Last updated: May 11, 2023
Can introverts enjoy parties? You bet they can!
My friend Lee Ann hosted a cocktail party for the Richmond chapter of River City Express Network Of The American Businesswomen’s Association to show us how it’s done.
In this article, you’ll see how Lee Ann’s party went and what she did to make it a big success by following the event formula from my book.
You will learn how to:
- Feel confident hosting your own party as an introvert
- Pick the best location
- Do name tags right
- Host a structured gathering that feels fun
- Make genuine connections that last after the event is over
Why you should listen to me: My name is Nick Gray. I used to be an introvert, but today I would classify myself as an ambivert. I’ve hosted hundreds of parties all over the world. Every event that I host follows a similar formula, which I’ll teach you here. New York Magazine once called me a host of “culturally significant” parties.
Meet Lee Ann in Richmond
Lee Ann is an introvert, but you’d never know it. She started a meetup group called Richmond Social Boomers for singles, couples, men, and women who want to meet and socialize with others of the Baby Boomers generation.
She has also been on the board for the Richmond, VA chapter of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) since 2018. They have formal monthly meetings with speakers and they also host socials.
What started as a gathering every quarter now happens once a month. The social gatherings are always a good time, but Lee Ann wanted to elevate the event by hosting it at her home. Her goal was to create many more new connections.
Lee Ann’s Cocktail Party
Lee Ann’s cocktail party was held at her home in Richmond, Virginia. She had 13 guests attend.
The attendees were all part of the Richmond, VA chapter of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). Women-owned business owners in the area got together to network and create new friendships.
Over the years, Lee Ann has occupied different positions on boards, created meetup groups, and hosted events. You’d be surprised to know that she self-identifies as an introvert!
Advice For Fellow Introverts
I asked Lee Ann for some advice for introverts who are thinking of hosting a party.
She wants you to remember that your guests are there to have a good time and connect with each other. Hosting parties is simply an opportunity to gather together an amazing group to network and create friendships.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- To make sure you’re not worn out afterward, host in your home.
- Icebreakers are your friend if you hate small talk.
- By following the 2-Hour Cocktail Party structure, the conversation among guests can flow naturally without you checking to see if everyone is mixing and mingling.
“Everyone that I invited was so happy to attend. It was a unique experience and a chance for them to meet new people.”
Hosting at Home
As an introvert, Lee Ann wanted her party to feel personal even though all the guests were business professionals. She decided to host it in her own house to accomplish this.
“Nick says you do NOT want to do it at a bar because barties aren’t good, for a variety of reasons. But hosting it here at my home is so much more vulnerable.”
She had concerns about hosting in her small house, but after realizing she didn’t need seats for everyone and that smaller venues can often be better for parties, she took the plunge and it worked out great!
Everyone should host a cocktail party in their own house. Read this article I wrote to learn why.
Lee Ann often dreads small talk. She knew she wanted her party to be more structured so she could avoid that.
Rather than everyone hopping from person to person and “working the room,” her party followed an agenda that she stuck to which allowed for short bursts of individual conversations before moving on to group activities like icebreakers.
Two different attendees came up to Lee Ann afterward to say that the structure of the party made them feel more comfortable. What a win!
The Necessity of Name Tags
Lee Ann didn’t need much convincing to use name tags, as she’s always been a stickler for them because it makes you feel like you’re not in a group of cliques.
She took it a step further and had the same person fill out all name tags in capital letters. It made the names so easy to read. Brilliant idea!
Don’t know which name tags to buy? I like the Cualfec 210s and the Avery 5154s. See my favorites here.
She also decided to write the name tags out beforehand. It’s not usually recommended, but it helped her feel prepared and confident before the party began.
One of her guests (a business etiquette coach) mentioned that name tags should always go on the right side of your chest.
Since we shake with our right hand, it’s easy for the person you’re introducing yourself to see.
If hosting hundreds of parties has taught me anything, it’s that some people will show up early.
Don’t believe me? Neither did Lee Ann until three people came 10 minutes early to her event – luckily, she had the name tags prepared ahead of time.
The most typical thing I hear from hosts is either “What food should I prepare? Should I cook?” or “I bought way too many snacks!”
Lee Ann did a great job with this! She prepared two cheese charcuteries for her guests. She also asked about food intolerances before the party. She’s glad she did because someone had a shrimp allergy and another had a peanut allergy.
Remember to just prepare light snacks.
I share my exact shopping list that you can also use for your party here.
Since she had such a successful party, I interviewed Lee Ann to learn even more about her experience and takeaways.
Q: What was your number one fear going into hosting your party?
A: Well, first, I read this great book about hosting parties, and I thought: now I want to try hosting it at my house! I have a small house, but your book said it doesn’t matter how small your home is and that I don’t need seats for everyone. It worked out great! I was so happy to do it and the dynamic felt different, more intimate.
Q: What is some advice you want to share with future hosts so they can nail their next party?
A: Send an email before the party with a set of questions so you can create guest bios. Don’t forget to send a follow-up email afterward. Put the fun facts you gathered from that first email in short guest bios and tag everyone on social media so they can connect.
Lee Ann was pleased with her party’s attendance and the friendships made during it.
She is used to more formal events with speakers and meetups with designated activities to do, so hosting in her home was a vulnerable move.
Compared to their last social event, she and other guests felt there was more camaraderie and connections made because it happened at her home.
The structure outlined in the book allowed everyone invited to experience something together – like the icebreakers, harmonicas, and fun facts – that helped build a culture between them complete with inside jokes.
Lee Ann learned that:
- Hosting at home works better than at a bar when the purpose is to create new connections.
- Clear name tags are a lifesaver: write the first name in big, block letters.
- Be prepared for early arrivals. When you host a party that is only two hours long, people show up on time or early!
- Introverts can enjoy parties when they know there will be some light structure.
Congratulations to Lee Ann for hosting a successful cocktail party in her home.
Hello, My name is Nick Gray. In my book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, I provide helpful guidance on how to host a great party for any event. I wrote this book to support anyone attempting to meet new people and develop closer bonds with their community.
When is your party? Send me an email and I will give you some bonus tips, including a pre-party checklist that you can print out. Plus I’ll answer any question you have, free of charge. I love talking about parties and I’m on a mission to help 500 people host their first party.