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How Many People to Invite to a Cocktail Party

Last updated: March 27, 2024

For your first party, aim for fifteen confirmed guests.

I’ve found that fifteen people at a cocktail party gives the best balance.

Disadvantages of Fewer People

With fewer people—like seven or eight—you’re more likely to get trapped in a single group conversation or have an uncomfortable silence in the room.

The connections will be less free-flowing, and the room will lack energy. Any no-shows will hit you hard.

Downside of Too Many Guests

On the other hand, if you have too many guests—say, thirty—managing the logistics becomes a big challenge.

There’s a lot of energy with a lot of people, but your party can descend into carnage.

You might wake up in a pile of smelly wine bottles with rotten pizza crusts on the floor and a court summons for local noise violations. (It happens to the best of us.)

After your first few parties, you can experiment with hosting more or less than fifteen people. See how you enjoy the experience and adapt this formula later to fit your style.

Invite More Than You Need

Over-inviting is a natural part of party planning.

If you want fifteen people to come to your party, you’ll need to invite twenty to thirty people total.

Don’t Fear Rejections

It’s unlikely that everyone will say yes. That’s normal.

Is it because they don’t like you? Maybe! But probably not.

Try to remember: people have a lot going on in their lives.

I still frequently experience the feeling of rejection when guests turn down my invitations. Try not to take it personally when this happens.

And besides, when have you ever liked someone less because they invited you to a party?


You want 15-20 people to attend your first cocktail party using my formula.

You’ll need to invite more than that to actually get 15-20 people to show up.

Create an RSVP page before you invite your guests.

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About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

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