Tips for getting people in LA to turn up to your party
Let's be honest, people in LA are flaky. We rarely commit to going to an event, preferring to give a maybe and an excuse as to why we're not going, and even if we do actually say "yes" to an invitation, the chances of us cancelling because we just don't feel like it... it's 50/50.
It's not because we're bad people, it's just that we have a long way to drive, and we might not be impressed by the other guests, and maybe we've got things we need to catch up on, and frankly we were holding out for a better offer, and what do you know? A better offer came along.
After extensive research (i.e. throwing a lot of parties, I'm dedicated to my research) I've come to the conclusion that the way to get people to show up is through a system of gentle, friendly, perfectly legal, stalking.
About 5-6 weeks before the event, start broaching the subject with people. "I'm going to have a party, are you free the weekend of the 6th?" It's not an actual invite but it's putting the suggestion out there. If it's something more specific, say so. "I'm doing a stand up gig on the 21st of next month, I know it's far in advance but if you're not doing anything that night I'd be really excited if you came."
Talk about it
Don't be so obsessivethat you stop talking about anything else, that will put people off. But when there's an opportunity during the course of a normal conversation to bring up the event, then do so. If you're having a meal with friends, mention that you're trying to think of what food to serve, and ask their opinions - if you give people an opportunity to talk about something, they'll become more interested in that topic. If you manage to get a conversation going about your party once every other day, folks will be thinking about it more and more, they'll remember not to schedule plans for that day because they know they're already attending your event, and they'll start talking to other people about it.
Issue the invite
Three to four weeks before the event (less time if it's to a smaller group of people that all know each other; longer if it's a bigger, more formal occasion like a wedding or a ball - the more money an event costs to host, the more notice you give people to attend), send out the actual invite. Most people give out online invitations via evite, or facebookthese days which is a great, convenient way to get int touch with a lot of people and also allows them to figure out who else is going. However, there's also something rather charming about a paper invite, and if it's a formal occasion, then definintely issue paper invitations. Don't forget to include directions in the invite.
It's also a good idea to speak to people individually, either face to face or on the phone, but not via text. It's more difficult for an invitee to say 'no' when they have to face your reaction rather than replying to - or ignoring - a text/ email invite.
Keep up the contact
It's very tempting to issue the invitations, count up the number of people who say they'll be there and then sit back and wait until the day of the party.. when you'll be very upset to find that no-one turns up. Sad but true fact, people make plans and lose their enthusiasm for them very quickly. Ideally in the run up to the party you should contact all your invitees at least once a week to update them on who else is coming - people they know, people they fancy, people you think they'd like to meet. By doing that you're giving your guests more reasons to make it worth their while to show up.
Turn the guests into hosts
If you're really clever you can delegate the guests to contact each other and also rope them into helping you out at the party, "Everybody loved those vodka jellies you made last time, please, please would you make them for my party?" "I've got such awful music knowledge, could you bring your ipod/ put together a play list for me? Everyone always says how good your music is." Give someone a job to do and they become a small part of the administration and have a commitment to turn up. Make it a job which gives them a chance to show off their talents and they'll be proud to do it... and maybe offer to do it again for the next party! Put people in contact with each other and it becomes a group project which they all look forward to - the momentum and the excitement builds. Do be sweet and charming though when you're asking people to do stuff - remember you are asking people for favours. The goal is to make people feel involved not bullied and resentful.
Last minute reminders
A couple of days before, send a reminder email with directions. The day before, and the day of the party should be a flurry of text messages and phone calls: "So excited to see you tomorrow, it's going to be so much fun." "Can't wait to see you, hope you got the directions, call me if you get lost!" "BTW Gavin's coming too, it's been forever since we saw him."
You'll still get people dropping out at the last minute, some will bother to tell you, some will just ignore you. Don't take this personally, it's how things happen in lovely sunny Los Angeles. By following the above tips you should get at least half of your invitees turning up, and if you make sure that you invite your favorite, most trusted friends then you'll have an inner circle who'll keep you laughing no matter what.