#25: The #1 Key to Turn a Boring Christmas Party into a Friend Making Machine [podcast]

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This past Sunday, we hosted one of our top 5 parties ever. (No this wasn’t our 5th party, more like our 50th plus.) The results: There were 26 people that laughed a ton and left closer. No there wasn’t large quantity alcohol involved with people embarrassing themselves.

The 16 kids adopted nicknames. They are plotting the next time  I learned that one of the couples had been married before. All sorts of fun and deep things came out, because of one thing.

Celebrate

 

How did this happen: We had a hard agenda with structured activities. (Think the opposite of a random, boring Open House.)

We had planned activities that promoted fun and getting to know one another. We had planned activities that they did as teams to win the points and learn more about others. We had planned activities that had them doing active games. We had planned activities that gave a glimpse into who they are.  (Do you notice a pattern? Planned activities.)

Now if you are like me, you might be saying something like, “Are Planned activities really the key  to make friends?” The answer is yes. If you want to get to know people better, you must create the opportunity in a safe place for them to tell their story. The more intentional you are, the quicker you will connect.

 

What do you need to make this happen?

1. Leader: Someone to push through the normal safe boring plan.

2. Agenda: A plan with a schedule for activities

3. Activities: Games to get people having fun and getting to know one another. No games that would even hint of embarrassing others.

4. Home: Any home will do. We had people in our kids bedroom, because our house is small.

5. People: You need at least 8 people.  15 or more is better. No Work people.

6. Laugher: Give people permission to laugh and laugh often.

7. Dinner: Do the 2 questions around your table. Make the meal simple. See Episodes 20 for how to do this.

The hardest part are Numbers 1 & 3: Leaders and Activities.

Leader: As the leader, you need to decide you can do this and that people will respond. The vast majority of visitors will be very grateful for your effort. Those that don’t aren’t the type of people you want to be around anyways.

Activities: The keys to a good activity are: Fun, Winners, Short, Safe, Active, and  at the same level of relationship as the group. My recommendation is 15 minutes maximum per activity. Create a point system for each round. This will get the competitors engaged. Gamify it for the males or those that like a challenge. Don’t water down the relational part though or do anything that would embarrass others. If you want activity ideas, email us.

 

Word of Caution

The only way this doesn’t work is with people that have a history of suspicion with one another. Work parties/people are almost impossible, as people have their guards up. The best are people from your normal life, like parents from kids soccer team, dance team, church, neighbors, etc. Your friends are the ideal group.

 

Word of Encouragement

Gather everyone together at the beginning and put them at ease by explaining what, how, when, where and why you are doing this. You might feel awkward giving a “mini-speech” to start things, yet the others will be grateful.

 

Extra Tips

  1. Tell everyone you expect them here 15 minutes after the stated start time. Give a clear end time, with the option to stay later. I also give a drop dead end time.
  2. Ask them to help you, like getting chairs from the garage or cut the salad, etc.
  3. Give the different teams a team name, so they have an identity.
  4. If there are men, I’d suggest you treat them like men treat their friends. You tease/mock them in a healthy male jesting. Just make sure it is a vocal male. This will make everyone relax.
  5. Did I already mention to laugh? Laugh. It is the universal language to relax others.

 

I truly do wish you could have been at our party and seen the change from the start at 3:45 to 8:30 when they left. I continue to be amazed how much we want to connect and tell our story. You can do this.

Do you want to come to our next gathering? Let us know.

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