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How Many Guests are Too Many Guests?

Casual Hosting
Etiquette

Fact or fiction: there’s always room for one more

We’re here with the breakdown of what number is just right

You’re so ready to host the gathering you’ve been scheming up, but your hold-up is wondering how many people will fit in your space. You love your apartment, but it’s not big by any standards. In fact, it’s quite petite, quaint some could say. Cozy, in good company. It works fine for your remote work life (generally, until your cat decides to be the diva she always was), but to host your party brings on a whole new challenge.

How many people will fit in your space? Is a certain number too many? How do you keep the party comfortable for enough lively guests, but not cramp them in your space?

Let us help to determine just the right amount of people to invite into your apartment. So as Goldilocks would say, this one feels juuust right. 

Think about the guests you’re inviting

Do they know each other? Is this a mashup of work and hobbies and best friends and new plus ones? Generally, if you are mixing more than one group of people, it’s helpful to have 3-4 guests from each group. This ensures they each have a safety net if needed to go back to when they need somewhere to sit or just kick back. See How to Make a Guest List to read more on our tips and tricks for mashing up the best guest list possible.

Ballpark the amount of space you have for guests to mingle

Now, to get spatially realistic for a moment. The amount of space your home or apartment has does in fact have a say in the number of guests you entertain. Of course there’s wiggle room here (though you definitely don’t want your guests feeling like they’re wiggling, squirming, and shimmying through the party), but here is our general guidance for how many guests we’d recommend to host in your space, based on square footage. Not sure how many square feet you're working with? Guesstimate room size instead, and imagine how many guests you would comfortably want in each room.

  • 900-1000 sq ft: 10-20 people
  • 1001-1200 sq ft: 15-30
  • 1201-1500 sq ft: 20-40
  • 1501-2000 sq ft: 25-50

Remember to think about which rooms you don’t want guests in (we factored that into our estimates and only applied “living spaces” for this purpose). Als,o consider whether you will use outdoor space for the party. This can of course add a whole additional element - and really expand your guest list if so desired. 

Sitting, standing, dancing, or eating

Close your eyes. See your party. Do you envision people mingling and walking around, or sitting down and marking their territory? (not literally like Benji, but you know what we mean) Take a step back and assess your space. If you intend for people to find a place to sit down with their plate, check how many spots are obvious to sit. Pull up an ottoman. Funk it up with the patterned chair from your bedroom. Add a bench here or there. Remember that the number of seats exactly does not limit the number of guests to invite. Not everyone will sit down - but it gives you a ballpark to estimate a beginning number.

If you see the party being more mingling and moving about, potentially even breaking into a living room dance floor (guilty!) feel free to add a handful more to the list. An extra on the dance floor is always appreciated.

Name that party

Now, to think about what type of get-together you’re having. The vibe of each party definitely varies based on what your guests will be doing throughout the event. See a few of our examples, and apply this school of thought to your party in mind. 

  • Game night: If you’re keeping score, dishing out shade on Cards Against Humanity or passing the Catch Phrase, you’ll want anywhere from 4-14 people. Beyond that, it gets difficult to direct traffic and keep your game players at attention.
  • Brunch or shower: Since you’ll likely have seats for each guest, and assuming all guests will be seated at once, gather your chairs. Arrange your tables and seats to see best how many guests your space will fit.
  • Dinner party: Again, go back to whether you’d like guests all seated at the same time family dinner style, or taking bites and standing with small plates. If the family dinner table is your vision - count your chairs and be sure to adjust accordingly based on your RSVPs.
  • Baby reveal or couples shower: Whether it’s the colored powder exploding in the air or the essence of spring, we typically see these parties held outside - meaning you have more space to play with! Be not as concerned with the capacity of the backyard or outdoor space you’ll be in, but more about how many guests will have the guests of honor feeling special and well, honored.
  • Cocktail party: Create a festive atmosphere with more people milling about. Think about how many rooms you’d want guests to be in throughout your home, and then estimate 10-20 fitting in each space (loose numbers of course, but for starters).

Spread the wealth - er, the allocation of tasks

People want to help! Especially since you are hosting, your guests will likely want to pitch in to thank you for your generosity. If this helps you breathe a bit, realize that you can take guests up on the offer to bring something - and recognize that can lessen your load as you think about your invite list. Just because you invite 30 people, does not mean you are responsible for feeding 30 people. When your husband’s friend’s new girlfriend asks what she can bring, give her an answer! Plus, you’re doing her a favor. A new guest at a party instantly feels more comfortable walking in with something in hand. They have a purpose and something to contribute to the party. If anything, their appetizer recipe is an easy conversation starter. For more of these, see How To Have Better Conversations.

If only we were all YES people

Lastly, keep in mind that people are busy. Vacations are booked, weddings are a go, babies are being born, and life is just happening. This is important to take into account, so we always recommend inviting 10-20% more than the final number you’d like to attend. It’s hard to imagine a party feeling too full - and when that does get to be the case, you’ll know people are having a good time if they’re sticking around.

So these are our two cents on how to determine how many guests to add to your list. Ultimately, think about the people that you most want to have there. Take our key points into consideration, and then go ahead with the inviting. 

If you’re looking for more ways on how to host your best party stress-free, we got you.

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