What’s the perfect number of party guests?

Glasses of beer cheers

It’s been a busy old year for parties in the Donovan Jones household, New Year/Housewarming, 16th & 40th birthdays plus a wedding and we’re only in July!

There were some fairly obvious things to consider when making the guest lists, how many people can you fit in the venue, how many can you afford to cater for etc.

The one thing I hadn’t previously considered until planning my wedding reception was how much time I would actually be able to spend with each guest.

The reception was going to be six and a half hours, which meant at most the contact time I had was 390 minutes, so even at just a hundred guests it was averaging out at less than 4 minutes each. That, to be honest was about the total of my calculations and it seemed reason enough to set a cap at 100.

The reception was amazing, the food was outstanding, thanks to El Kantina, and there is plenty of photographic evidence that would suggest people enjoyed themselves.

Post party, and aside from any alcohol induced haze surrounding my overall recollection of the evening, I have returned to nerdy consideration of how much time I did actually spend conversing with guests, did I make the most of it and what would have been the absolute optimum possible.

There are plenty of factors to consider; not everyone invited was present for the whole of the possible 6.5 hours, given it was such a lovely evening at any one time up to half the guests were outside, there was a period of time for speeches which was a one way conversation between myself and the entire audience (so not really conversing) plus I spent a good deal of the final few hours dancing away to the playlist that myself and my good lady had diligently curated for everyone’s enjoyment.

On the positives side, much of the time I was in conversation with guests it was as part of a group rather than one on one so that counts for at least double, around 25% of the guests were close family that I had spent time with the previous day so had already “caught up with” and despite the reasonable intake of ale I believe there was no more than 5 minutes spent powdering ones nose.

Given the complexity of calculations it clearly isn’t easy to work out the optimum possible contact time and my propensity for dancing certainly meant I was never going to max out on the opportunity for conversation. So plumping for a softer measure of success; did I feel I had managed to give everyone at least the average amount of time? I think the answer to that is yes (anyone who was there and wants to disagree is welcome to correct my rose tinted memories). I certainly managed to have plenty of great conversations with friends and loved ones that I hadn’t seen in a long time, and rack up some lasting memories for the years to come.

So the answer to the question at the top is, for each hour the party lasts you can afford to add another 15 guests to the list. Any more than that and unless you are happy talking to people in groups of 10+ you could just be kidding yourself.

Back tomorrow for more musings, in the meantime: Party on dudes!


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