One of the first things you consider when planning a party is how many people will actually show up. Some will RSVP, Boo-Yah! +12. Yikes! Are they bringing their neighbors too? Others will simply not reply at all and will end up making an appearance, albeit late, but there. Gotta love the "fashionably late" crowd. So how do you decide just how many will come to your party?
This information is critical for any event planner, professional or the casual weekend with friends. The amount of food to purchase, whether cooking yourself or having it catered in. From appetizers to main dishes, all the way to dessert. The guest count matters. How much liquid beverage is needed, both alcoholic and non? Guests won't be happy if they aren't offered something to drink when they walk through the door and definitely not happy if all that is left is tap water before the end of the night. That could mean guests start leaving early and may reconsider the next time they receive an invitation.
Then there is the topic of seating. Unless you are having a super chill yogi party where everyone just grabs a pillow and parks it on the floor, you need seats. Even at this style party, they still don't want to share their soft sherpa with someone else. At a more traditional event, seating is a complete MUST! No one wants to stand all night and unless they've already had a few too many, they won't want to be sitting in their best gal pal's husband's lap. At least that's not the kind of party I think you are throwing. ;) Not only the number of seats available, chairs, couches, benches, etc., but for formal events, you may even be adding coverings or dressings such as tulle bows, florals and so on to the seats. How many chairs can fit at a table without being overcrowded or sparse? This may mean you need more tables than expected. You can always squeeze one or two chairs in in a pinch but not if a bus load of additional people show up unexpectedly.
Another consideration is gifts and favors. For weddings, it is typical for the bride and groom to provide a favor or gift for attending their blessed event. This can range from the modest candies in tulle pouches, like we had at our own wedding. To over-the-top, personalized ornaments. Favors can range from less than $100 for everyone to that or more per person.
For an event like a Christmas party in which you may be part of a gift exchange or as the host, you gift each guest a little something, you want to make sure that each person is included in the festivities. No guest to feel left out. Now most would understand that you simply didn't know that they were coming, but there may still be some hurt feelings among the crowd.
The more formal events, you would be covered as these tend to have a guest list and no one outside of that this is able to enter the venue. But for the less formal and more close-knit and casual parties, you will not only upset your guests but can feel, yourself, like you haven't done the best job as host.
One of the simplest remedies to making sure you have everyone accounted for is to simply call the people invited to the party and just double check to ensure you know an exact count. This will also be a good idea for those that may be adding a significant other (aka - we just got engaged this past weekend) or if they have had a last minute change of plans, illness, etc. You would be at a loss for words if you threw a smashing soiree and less than half showed up because of a nasty flu virus that swept through town this week. Not only do you have enough food and drinks to feed an army but it might be best to reschedule your party to the following week to let everyone recover.
Another possibility is to count the number of guests and just add one to the count for each group or family attending. This too may mean you end up with a little too much food, etc. but you know that your guests won't be starving for lack there of. You can always have leftovers. Lol.
If you are needing to provide gifts and/or favors, you can also purchase a few extras. If gender specific, tailor this to the general demographic of the party, i.e. couples, all women, kids. You get the picture. When you have the issue of personalized favors, consider purchasing some that can be left un-customized, don't include a specific name. For weddings, this can easily be done, in that, in the example of personalized crystal ornaments say for a winter wedding, you can still have your names and date (Mike and Sarah, May 2, 2018), but don't include the engraved guest name.
Side note: If looking for an idea say for a winter wedding... I, especially, like the idea of using these engraved crystal ornaments in place of traditional place cards for seating on the tables. Set them atop of the napkins placed on the dinner plates for a perfect combo of wedding favor and seating arrangement notification.
I had to ask my husband just the other morning, "Are your brothers coming?... And is Tyler bringing his girlfriend?" It is best to try to stay on top of the planning process and not get too frazzled by last minute things that come up. Try to anticipate the number as best you can and don't stress if the late arrivals show up with a few additional friends.