How to Throw an Incredible Dinner Party That Every Single Person You Invite Says ‘YES!’ To
When I was younger, I did not live at the house where everyone was always welcome to come over and party.
My mom was really strict. And even when I did have people over, I always felt uncomfortable. She would ask me to do chores or yell at me while my friends were over and it was embarrassing. So I quickly internalized the idea that my place = not a ‘cool’ place for friends.
And this idea followed me EVERYWHERE I went.
Even after I moved out, I still felt that wherever I lived was not the ‘cool’ place to have friends over. Even though I was different, the place was different, and my mom wasn’t around–I still FELT it. I felt that it wouldn’t be ‘as good’ as wherever my friends lived.
So imagine how I felt the first time I toyed with the idea of having friends over and throwing a dinner party.
At first, it sounds exciting! I felt like everyone was telling me to ‘just throw a dinner party’ as if they were asking me to go into my kitchen, throw together what was left in my pantry, and create a 5-star meal.
Even if on the surface I was excited, on the inside I had a deep, gnawing fear: “What if no one comes?”
And another layer behind that: “What if people DO come, and it just isn’t good..and they never come again?”
I felt like a little girl all over again who was scared to show her friends who she really was.
So I always put the dinner party idea on the back burner, thinking:
“Ah, I don’t have enough people to invite right now” and
“Everyone’s probably busy” and
“Once I feel better about this, I’ll do it”
For someone like me who is trained to quickly see what is in the way of people making progress, I let my own fears cocoon me for as long as I could.
Until one fateful morning.
I was reading Keith Ferrazzi’s, Never Eat Alone, and he was talking about the dinner parties he threw monthly in LA. And he said something that struck me like a lightning bolt: That people threw THEMED dinner parties. Like, just for entrepreneurs. Or, for women only.
I immediately thought: I’m going to throw a women only dinner party. I was excited by this idea, and then scared again. I had spent the last 2 years working through my fears of being close friends with women (no joke, this is a thing only women can understand) and I finally got to the point where I wasn’t worried about girls being jealous of or not supporting me, but being my best supporters and confidantes.
So even though I had lingering feelings of the party either not working out or being at the ‘right’ place–I threw it anyway. And that’s exactly what I did at the beginning of this year.
Except I didn’t stop there.
I’ve been throwing women only dinner parties, brunches, tea dates, and even an upcoming ‘Friendsgiving’ this entire year–with everyone saying YES–and actually showing up. Always excited for the next one.
So today, I’m going to show you how to throw an incredible dinner party that people actually WANT to come to, say ‘yes!’ IMMEDIATELY to, and rave about it to their friends after (and ask you when you’re going to throw the next one)–even if you feel like your place just isn’t ‘right’, you don’t have a lot of people to invite, and have no idea how to get people to show up.
But there is ONE catch.
I felt hesitant about sharing this because while I know it’s great to ‘want’ to throw a dinner party, I actually want you to DO it. I’ve spent a lot of time refining how I write the invites, the right time frames to invite people over, and how to make sure each one you have is a success. So the catch is this: If you read this guide today–which includes the EXACT invites I’ve written to get a 100% response rate–promise you’ll follow through and actually do it. I’m here to help you take action, not save this for ‘another day’.
So if you’re okay with that, I’m thrilled to share this with you:
The Ultimate Guide to Throwing A Dinner Party Every Single Person You Invite Says ‘YES’ To And Entertaining Like a Modern Day Princess Diana
Step 1: Do you want to come to a ‘Dinner Party’ or a ‘Night of Decadence?’
Every day I am grateful to the world of copywriting for learning the persuasion skills to get people to do what I ask them to do.
So the first thing I thought about when I decided to throw my dinner party was that it can’t just be a ‘women dinner party’. Even though it’s niche and special enough to be more attractive than a generic dinner party, I had to consider my audience.
My girlfriends are beautiful, ambitious, crazy smart, and work their asses off. So you have to think: What do THEY want from a party? What would be the best experience for them?
I put myself in their shoes and think about their days that they’ve told me about countless times. Too much email to think a clear thought. Need to hit their numbers. People problems. Sometimes more work when they get home.
And I thought: Shit. A ‘dinner party’ is another to-do.
But a ‘Night of Decadence’ sounds like EXACTLY what they need.
Which is how I found my first ‘theme’.
My girlfriends don’t want to come over and talk shop. They want to sit back, relax, feel beautiful, but not like they need to DO anything. They want to talk about their dreams and things that have absolutely nothing to do with work. They want the food to already be there, waiting for them, and looking delicious.
So think about who the people you’re inviting are. What are their days like? What do they love? Maybe your man friends would love a whiskey and poker bro night. Maybe your girlfriends are dying to watch Clueless and drink fresh smoothies (this is my next party idea). Maybe it’s not even at your house, but you host a picnic in the park near your place instead.
The point is: Anyone can have a ‘dinner party’. Boring! I want to be KNOWN for the parties I throw. Think about what your guests would LOVE and create THAT.
Step 2: KEEP IT SIMPLE
I’m sure after reading the last step, you had a slew of thoughts.
“Omg, how many people should I invite? 10? I don’t have room. Wait, do I have that many people to invite anyway?”
“Ah, my apartment/house doesn’t look like a picture in an interior decorating magazine. Now I need to make this all look nice. Ugh. Do I need to buy expensive dinnerware?”
“What am I going to get for food? Do I have to learn how to cook/bake now? That sounds like a lot of work for so many people”
I had the same exact fears.
So what did I do?
I resorted to my usual ‘mind hack’, which is: Keep it simple.
FOR HOW MANY PEOPLE TO INVITE: This does not need to be the grandest event of all time. It just needs to HAPPEN and it needs to have the RIGHT people. So I told myself to keep it at 5 people I thought would mix really well. If you don’t have 5, do 2 or 3 people at first and ask them to bring one of their most interesting friends. Now you have 5! The point is, DO IT.
FOR WHAT YOUR PLACE LOOKS LIKE: It goes without saying that presentation-wise, your place should be clean. To keep things simple, decide on the ONE place you want people to be during your party. Sometimes, I keep it just to the kitchen, so I’ll put out a display like this, which I did for a tea party:
Or, you can just have people in your living room if you want people to be able to sit down and be more comfortable than sitting at your dinner table.
Remember the FTP Principle: Flowers, Throw blankets, Pillows. A mason jar of fresh flowers, a nice throw blanket over your couch, and a few throw pillows are an easy way to freshen up the room without you having to watch 60 episodes of Martha Stewart.
FOR THE FOOD: Do you actually think I would make desserts and dinner for 10+ people? No. The simplest answer to this is stupid simple: order food!
No, I don’t mean getting greasy take out and I don’t mean catering.
Here’s what to do:
For my wine and dessert tasting party, I got bottles of wine from Whole Foods. And I got desserts from both Whole Foods and Good Eggs. You can also just get desserts from a bakery. Doesn’t matter! No one cares because you’re feeding them. People are like cats. You feed them, they’ll be your friend.
For my dinner parties: Decide on 3 things that’ll be on the menu, like meat, vegetables, and salad for example. This makes it incredibly easy to shop–again I use Whole Foods or Good Eggs. In fact, sometimes we throw impromptu BBQs which is just meat and veggies. KEEP IT SIMPLE! You want this to be fun, so you actually do it again.
Step 3: How to write invitations that make people salivate at the mouth and count down the days until your party
Have you ever gotten an invite that read: “Hey! Having some people over this weekend. Want to come?” Then stared at your phone, debated on what to say, and then decided you would text back later and then ‘forgot’ about it?
This is what happens when you don’t send invites that are PERSONAL, EXCITING TO READ, and make it IRRESISTIBLE for the other person to say yes.
The secret to the success of your party is NOT about what your apartment looks like or if you bought fresh flowers like I said you should. (You still should). It’s about WHO you invite and how INTERESTING you make your event sound. Otherwise, your apartment will be spic and span and you’ll have a great meal on the table, but you will not hear the doorbell ring.
Here’s how we solve this problem:
THE IRRESISTIBLE, MUST-SAY-YES INVITATION TEMPLATE
First, make sure you send your invites at least a month to 3 weeks in advance. Otherwise, your friends will have already made plans. Especially if your friends work and are busy, trust me. A month to 3 weeks is a perfect amount of time.
Second, address each person INDIVIDUALLY in your email invite you send. (You can do handwritten, but I’m sticking with email for now).
Third, tell that person WHY you’re inviting them and having this event. What’s the theme? Why is it relevant to them?
Fourth, tell them what they’ll GET. Why should they come? Food, people, entertainment, relaxation, fun?
Fifth, tell them the EXACT details so they would never sit there and be confused. What time? Where? What should they wear? Do they need to bring anything?
And last, tell them WHAT TO DO. The ask should always be a form of REPLY AND SAY YES. And that’s it! You can ask about any food allergies or other small details later. The first answer you want, though, is a YES.
Let’s do a line-by-line analysis of one of my most successful invitations for my Night of Decadence party:
Hey ‘FRIEND NAME’,
This is the first rule of getting people to show up: ALWAYS send a personal email to your guests–never a mass one. If you see yourself BCC’d what do you do? Assume it’s unimportant. Make your guest feel like they’re one-of-a-kind.
Considering the last time I brought a bunch of ladies together a little bit of magic happened, I decided to bring you all together again — with a few new additions — and this time, with a twist.
Here, I highlight how much fun we had at our last get together, and give them a taste of why this one is going to be different. Your guests are getting dull, boring emails all day. Give a hint of what’s to come so they keep reading.
Remember when you were a little girl and you played Pretty Pretty Princess or made your Barbies have tea together? (If you were a tomboy playing video games or climbing trees instead…what you’re about to read still applies)
This is super specific to who I’m talking to. Obviously, this invite is for women. And I’m ‘framing the event’ by tapping into what used to be fun, exciting activities for us as little girls.
There’s nothing better than feeling glamorous–EXCITED–about who you are and what you’re doing.
So what better way to celebrate YOU…and each other…than with a Night of Decadence?
Now, this is about more than ‘dinner’. It’s about a celebration of THEM. I’m basically saying: “Hey, here’s a party I’m throwing for you. Come.” Saying yes is an inevitability.
I’m inviting you to my apartment in San Francisco on Thursday, April 16 for a night of wine and dessert tasting, plus oodles of artful conversation.
The goal? If you’re thinking that I’m trying to get you fat with wine and dessert, there will be plenty of bread and water for you. But seriously, this is a night for you to have a place to come to after work and relax, kick back, and feel like you’re off in a fantasy land for a while. Then going home, feeling like a princess, badass, tomboy — whatever your deal was as a kid — and waking up in the morning and walking around like you have a secret all day because you had an incredible evening.
Here I tell them what they’re going to GET if they come. And in this case, it’s not only food, but a FEELING of relaxation, not worrying, and being off in ‘fantasy land’ for a while. I position the event as a sanctuary, not just a social get together.
And who will be there?
Arielle, my favorite person to eat and exercise through San Francisco with, and is a product manager at Facebook. We recently had a night of Cards Against Humanity that proved to me Arielle is much funnier than I am.
Sarah, a dating coach for introverted men whose company always puts me at ease and whose conversations always inspire me
Tanya, my dance partner in crime who has her own Indian cooking business and is your #1 woman for asking any and all questions about travel and adventure. She was my recent guide on a hike in the South Bay
Kyla, afficionado of video games who works at a video game company here in SF, is super passionate about neuroscience and decision making, and happened to introduce me to trapeze recently.
Jennifer, a communication consultant at eBay, who has had even more wild success there and who I danced the night away with at Temple SF.
Sim, who does content marketing at the app start-up Pocket, and who I recently enjoyed a delightful hike with (thanks to Tanya).
Here, I talk about exactly who is going to be there and WHY these women are amazing. This is my favorite ‘persuasion lever’ to pull–my students in Be Magnetic know this–to use ‘social proof’ in order to make any ask more enticing. Basically, this list says: “Look at all these women coming. You’re like them, you should come”. My guests don’t sit there thinking: “Hm, who else will be at this thing?” This is the cherry on top that shows them how fun it would be to go.
Here are the details so you can RSVP and clear your schedule:
I will be your host for the evening and take care of all wine and dessert. All I want for you is to dress in what makes you feel fantastic, and show up for a night of fun.
Here, I am SUPER specific about the details so people know EXACTLY what to do and where to be
When: Thursday, April 16
Time: 8:00 PM [Note: Set a timeframe, like 8-10 or 7-9 so guests can maximize their time]
Where: *Fel’s Address*
Who: See above for your list of hand-selected women
Dress: Dressy. Because ‘wine’ not? [This can be a fun detail to add that goes with your theme]
Follow-Up: I’ll send you reminders, too, so you won’t forget
Follow-up is the MOST crucial part here if you want all of your guests who said YES to come. Set reminders in your own calendar to follow up with your guests 1 week, 1 day before, and then day of.
What to do now: Respond to this email with a ‘YES!’ to let me know if you can make it. Then, I’ll send you a calendar invite so it’s automatically on your calendar and you don’t have to think.
The close: Tell your guests EXACTLY what to do right after they read and get your invite. At this point, it’s so easy to say ‘YES’ it’s ridiculous because they just have to reply to your email. The easier you make it for them now, the more likely they’ll say yes AND show up.
Can’t wait for our night of glamour and fun,
STEP 4: Tell ‘em what you told ‘em
Back when I lived in LA, I was sitting across the table from my mentor at brunch and he asked me: “Felicia, do you know the difference between people who are successful, and those who aren’t?”
I could have guessed, but he quickly answered: “Follow-up”.
Just one little hyphenated word makes all the difference.
If you don’t follow up with your guests after your first invite, I guarantee your attendance will drop dramatically. People forget. They even forget when they send you invites. Case in point: Do you know how many weddings I’ve been invited to that I’ve forgotten about until a month before and then I think: Ohhhh, fuck.
Follow-up! Set reminders in YOUR calendar to follow-up with your guests 1 week before, 1 day before, and then the day of. One of my favorite rules in copywriting is that after you write a 60 page salesletter you “tell them what you told them” in case they’ve forgotten by the time they get down to buy. You think it’s ‘too much’, but guests LOVE IT.
So a simple email like this goes a very long way:
I can’t wait to have you all over this Thursday for our night of luxury. I have a lot of scrumptious treats ready to be tasted by all of you.
I’ll send you another reminder on Thursday in case any of your plans change. Otherwise, looking forward to seeing you fabulous women on Thursday night.
All year I’ve been throwing these parties–one of my favorites was a women only summer brunch–and it’s been one of the most rewarding ways to get together with people I adore. It’s so rare that someone takes the time to put in thought and effort into bringing people together, that you’re guaranteed to stand out and make a lasting impression on your guests.
Because an important rule of charisma is that it’s about how other people FEEL around you. The better they feel, the more drawn they’ll be to you.
What to do today
Take 15 minutes today to sit down and figure out WHO you’ll invite and what your theme will be for your party. From there, follow the steps for writing your invite and following up, and get your first dinner party on the books! Of course, you have to let me know how it goes.
SPECIAL: For 1 lucky subscriber of Instantly Irresistible, I’ll look over your party invitation and give you feedback on it before you send and answer any questions you have about doing this. Email me by Nov 6 with your fully written out invite–this is first come, first serve!
PS: For the women only. I have a few things I’m working on just for you here at Instantly Irresistible. Would you mind filling out this short, 5 min survey to help me write better content and create better programs for you? Your feedback means everything to me.
Here’s the survey again for you. ← Click right there[ztl_optin slug=”be-magnetic-automation”]