Mastering the Art of Engaging Your Party Guests

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Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is frequently lost in a good book when she is not writing about how technology impacts our everyday health and wellness.

Throwing the occasional party is a great way to spend time with your friends. You don’t even have to have something specific to celebrate. You could just throw a party as an excuse to have a different experience with those you care about. It’s also a fantastic way to have different segments of your friendship group meet one another.

Yet, engaging your guests is one of the challenges of throwing a party. A lull in the conversation or situations that some people aren’t comfortable with can really put a dampener on the situation for everyone. Mastering the art of engagement isn’t easy. However, with a little planning and practice, you can make certain all your guests have the best possible experience.

Align Your Guests to Your Party

Maximizing your ability to engage your party guests starts long before the event itself. Remember that not every guest will be well-suited to every type of party. Some may feel uncomfortable in louder spaces, while others thrive in intellectually stimulating conversation. Therefore, you should begin by carefully aligning your guest list with the type of party you want to have.

Some event-guest pairings you could consider include:

  • Wine dinners: These are parties that revolve around wines being carefully paired with each course of a meal. Hosting a successful wine dinner tends to involve setting a sophisticated yet relaxed mood and encouraging conversation about the meal. Many hosts of these events educate their guests about the wines featured. This type of party can be a great option for guests who enjoy learning, trying new things, and interacting with conversationalists.
  • Formal soirees: While soirees can be quite fancy in nature, they’re also more intimate than many other types of parties. Usually, it’s an opportunity for a handful of guests to get dressed up and enjoy an evening of charcuterie, cocktails, and company. These parties can be good for guests who perhaps aren’t comfortable with large events. It’s a chance to enjoy a little elegance in a chilled space.
  • Game nights: These are more relaxed evenings that revolve around either a single game – like a murder mystery — or a range of shorter games. The number of people you invite can vary depending on the types of games you want to play. Food is also usually limited to a shared meal or some snacks. These can be great for people who aren’t into the formal nature of dinner parties and can get excited about a little light competition.

It’s important not to make too many assumptions about your potential guests’ tastes, though. New experiences can be really valuable for your friends and can be the key to engagement in themselves. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks in your matching process.

Arrange Various Activities

Conversation can be a great addition to every party, but it’s not always positive as the be-all and end-all of your event. When you expect guests to just spend the entire evening chatting, the mood can dry up, which may lead to disengagement. Therefore, it’s worth planning some activities. These can be the central theme of the night or spare options you have in your back pocket if the atmosphere fizzles out a bit.

Some engaging activities include:

  • Games: Games are no longer the sole domain of children’s parties. You could introduce some of the popular adult board and card games, such as Cards Against Humanity or Joking Hazard. You could also play more traditional party games, such as charades. In either case, get some input from your guests on which games they enjoy.
  • Cooking: If you’re having a dinner party, consider involving your guests in the food preparation. Chopping vegetables or seasoning meats can be a great communal activity that cuts through a little of the formality or awkwardness of some gatherings. It can also spark conversation while spreading the party’s workload.
  • Creativity: Creative activities are opportunities for your guests to let loose and perhaps get a little messy. Pass out paints and canvases or sculpting clay. Make it clear that artistic ability is unimportant, as this can help everyone feel more relaxed about the activity. Indeed, the results can be a chance for shared hilarity.

Pay careful attention to the timing of your event, though. The last thing you want is for one activity to take over the entire focus of the evening. This is a way for people to get bored or exhausted. Aim to loosely structure your party to incorporate periods of chilling out or chatting between activities.

Make Everyone Feel Included

Big charcuterie board full of snacks

When guests don’t feel like they’re a part of your party, this can cause them to disengage. As a host, you are responsible for taking steps that make everyone at your event feel included. This needs some attention to the types of features that create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Some of the elements you can focus on include:

  • Assigning roles: Some of your guests may feel a little adrift if they don’t have a specific role to play in your event. Consider inviting some of them to take the lead in creating decorations or taking videos during the evening. This might help them feel both more relaxed and more engaged with the party.
  • Ensuring high accessibility standards: People will find it difficult to engage at your party if they face hurdles to actively enjoying it. Make certain that the layout of your party space is easy to navigate for those with wheelchairs, mobility limitations, or vision challenges. Provide quiet zones for those needing a break from the music or bright lights. 
  • Cater to everyone’s dietary needs: Some of your guests will have different needs in regard to your menu. This may be a vegan lifestyle, or perhaps they live a sober lifestyle. Take the time to develop a range of options that allow your guests to make selections that suit them.

You’re not always going to understand the nuances of your guests’ accessibility needs fully. It’s wise to reach out to everyone beforehand. Let them know that you want this to be a great event for everyone involved. Invite them to talk to you about the challenges they face and what you can do to give them the best possible experience.


Mastering the art of engaging your party guests benefits from some additional planning. Being mindful of how well your guests fit into specific party scenarios and boosting inclusivity helps you to provide a great party environment. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not successful every time. This is a skill that can take some time to develop. Look at what works and what doesn’t, then make adjustments for your next event.  

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