I’ve been using a very basic set of formulas to figure out how big a Facebook party is going to be, based on these numbers:
Here’s the math. It’s simple because I may have a pre-party whiskey in my hand when I need to use it:
Going × 80% + Maybe × 50 % = estimated attendance
Invited ÷ Going = desperation index
Some of you smarty pants types may have already crunched the numbers from my initial example, and found very promising figures. Indeed, I would say those numbers just about represent ideal. While it was a great party, there are a few factors I’ve left out.
RSVP Inflation occurs when people feel some sort of obligation to go…or at least say yes. I haven’t figured out an exact number to subtract in these cases, but I do know people are lying liars and will say yes and hope the host doesn’t notice they didn’t make it. (Ummmm…so sometimes I say yes because I want show my support, since maybe just seems disappointing.) Here are common causes:
- Housewarming party <– this is our example
- Going away party
- Anniversary party (an event that happens every year)
- Inconvenient but exciting party
- Ridiculously well-themed party
Ultimately, I don’t think this factored heavily in the attendance of my example. I do think attendance was near or exactly 57.5 people. (Half person = child?? or..) Yet the practical attendance (a.k.a how the party feels to me during the actually-relevant-to-my-life hours of 10pm-3am) was about 15 people lower. Which brings me to my next point…
Time dilution occurs when the event spans additional, unconventional party hours, such as starting in the afternoon. This happens with:
- Ambitious housewarming parties (<–)
- Parties that start as a BBQ
- Parties thrown by lonely people
- Parties thrown by people with kids, or who have a lot of friends who have kids
- Summer parties (I know it is summer year-round here in San Diego, but June-August months are just treated differently, you know?)
- People who are really into day drinking
You’re just not going to see the people who leave early. It’s ok. They’re not your type of people, anyway.
Making An Appearance
The making an appearance factor has the same basic effect as time dilution, and of course occurs when the event or the attendance-base lends itself to briefer party visits. Either people are making their obligatory stopover before leaving to sleep/take care of kids/return to their lairs of introversion, or they are popular kids doing what popular kids do: party hop.
For example, take a look at this:
What is this? More maybes than going?? What is the meaning of this anomaly?
The desperation index seems high, but actually what is going on here is that a popular person has invited his very popular friends and, oh, wow, they’ll make it if they can, they really hope so. Looks delightful, I so want to be there, xoxo.
Umm, eff yes I’m going. No, not to brush against popularity and hope it rubs off on me, but because attending an event where dynamic, gregarious people are coming and going as they make their Saturday-night rounds is a revolving door of delight for me.
Many of those 97 weren’t sure they could commit to even a maybe, or swiped yet another Facebook invite out of their mobile notifications, but still found the event when they were buzzing around town on party night looking for the next bit of excitement. And many of those 30 did, in fact, make their appearances.
My Weird Friends
This is why I’m writing this. I am all mixed up. When I throw parties with my best friends, at my house, the math just doesn’t work. Here’s what I see:
Desperation index makes sense. I’ve invited only my best friends. But actual attendance was somewhere around 30.
It seems like all goings go, and most maybes make it, and the rest of my weirdo friends who totally ignore their Facebooks somehow get the memo that there’s something happening tonight, come over.
Love you kids <3
Cases I haven’t Examined
Here are party-types I haven’t examined because I don’t friggin go to them:
- Baby showers
- Fundraisers that are really fundraiser-y
- Most board game nights
- Movie nights
- Video game nights
- Gender-themed parties (such as “battle of the sexes” or pearl/tie parties) that aren’t awesomely queer and/or subversive