Attendance Number Disapointment
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  1. #1

    Default Attendance Number Disapointment

    This is my first year hosting a Halloween Party and I'm wondering what you all did/do to bolster numbers?

    I sent the initial invite at the end of August to allow for timing and I sent a followup to the "maybe's/not-yet-responded" yesterday.

    Including my boyfriend and I, I've got only 9 attendees (including +1s) and I originally invited about 30 + guests. I had hoped for for a group around the 20 mark including any guests that people brought. I'm not sure what I did wrong?

    Invite specified it was BYOB but I will provide food and non-alcoholic drink. To dress up, and not bring your kids. Party starts at 8pm with no directly stated end time. Also was extremely clear that you could bring people. Date of the party is Saturday October 28th.

    I'm honestly not sure where I went wrong and why the attendance is so low? Any ideas or do I just have a sucky-crowd for Halloween? Any tips to bring the numbers up in future?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    You know I have had the same problem every year.
    My friends aren't as into the holiday as I am. The ones that show do it because it is also my birthday party...

    But I will tell you even if there are only 9 people, you will have fun. The ones that show are usually your truer friends and you know you have fun with them!

    One year the rain was bad so we only had 3 people show up. so with my hubby and I total of 5. We ate like kings (as I had made enough for 30) and we played cards against humanities while horror movies played in the back ground. It was actually one of the best years!!!

    All that said... if you learn the secret to get more people to attend, let me know. I provide alcohol and food. I even provide masks for those that didn't dress up!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    You haven't done anything wrong........

    I always plan on about half of whatever I invite. Some people will wait till the last minute to respond and some will show up who never rsvp. I really don't understand why its so hard for people to rsvp!!

    Keeping it small for your first party may be ideal. Enjoy the guest who come, play games and have a good time. After you post all the awesome pictures of it people will be so mad they didn't attend

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  6. #4

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    Thanks for the replies and good to know I'm not the only one/haven't done anything wrong.

    I have Cards Against Humanity so I'll keep it in my back pocket in case we get a bunch of no shows even from those who said yes. I guess I"m just a little sad since I had hoped for better and even my siblings declined my invitation And I was honestly a little cheesed when people replied with "Sorry prior commitments" yesterday... if they don't want to come I'd appreciate honesty... I invited in August and you didn't have plans then.... (I was still polite and said "thanks for letting me know, have fun anyway!" haha)

    I'm thinking I'll still run the "Test the Fates" game that I found on here so there's a little something for people regardless of the party size.

  7. #5

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    Wickedwench gave great advice and had great points.

    I know how you feel - I had a themed bday party last year and went all out with invites, decor, food, etc. invited almost 30 people, and about 12 came. There were some "lulls" throughout the event, but looking
    Back on it, it really was a blast and I got to interact much more with everyone there Vs hopping around to different people and spending only a few mins with them, you know ?
    I still wish the turn out had been better, but it was still great! I was so grateful for the folks that did show and tried to focus on that

    Have some interactive games ready just in case of a small group and have fun!!!!!

    You didn't do anything "wrong" - and with alllst 2 weeks until your party, more could RSVP. I also think the weekend prior to Halloween people may have stuff going on , maybe that's partly what's happened ??

    HAVE FUN!!!

  8. #6

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    We had the opposite problem. We throw a Halloween movie night party every year. This was our 3rd year and we invited 72 people. About 65 showed up! We had plenty of food so there wasn't a problem.

    Personally, I think your invitation went out too early and your reminder too late. The former they didn't know what they were doing yet and the latter, they may already have other plans because they forgot about your party.

  9. #7

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    I feel your pain; our attendance has been getting somewhat lower every year. Many of our friends are making babies and adult Halloween parties just aren't their jam anymore it seems.

    We seem to be having a good response this year so I will post our process. I might even turn this into a guide if time allows at some point.

    Reputation is everything!
    First of all, our party is pretty good (if I do say so myself) and has a great reputation amongst friends, family and the neighborhood so we have that going for us. Throw a couple awesome parties in a row and people will look forward to it and put it on their calendars early. This is our 6th year. We also spend quite a bit of money on this party, usually around $800-1200 bucks a year so our budgets likely differ. I will say that it is tough to do a party of any magnitude on a barebones budget.

    Kid Friendly (for a time)!
    Allow time for kids, even if you don't necessarily want them. We start our party at 6pm but advertise "Kid friendly activities from 4-6pm" (pumpkin painting, spooky movies, etc...). That lets families know that they are welcome, but the kids should leave when the lights go down and the drinking really starts. Historically we have only had a few families every year come early and they generally clear out at an appropriate time. A few people at this time also provides a good test run for the party itself “Did you forget anything, are there enough paper products, are the lights/music working, etc…?” Those questions get answered ahead of the main party and it’s a good thing.

    Invite and plan early!
    My wife and I make a Facebook page around August and send out invites en-masse. We usually invite upwards of 100 people via Facebook. We also make a paper invite to circulate to family and non-Facebook friends. Currently of the ~120 invited we have about 35 confirmed via Facebook. We anticipate about 25 more on top of that that either haven't confirmed on FB yet or are going to be last minute additions. So we are looking at about 40-50% of invited people attending, this seems to be average. Sometimes attendance has gotten as high as 75%. Have it on the same weekend every year. Ours is always the Saturday closest to Halloween, that date range can be from the 27th-November 2nd or thereabouts. Again, people will plan early and it becomes a tradition.

    Social Media!
    The Facebook page is really key, invite people and allow them to invite guests via the settings. On the page we advertise quite a bit from August-Halloween. We try to post once every two weeks to keep interest high and hopefully to get more RSVPs without inundating people. We post images of costume ideas that go with the theme, short videos of games we plan on playing or progress on the props and decorations. We also post a thematic menu outlining all of the food and drinks we are going to have. That really gets people pumped as a lot of people come for the food and drinks. We also have a Pinterest Page specifically devoted to thematic costume ideas/tutorials. People usually browse that to get ideas. Finally, upload pictures of the event back to the Facebook page after the event is over. Even if people didn’t show up they can browse the pics and see what they missed out on. They are more likely to come next year then!

    Spare No Expense!
    We provide basic alcohol and most food and try to build it towards the theme. I’ll give some examples of this later on. Strictly BYO events can turn people off. We usually purchase a keg, a few magnums of wine, jello-shots and basic liquor/mixers. We say "We have the basics covered, but if you want to bring a bottle of wine/6pack/side dish that would be great.” My wife and I usually spend a good chunk of November eating leftovers and polishing off random six packs, but it is better than running out of food. Again, it sounds like our budgets differ but in my experience, providing at least the basic beer and booze should be a priority in my opinion. I am personally a control freak so I plan everything from the props to the music to the dipping sauces. You can go with a more Pot-Luck style party and have everyone bring something as well, just make sure you don’t run out of food and beer.

    Have a theme!
    This really gets people excited and gives the event some consistency. The theme can and should extend to more than just costumes if you can swing it. For our Ghostbusters theme party, we built large paper mache props (terror dogs, altar of Gozer, etc…), painted a large ghostbusters logo sign and hung it from the house, strung green “slime” from the ceiling and had a photo booth that looked like the containment unit. We tied in cleverly named foods and had a Build-Your-Own Ecto Cooler Bar as a drink station. This was a great theme as was by far our most memorable and best party. This year we are doing “Haunted Game Night”. We are setting up a lot of classic board games and will be putting a boozy spin on things like Battleship and Operation. We have painted props of all the Clue weapons sprinkled them through the house among other thematic props. We made a pinterest page for costume ideas and DIY tips. Some sample foods we have lined up are “Oriental Avenue Eggrolls with Professor Plum Sauce”, “Settlers of CataNachos” and a “Parcheesi Plate”. It sounds corny, but people let loose and enjoy the goofyness once a year.

    Be our Guest!
    Go out of your way to make people feel welcome. If you are going to be hitting the booze really hard, allow people to crash or stay over. DUIs are serious business and might scare some people away if they can’t stay and would have to drive a distance. If there is a pregnant couple that wants to come, make sure they get a semi-private room or at least a comfy air mattress. If it’s not apparent already, we make a whole weekend out of our Halloween party. Some family usually comes on Friday and helps set up, the party is Saturday night and then we serve breakfast (and Bloody Marys) for everyone that stayed over Sunday morning. One other thing that we do that we have some success with is we have a “pre-party” on another weekend in October. We let people come and hang out and see how things are progressing and help them with their costumes. I have a big garage so we usually have at least a few people every year that come and work on costumes or just hang out to get a preview of coming events.

    Music!
    Have good music going. Not just your spooky soundtracks on loop for 6 hours, people actually hate that crap after 10 minutes. Do some research, make some decent playlists and have some fun with it. Pro Tip: You can sign up for a PandoraOne free trial for a week every year and customize a really good spooky station to play throughout the party, then the trial ends and you do it again next year. An uncle of ours is a DJ so some years he comes with his Karaoke equipment and we set up a dance floor in the basement. We are getting a little older now so Karaoke isn’t as much of a draw anymore. Adjust your expectations based on your audience. Music is key to a fun night, especially if you have a lot of people.

    Recognize!
    Award and recognize people that go out of their way to participate on social media and at the party itself. We have a costume contest and award small prizes (a small treat bag and single serve bottle of liquor) and ribbons to about 5 people. I won’t lie, if someone works really hard on their costume and isn’t getting recognized, we have been known to stuff the ballot box in their favor. If people bring a favorite dish, talk it up and get everyone to try it. People that go above and beyond will prove essential to future party endeavors and will likely return year after year.

    Finally, don’t stress about it. Some years you will have great turnouts, some years you will have crappy ones. People are fickle. It really comes down to setting a good tone, getting a good reputation and then building on it from year to year. This is our 6th year doing a big party. I don’t expect it to be our best attended or craziest. With enough pre-planning and advertising you can ensure your party will be an awesome time whether you have 10 or 100 people.

  10. #8
    Join Date
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    Did your invites say "Saturday the 28th" on them? Saturday is the 29th and if people think you're having your party on Friday that could be a problem. Might just have been a typo on here but I had to mention it.

  11. #9
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    PSULarryO has some great advice. We have hosted Halloween Parties for the past 14 years and they always start a little on the smaller side (mostly family and a few friends) but throughout the years it has gotten to the point where people will start texting me in July to confirm that we are having a party and to start getting their costume ideas together. We usually send out official invites at the beginning to mid September and we always have a great turn out. We actually end up with more people than we invited because friends of friends will want to come along as well. So don't get too discouraged, even if only a few people show up the first few years, just enjoy the evening and let it build. Word of mouth usually takes off pretty quickly and each year afterwards will become more popular.

    One thing to understand as the parties get more popular and elaborate is cost. We generally end up spending a few hundred dollars each year we host as we always provide everything. We do not require our guest to bring anything but themselves, which is great for them but adds up quickly. I love hosting and making people feel welcome and I absolutely agree with PSULarryO that making your guests feel welcome is a must. All the decor and booze in the world wont mean anything if they don't enjoy the evening. A killer soundtrack for your evening is also a must! I also agree that it needs to extend beyond just sound effects. I generally keep a pretty good variety and have even been asked by guest for a copy of the playlist as they enjoyed it so much. As much as I LOVE Halloween music and sounds, I sprinkle them inbetween some general party jams as well. A few times, when the party started dying down, we will be known to put on Dance Central or the Michael Jackson version (which does include Thriller) and have mini dance competitions after everyone has had a couple drinks and everyone seems to enjoy watching and "competing" with each other. It worked for our group of friends, but may not be ideal for everyone.

    I think I am mostly just reiterating what Larry said, but don't get too down on yourself if not everyone shows up every year. I actually have had to put our large parties on hold the past couple years due to a bad back and at first I was extremely bummed out about it, but now I am growing more fond of our smaller intimate parties. I feel I can spend more time with each guest and we can make more of a casual evening out of it. That is not to say I have completely given up on hosting larger parties, but I think I want to go back to how I started in the first place and focus more on a yard haunt with a small after party.

    Anyways, I hope that helped a little. I know it probably wasn't anything new, but I think every Haunter has been where you are now at some point and I can tell you from experience, as long as its Halloween, you will have fun, whether you are surrounded by 10 people or 100! Just let the Halloween Spirit take over and you will do great!

  12. #10
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    Friday nights are thick around here with High School football games.
    The Chicago Cubs are still progressing toward an appearance in The World Series!?
    Over the last 15 years how many people now sit at their own keyboard all night?
    Things do change, so do people's habits.
    "My Insanity is well-respected, until they wiggle free and become a stringer for a tabloid"

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