Gathering people together in face-to-face settings is enormously powerful. Hosting a house party with friends, neighbors and colleagues is a great way to deepen understanding of complex issues together, and build community grounded in making a difference.
There are many ways to host a successful house party — make it your own! Below are some basic tips to build on.
Once you’ve chosen a date, invited a speaker and sent invitations, it’s time to organize the flow of the event.
While a house party certainly doesn’t have to involve a gourmet meal, serving some refreshments is a good idea — building community through food is as old as human civilization. You might consider making it a potluck meal, too, eating either before or after the presentation.
Before the day arrives, think through a simple agenda for the event, laying out what will happen and when. Here’s one example:
- Registration & refreshments - 40 minutes
- Introductions - 15 minutes
- Presentation - 20 minutes
- Discussion - 15 minutes
- Call to action - 15 minutes
As your guests arrive, welcome them yourself or ask friends to serve as greeters. Escort guests to your registration table. Be sure to have guests register on the sign-in sheet so there will be a record of who attended for follow-up.
On your sign-in sheet, ask for each person’s name, addresses, phone number and email address. Also, ask guests if they'd like to be added to PAN’s lists to receive Action Alerts and GroundTruth blogs.
Unless the event is quite small each guest should be given a name badge, packet of materials, and shown where to find the food and other refreshments.
Having each person introduce themselves is a great way to build a sense of community among your guests.
- Introduce yourself. Share some detail or story about why you’re passionate about PAN’s work and the issue you’re focusing on for the event.
- Have all guests introduce themselves, giving their name and how they know you and any co-hosts.
- Thank people for attending, and explain the purpose and agenda for the event.
Presentation & discussion
The presentation is where you provide educational information about the topic of focus. Please be in touch if you’d like to invite a PAN expert to your event; if you’re not near one of our offices (Oakland, Sacramento or Minneapolis) we may be able to identify an expert from a partner group in your area.
Your speaker might like to take questions during the informal talk or, if there will be a discussion period afterwards, it might be better to hold questions until after the presentation.
During the discussion you (or your speaker) can ask open-ended questions that encourage your guests to share thoughtful, detailed answers. Your goal is to help people learn about the issue and get involved!
Call to action
This part of the house party is sometimes called “the pitch" or "the ask" because it’s when your guests are asked to take action. It's important that your call for action be specific so your guests will know exactly how they can help.
You could also have laptops and/or tablets available where people can take online action or sign up as members then and there.
Following the pitch, the host should thank everyone for coming and encourage them to stay, have more to eat and drink, and enjoy themselves.
After your house party, be sure to send the attendance sheet and any contributions to PAN for processing.
Send every guest a note, thanking them for attending your party and taking whatever action you asked them to take. Be sure to send your thank you notes within two to three days of your party.
Enjoy the party! You’re helping making change by building a stronger community — one person at a time.