There’s a not-so-secret, and not particularly novel recipe for coming up with fresh, “unconventional” approaches to anything.
Here it is in three steps:
- Pick one of the countless things that aren’t working for you as well as you’d like.
- Hone in on the desired outcome.
- Research, think, and tinker to concoct a better bottoms-up approach.
I can attest that this recipe works for improving sleeping, tasting, breathing, convincing, ring buying, and more. And I recently came across a guy named Nick Gray who applied it to something else I need help with, and you probably do, too:
Kim and I followed his approach, and we’re fans.
Host a “2-Hour Cocktail Party”
When Nick moved to New York City, he had a hard time connecting with busy, cliquey, and flaky fellow residents.
But rather than mope around singing Akon’s “I’m so lonely” in his shoebox, he took some initiative.
He picked apart everything that makes getting people together difficult and boring and redesigned hosting in his own way:
❌ Problem: People are busy.
✅ Solution: Plan at least three weeks in advance on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday when people have less going on.
❌ Problem: Nobody to invite.
✅ Solution: Make the party about bringing together a hodgepodge of people, so you can invite loose acquaintances, friends of friends, and their friends.
❌ Problem: People don’t commit.
✅ Solution: Make the party strictly 2 hours long and tell them they don’t have to bring anything.
❌ Problem: People still won’t commit.
✅ Solution: Create an RSVP page (example) and get your close friends to RSVP before sending invites to the rest, so other invitees see people are going.
❌ Problem: People drop out because “something came up.”
✅ Solution: Send reminder messages to build excitement:
- One week before, send a short, fun reminder with logistics.
- Three days before, hook them in by sending bios of some guests. (Ex: “Chris B. fights ruts for a living. He chases the sun between Cape Town and Vancouver. Ask him about eating bugs!”)
- On the day of, send a final reminder with logistics.
❌ Problem: Hosting’s expensive and a lot of work.
✅ Solution: Make it clear that the party’s about casually meeting people, not gastronomic excellence, so you’ll only be providing cheap snacks and drinks. Budget $70-100.
❌ Problem: Forgetting names is awkward.
✅ Solution: Have everyone wear name tags for a connection-enhancing boost. As Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
❌ Problem: Making small talk is awkward.
✅ Solution: Kick things off with icebreakers. Have each guest share their name, what they do, and their favorite breakfast.
❌ Problem: Mingling is awkward
✅ Solution: Shake the party up with two more icebreakers at 30-minute intervals. Examples:
- What’s a piece of media you recently enjoyed?
- What’s a good or bad habit you’re working on?
- Do you collect anything, or did you ever?
❌ Problem: People don’t know when to leave.
✅ Solution: Exactly 2 hours after the party started, kick everyone out. Leave them wanting more.
My Experience as a 2-Hour Cocktail Party Guest
Unconventional Route Approved!
Kim followed Nick’s party formula to meet more people in Cape Town and shared her experience here:
Too Difficult for You?
Yes, hosting something like a “2-hour cocktail party” is more involved than texting the same ol’ buds, “Hey, wanna get together for some drinks?”
But if that’s not working for you, maybe it’s time to switch things up and try a new formula.
- 🐸 Time for a “small leap”? David Cain suggests you make friends as an adult by making the small leap of asking a not-quite-friend if they want to do something. The smaller the better, since it’s a small leap for them, too.
- 🕹 Fun game for new acquaintances. Have people who just met each other guess the other’s occupation. This was the highlight of a party we organized to get to know our new neighbors.
- 🥶 Be less chill. You get what you put into hosting. “Gathering well isn’t a chill activity. If you want chill, visit the Arctic.” – Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering.
Until next time,
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