Organizing fun gatherings

A reader asked:

Ever since my depression got better, I been doing more leading in get-togethers. Like inviting people over to my house and suggesting what we’re going to do. But I feel like people don’t have as much fun at my activities as those led by my other friends. I take a lot of input on what we do, and I tell funny jokes.

Is there anything else I can do when leading a group, formally or informally, to help people relax and have fun?

realsocialskills said:

I think you might be pushing yourself too hard.

If people are having fun and liking your get-togethers, that’s success. You don’t have to be the best or the most fun for what you’re doing to be good enough. It’s not a contest, and it’s ok if you’re not as skilled at throwing parties as some of your friends. It’s a skill set that you can develop over time.

That said, from the way you’ve described things, it sounds like your gatherings might be happening this way:

  • You invite people over
  • They come over
  • You spend time deciding together what to do
  • Then you do the thing together

If you’re doing it that way, it might be making your gatherings less fun than they could be. Negotiating with a group about what to do isn’t very much fun, and it can set the tone for the gathering being less fun.

Also, if you don’t pick the activity in advance, there will usually be someone who wanted to hang out who doesn’t want to do the activity that the group decides on. That person usually won’t be very happy, and that can make things less fun for everyone.

If that’s how you’re doing it, your gatherings are likely to become more fun if you decide on an activity in advance, like this:

  • Pick something that you and some friends like
  • Invite them to come do that thing with you
  • People who want to hang out and want to do that thing will come
  • People who don’t want to, won’t come
  • There won’t be any tiresome negotiation phase of the gathering
  • No one will be stuck in an unanticipated activity that they don’t enjoy

Some examples of activities you can decide on in advance:

  • A game night (either a specific game, or whatever games people decide to bring)
  • Going to the new Exciting Movie in a series you like
  • Going out to dinner together
  • A dinner party at your place
  • Getting together for movies and popcorn at your place (better if you pick the type of movie in advance, or maybe even the actual movie)
  • (Here’s a post about things some people like to do at Halloween parties)

In any case, organizing fun gatherings is a skill, and you’ll get better at it as you get more experience. You don’t have to be perfect or the best for your gatherings to count as successful. If you like them and most of the people who come like them, that’s success.

Short version: Picking an activity in advance and inviting people to do it is likely to be more fun than gathering a group of people and deciding together what to do.

Halloween when you’re too old for trick or treating and don’t like drunken parties

do you or your followers know of any social acceptable ways for teenagers to celebrate halloween? my friends and i are 18-20, so unfortunately I feel too old to be trick-or-treating, and none of us like to drink or go to those kinds of parties. do you have any ideas? thank you.
 realsocialskills said:
Many people your age like to go to haunted houses around this time of year. In a haunted house, you walk through and look at spooking things and various actors scare you. Most areas have at least a couple of haunted houses. There are also haunted hayrides, which are similar except that they are outdoors and you ride through them rather than walking through them.
Many zoos and museums have Halloween events. Most of them are primarily targeted towards children, but some of them also welcome adults. If there are zoos and museums in your areas, you can find out about their programs on their websites.
Different cities have different events. If you google “[your city] Halloween events” you might find something interesting. Here’s a page of events for Philadelphia.
Some people your age enjoy going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween. I don’t really know how to explain what that is or why people like it. But here’s a link to the Wikipedia page, and a fan page that can tell you where to find a showing.
That said, a party is also an option. Parties don’t have to be drunken, large, or crowded. They can be a small group of friends getting together to do something they enjoy.
The party can be a Halloween party just because it is a party and it is on  Halloween. (Maybe with Halloween-related decorations or food). You can also do Halloween-specific things.
   Some things that some people enjoy doing at Halloween parties:
  • Telling ghost stories in the dark
  • Wearing costumes
  • Painting each others’ faces
  • Having a bonfire and roasting marshmallows
  • Carving and lighting jack-o-lanterns
  • Making pumpkin pie, or just eating it
  • Eating other pumpkin-based foods
  • Eating and/or making Halloween-themed cookies (you can buy tubes of dough to slice and cook if you’d like to make cookies but don’t want to do complicated baking)
  • Watching horror movies
  • Watching Halloween-related movies (Nightmare Before Christmas is a good one.) or Halloween episodes of shows you like
 You can also take things you already like and make them Halloween-themed in some way. Eg: If you write stories together, write them about black cats. If you play roleplaying games, play a Halloween scenario. If you like playing Apples to Apples, make a bunch of Halloween-themed cards and add them to your deck.