How to Create the Perfect Party Guest List

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At first glance, creating your party guest list is easy. Just invite your friends! But as you start planning, you realize there are many considerations, especially if there’s someone contributing their ideas, too. Here’s how to decide on the perfect part guest list.

The guest list is the foundation of all other party decisions. We’ll show you why and how to decide who should come to this particular party.

Start with a guest wish list.

Just write down the list of everyone you’d like to invite off the top of your head: co-workers you adore, close friends, and family members you see all the time. Put an asterisk beside the must-have guests.

Now think of people you’d like to have a better relationship with, and those who are fun to be around.

Have you been to a party that you feel you need to reciprocate an invitation?

Now whittle that down to THE list.

Contact the important guests.

Contact the guests with the asterisk beside their name to see what dates they’re available for a party. (Your child would be disappointed if their best friend wasn’t able to come to their birthday party.)

This is why the guest list is important. Who is at your party makes the party. The rest makes for great photos, but it’s the interaction between the guests that makes a party memorable.

This is when you set the date for your party. When you know your best, most important guests can attend.

So – how will the people on your guest list interact?

Take another look at your guest list. Do these people get along? Is it going to be a blast – or are they going to be reluctant to participate because they don’t know each other or – even worse – don’t mesh as a group?

It’s better to leave one or two off the guest list than to have an awkward party – or one that’s unforgettable in the wrong way.

What would they like to do? If they are the kind or the age where they don’t like activities, plan a movie for your entertainment. But if they’re active kids excited about a party, movie time is going to be chaos. This is another reason why your guest list is important. They should have similar interests and personality types. Mixing a couple wallflowers in with an exuberant group is not a good idea. They will not enjoy themselves.

Don’t rely on sparkling conversation of adults or for kids to play together as the main event of your party. How many parties have you been to where this worked out well? We discuss that later in the entertainment planning but for now, make sure you have a group of people who will enjoy each other’s company.

Are there too many guests that work together? They may dominate the conversation talking shop. Not fun for others. Ditto for guests who enjoy the same hobby.

Be ruthless. Be brave. Only invite the people you know will be lots of fun at this particular party. Cross off a few names from the list that you know wouldn’t really enjoy themselves or contribute to the joy of the party. You’re doing both of you a favor.

Be realistic. Only invite the number of people you can comfortably afford or fit into the party venue. If you want, you can make a B list of guests that you can invite if other guests are unable to attend. If someone’s feelings are hurt because they are left out, be gracious and tell them how sorry you are that your budget was so tight for this one, maybe next time.

If it is a large party or a family reunion where you need to know who is coming to plan the other details, send out a Save the Date notice. They’re not just for weddings! Be sure to tell them the cut off date for replying. Then, instead of sending an invitation to the party, you send a confirmation with all the necessary details.

Other considerations based on your guest list.

When you plan your menu, think of your guests. Don’t plan a gourmet meal for a group of people who would prefer a cookout. Is there someone on your guest list that has dietary considerations? Make a note of a peanut allergy so you don’t put them on your menu. If there’s a vegan, you’ll have to make sure there’s enough for them to eat, too.

Plan a party theme that will thrill them. If your daughter is inviting lots of boys, they probably aren’t going to be thrilled by a princess or Frozen party. Anticipation is important to having a successful party. Attendance is better and excitement at the party is heightened.

How many guests are ideal? If it’s a party in your home or backyard, how many can comfortably fit? If you’re renting a venue, what is their guest limit? How many can you afford? If you don’t stay on budget you won’t want to have another party which would be soooo sad.

Here is a FREE guest list printable to help you keep track.

party guest list example

PDF is editable. You can fill it in on your desktop. (Click on the “text” button, click on the row you want to fill in and type.) Or, you can print it off and put it in your planning binder and write in the blanks.

Immediate download.

How to use the party guest list printable.

If you have List A and List B, print off or create 2 lists.

In the notes section add dietary considerations, if an older guest needs special seating, etc.

Adults and children are recorded separately so you can determine if, and how many, assistants you need to keep the party going while you do the hostessing. (The adults already on the guest list make ideal assistants, but don’t assume. Ask.)

Check off after you’ve invited them (especially if you have an A and B guest list), and when they’ve responded to make it easy to see who you need to contact.

Do fill in the phone number section in case you delegate calling guests to someone else on the day.

What now? Step two in party planning is setting the budget.

planning party budget

See our tips on setting a party budget, and how to decide where to spend the money.

Or, start from the beginning if you arrived here first.

party planning 101

Party Planning 101: what to done when & how. Here’s how to plan a party that runs smoothly, thrills your guests and amazes even you! This step-by-step party guide goes beyond the what-to-do-when reminder & helps you add wow to create a party they’ll never forget. (And one you can afford without regret when the credit card statement comes.)

Or jump ahead to the party planning idea that interests you.

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