How To Throw a Minimum Viable Party

If you’re starting a company, your number one objective is launching your minimum viable product: the ugliest, most awkward version of your product or service that can still work.

Your minimum viable product (or MVP) lets you immediately start gaining customer feedback. From there, you can start tweaking your way to product perfection. If you don’t launch your MVP, it’s a different story. You can overanalyze, overplan, and overcomplicate your product to their point that it falls apart, confuses users, fails to do anything specific, or worse – never launches.

Imperfection is the strategy for good companies. As LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says:

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Parties aren’t too different. Most of us tend to overthink them, overcomplicating our party plans to the point that we don’t want to go through on them at all. Parties tend to be burdensome affairs, or we never bother to host them at all.

This doesn’t change the fact that people really like parties and need quality time with other humans. So what if we adopted startup thinking for our parties? What if we stopped being perfectionists and launched a minimum viable party instead?

Here are 10 tips for throwing a party that will do the job of pleasing guests (and pleasing you) without being perfect.

  1. Wine makes everything classier, and it’s cheap. Serve wine. Pick bottles under $20 that have cool and interesting labels, because that’s really the only difference between wines at this price point anyway. 
  2. Confine the party activity to one room to reduce prep and cleanup time. Make that room as cozy as possible. Don’t be afraid to arbitrarily limit space so people can’t avoid each other. 
  3. Provide a simple activity for your guests. Board games are great. Movies (particularly on a projector) are great. Book clubs are also an option if you like more intellectual pursuits.
  4. Get simple party fare like pizza. Everyone like pizza. Pepperoni is an almost universal crowd-pleaser. 
  5. Find ways to reduce your cleanup and home prep time. Throw your stuff into the closet and your dirty dishes into the dishwasher.  Use paper cups and paper plates when people arrive.
  6. Provide easy-to-prepare snack food. I like serving a bowl of raw almonds and oranges for snacking or as side dishes to the main pizza course. 
  7. Allow your guests to participate, either by helping you in the kitchen or by bringing dishes of their own. Potluck it. 
  8. Play music that signals “this is a party” and “you can feel free to dance if you want to.” Draw your selections from all over the map to please and intrigue the crowd, but make sure they share a celebratory theme. 
  9. Invite interesting people who will like each other.
  10. Ask your guests great questions that will start meaningful conversations. If you’re really desperate, look online for conversation starters or philosophical questions

Whatever you do, don’t let overthinking or perfectionism keep you from having a party in the first place. Life’s too short. Remember (to paraphrase Hoffman): if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your party, you’ve hosted too late.

Happy partying!


Photo by Annie Gray on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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