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My Parents Hosted a Party: Here’s What They Learned

Last updated: March 27, 2024

My parents hosted a party!

They split their time between Denver, Colorado and Dallas, Texas. They are in their 60s and admittedly were forced to host this party because I am their son ????

But wait! They had a great time, made new friends in their neighborhood, and are already planning their next party.

Keep reading to see how your parents can make new friends. I’ll show you how they can host their own happy hour or cocktail party to meet new people in their neighborhood or community.

Why you should listen to me:  I’ve hosted hundreds of cocktail parties in New York City, Austin Texas, and around the world. Now I’ve taught my parents (and hundreds of others!) how to host their own easy parties that are lots of fun. I even wrote a book about it.

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We have less friends as we get older. It becomes a game of attrition: people move away, relationships change, and we have fewer friends each year.

Nobody teaches adults how to make new friends. But as we get older, we need more friends. It is especially nice to know people in your neighborhood. To say hello when you’re out on a walk. Or to borrow some coffee beans when you run out ????

That was the case for my parents. They moved to a new neighborhood in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. They wanted to meet more of their neighbors and do something fun for the people that they often saw on their walks.

a photo of David Gray, Nick Gray, and Susan Gray
These are my parents. I love them, obviously. David (my father), me, and Sue aka Susan (my mother).

Hosting a Neighborhood Party

My parents read my book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, to get ideas for how they would host their party.

The ideas that they used were:

  • Planning their party 3 weeks in advance
  • Hosting their party on a Monday night
  • Inviting at least 20 people
  • Collecting RSVPs
  • Keeping the party to only 2 hours
  • Drinks and snacks only. No dinner!
  • Using name tags
  • Three rounds of icebreakers
  • Taking a group photo
  • Kicking everyone out at the end of the party
My parents were promoting my book during their party. Can you tell that I am their favorite child?

Who to Invite

You should always invite your core group to your party first. These are your close friends or next door neighbors. You’ll send five people preliminary invitations to check and confirm that they’re available on the date and time of your party.

Remember to use a long party runway. Give yourself at least 2-3 weeks to collect RSVPs. This will guarantee a successful turnout.

My parents considered posting flyers around their neighborhood like Sujan did. But they decided that didn’t feel right. So they invited their next door neighbors first.

Once they had locked in five people with the sample date and time that they proposed, then their party planning and invitations could begin.

Some neighbors who attended the party in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado.

Next, they invited a few other couples that they had seen during their walks. Some of the people they invited suggested others to invite. This helped them to invite a total of 20 people. The word spread around the neighborhood and soon my parents had 15 RSVPs.

Ultimately, they had 12 people attend their party with a wide diversity of age groups. The youngest person was 45 years old and the oldest person was 90 years old. Success!

My dad met someone at one of his favorite restaurants and even invited him! This was one of the coolest things about their party planning process: I don’t think my dad would have connected with this individual unless they were hosting the party.

When you host a party, you will have a great excuse to make new friends and meet new people.

Read this article for more ideas: Who to Invite to Your Party.

Setting up the self-timer on an iPhone is not always easy, especially for seniors.
I love this group photo! My father, in the back center, set up the camera for a fun memory.

Lessons Learned

These are the key things that my parents learned after hosting their first party using my formula.

Follow the Formula

“Just follow the formula! You may want to modify it like we did and add some more food. Or maybe you only want to do one icebreaker. Listen to my son! His book is good and has been tested hundreds of times. Do not try to modify it for your first party. It will be a success if you follow the instructions.”

Older people are more stubborn. They might not want to do the icebreakers, or the name tags. But our neighbors loved it! They liked the structure. Follow the formula.
David and Susan Gray

Snacks and Drinks

“People did not drink that much alcohol. We were surprised. Maybe we just do not have friends that are heavy drinkers.”

“The most popular snack that we got were the brownies from Costco. My neighbor just stopped me on the street this morning to say how much they liked them. Besides that, we got way too much food. Simple snacks would be best.”

Start and End Times

The start and end times that my parents decided were from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. My father was very strict with asking everybody to leave on time!

With older people, maybe it is easier for them to end their party sooner. Some guests wanted to stay and talk afterwards. My parents said that they would love to catch up later, but they needed to clean up and get ready for bed. It helped them stick to their goals of ending the party early and in a stress-free way.


My parents were so happy that they did this. They wondered why they did not do it sooner. They enjoyed meeting all of these people in their neighborhood.

Now, they might be biased. After all, I wrote this book, and I’m their son, so they sort of had to do it ????

But it really was a great experience. My parents made new friends and created stronger relationships with the neighbors that they see every day. That is something hard for adults as we get older. Everyone can use a new friend these days.

My parents are already planning their next event. The neighbors who were unable to attend have been buzzing my mother’s phone, asking when their next party will be.

Have your parents hosted an event like this? Do you think my book about how to host a party would make a good gift for your parents? Send me an email and let me know what you think.

Leave a comment on this article here.

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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