of "Let's just show up and hang out!" parties.

- Add a small amount of structure. This helps shy people and introverts, and encourages a lot of new conversations (which in my mind is the whole point of a party: to meet new people). The structure that I like and preach is always using name tags (I will die on this hill), and one or two rounds of icebreakers (please withhold your burns about icebreakers: you're probably doing them wrong, and I've done thousands of them, I will teach you how to do it right).

Anyhow. Sorry this is going so long.

If anyone is serious about wanting to learn how to host a party, you can call or text me at +1-917-635-9967 or email and I will talk your ear off about this. If you want to make new friends and you are interested in party hosting, but you can't afford my book, reach out and I can probably mail you a free copy of the paperback.

I do believe that the loneliness epidemic is real, but I also believe that a simple happy hour- with your friends or neighbors- can help you and your friends meet new people. Nobody really teaches adults how to make new friends, which is crazy, but I think I figured this part out.

Thank you for reading!! This is my longest comment ever on HN!! I love parties and helping people learn how to make new friends.

I hope I have earned the permission to link my book, which I will do here:

The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships with Small Gatherings on Amazon, Kindle, Audible, Kobo, etc

joelrunyon · 2022-09-17 · Original thread
This reminds me of how my friend Nick Gray throws parties. If you're in Austin - you've probably been to one of them.

He's got a pretty good overview on different types of events to host (sometimes personally the details feel overkill to me but it's like an SOP for your social life and it works (

If you're trying to upgrade your social life & build more connections - his book is easily worth it several times over (

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