How many of you can relate to the panic, guilt, worry, or fret that go along with deciding whom to invite to an event? If you are a woman over…well, come to think of it, my six-year old daughter already goes through this…

“But if I don’t invite her, she might not invite me!”

“No, I HAVE to invite everyone in the class!”

“But if I don’t invite her, she’ll find out and hate me!”

And if she could articulate it…”Yes, she dominates the rest of us! Yes, I feel put-down around her! But she’s the most popular and if I want to be popular I HAVE to invite her!”

And so it goes…

I am incredibly guilty of this (Mom, you are nodding your head, AGAIN!). I spent the first thirty years of life deciding every guest list based on the above criteria. The results?


A feeling of being drained after an event instead of tired, but satisfied.

Even more social OBLIGATIONS and less time with women I laughed with.

No more.

Last week during the comment contest, Jennifer of Snapshot wrote, “I loved your idea about limiting guests, and just doing it, but I would probably like more info on that, because it IS hard to do as a woman.”

It is hard.

She followed her comment up with this question, “More specifics I have on this type of entertaining–Is it better to mix and match groups of friends or try to keep them all similar? What are the benefits and detriments of each?”

Well, Jennifer (love your name by the way), here is the secret to the perfect guest list:

Know Your Boundaries.

Listen to Your Boundaries.

Trust Your Boundaries.

Wait! I thought you were Tea Party Girl, not Arm-Chair Psychologist!

Hear me out.

When you decide on a guest list, what can you afford? I am not only talking about money, though it is an important factor. What can you afford emotionally? What will keep you up at night worrying? Are you more introverted or extroverted? Do you enjoy small groups or huge parties? Do you throw everything together at the last minute or do you enjoy going over the details and taking your time? Know your boundaries.

Sometimes hospitality is a service, and sometimes it’s for fun. Be HONEST with yourself about the difference. Who do you love to be around? And who do you need to do something nice for? Which party is this? If it’s the latter, lower your expectations about what you’ll get out of it and make time for the former. Be honest with yourself about who you really enjoy. Listen to your boundaries.

One of the guests of honor this weekend is someone who wants to invite everyone to everything and doesn’t think twice about squeezing in another chair at the last minute. I know this about her. When we talked about who she wanted included this weekend, I had my speech ready.

GofH: “Oh well, let’s invite this person and that person and this stranger and that stranger because their dog is friends with my dog…”

Hostess (Me): “You know, GofH, I’d invite everyone if I could but I have a limited budget and feel I can afford to pay for ten guests at the most. I don’t want to have to ask your guests to pay, so which two friends would you really like to come?”

GofH: “Oh, yes. Of course. No, ask people to pay…oh, ehem, no~I don’t want to do that! Oh, yes, I understand… you know J and ML…they’re the friends I really enjoy. Let’s include them.”

Trust your boundaries.

As for your last question, Jennifer, once you’ve worked through the above, it can be great to do both. Have parties so mutual friends can meet each other and make new connections.And make time for your “True-Blues”, the ones you truly laugh and share with. Both are intrinsically rewarding in the context of answering the above question.

So how did you decide on the guest list for YOUR next event?