Unexpected Guests are the best-kept secret of Dinner Parties. I, for one, am guilty of keeping it simple by inviting the same amazing friends and closest family over for dinner. I deeply love connecting with those that I consider my closest friends. I also think that we all need to branch out and meet more people.
I've been considering more and more recently how I should mix it up. Invite a friend or two that shares a common interest, has similar goals, would be an inspiration to someone. We used to throw these ladies nights that I am trying to bring back where everyone brought a friend that wasn't part of the immediate friend group. It created such a glorious mix of I am always looking to get to know more people.
However, when inviting these new additions to the guest list it is important to consider how they will fit into the group. I also suggest letting them know that a majority of the guests know each other, but you want them to meet particular guests.
Let's talk about the most important part of this whole experience. The Art of the Introduction.
Your Standard Dinner Party Introduction
How many times have you heard this?
"Erika meet Tom. Tom works at X Accounting Firm. Erika works at Y Software Company. "
and then you walk away.
"Erika, I'd like to introduce you to Tom. Tom is a Tax Accountant Michael and Erika and I met in college before we both started out at our separate PR Firms. "
Where is this going wrong?
- WORK does not define you. It does, however, seem to consume so much of your life and somehow has become a marker of worth. Don't get me wrong, I have some of the most ambitious friends you will find and am incredibly proud of all their achievements. However, some people, even with the highest ranking job titles, aren't happy with their jobs. Some people's jobs are harder to explain and leave that person feeling like they are less worthy than the person with a popular job description.
- You aren't giving them anything to go on. Minus their names and one random fact. As the common thread between these two people you shouldn't consider this a job well done. These two might as well be starting from scratch.
A Better Introduction
Might I suggest this form an introduction instead.
- Talk about things that light that person up.
- Consider common interests.
- Bring in how you know that person.
"Erika, I want you to meet Tom.
"Tom actually introduced Michael and I. We like to keep him around because he is unreal at charades which gets him an automatic party invite every time"
"Erika and I met over a late night craving of tacos freshman year of college. We've been inseparable ever since and she is just about to depart on a grand adventure in Europe.
"Actually, you both might have a lot to talk about since I know Tom went to Italy last year and loves giving away his favorite little cafes. I've got to go check on dinner, but Tom be sure to tell her all your secret spots."
Now as you walk away, they actually have a variety of topics to choose from -- Little Italian Cafes, Tom's charade's skills, what Michael was like in college, how Tom introduced us, where else Erika is going in Europe. If they make it to jobs, then so be it, but this goes way beyond that.
Please, please, please set your friends up for success with a conversation that actually lights them up rather than a conversation full of pleasantries.
When I would get the (dreaded) introduction question of "What do you do?" it would lead to 30 minutes of talking about weddings. Everyone wants to talk about weddings and everyone has "that one wedding story". Sure, I have tons of stories about moments that saved the day, extravagant requests or unique details but none of those light me up. What would I want to talk about instead? Where my friends are traveling to. Where I am planning my next trip to. The new restaurant we tried last week. My friend's love of theater. My new love of plants.
Anything. But. Weddings.
Some people love their jobs and could talk about them all day. Others love their jobs and are crushing it in their field only to wish to remain humble. Better yet, some people just like to leave their work at the office.
The next time you make an introduction steer for the passions, the hobbies, the experiences and see how it lights up your friends and watch a buzz spread through your party.