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Creating the Guest List

When hosting a personal event, whether a birthday party or graduation party, one of the first things that will need to be done is figure out how many people you’re going to invite. This can be tough, but here are some simple rules to get you started on the guest list.

  1. What is the time cut off of the last time you spoke the person that you’ll still invite them? (ie: if you have not spoke to them in a year, you won’t invite them)
  2. Will you allow the plus-ones?
  3. Are you going to allow children? What is the age cut-off?

After setting the ground rules, you’ll then need to determine how many people you want and start making three lists. The first list is the people that you NEED to invite, or the “I need them there” list. The second list will be “I would like to have them there.” This list is where distant relatives, co-workers you don’t talk to frequently, or anyone that might be around that time cut-off. Then there is the “If we have room” list. This would be the people that you might have not talked to in awhile or your parent’s friends that you know. These lists will help you prioritize your guest list so if you have to make the hard call you know where to start looking.

Don’t fall into the trap of inviting everyone. Unless you have an unlimited budget, I would stay strict to your original guest list. The guest list matters the most when you are planning to feed everyone that shows up. Before adding that third cousin twice removed to the guest list think about the actual cost of that one person. Below, is the average cost of one person, with only getting the bare minimum number of items:

One person = $20-$35 depending on the catering menu

  • Rentals: $5- one dinner plate, napkin, fork, butter knife, water glass, and chair (not Chiavari add another $2.50).
  • Catering: $15-30 a plate- even higher with provided alcohol.

If you reduce your guest list by 8 people (one full table) = $192–$332

  • Per person cost of $20-35 X 8 people= 160-280
  • Table and linen: $22
  • Centerpiece: $10-30 (higher for bigger flower arraignments)

The larger your guest list the larger the venue you’ll need, more invitations to send, and larger tent you’ll need to rent for outdoor events. Your guest list does have a rippling effect on many different areas, so choose wisely. With that, if someone is on the border line and might cause future issues by not inviting them, then error on the inclusive side.

Find more tips about planning your next event with these blogs:

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