Podcast Parade: All The Hacks & Hosting Dinner Parties
Hosting Cocktail Parties, Building Relationships, Museum Hacks and Friends Newsletters
One of my favorite podcasts out there right now is All The Hacks. Ironically, I’ve tried to shy away from the “hacker” lifestyle. But those who know me are very aware of my proclivity to try just about anything from cupping, dry needling, saunas, cold plunges, credit card points, sleep measuring mattresses, Bose sleep-pods, and a million other things.
All the Hacks doesn’t have every single episode that has been a home run for me, but there is an episode I keep coming back to. It’s a wonderful conversation with Nick Gray.
Nick Gray (@nickgraynews) is an entrepreneur, investor, author, and founder of Museum Hack. His book is “The 2-Hour Cocktail Party” How to Build Big Relationships with Small Gatherings.”
Tension is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
In this particular episode, Nick shares valuable insights on hosting successful events. He emphasizes the benefits of regularly hosting cocktail parties and provides practical advice for creating memorable experiences — something I had never really considered or thought about. My desire for hospitality has always been there, and after reading The Gospel Comes with a House Key, the practical “how” behind providing hospitality and experiences to people inside my home has been a little bit of a mystery.
But Nick has a super clear and easy process to follow.
Nick starts by discussing the ideal day of the week to host a cocktail party (listen to find out), the recommended duration, and the importance of selecting the right guests.
Here is a great summary from “Feed My Friends” around some of the specifics Nick recommends.
➜ Invitations with an RSVP page: Nick recommends sending out invites using a service like Mixily or Evite that has a public list of who’s coming. Why? Nobody likes surprises. People are more likely to come to a party when they know who’s coming. An RSVP page, according to Gray, can also improve your reputation among new connections.
➜ Time Limit: There’s a short and strict 2-hour time limit. People are busy, so throwing a party with less time commitment than a dinner party improves turnout.
➜ Name Tags: Everyone wears a name tag, so there’s no awkward experiences of forgetting peoples’ names.
➜ Ice Breakers: There are set times throughout the night where the host facilitates ice breakers. These brief pauses break up conversations, introduce new ones, and allow people to be reacquainted with different guests. (You can find the suggested ice breakers in the book).
➜ Food and Drink: The host is responsible for all snacks and drinks, making it easy for guests to accept the invite and show up. It’s up to the host to spend as much or as little as they want.
The episode delves into step-by-step invitation information, with specific tips on hosting parties that cater to both adults and children. Nick also highlights the essential information to include on your event page and shares two unique features that he incorporates into all of his parties.
Quick note: Nick’s advice on using Calendly is some of the most intentional and human advice on using a great tool that can often feel far more dehumanizing.
He dives into what to serve on the menu for the event, and most importantly — strategies for gracefully ending the event.
As an aside, Nick explains his choice not to serve beer at his parties and shares the three parts of an icebreaker. He provides examples and explains how to effectively utilize icebreakers during cocktail parties to engage guests.
The episode covers the schedule and formula for sending reminder messages to guests, the importance of seeking feedback after the party to continuously improve future events, and advanced party planning, including organizing book or clothing swaps. Yes, book and clothing swaps.
It’s…incredible. I think if you have any interest in becoming a better host, you need to listen to this episode.
Thank you Nick!