How to Host A Small Gathering When You Have a Big Group of Friends

By Chanel Dror

Friends — they’re the family you choose, and for many of us, the sources of joy, happiness and community that make adulthood fun. At times, though, even our best friendships aren’t without drama, and if you find yourself part of a large friend group (or several!) you’ve experienced the stress of trying to host or travel with a small, intimate group of them. If it seems like a lose-lose situation where someone will always inevitably be hurt… we feel you. Every relationship is different, but by navigating the situation thoughtfully, you just might minimize the melodrama and protect some feelings.

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1. Acknowledge the role that social media plays.

Finding out you’ve been left out of something is hurtful. Being subjected to watching that fun time unfold, and having carefully curated photos of it broadcast to your phone in real time is the twist of the knife.

As the hostess, keep in mind that social media can be a key player in creating jealousy and hurt in others. Maybe you don’t habitually tag everyone in attendance. Perhaps you don’t share anything from the gathering at all. Consider asking your guests to exercise some discretion, letting them know that you don’t want to offend anyone who wasn’t invited.

2. Be direct and communicate.

In some situations, personally reaching out to someone who wasn’t invited to something you’ve organized is the right move. For example, planning a couples getaway over a long weekend? Give your single friend a call to explain the situation before she gets blasted on social media. The news might still hurt her feelings, but at least she’ll have a clear understanding of the circumstances and feel respected in that you considered her emotions.

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3. Get something on the calendar.

One way to alleviate any hard feelings is by taking the time to schedule a get together with the friend(s) being left out. Reach out to plan a separate coffee date or dinner party that includes them to let them know you still care about and want to prioritize the friendship. When your other gathering hits her news feed, she’ll feel less insulted knowing that you have plans to get together.

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4. Don’t minimize her feelings.

If we ever cause someone to feel hurt, we tend to jump to the defensive. How often do we say things like “She’s so sensitive!” orI wouldn’t care if she got a group together and I wasn’t included!”

Instead, take a moment to express that your friend’s emotions are valid and fair, and acknowledge that she has a right to feel the way she does. That understanding can be the difference between being a caring friend and a mean girl.

5. Let it go.

Some people can’t help it — they hold onto anger and resentment. If this describes your friend, let her know you care about your friendship deeply, and that you hope this incident doesn’t become a bigger issue than it needs to be. If they persist to be dramatic or passive aggressive, do your best to not let the stress of that person affect your other relationships, your event, or your group trip. Sometimes being the bigger person means saying no and walking away.